The Ferah-saar are a species of sapient, reptile-like humanoids. They first evolved in the valleys and foothills of the western Zyrsitian Peaks, but have now expanded their range to include practically all of Myr'seros. Like most species on the planet, they are monosex and fully hermaphroditic, with no defined concept of gender or gender roles. Ferah-saar are social beings that naturally congregate in small groups; their social behavior, combined with their intelligence and tool usage, has resulted in the formation of great cities and civilizations.
Unfortunately, the very same factors that have led to their success on Myr'seros are currently leading to their decline. Heavy exploitation of the planet's natural resources has dramatically altered the Serosian biosphere, leading to a wave of extinctions that may soon include the Ferah-saar themselves.
Anatomy and Physiology
Ferah-saar are bipedal digitigrade creatures with a long, flexible tail. They generally grow to be 7-9ft tall at adulthood, not including any additional height added by their horns. Their bodies are covered in hard, insulating scales that protect them from the various inhabitants of Myr'seros, as well as the harsh environment itself. A carapace of especially-tough elongated scales grows from their foreheads, which offers protection against falling debris. Hair follicles exist at the base of the carapace and extend partway down the back, resulting in a large patch of thick, dense fur that provides additional insulation against the cold. Some individuals also have follicles along their tail.
The scales and fur of most Ferah-saar come in shades of white, blue, and on rare occasions, purple. However, the current absence of heavy selection pressure against other colors has allowed for the emergence of brown, dark green, and even black scales/fur.
The most prominent physical features of the Ferah-saar are their horns. The horns grow directly out of the skull and continue to grow throughout a Ferah-saar's life, though the rate of growth becomes much slower once an individual has entered adulthood. Horn genetics are highly unstable and prone to mutations, resulting in wide variations in horn number and appearance. (see also: Horns in Ferah-saar culture)
Less prominent but equally important are the Ferah-saar's mandibles, which are used in non-verbal communications. Mandibles also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but are much less prone to random mutations are are much more likely to be inherited from one's parents.
Similar to most species on Myr'seros, the Ferah-saar have adapted to the planet's brutal winters by hibernating from late fall to early spring. Special anti-freeze proteins in their blood prevent them from freezing to death while in torpor. Ferah-saar also grow thicker, longer winter coats during the fall to help further insulate them during their hibernation. This coat is slowly shed once they awaken in the spring.
Every Ferah-saar is a true hermaphrodite with both "zyr" and "zyn" sex organs. Each individual is capable of mating with any other individual, though outcrossing is heavily encouraged via strong self-incompatibility genes. No viable offspring may be formed via self-fertilization. There is a brief period of fertility in the late summer; if fertilization does not occur during this period, no eggs are formed. Clutches of 1-2 eggs are laid in the mid-fall; those who have laid eggs will not be able to produce "zyr" gametes for at least 2 years, though they may still supply "zyn" gametes for other individuals. The eggs have an off-white, bluish shell and are generally quite resistant to breakage. They are laid in the fall and require an overwintering period in extremely cold temperatures before they are able to hatch in the spring. However, with global temperatures rising, eggs are failing to hatch more and more frequently.
Hatchlings imprint on the first few creatures they see after hatching. The imprinting lasts for most of their childhood, until they are 15-20 years old. Ferah-saar reach sexual maturity at 30 years old, but do not become fully grown until 35-40 years old. In two-egg clutches, typically only one of the two hatchlings is able to survive to adulthood. Nowadays, with increased access to resources, most two-egg clutches will see both hatchlings reaching adulthood.
Life expectancies for Ferah-saar have historically averaged around 70 years. However, modern Ferah-saar are generally expected to live around 180-200 years thanks to advancements in technology and the elimination of their natural predators.
Ferah-saar are carnivorous, but will eat plant-based foods if there are no other options available. If too much of the diet is made of plant material, a Ferah-saar is at risk of indigestion and nutrient deficiency.
The Ferah-saar originally evolved as semi-nomadic hunters in the high-altitude mountain valleys of the western Zyrsitian Peaks. While there was some expansion of their range early on in their evolutionary history (mainly westward into the highlands of the Wekr Plateau), their range had remained relatively stable until the Myr'serosian Expansion, after which the Ferah-saar were found in all terrestrial areas in Myr'seros. The Myr'serosian Expansion coincided with a global warm period, characterized by longer, warmer summers. As life on Myr'seros is mainly active in the summer, the increased summer lengths incentivized the Ferah-saar to move beyond their established range around the Zyrsitian Peaks into the Xhei Lowlands and the various islands of the Sea of Secrets.
Ferah-saar prefer to settle in areas with large volumes of persistent ice, where entire colonies are able to create their hibernal dens by digging into the ice. In certain environments where the ice is not stable enough to maintain dens, groups have adapted by using caves lined with packed snow. With the advent of towns and cities, many Ferah-saar reside in houses or apartments with dedicated rooms for hibernation.
Unlike other species on the planet, the Ferah-saar have been able to dramatically alter their environment. Technological advancements, particularly the development of hydrocarbon-based fuels, have led to global climate changes that have greatly increased the average temperatures on Myr'seros. Many wild areas have been transformed into urban and suburban developments, leaving little space for other terrestrial organisms, save the ones the Ferah-saar are farming. Many species, including those that had existed long before the Ferah-saar, have disappeared under the double threat of habitat destruction and climate change. Even the species living in the once ice-capped Sea of Secrets have not been able to escape this fate.
Previously, Ferah-saar had been tertiary consumers in the food web. Their only natural predators had been the Vaelyk-saar, the dominant terrestrial apex predator of Myr'seros. However, with the Vaelyk-saar driven to near extinction, the Ferah-saar are now the de facto land-based apex predator.
A multitude of congenital and acquired diseases have been observed throughout the Ferah-saar population. While many are viewed as undesirable, especially ones that negatively affect quality of life or physical appearance, some congenital diseases are viewed as blessings from the Lavaak-sa'haar themselves.
refers to genetic abnormalities during eye formation that result in the duplication or multiplication of the pupil. Individuals with the disease often have poor vision in the eye(s) affected, with some being legally blind. Previously, any type of congenital eye disease with the pathology of multiple pupils was classified as Seitziil's Sight, but modern advances in medicine have revealed two main types of Seitziil's Sight, each with their own modes of development:
True Sight – also known as polycoria. Multiple pupils within a singular iris. Caused by dysregulation in the developing iris.
Dual Sight – two fully formed irises, each with their own pupils, inside a single eye. Not much is known about its cause, but researchers speculate it has to do with dysregulation during head formation, resulting in two fully-formed eyes fusing into a single eye.
However, the general population does not differentiate between the two. Named for the Lavaak-sa'haar Seitziil, who is said to have many eyes throughout zer body, a majority of which had multiple pupils.
also known as polydactyly; refers to having more than 4 digits per hand or 3 digits per foot. Usually the extra digit is non-functional, though in some cases it can be used and manipulated like a normal digit. Named for the Lavaak-sa'haar Vahrtiis, who is said to have excess fingers and toes.
refers to a genetic scale growth abnormality where, instead of forming flat scales, the body will form scales with protrusions on the dorsal side. It is most commonly found on the armored scales covering parts of the arms, legs, chest, and tail, but can also affect the scales covering the rest of the body, including the head. Most individuals with Xheiyran's Barbs suffer no ill effects, however, depending on the location and size of the spikes, those that have the conditions on their non-armored scales may be prone to infections due to an inability of those scales to properly overlap and seal. Named for the Lavaak-sa'haar Xheiyran, who is said to have been covered in sharp, rigid spines.
refers to a condition where the winter mane is not shed after hibernation, but is instead kept year-round. Due to the thickness of the winter mane, individuals with this disorder are at risk of overheating during the summer. Once considered separate from other disorders, Lyvewkr's Cloak is now classified as part of a circadian rhythm regulation disorder. In addition to having a winter mane year-round, individuals with circadian rhythm disregulation are also at greater risk for comorbidities such as insomnia, fatigue, and inability to properly thermoregulate. Name for the Lavaak-sa'haar Lyvwekr, whose mane is said to be so long that it could act like a pair of wings.
refers to a genetic scale growth abnormality resulting in thick scale overgrowth, mainly of the armored scales. The unusually thick scales are harder to penetrate, making individuals safer against attack. However, the scales may grow so large and heavy that it becomes very uncomfortable or difficult to move around. This disorder is correlated with increased bone density. Named for the Lavaak-sa'haar Faetrihc, who is said to have been armored from head to tail with metal-like scales.
refers to claw overgrowth, where the size of a talon can be over 3x its normal length. Strongly associated with horn overgrowth. Those with this condition have a lot of trouble using and manipulating objects due to the sheer length of their talons, but most chose not to file them down due to the prestige of having the condition. Named for the Lavaak-sa'haar Zyrsit, who is said to have talons so long they could be considered weapons.
Single Gamete Syndrome
often abbreviated SGS; refers to a reproductive disorder that only allows for the formation of a single type of gamete instead of both types. Individuals with SGS are not infertile, as their one gamete type functions normally, however, there is a high chance of passing on the disorder to their children.
an infection of the egg that causes the egg to decompose before hatching. Typically happens during the late fall or early spring, when temperatures are warm and humidity is high. Extremely low temperatures during the winter will kill off the pathogen, but due to increasing global temperatures, more eggs are catching egg rot than ever before.
Brittle Horn Disease
an infection of the horn-production cells, resulting in changes to the micro-architecture of the horn that make it very prone to damage and breakage. Can also affect the talons. Normal architecture will resume once the infection is clear, but the parts of the horns that were grown during infection will remain brittle.
an infection of the horn-production cells where primary horn growth stops and production resources are diverted to many small growths instead. This causes many tiny horns ("thorns") to sprout instead of 2n horns that are larger and longer. May affect the carapace, depending on the location of infection. Stopping the infection may allow for normal 2n horn growth to resume, but in many cases horn production is permanently affected and thorns will continue to develop, even if the 2n horns grow out again.
an infection of the hair follicles that causes the mane to fall out in patches. Normal growth resumes once the infection is cleared.
an infection of the skin/interscale space that causes the scales to decompose. Mainly affects juveniles, as adults have ontogenic resistance. Easier to catch in wetter climates, or if an individual has scale abnormalities that make it harder for the scales to seal properly. Once the infection is cleared, new scales will grow in as normal.