Weavercat is a 22 yr-old female thing who doesn't know what she wants to do in life. A current art-student who has rediscovered her love of prehistoric critters. I'd like to be a scientific/medical illustrator someday.
So, ever since Wryd66 did an evolutionary explanation of the Paski I’ve been itching to do one for the BirdFolk. The BirdFolk descend from a single ancestor and are currently the only living members of the Avepezus (‘walking birds’) family.
BirdFolk Phlogeneological Study
The farthest ancestor that has derived characteristics similar to the BirdFolk is Avis nituifugax (splendid flyer). This small bird was beginning to give up flight and re-develop the long clawed fingers on it’s wings. Why? Because there was an abundance of food on the forest floor. Having to glide down from a tree is easy but to get back up they used those claws to climb back to their nests. This small, intelligent creature is the grandfather-bird of the BirdFolk.
Fast-forward quite a bit and a few smaller less-important versions of the BirdFolk. The forests have been both flooded by rain or fallen back to become plains and swamps. The current ancestor is Avis advena (migrant bird). Walking upright upon two legs they could peer about for predators. The hands of A. advena betray it’s close relationship to A. nituifugax. The hands are still structured for flapping and flying even though it is far too heavy to fly with marrow-filled bones. A. advena also begins to display the characteristic elongation of future BirdFolk in arms, legs, beak and neck. Genitalia in males is now external. A. advena is thought to have begun losing feathers on it’s body now. Webbed feet are present for life in the swamps.
From the A. advena that lived out on the plains the species that developed was so derived that it warrants an entire new genus for itself. Asterias lophogigas (giant-crested heron) was massive and thick-boned. It needed to be large just to power the massive beak. A. lophogigas was for all it’s size, a seed-eater. With that beak it could have easily broken open the hardest, thickest, shelled-nuts and seeds. Avis advena and Asterias lophogigas were contemporaries but A. advena survived simply because it was not as specialized.
Fast forward another thousand or so years and here, things get murky. Aves nuncio (messenger bird) comes into being evolving from Avis advena. With A. nuncio's hands becoming pronated and prehensile a very important change occurred in the brain. The brain was being re-wired to interpret the world in a different way. It was being re-wired to better interact with the world around it. Speech, the use of tools, communal-living all appeared with A. nuncio and were a direct result of this re-wired, less instinctual brain.
Within groups of A. nuncio another change was occurring. Aves ferrum (tool bird) were evolving amongst them. Larger-brained (compared to body-size) and less ‘stork-like’ these are the modern BirdFolk. Communities of A. ferrum were building complicated societies with new ideas and inventions. With the overwhelming technological-prowress of A. ferrum, A. nuncio was left to the far edges of the swamp where its’ species declined. It is thought that Aves nuncio is extinct but there are some strange BirdFolk in the far swamps that could be more closely related to A. nuncio than the modern A. ferrum.
[A article in the World Daily Science Journal by Doctor of New Vertebrate Studies Ms. Smith.] ?
So the Paski are cool and you’ve told us a little about their myths and such. What I want to know is: What is the Paski ancestor? What did they evolve from? Can you show us some Paski through the ages?
First, I apologize for taking so long to reply! Also, I was having a non-drawing day yesterday; hence the slight lopsidedness of everyone.
The earliest recognizably paski ancestors were very small, nocturnal carnivores. Their eyes were large to absorb light and allow them to see at night. Their infrared pit organs were developed by this stage; these are a throwback from the first carnivorous mammals. Paski originated in plainsland and developed long legs to see over the grass.
Later paski ancestors began rearing up on their hind legs, possibly to attain a better view, possibly to free up their front legs for carrying objects, such as carcasses or tools. Their front paws gradually began changing from solely weight-bearing (three weight-bearing toes, two slashing dewclaws) to more hand-like (three grasping digits, a grasping thumb, and a slashing dewclaw). The pelvis angulation, thigh bone length, spinal curvature, and spine-skull connection angle began changing to fit a more bipedal locomotion, though it was some time before the paski ancestors gave up their quadrupedal way of life.
They also experienced a change in diet—becoming omnivores instead of pure carnivores. This prompted changes in their gut morphology to keep food in the gut longer so that plant material could be digested. Dentition changed as well, and eventually paski would lose their carnivorous double fangs. The switch in diet led to a change in circadian rhythm, and paski became diurnal. Their eyes remained large, developing their incredible long-range, high acuity vision to spot prey, friends, and enemies out on the plains. The rewiring of the brain needed to support the changes in vision led to a large decrease in their senses of taste and smell.
The first actual paski subspecies to form lived in temperate and Mediterranean-like environments. The temperate subspecies, Caandiki, started out brown like the “Neandertal Paski” above, but a mutation introduced the chinchilla coloration that is present in the vast majority of Caandiki. They are the only paski to have pink skin, the rest have dark brown skin. A group of Caandiki migrated to an arctic environment, and eventually formed the arctic subspecies, Pilasira. They developed thicker ribcages and limbs, long course hair, and large fat deposits to survive their harsh environment.
The Mediterranean-like subspecies, Takasira, should have dark brown skin, but I, uh, forgot. XD Their first offshoot, the Raatasira developed in a desert environment. They have the thinnest limbs, faces, and ribcages to facilitate heat loss. Raatasira often have nocturnal leanings, as nighttime was the safest time to food-gather in the desert. Most Raatasira have a little curl at the tip of the tail; the purpose of this is unknown. A very small population of Takasira took up residence on a tropical island and eventually developed into the oddest-looking paski subspecies, the Binasinga. Binasinga are short and stocky, with extra-long wattles, and have no horns and short tails. Quite a few of them have vestigial or missing secondary thumbs (dewclaws). Binasinga are few in number, and there are concerns of them becoming extinct. The Takasira went extinct some time before spaceflight was achieved; they were exterminated by the Raatasira.
Addendum: A great website on human evolution and the changes that we went through while we were evolving is Smithsonian’s What Does it Mean to be Human. They gave me some great ideas for how the paski might have started out.
This post. I love how much thought you’ve put into this. I’m amazed astounded and everyone go follow Wyrd for information and art on the Paski.