Humans share planet Teppala with many other sapient species. In fact, humans have settled only about 15% of the landmass of their planet; other areas are dominated by some other species. Humans often do not go into these territories because they could easily be eaten even though these animal nations generally consider themselves friendly to the human nations and will work in harmony with them at a distance.
- 1 Cohabitating animals
- 2 Commensal animals
- 3 Parasites and vectors of disease
- 4 Interspecies relationships
- 5 Notes
Humans on Teppala do not have true pets; intelligent animals are treated as equals of humans rather than subordinates.
Penguins live in a fairly restricted area of the land. However, this happens to be exactly the same areas that humans live in, so the species are in common contact. Penguins and humans communicate primarily through hand signals, with one sign for each letter. Penguins also have their own series of languages, which is even more diverse than the human series, and appears nothing like any of them. Few humans have learned these languages, but in grammar they are surprisingly similar to those of humans, so "immersion" is possible. Since humans have lips and penguins have beaks, their speech is very different in sound, but again, still possible, because the penguins' phonologies tend to have only a few consonants. Common consonant inventories are /p ḅ m s l/ or /p b m s w/.
Penguins are divided into flying and flightless groups, and both groups contain several species. The smallest penguins are the only kinds that can fly, and this power enables them to rule over the larger penguins on land. However, the smaller penguins are preyed upon by various other animals, both on land and at sea, whereas the larger penguins are free of predators in most of the land they have settled.
Penguins range in size from 0.2 humans to 13 humans. They have a much more meat-heavy diet than humans, but both eat primarily fish. This puts the two species in competition, but violent incidents are rare because both species are sparse enough that there is generally enough food for everybody. Humans have even introduced the penguins to cooked meat, and penguins often prefer this to fresh kills. And penguins are good at sharing food that they have caught, thus penguin + humans is the most lovable combination of species.
Dolphins range in size from 6 to 84 humans, and are present on every coastline. They have independent nations of their own, with distinct boundaries, and so they dont just simply roam throughout the entire ocean. The fact that a few dolphin nations have žž in their human names has led them to be called "the ŽŽ zone". Currently, the largest dolphin nation is in a military alliance formed with the Moonshines about 1350 years ago promising that each would defend the other. But since dolphins have nations of their own, they have wars of their own too, and humans cannot just tell the difference between a pro-Moonshine dolphin and a pro-Vatala intruder trying to destroy all the other nations. Dolphins communicate primarily through interpreters, but can learn human languages, so the interpreter just needs to repeat the sounds, not actually translate the language.
The world population of dolphins is about 3.6 million, just slightly lower than the human population.
The only species that is predominantly hostile, firebirds see humans as prey, but even they will occasionally cooperate with humans when their interests coincide. On the island of Lan, for example, humans are still 100% captive and have not yet been rescued from the firebirds' rock nests by other humans. But Lan is outside the territory of Moonshine. Within Moonshine, the two species mostly manage to coexist despite being at war, since neither exposes itself to harm often enough to make the kill worth the risk. i.e. a firebird could capture a human and then swoop away to safety, but this would result in a revenge attack of some sort, whereas they could choose instead to eat a fish, which has a lot more meat and muscle, and there will be no revenge attack from a colony of fish.
Like penguins and humans, firebirds are mostly found right near the water, but they prefer a warmer climate than the other two species because they have very little body fat. This is part of the reason why the temperate climates to the west of Nokʷ are almost entirely free of humans: this is the firebirds' main habitat. Firebirds range in size from 2 to 8 humans. They usually die around 70F so Poswobs have to deal with them less than Moonshines do. Note that there are tropical firebirds which are smaller but just as deadly.
A very violent species that is responsible for hundreds of thousands of human deaths. Rabbits do not eat humans, but humans sometimes wish they did. This is because rabbits, by being vegetarian, compete with humans for food sources and therefore start organized wars against humans rather than picking them off one by one as a typical predator might.
Lampreys (džampa) are common in freshwater environments such as lakes and rivers, where most humans are found. Lampreys prey on any animal entering the water that has thin skin and an ample blood supply. Swimming humans are unable to protect themselves and therefore make ideal targets, but because the lampreys have a seasonal lifecycle, humans living near lamprey colonies in their predatory stage avoid entering the water whenever possible.
Humans respect lampreys, and the Poswob people in particular make efforts to cultivate the lamprey population of their habitats and ensure that they are healthy. This is because the Poswobs eat dead lampreys themselves and therefore their own food supply is tied to the food supply of the lampreys.
Parasites and vectors of disease
The most severe plagues are found in tropical climates, but Poswobs in temperate climates also deal with parasites and zoonotic diseases.
Bloodsucking fleas are common in the moist areas of Pusapom where most humans also live. The most dangerous species, tiplabwae, is also the Poswa word for fleas in general. This flea inflicts a painful bite, usually to the calves or thighs, but can be quickly brushed off by a human. It is not the bite but the viral disease carried by many tiplabwae fleas that is responsible for human fatalities. This disease is called sabebam pasa and is characterized by unstoppable bleeding and loss of teeth.
Poswobs have more to fear from worms than germs. The plabas is a hookworm that lives in moist soil and can enter the human body after reaching exposed skin. It is most commonly encountered in gardens where the soil has been recently disturbed.
Inside the body, the plabas worm migrates to the small intestine and feeds on blood and undigested nutrients from the host's diet. The worm lays eggs which adhere to the walls of the intestine and hatch into larvae called bamblambum. Shortly after birth, the bamblambum bite through the intestine and begin eating their way through the tissues of the body, growing in size as they digest the tissues and organs of the host body. After this journey they break through the skin, usually on the legs or feet of the host, and exit the body to begin the free-living stage of their life cycle.
Here, the plabas worms seek out growing vegetables, particularly those that grow mostly or entirely underground. During this stage of their life they feed on the vegetables, and after molting, they crawl up to the surface in order to seek out a new human host to invade.
The pwep is a triactinomyxon that lives in salt water and spends most of its lifecycle in the body of a bottom-dwelling predatory lamprey. Infected lampreys periodically expel tiny, free-floating pwep spores through their anus into the water. The pwep spores can infect humans who are swimming or walking in the water. The pwep has no sensory organs, and has no preferred host for this stage of their life cycle. Upon encountering exposed human skin, the pwep rapidly enters the body, causing extreme pain to the host. Once inside the body, the triactinomyxon reproduces asexually and the newly formed spores seek out muscle tissue on which to feed. The spores that grow inside the human are even smaller than the type that originally infected the human, but are capable of rapid growth. The spores feed on muscle tissue and expel their waste products into the human host's bloodstream.
The next step in the triactinomyxon's life stage occurs when the infected human host is bitten by a lamprey. For the parasite to infect the lamprey, the lamprey's bite must reach deep into muscle tissue containing the triactinomyxons' spores. Transmission of the parasite is therefore most likely if a lamprey bites a human who has been weakened by the disease and is too weak to fend off the bite of the lamprey.
Penguins range in size from 0.2 humans to 13 humans; the smaller species can fly, and the flying species are in control of the others. Thus, unlike most animals, among penguins body size is inversely correlated with power.
Planet Teppala is currently in a long term warming phase, and the penguins are intelligent enough to realize this. They know that their territory has been steadily shrinking with each coming century. Although shrinking ice sheets actually bring penguins' societies closer together, the penguins are worried about problems with food supply as well as the eventual possibility of all coastal ice disappearing entirely.
Penguins generally do not participate in wars, either against other species or against penguins. They have many nations, some better off than others, but the penguins in the poor nations have never risen as one and invaded a richer nation.
The aboriginal Repilian people had shared their homelands with penguins for their entire 54000 year history. However, the warming climate that appeared around the year 10000 BC quickly pushed penguins to only the northern fringe of Repilian territory, where Repilians themselves rarely attempted to go.
In the early 2400s, humans of mostly Pabap ancestry began to move into several penguin nations along the southern edge of the polar icecap. THe humans chose these lands because even though they knew their life would be painful and poor due to the total lack of vegetation, they too knew that the climate was warming, and wanted their distant descendants to have first pick on what they felt would become the world's choicest farmland in the far future. And even now, the ocean provided them plenty of fish and a few occasional birds to live on.
The penguin nations of Sysep and Wabubbu (Pabap names, not from the native penguin languages), along with several others, chose to allow human settlement in their nations since the humans promised them help with medical care and waste disposal services that were difficult for penguins to do on their own. In return, the penguins brought them fish to eat. Thus humans in Sysep and Wabubbu no longer needed to spend ten hours a day searching the ocean for fish to eat; it would be entirely brought to them. Luckily this part of the ocean was protected for the time being by sections of the icecap that connected with other land masses, effectively turning it into almost a freshwater lake, and preventing any large ocean predators that could potentially kill both humans and penguins from spoiling their new paradise.
Penguins and humans in theese nations (called "Sysepia" or Wawiabi) lived and mingled with each other, since neither species had much to fear from the other even though penguins could pierce human bodies with their beaks and humans could step on some of the smaller species with their feet. Humans were not allowed to carry weapons, however, since they had only ever needed weapons to kill fish at sea and this was no longer a problem for them.
Humans in Sysepia cooked their meat, just like humans in the rest of the world. The penguins soon learned that they appreciated cooked meat as well, and this led to a decreased appetite amongst penguins, as they drew more nutrition from the prepared foods humans had taught them how to make, but this in turn meant that penguins were now dependent on humans for their food, even though humans were dependent on penguins to bring it to them.
A war in the Soap Bubble Societies caused the fledgling interspecies society to break down, as the humans on the penguinized side of the ice had lost contact with the humans on the human side, and thus could no longer hold up their half of the agreement by delivering ships filled with human products. The humans chose to remain, promising that they would fend for themselves and not depend on food aid from penguins. Their only problem was that there were no trees on the ice for them to build fishing boats from.
Today, penguins live only in nations where humans live. Though humans do not wish to upset the penguins' cities and government, and there is plenty of food for both species to live on, penguins are worried about what the far future will bring if they find themselves restricted to a thin strip of land on the coast of Xema surrounded by humans on all sides. Many penguin cities already have large human populations, and the human populations of those usually grow faster. Nevertheless, at least in Xema penguins still have a wide majority over humans, and those humans that live in Xema are mostly cut off from each other and unable to form a team even if they should suddenly one day decide that the penguins of Xema were a threat.
Dolphins discovered humans swimming off the coast of Tapakunya more than 100000 years ago, and have a longer history of pairing with humans even than monkeys. The barriers to communication are much greater, however, between dolphins and humans because dolphins are entirely a water-dwelling species and humans almost entirely a land-dwelling one. Dolphins on Teppala are quite large, ranging in size from 6 to 84 humans, and even an entire army of humans is no match for a dolphin in a fight unless that dolphin is wounded or trapped within a barricade. Thus humans avoid violence when dealing with dolphins.
Dolhpins frequently fight wars against other dolphin nations, however, and humans have been valuable allies in some of these wars. Even so, because dolphins do not wear clothes, it is difficult for a human to distinguish a friend from an enemy if both are dolphins. Dolphins delineate their national boundaries with rocks when natural boundaries are not available. This is possible because even though dolphins inhabit deep waters far from shore, these areas generally do not contain the borders between two dolphin nations; the open sea is always either unclaimed territory or a fish farming area belonging to just one single dolphin nation. The borders of dolphin nations do not move much. However, the settlements within these nations are constantly moving, and it could be said that dolphins do not actually have cities or even villages within their nations; the nations are simply unsplittable amorphous entities.
During the Poswob Era, many dolphin nations came to have /žž/ in their name, which led to them being called "The ŽŽ Zone".
Although dolphins are individually stronger and more aggressive than humans, this is largely due to their body size. A diet that supports one dolphin can support a hundred humans. Thus dolphins do not see humans as weak, soft, helpless victims; they see them as weak but breeding out of control and therefore very dangerous to dolphins.
Snow monkeys are the dominant species of primate in areas where humans are not present. Historically, in their homelands on the islands of Laba, humans and snow monkeys were about equally strong; however, only humans could build boats, and thus the only snow monkeys that moved from Laba to Rilola are the ones that humans brought with them. Even so, only one migration was necessary, and snow monkeys held sway over much of Rilola for about 4000 years before humans finally won it all in a war in the early 4200s.
Snow monkeys and humans have a complex history of violence and love. At war, monkeys see humans as monkeys stripped of their powers:
- Humans have lost their sharp teeth, so even eating tropical fruits like coconuts is difficult.
- Humans have lost their ancestors' tough skin, and so are constantly being injured by their environment, even by plants such as raspberry bushes that have thorns. Moreover their thin skin is more easily invaded by topical diseases which all other animals, even bare-skinned animals such as pigs, are protected from by thicker skin.
- Humans have lost their body hair, which helped protect them from cold during the Ice Age and as a result humans are forced to spend much of their time sewing and maintaining clothes. Meanwhile, bare skin makes humans more attractive to certain types of predators than a thick coat of hair since they do not need to be peeled to be eaten.
- Humans have lost the ability to painlessly eat raw meat, and although monkeys do agree that cooked meat is overall superior they know that humans could starve to death if they were unable to produce a fire.
Humans are thus easy prey. But at peace snow monkeys see humans as friends and important allies as even though monkeys are capable of bipedal motion, complex tasks such as building boats or carrying heavy objects are impossible. Animals that prey on humans usually also prey on monkeys, after all, and humans are better able to handle dangerous weapons. Nevertheless, although some truly cooperative mixed human-monkey societies did exist, in the end they were all brought down simultaneously in a great war around the year 4208 and the surviving monkeys were forced to literally hide in tall trees in order to survive. The one modern exception to this is Blop, the capital of the humans' largest nation which has invited snow monkeys to move into their city in large numbers, and to inhabit the outlying countryside and live any way they wish.
A species of crab named liui (but with many other names) inhabits the waters along the south coast of Rilola, particularly the area around Paba. Crabs enjoy eating dolphins, as dolphins are a very soft and squishy food. Crabs use their claws to tear off pieces of meat and eat the dolphin in small bites. Dolphins cannot really fight back, as their teeth are not powerful enough to grip the crab, let alone injure it, and a dolphin attempting to crush a crab against a wall of rocks would find itself fatally injured by the mere contact with the hard exoskeleton of the crab. Although most crabs first kill the dolphin and then feed on it communally, sometimes a lone crab will stick itself into a swimming dolphin and start nibbling away. The dolphin cannot remove the crab and must simply wait until the crab is finished with its meal. Dolphins have good eyesight, and will generally not swim into an area populated by crabs, but sometimes crabs will occupy large sections of coastline and hide themselves.
They are much larger than humans, but their growth rate is variable. They set up nations along the south coast, of which the largest has been for most of history Rasula (also with many other names). Rasula had participated in many wars against humans, always winning. They are sometimes called crabworms because unlike most crabs, they have a very elongated body, resembling the body proportions of a lobster, but are not lobsters.
Crabs cannot swim, and simply walk along the bottom of the ocean to get around. They, too, define the boundaries of their nations with walls of rocks if no natural boundaries are available. Their boundaries do not move often, and most crab nations are very old. By convention they do not enforce national boundaries on land, unless they are living in an agreemtn with a human society and using human roads and borders. For example, the nation of Rasula has a large amount of land to itself in Paba, but humans also live in this territory and it is a human nation, not a crab nation. The declaration of this land as part of Rasula merely means that rival crab nations cannot also claim this land as their own.
Crabs are tolerant of long periods of time on land, and for this reason, are an ideal choice of a "bridge" animal between the worlds of land and sea. Humans communicate with crabs using written language and sign language: crabs wave their claws and humans wave their arms in predetermined patterns to spell out the letters of each word (generally in a human language, as humans far outnumber crabs in these situations). Then crabs will go underwater and repeat these same signals to dolphins.
Crabs know that humans are even more delicate prey than dolphins, and present many more opportunities since humans are often seen wading in shallow water or in boats just offshore where crabs prefer to dwell. Crabs are intelligent enough to realize that humans have political power, however, and that there are consequences to killing a human that do not apply to other animals, even dolphins. Nevertheless, crabs will eat humans during a war, since they consider all wrongs right during a war, and the Vegetable War in the late 2600s was the most devastating war ever fought at that time.
Firebirds (ḳilē or cilai) are a species of large bird that inhabits most of the western part of the continent of Rilola. They once dominated all of Rilola, but warming climates steadily pushed their habitats to the north. Meanwhile, they were outcompeted in the east by humans and societies of other animals allied with humans, leaving them just the northwest coastal area.
Firebirds are a very intelligent species that can communicate using hypnotism. This hypnotism works much better on other bird species than on humans, but firebirds were nonetheless able to keep humans confined in rock nests for many years without worrying about the humans escaping.
Humans discovered the continent of Rilola around the year 400 AD, fleeing in boats from the rapidly flooding Laba. Firebirds captured the first humans and put them in rock nests to raise them as livestock. They observed that humans preferred to eat cooked meat, and flew to Laba to ask for a good recipe for cooking humans over a fire. The human population of Laba was unhelpful, however, so the firebirds decamped back to Rilola except for a small remainder who figured hunting humans in Laba was actually easier since there were more of them and they were very weak and desperate. However, as the climate warmed, even the hardiest of these firebirds died off.
Firebirds enjoyed eating humans, seeing them as essentially fish that lived on land and were thus easier to control. They also captured monkeys from Laba, since monkeys had more muscle mass, and attempted to breed the monkeys and humans together into a hybrid but could not get them to copulate even with the threat of death.
A few firebird camps still remain, but only in difficult places where free humans cannot readily go. Firebirds can only raise humans in climates where the proper types of foods are available, and since firebirds generally cannot handle temperatures above 70F, this means all of the tropics where humans get most of their foods is off limits to firebird settlement. In the west, firebirds have given up trying to raise humans for food and instead let the humans govern themselves and simply pick off humans that wander outside when a firebirds is hungry. A few compromise setups exist, where firebirds enslave humans but do not use them for food. This means the humans must grow their own food. Occasionally the firebirds will eat the humans even so, in order to show their power.
Some firebirds prefer to eat birds, specifically plump and easily chewable ones such as penguins. Although penguins are much larger than firebirds, they are so clumsy that even a single firebird can sometimes kill an adult penguin. (The very small penguin species are in climates too warm for firebirds.) However they usually prefer to attack children instead. Since penguins now live only in nations where humans also live, any firebirds wishing to feed on penguins must also deal with the threat of humans. Given the choice of a human or a penguin for a meal, the firebird will always choose the penguin, and even though penguins are very strong, they cannot handle weapons and thus cannot easily fight back if swarmed by a flock of firebirds.
Human civilization has been declining for about 4500 years, and various sentient animals have extirpated humans from their habitats. Thus humans today live in discontinuous regions of the planet, widely separated from each other, unable to communicate except by crossing through territory dominated by a different species of animal. These animals are also confined to discrete and widely separated habitats, however, so humans are on the same level as the other four powerful species: dolphins, penguins, firebirds, and crabs.
Thus humans comfort each other with myths of ancient human civilizations stretching clear through the wilderness, where humans could travel from one city to another without the fear of being eaten by wild animals or attacked by packs of clustered ones. Wild animals such as wolves cause humans more trouble on land than the other three sapient species, since all three are confined to areas near water. However, most deep inland areas are overrun by predators for whom humans are no match, and therefore humans are also clustered mostly around bodies of water. By contrast, the other sapient species are never preyed upon: the firebirds, dolphins, and crabs are all apex predators far too strong for other animals to attack, while the penguins live in isolated areas where few other animals can survive.
Along the coasts, humans coexist with the various other species, just as these other species coexist with each other . The only exception is that the habitats of the penguins and the crabs do not overlap: penguins are bound to the glaciers and islands that are near glaciers, whereas crabs live in temperate and tropical regions but avoid water which becomes seasonally frozen.
Humans living in close company with other animals are at a disadvantage because they cannot own weapons, and of the five sentient species, humans are the most physically delicate. In most areas, humans who attempt to fashion weapons to protect themselves will be quickly attacked by other humans, as these other humans know that if they were to tolerate the presence of the weapons, a pack of the dominant species would then attack the weakest and most vulnerable humans. Thus these other species perform the role of police in some symbiotic settlements. The one case where humans are allowed to own weapons is that of humans cohabiting with crabs: no humans have ever succeeded in manufacturing weapons that can harm the exoskeletons of the crabs, so crabs have no reason to fear armed humans.
Each of the four species has different subspecies within it, with the penguins being the most internally diverse. Smaller penguin species can fly, while larger ones dive into deep water to find food. The penguin species as a rule cohabit with each other, with each subspecies performing a different role in society. There are no examples of penguins fighting wars against other penguins based on subspecies divisions: although penguins have occasionally fought wars, each side always has an internally diverse army that fights the other's.
By contrast, the subspecies of the dolphins, crabs, and firebirds tend to live separate existences and maintain territorial limits. Race is the most comparable division of the human species, but human races are more similar to each other than any of the subspecies of the various animals, and racial boundaries are difficult to discern. In general, the tropical subspecies of all animals are smaller than the polar morphs but rely more on their anatomy's sharp parts — claws and teeth — to hunt and to protect themselves from attack.
_____________ Ive posted here before but I felt a new writeup might explain things more clearly, particularly that humans have been in decline for a long time and are making no progress at getting back on top.
- originally used tube worm, not maplrey. See more information about lampreys in STRAWB.DOC.