Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gapuri Anatomy: Throat pouch, trachea and esophagus


The Gapuri's trachea does not have an opening in the mouth, instead they only breath through their nostrils. Since they do not have an airway that ends in the mouth, and thus no vocal cords in the neck. To produce sounds from their mouth they use a specialized throat pouch that can be filled with air like a balloon. They will gulp air into the sack through one pipe and push it out through another. The second pipe has a set of vocal cords in it that are used for creating sounds. As you can see in the diagram of the mouth, the air pouch's two valves open up on either side of the esophagus. The air sack is deflated whenever a Gapuri is not speaking, however it can be used as a non-verbal form of communication. The skin on the outside of the pouch is usually brightly colored and when the pouch is extended the colors are more vibrant. The pouch and the bright colors can be used to express emotions like anger or frustration, this is usually accompanied with a formidable gravely hiss. 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Gapuri Anatomy: Leg and arm hydraulic system

While the Gapuri do have a bone like internal body structure that makes up the spine, neck, skull, ribcage and upper legs their lower legs and arms are completely boneless. Instead an incredibly strong, flexible cartilaginous "pseudo spine" acts as the arms and legs bones. These "pseudo spines" are what really holds the legs and arms together, as the thick muscles and hydraulic tissues attach to it. 

Leg details:
The hydraulics of the lower leg are strong enough to keep the pseudo spine relaxed and straight while standing, this keeps permanent "kinks" out of the leg. While running the hydraulic tissues contract and release to give spring and shock absorption to the runner as seen in the figure below.

Red arrows = Retraction and contraction of hydraulic tissues
Blue arrows = Extension of leg by extending hydraulic tissues
Purple arrows = Shock absorption

The arm operates in the same way but does not have the ability to retract as much as the leg. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Skatha environments: Snowy

Although the Gapuri evolved in warmer climates in the tropics and subtropics, as they developed and became more advanced they spread out over the globe and now occupy almost any environment.

Here we see a lone Gapuri hunter taking temporary refuge under a large fungus tree. This individual lives in the upper latitudes of Skatha in the cooler regions. Snow does occur on Skatha but is usually only seen in the arctic environments. Many Gapuri have never seen it.

Compared to Earth latitudes this environment is roughly where upper Canada is.


The Skatha System

My friend Aaron surprised me with this picture last night! It is a gorgeously rendered image of Skatha with her two moons, Etayen (purple) and Ekwei (gray). Go check out his DeviantART account!
http://barondando.deviantart.com/


Skatha: Gapuri agriculture, society and history




The Gapuri are an omnivorous species with a diet that consists mainly of fruits, insect like creatures and sea life. Their diets staple food is the KhamaKhama fruits and Shyum, amongst others. Many of the fruit trees that the Gapuri utilize are slow to mature and bear fruit so many towns and cities are built in and around the fruit farms with enough space to accomodate the trees. Harvest time is a community effort and almost every member of a town is involved. Despite being an advanced group of creatures, the Gapuri have stayed closely tied with the trees that support them, as their livelihoods and health depend on them.


Another plant that is farmed is a group of large "gourd funguses" called Shyums. Their texture is much like that of a mushroom but with a flavor that ranges from melon like to like that of a squash. The meat of Shyums can be dried, cooked, or eaten raw and their seeds can be ground into a powder that is used to make a bread like food stuff. Shyums can grow to be four to ten feet tall, depending on the type, and are roughly egg shaped. Colors vary.


There are of course other plants that are eaten regularly, but the fruits and gourd funguses are a staple in Gapuri diets around the globe.


Meat:


Sea food is an important part of the Gapuri diet as well as economy. Many cities and villages are based solely on a fishing community. It is a readily accessible food source as well, Skatha's surface is 73% water with hundreds of small islands and a handful of smaller continents (roughly Australia sized is the largest). The large number of isolated communities created a very distinct set of languages, cultures and philosophy between regions.


The large insect like animals of Skatha are also incorporated into the Gapuri diet, however they are not eaten as often. Many eatable species of insects are difficult to raise in captivity so the successfully farmed ones are expensive at best. However the insects reproduce so quickly and in such great numbers that taking individuals from the wild is common. They are rather difficult to capture as well and take a small team of hunters to bring down a healthy adult. The insects provide a good source of protein to the Gapuri that is not found in many of the fruits and other plants in their diet. 


Society:


There is a wide range of different societies of Gapuri on Skatha due to the geography of the planet, but for now I will focus on the inhabitants of Suuth. 


On the coast of the freshwater inland sea of Suuth, a rather rare environment for its size, the inhabitants are agriculture and fishing based. Merchants are everywhere offering goods and services. The merchants operate in a gang like system and occupy territories or even entire towns depending on how well priced or wide their selection of goods is. The merchants are almost the main form of power in the cities of Suuth, as there is no real leader or ruler. The only thing more powerful than the merchants are the Gapuri citizens themselves, as they are the ones who keep the merchants thriving. If a group of Gapuri don't like the way a band of merchants are treating members of their society, city property or environment, they will rebel and refuse to buy from them. The threat of losing business and having another group of merchants move in and claim their territory is usually enough to keep them in check. The Gapuri are stubborn, and do not easily give up if threatened, this can lead to wars and riots. 




Old history of Skatha:
The time period we are observing on Skatha now, called the Kuuktar (which means "the rebuilding time") by the Gapuri and the Xenocene by Humans, is the end of a rebuilding period after a huge world war. Roughly 400-500 years prior to the present day the Gapuri were a thriving and rather highly technologically advanced race. About 200 years ahead of the current Earth year. However, a massive world war broke out. Two of the larger nations of Skatha (which had a history of butting heads) had been struggling to come to agreement over the launch of a suspicious satellite. The satellite was claimed to be a mapping device but leaked information of schematics proved it to be a weapon in disguise, this caused a war between the two nations. Bombs devastated huge areas of land and oceans, wiping out entire cities. During the uproar riots had been appearing in all the major cities, protesting the war and destruction of Gapuri's homes and lives. In this time, called the Kruhth (end), an extremist group released a genetically engineered form of a common virus to the population. The outbreak stopped the war in its tracks, but wiped out over 85% of the population. Only Gapuri with the strongest immune systems survived the epidemic. 


Since then the planet has healed almost all scars of war and dismantled any remnants of the ancient cities, leaving only vine covered ruins. The Kruhth is a taboo amongst the Gapuri, and rarely spoken of. Superstition surrounds ancient history and the Gapuri have developed a fear that if they speak of the Kruhth then it will 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aerial predator: Thuukta

Speed paint of an aerial predator.

The Thuukta (traditional Gapuri name) is dark in coloration, mostly black with purple hues as well as bright phosphorescent patches and chromatophores which help it communicate with other members of its species or "pod" (they are pack hunters).

They have tentacles (which are retractable) that they extend while hunting. The tentacles are lined with bright red flashing bioluminescent patches that attract its prey. Their prey, as small arrow like creature) see mainly reds and yellows and the rest of the predator remains invisible to the prey despite its rather flamboyant appearance to other animals.

The purple coloration also helps it to camouflage itself from predators at night by helping it blend in with the dark purple of the night sky. However during the day they must be extremely vigilant of larger predators.

The reason the sky appears so purple is because the moon is a remnant of a planet that used to orbit the same sun as Skatha but was hit by a massive asteroid and was more or less obliterated. Skatha stole one of the larger chunks of the dead planet by chance and it became one of its moons. The destroyed planet had a high concentration of a purple quartz-like crystal in it's crust. During full moons Skatha's surface is very bright and has a purple hue.

This happened early on in the development of Skatha, not only did Skatha steal a chunk of the planet, but it was also pelted by its debris. In certain areas of the Skathan landscape where tectonic plates have shifted and pushed the ground up large patches of the purple mineral are exposed. There are mountainous areas made up of this purple crystalline rock, it creates quite a striking landscape with some of the red foliage of the planet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gapuri phonetics: How they pronounce their name

The Gapuri have multiple ways of saying certain letters or syllables (which in their language can be shown as a single symbol). I'll focus on "g" for now.

They use a combination of their throat muscles and back of the tongue to create the "g" sound in "Gapuri." The constrict the top of their throats, sealing off the esophagus and trachea, and push their tongue back to create a bubble, which they pop loudly when they move their tongue down and forward while raising the back of their tongue, this moves the bubble forward. This expels the sound forward out of the mouth rather than backwards into the throat.

Bubbles are used somewhat frequently to create different types of sounds. Their language is not made up entirely of sounds they make with their vocal cords, they also use jaw clacking, tongue clicking, and gusts of air to create whistle noises.

The "g" sound accounts for the "Ga" part of the "Gapuri," the "p" sound is soft and airy. Since they do not  have a lower lip with which to create a hard popping noise the sound is much different than the Human "p" sound. To make the sound the Gapuri press their upper lip to their mandibles (which are also pressed together) while pressing their broad, manipulatable tongue to the bottom of their jaws (this seals any gap between the mandibles) and fill their mouth with air. Then they build some air pressure up in the front of their mouth and quickly release it by moving the upper lip. This is the "pu" part of "Gapuri."

The "Ri" part is fairly simple as they can pronounce is much the way a human pronounces "r" and "i" noises.

Info: Vestigial antennae

Here is a close up of the antennae.

The feeler is actually a somewhat of a vestigial organ, similar to the way we have an appendix but it doesn't really serve a purpose. Though the feelers are still very sensitive and serve their original purpose, even if the more evolved Gapuri don't need them as much. With the hairs you see along it they can pick up changing air currents from something or someone that moved, and along the flesh there are tiny pores that pick up electrical currents, much like the pores along the nose of a shark.

It's speculated that the organ is a left over from when their ancestors needed to feel their way through thick vegetation, caves, or find their way around when it's dark.

In the modern Gapuri times though it is used in other ways such as body language and greetings. For instance touching the feelers together can be a show of complete trust or a deep friendship, however it is almost exclusively used when partners greet each other, the intimate touch reaffirms the bond between them. It is believed that their ancestors may have done the same thing. When two feelers touch the electrical senses are almost overloaded, and sends a series of intense signals to the brain. It seems that this is an evolutionary trick that releases a hormone that is designed to keep a pair of Gapuri together, rather than straying from their partner for another.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gapuri head study


Here is a head study of an unusually colored Gapuri who is sporting some turquoise coloration. In this picture you can also make out some more details of the head, specifically their vestigial feelers (only one visible of the pair).

More detailed description of Gapuri

The Gapuri are a large, roughly human sized species. With heights ranging between 5'4'' and 6'11'' a majority of them can look a human in the eye.


They are bipedal and mostly upright. They are digitigrade and have two sets of tentacle like arms. Their upper arms are larger and stronger, where as the smaller pair are more nimble and flexible. All arms end with a set of four fingers with the palm being somewhat rectangular in shape and a digit growing from each corner. Digits are also boneless, instead their fingers are a flexible cartilage "minispine."


They have a long, thick, prehensile tail that helps balance their somewhat top heavy torsos. Their heads are a medium length, longer than a humans but more bulbous in the front. They have a large lobe like forehead and a dextrous upper lip and split lower jaws. Their jaws are mandible like, with a joint in the middle they can grab and hold things in their jaws. However they do not use their jaws in fighting as they are somewhat delicate, like the equivalent of getting punched in the nose for us. They have two large forward facing eyes set just behind the jaw. They also have vestigial feelers that protrude from the base of their jaws on the neck. These feelers are hyper sensitive to any air or electrical currents around them. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a Gapuri.


There is only one gender in the Gapuri, since they can only reproduce once every Skathan year (roughly 400 days), they need to be able to make up for lost reproductive time, thus both individuals in a pair will become pregnant from a single mating, this doubles the chance of one of the offspring surviving.


Most animals on Skatha reproduce this way.


EDIT: Reasons for one mating season


Skatha has some rather severe weather changes, on the continent that this particular individual lives on, which is called Suuth, is the hottest of the continents (it lies right on the equator). The inland sea provides an oasis for flora and fauna alike, but the temperatures can soar above 130 in the hottest time of the year. During the dry season is their mating period, that way they give birth the cooler time of the year. The adults can handle the heat, but the young are weaker when they are first born, it takes them about a half a year to fully develop thick enough skin to insulate their internal organs and brain from the sweltering conditions.



If the Gapuri where to have a child during the hot season it would almost surely die within a few days even if kept in the shade. Their brain would overheat and their internal organs would shut down.



The first Voyage

The planet Skatha was discovered in the Earth year 2352 due to a surprise opening of a wormhole outside our solar system. Jumping on the chance to explore a natural and stable wormhole we sent a autonomous probe through. The probe was equipped with all manner of sensors specialized in detecting gasses and the like. It also has several onboard cameras and heat sensors.
In a summarized version, the probe went through the wormhole, took pictures, picked up the presence of a near-by star and investigated. When the probe returned to Earth the findings were shocking and unexpected, as a solar system was discovered. At the time we did not know that any planet had life on it, only that there was a planet in the Habitable Zone. Naturally we sent out a manned probe, it was volunteer only, as we did not know the effects of wormhole travel. The volunteers survived with no ill effects. A substantial crew was sent next to rendezvous with the first team in a large space shuttle. More probes were sent out to investigate further, this time with direct human observation. That is when they discovered Skatha.

Skatha was not originally called "Skatha." When the first Earth voyagers discovered the planet they called it "Terra Iterum" which means "Earth a second time." It was very Earth-like in appearance. The planet was mottled with blue patches much like Earth, but rather than green being the main dominant color reds were. Greens were present as well, the team described it as looking like a Christmas tree ornament.

Years passed as we rushed to pull together a team of scientists, astronauts, engineers, doctors and a small number of armed soldiers, to be sent to the planet's surface.

We had not expected to find what we did. Flourishing ecosystems covered the planet's surface, diverse habitats where found in all locations. The flora was primarily red, orange, pinks and purples, which was curious seeing as they did photosynthesize. There was a decent amount of greens and blues present, but red hues dominated the landscape.

It wasn't long until intelligent life was discovered. First interactions with the Indigenous were rough at first, finding communication hard, as well as a fearful and paranoid community, great precautions were taken to be sure that nothing violent happened.

It took a few years to make any head way deciphering their language, at least one of them. The group focused on a coast community that lived on a huge freshwater inland sea. The people called themselves the "Gapuri," it seemed to be a label for their entire species, not just their specific region.

Info: Gapuri (Appearance and diet)

Planet: Skatha (S-kha’ [click]-thuh)
Race: Gapuri (Pronounced as in their language: guh [with throat click] – purr – ee) (Pronounced in English: Gah-pur-ee)
Moons: Etayen (pronounce phonetically), Ekwei (click on Kw)

Gapuri appearance:
Average height: 5’7’’ – 6’9’’
Body type: Bipedal, digitigrade, 2 legs, 4 arms. 2 larger upper arms, smaller secondary arms, positioned slightly closer to the front of the body then the 2 larger arms. Being somewhat top heavy they have a long tail to balance, it is prehensile.
Common colors seen: blues, greens, reds, yellows, oranges, and purples, usually darker hues with bright patches. Any combination is possible; red variants are more common than others. Markings appear at random depending on dominant or recessive genes.
Uncommon color combinations: purples + oranges, blues + oranges, reds + greens
Eye colors: Any except pink (unless albino)
Diet: Omnivorous, but fruits are a staple in their diet. Meat is also consumed, but in a much smaller amount. Large insects are also eaten when available, a diet of mainly fruit lacks protein, and the insects help supplement them.

More info soon. I will be posting some things on their history and culture soon. Hopefully with some images. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Skathan Gapuri sailor

This is an image of a Gapuri merchant sailing across the large inland freshwater sea of Kemptha, the continent that she lives on.

The creature shown in the water is a large predator that plays a similar roll to that of an Orca in its ecosystem. 

This Gapuri is a member of medium sized trading outpost at the northern end of the inland sea. Being a merchant she finds herself travelling the water frequently, though she is depicted in her small skiff rather than her larger vessel that she uses to transport goods (mainly fruits and dried meat, as well as other food items and clothing).

I am open to criticism at anytime. 

A small introduction

Creating worlds, species, ecosystems and societies is what I eat, sleep and breath. I will be posting artwork and writing from various worlds, focusing on a few in particular. I generally will work on mainly one at a time.