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An Alien Race

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This page is divided into the following sections:

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Back to the Top THE KTTVO-BZTVONN SYSTEM

The centre of the star system in which the Wustrtuu evolved is a pair of close binary stars, Kttvo and Bztvonn. Kttvo is a G9V star somewhat more orange than the Sun with some 85% of its mass, giving it a luminosity of some 51% times that of the Sun and 90% of its radius. Bztvonn is orange and of classification K2V, with some 75% the mass of the Sun, giving it a luminosity some 32% times that of the Sun and 90% its radius. The stars and the Kttvo-Bztvonn system as a whole are some 8.2 billion Earth years old [as compared to 4.6 billion years for the Solar System]; however, the lower masses of the two stars means their expected lifetimes are longer than those of the Sun at some 15 and 20 billion years respectively [as opposed to some 10 billion years for the Sun]. From Vvvuurrukst, the home world of the Wustrtuu, both Kttvo and Bztvonn appear to be, on average, roughly 0.47° wide in the sky [slightly smaller than the Sun as seen from Earth].

Kttvo and Bztvonn have roughly circular orbits about their common centre of mass, and maintain a roughly constant separation of some twenty million kilometres. Their different masses mean that Kttvo, the heavier G9V star, orbits some 9.4 million kilometres from their centre of mass while Bztvonn, the lighter K2V star orbits some 10.6 million kilometres from it. Both stars take some 18.8 local days [14.1 Earth days] to complete an orbit about their centre of mass.


Back to the Top THE WORLDS OF KTTVO AND BZTVONN

From SolStation.com models have shown that there is a range of orbital radii between about 1/3 and 3.5 times the stellar separation for which stable orbits around two stars together are not possible. For this pair of stars there are thus stable orbits beyond some 70 million km 0.54 AU from their centre of mass.

Closest to Kttvo and Bztvonn, orbiting at close to the minimum stable distance from them, some 75 million kilometres [0.5 AU] from their centre of mass, is the world of Stllztrraa. This is a small, airless, rocky and cratered world some 7600 km in diameter [60% the diameter of the Earth]. It has a density of some 120% that of the Earth, giving it a mass of 25% of the Earth and a surface gravity of some 79% that of Vvuurrukst [72% of that of the Earth]. Its average surface temperature is some 352 K [78°C]. It takes 137 Vvuurrukst days [102 Earth days] to complete one orbit of the centre of mass of Kttvo and Bztvonn. It has no moons. Stllztrraa has a 12° axial tilt, though this wobbles a great deal over geological time [much like Mars in the Solar System], and rotates on its axis once in one and a third Vvuurrukst days [24 Earth hours]. Because of its lack of atmosphere, axial tilt and wobble there are no permanently shaded areas on Stllztrraa, so that despite its relatively low average temperature, no ice exists on its surface, it all having sublimed away over millions of years. Because of its high density, Stllztrraa is rich in minerals and would make a good site for mining.

Beyond Stllztrraa, orbiting some 119 million kilometres [0.8 AU] from the centre of mass of Kttvo and Bztvonn is the world of Llvozkzbkt. Like Stllztrraa this is a small, airless, rocky and cratered world some 7000 km in diameter [55% of the diameter of the Earth]. It has a density of some 110% that of the Earth, giving it a mass of 18% of the Earth and a surface gravity of some 66% that of Vvvuurrukst [60% of that of the Earth]. Its average surface temperature is some 279 K [6°C; this is almost the same average temperature as that of Vvvuurrukst]. It takes 273 Vvvuurrukst days [205 Earth days] to complete one orbit of Kttvo and Bztvonn. Like Stllztrraa it has no moons. Llvozkzbkt has a 48° axial tilt, though like Stllztrraa this wobbles a great deal over geological time [again much like Mars in the Solar System], and rotates on its axis once every 0.61 Vvvuurrukst days [11 Earth hours]. Again like Stllztrraa, because of its lack of atmosphere, axial tilt and wobble, despite its relatively low average temperature, no ice exists on the surface of Llvozkzbkt, having sublimed away as there are no permanently shaded areas there over the long term. As with Stllztrraa, Llvozkzbkt is rich in minerals (though not as much so as Stllztrraa) and so would also make a good site for mining.

Vvvuurrukst, the home planet of the Wustrtuu, orbits the centre of mass of Kttvo and Bztvonn at a distance of some 152 million kilometres [1.02 AU], taking some 394 local days [295 Earth days] to do so. This is described in more detail below.

Vvvuurrukst has a small airless and waterless moon known as Twttzbshoort; this is also described in more detail below.

Beyond Vvvuurrukst, orbiting some 283 million kilometres [1.89 AU] from Kttvo and Bztvonn lies Ssztktzk, a world some 16500 kilometres in diameter [some 1.3 times larger than the Earth]. Ssztktzk has a density some 1.05 times that of the Earth, giving it a mass some 2.3 times that of the Earth and a surface gravity of some 1.36 times that of the Earth [1.5 times that of Vvvuurrukst]. It orbits the barycentre of Kttvo and Bztvonn in almost exactly 1000 Vvvuurrukst days [750 Earth days].

Ssztktzk has a dense atmosphere at a pressure some 2.7 times that of the Earth [4.9 times that of Vvvuurrukst] made up of nitrogen and a high proportion of volcanic gasses such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and methane. 84% of its surface is covered in ice. Taking all of this into account it has an average surface temperature of some 192 K [-81°C], reaching some -57°C at the equator and some -137°C at the poles. This hostile environment means that Ssztktzk is entirely lifeless. Ssztktzk is circled by a pair of large, close moons.

The closer, Oonndkukhh, is some 5250 kilometres in diameter [1.51 times the size of Earths Moon], but orbits Ssztktzk at roughly 188000 km from [some half the distance of the Moon from Earth], taking some 2.9 Vvvuurrukst days [52 Earth hours] to do so. It is roughly 80% as dense as Vvvuurrukst, giving it a mass of some 2.54% of it [4.75 times that of the Moon] and a surface gravity of some 38% that of Vvvuurrukst [35% that of the Earth]. Oonndkukhh has significant volcanic activity caused by the proximity of Ssztktzk, giving it a thin atmosphere of volcanic gases. It also has significant ice deposits on and under its surface. Its average surface temperature is some 172 K [-101°C].

The second moon, Oosseektrr, orbits Ssztktzk at a distance of some 765000 km [roughly twice as far as the Moon from the Earth] and takes some 24 Vvvuurrukst days [18 Earth days] to do so. Again it is roughly 80% as dense as Vvvuurrukst, giving it a mass of some 0.34% of it [0.63 times that of the Moon] and a surface gravity of some 19% that of Vvvuurrukst [17.6% that of the Earth]. It is airless [much like the Moon] and has significant ice deposits. Like Oonndkukhh, its average surface temperature is some 172 K [-101°C].

Its size and the presence of its two large moons means that Ssztktzk has active plate tectonics and volcanism, as well as a high degree of planet-quake activity. Because of its proximity to the Hhbzaadz Belt, Ssztktzk and its moons also suffer a significant rate of asteroid bombardment.

Centred some 598 million km [4 AU] from Kttvo and Bztvonn is an asteroid belt some 300 million km [2 AU] in width. This is known as the Hhbzaadz Belt. It is a mixture of rocky, metallic and icy bodies with an average size of some 100 km and some bodies reaching a maximum size of some 1000 km.

Beyond the Hhbzaadz Belt is a wide empty gap.

Beyond the gap, orbiting some 2394 million km [16 AU] from Kttvo and Bztvonn [equivalent to between Saturn and Uranus in the Solar System] lie Aahhzb and Sstrff, a binary pair of gas giant worlds. They orbit Kttvo and Bztvonn in 62.4 Vvvuurrukst years [50.5 Earth years].

The larger of these, Aahhzb, is some 2.2 times the mass of Jupiter in the Solar System [700 times that of the Earth], while the smaller, Sstrff, has roughly the same mass as Saturn [95 times that of the Earth]. Aahhzb radiates considerably more heat than it receives from Kttvo and Bztvonn [not unlike Jupiter]. They orbit their common centre of mass with a constant separation of some 1.4 million kilometres, taking some 57 Earth hours [3.2 Vvvuurrukst days] to do so. Aahhzb orbits some 168000 km from their common centre of mass, while Sstrff, as the lighter world, orbits some 1.23 million kilometres from it.

Beginning some 5 million kilometres from the barycentre of Aahhzb and Sstrff and extending for two million kilometres beyond that is a massive glittering ring system [not unlike that of Saturn but far larger, more extensive and more impressive], divided into numerous major and minor subdivisions [again not unlike the rings of Saturn, but on a vastly larger scale].

Beyond the rings is an entire mini-solar system of hundreds of moons ranging from tens to thousands of kilometres in diameter, along with two additional debris rings that are neither as extensive nor as bright as the innermost rings [more like those of Uranus and Neptune in the Solar System]. In total this system of moons extends almost 150 million kilometres [1 AU] from Aahhzb and Sstrff. They have an average surface temperature of some 70 K [-203°C].

The leading Trojan point of Aahhzb and Sstrff contains the world of Vossuuoo, a frozen super-Earth planet. Vossuuoo is a large world some 28000 kilometres in diameter with 7.4 times the mass of the Earth of which some 1.4 Earth masses is a frozen ocean roughly 2100km thick over which is a thin trace of atmosphere made up largely of oxygen. It has an average surface temperature of some 64 K [-210°C]. Like Aahhzb and Sstrff, Vossuuoo orbits Kttvo and Bztvonn in 62.4 Vvvuurrukst years [50.5 Earth years]. [Although Vossuuoo is very massive, its position at the Trojan point of Aahhzb and Sstrff is stable because the two gas giants themselves in total mass some 795 times that of the Earth, putting the ratio of their mass to that of this world above the critical value of 24.96 required for stability.] It has a surface gravity of roughly 1.6 times that of the Earth. The presence of Vossuuoo in the leading Trojan point of Aahhzb and Sstrff has cleared the Trojan point of any other bodies of significant size. Because of its high gravity, inaccessible position far from any other worlds, and lack of any accessible materials other from ice, Vossuuoo is a rather useless world.

The trailing Trojan point of Aahhzb and Sstrff contains a dense cluster of asteroids not unlike those in the Hhbzaadz Belt [analogous to, though more dense than, those of Jupiter in the Solar System].

Beyond the orbit of Aahhzb and Sstrff some 6 billion km [40 AU] from Kttvo and Bztvonn lies Uuukztzk, a lone gas giant some 40 times the mass of the Earth [between Saturn and Uranus in size]. It takes some 248 Vvvuurrukst years [201 Earth years] to complete a single orbit about Kttvo and Bztvonn. It and its moons have an average temperature of some 40 K [-233°C].

Uuukztzk is orbited by an inner ring of dark debris and three major moons with diameters of between 500 and 1400 kilometres, as well as dozens of small asteroidal moons with diameters in the tens of kilometres or less.

Beyond Uuukztzk lies the cometary halo and interstellar space.


Back to the Top VVVUURRUKST

Vvvuurrukst, the home planet of the Wustrtuu, orbits the centre of mass of the binary stars Kttvo and Bztvonn at a distance of some 152 million kilometres [1.02 AU]. Because of the larger collective mass of the two stars, despite being somewhat further away from them than the Earth is from the Sun, its year is somewhat shorter, being some 394 local days [295 Earth days] long. Despite Kttvo and Bztvonn orbiting one another in 18.8 local days, because of Vvvuurrukst also moving on its orbit over time, from the perspective of Vvvuurrukst they reach the same position relative to one another in the sky every 19.7 local days [14.8 Earth days].

At most Kttvo and Bztvonn appear some 6.3 degrees apart in the sky of Vvvuurrukst [more than thirteen times their own diameters]. Because of this at their widest separation one of Kttvo and Bztvonn will be above the horizon for up to some twenty minutes before or after the other rises or sets.

Vvvuurrukst is some 11340 km in diameter [89% the diameter of the Earth], with a molten core like the Earth and a density of some 1.02 times that of the Earth; this gives it a volume of 70.5% that of the Earth, a total surface area of some 79% of it and a mass some 72% of it, giving a surface gravity of some 91% that of the Earth. It has a rotational period of some 18 Earth hours, a 14° axial tilt, and an orbital eccentricity of 0.005.

The smaller size of Vvvuurrukst relative to the Earth, and its smaller and more distant satellite of Twttzbshoort means that tectonic activity on Vvvuurrukst is quite weak compared to that of the Earth. The crust of Vvvuurrukst is thicker than that of the Earth and there are only a few large tectonic plates. These move only slowly past one another, so that there are few planet-quakes and mountain ranges build only slowly, meaning that erosion prevents them gaining any great height; for the same reason the seas of Vvvuurrukst do not reach the same depths as those on Earth. There is volcanic activity, some of it on the plate boundaries, but most of it concentrated around a number of volcanic hot spot regions scattered about the planet. As a result of this the highest regions of Vvvuurrukst are volcanic is nature [not unlike the case on Mars in the Solar System].

Vvvuurrukst has a strong magnetic field some seven times more powerful than that of the Earth. This is misaligned with Vvvuurrukst's axis of rotation by some 20° [as compared to some 10° for the magnetic field of the Earth].


Back to the Top TWTTZBSHOORT

Vvvuurrukst has a small airless and waterless moon known as Twttzbshoort. Twttzbshoort is some 1100 km in diameter [about the same size as Pluto's moon Charon] in the Solar System, and much smaller than Earths Moon, which is some 3500 km in diameter. It has a density roughly 75% that of Vvvuurrukst giving it a mass of some 0.07% of Vvvuurrukst [some 4% of Earths Moon] and a surface gravity some 7.2% that of Vvvuurrukst [6.6% that of the Earth; for comparison Earths Moon has a surface gravity some 17% that of the Earth]. It orbits some 634000 km from Vvvuurrukst [165% of the distance from the Earth to the Moon], taking some 91 Vvvuurrukst days [69 Earth days] to complete one revolution about it; this means that Twttzbshoort orbits Vvvuurrukst 4.31 times per revolution about Kttvo and Bztvonn.

From Vvvuurrukst, Twttzbshoort appears to be some 0.1° wide [some 20% of the size of the Moon as seen from the Earth]. This is large enough to show a visible disc and phases. It induces very weak tides in the oceans of Vvvuurrukst, ones some 1% as strong as those induced by Kttvo and Bztvonn [and some 0.6% as strong as those induced on the Earth by the Moon]. Twttzbshoort is not tidally locked to Vvvuurrukst, but instead rotates on its axis in some 59 Vvvuurrukst days [44 Earth days]. It has an average surface temperature of some 4°C. This varies by roughly 2°C up and down depending on the relative positions of the two stars Kttvo and Bztvonn. Latitude and day-night cycle effects mean that temperatures vary from +23°C on the equator at the end of the day to -239°C at the poles at the end of the night.


The atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst is thin, with a pressure some 55% that of the Earth [equivalent to an altitude of some 4800m (15700 feet) on Earth; this pressure data is from EngineeringToolbox.com]. It consists of some 87% nitrogen and 12% oxygen, plus traces of other gases such as carbon dioxide [this is lower than on Earth, where some 21% of the atmosphere is oxygen; taking into account the lower pressure of the atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst, this means that a given volume of air on Vvvuurrukst has some 31% the oxygen of the same volume on Earth; however, as, on Earth, a human only uses some 20% of the oxygen in each breath they inhale this should still provide enough oxygen for human survival]. This lower pressure means that the boiling point of water on Vvvuurrukst is lower than on Earth, at some 84°C [using data from EngineeringToolbox.com].

An effect of the slightly greater distance of Vvvuurrukst from its suns compared to the Earth is that, even taking into account its different planetary characteristics, Vvvuurrukst is somewhat colder than the Earth, with an average surface temperature of some 5°C [as compared to 14°C for the Earth]. This varies by roughly 2°C up and down depending on the relative positions of the two stars Kttvo and Bztvonn, and dips further when one star eclipses the other, as happens once per orbital cycle. However, these eclipses take less than half an Earth hour from start to finish and so do not cause major temperature variations.

In addition to this, latitude and day-night cycle effects mean that temperatures vary from +29°C on the equator at the end of the day to -76°C at the poles at the end of the night. The maximum temperature at the poles is some -22°C. The thin atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst means that temperatures fall rapidly after dark, so that even at the equator, the minimum temperature at the end of the night is roughly 0°C, and frosts can easily form there, especially away from the temperature-moderating effects of the seas. However, despite this the permanent ice caps of Vvvuurrukst only extend out some 27° from the poles [roughly equivalent to the position of the Faroe Islands on Earth], covering some 11% of its surface.

The hydrosphere of Vvvuurrukst is also smaller than that of the Earth. As part of this only some 32% of its surface is covered in water [as opposed to some 72% of the surface of the Earth]. This is divided between one major ocean, five minor ones, five small seas and eleven scattered lakes of significant size. Again unlike the case on Earth, these do not directly connect into a single world ocean. The seas of Vvvuurrukst do have solar tides, which are roughly as powerful as those of the Earth. The seas of Vvuurrukst are significantly more salty than those of the Earth, [though not as salty as the saltiest bodies of water on Earth such as the Dead Sea].

Maps of Vvvuurrukst

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Video of a flight around Vvvuurrukst

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Note that this is some 17MB in size

Although as a world it is smaller, because of this smaller ocean area, Vvvuurrukst has a land area of some 184% of the land area of the Earth. However, much of this is far from any ocean or sea.

Much of the continental interiors of Vvvuurrukst are made up of very dry, very cold, deserts, not unlike the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica on Earth, though even dryer than them. Because of this much of the continental interiors of Vvvuurrukst are shaped by Aeolian processes [the wind] rather than by rain and other forms of erosion that are more common on Earth. Parts of the continental interiors are covered by vast wind-carved canyon systems and badlands. Also, in places the action of the wind over millions of years has carved out parts of the land to below sea level, but because these places are so far from the coast and never see rain they remain dry, apart from a few cases where aquifers have been opened to the air. Some of these depressions have also filled with sand.

As such large parts of the continental interiors of Vvvuurrukst are dead land, so dry that nothing can live there. The only exceptions to this are the rare places where ground water emerges at the surface and oases near to rivers and the coast, but in the deep continental interior such things have long since dried up.

Because of the thinner atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst the air can hold less water vapour. As such clouds and rain are less common there, even close to the seas, and there are fewer large rivers than on Earth, and even near the seas less water-driven erosion.

Another effect of the lower pressure of the air of Vvvuurrukst is that the effective boundary of space is considerably lower on Vvvuurrukst than on Earth. However, the somewhat lower gravity of Vvvuurrukst means that its air pressure falls off more slowly than on Earth and so the atmosphere does extend a little further into space than the surface pressure would otherwise indicate.

The atmosphere does, however, hold significant quantities of dust, mainly eroded from the large dry regions of the planet. This gives a pink tinge to the sky [not unlike that of Mars in the Solar System]. Localised dust storms are common across Vvvuurrukst, and from time to time larger dust storms occur that can, at their most extreme, blanket the entire surface of the planet, though such planet-wide dust storms are rare.

One feature of Vvvuurrukst that makes it significantly different from the Earth is that the low oxygen level in its atmosphere means that nothing will burn there. There is thus no natural fire on Vvvuurrukst. The closest natural equivalents are volcanic eruptions and their molten lava, or lightening, which arises from dust storms as much as from rainstorms.


Back to the Top THE LIFE FORMS OF VVVUURRUKST

With a longer evolutionary history than those of the Earth, the life forms of Vvvuurrukst come in a wider variety of shapes and forms than those of the Earth. Biochemically, they are fairly compatible with the life forms of Earth, to the point that each could eat the life forms of the other and gain enough nutrition from them to survive, although in time they would begin to suffer deficiency diseases due to lack of specific vitamins, trace elements and so on in the other.

The land-living life forms of Vvuurrukst are all at least somewhat more drought-resistant than the life forms of the Earth. Some of them are much more drought-resistant.

Most life on Vvuurrukst also uses a number of types of biological antifreeze to allow it to survive the low temperatures there. Some creatures generate this antifreeze themselves, while others have to ingest it from those that do and use it themselves.

The isolation of the different oceans of Vvuurrukst from one another had led to divergent evolution so that in the present day they all have ecosystems much more different from one another than is the case in the oceans of the Earth, and much more like the diversity that exists between the different isolated continents on Earth. Land life is also very diverse as the deserts of Vvuurrukst also form major geographical barriers.


Back to the Top CELLULAR STRUCTURE

This is based on there being grape-sized amoebas in the depths of the Earth's oceans with a volume of some 14 cubic centimetres; see also here Unfertilised ostrich eggs are the largest known single cell, and slime moulds also form large undivided cells at some points in their life cycle.

One major structural difference between the life forms of Vvvuurrukst and those of the Earth is that rather than being constructed from tens of trillions of tiny cells as most life forms on Earth are, the life forms of Vvvuurrukst are composed of much smaller numbers of much larger cells. These cells are macroscopic in size, and are normally at least as large as a grape, so that a human-sized organism might be made up of some hundred or thousands of these large cells.

In many organisms each organ is essentially a single large cell, so that each muscle is one cell, each bone is one cell and so on. In others parts of an organ are a single cell, so that for example each chamber of a heart might be a single cell.

These large single cells are generally about as long-lived as the organism, and they all have their own repair mechanisms to cope with the stresses of everyday life, the level of which varies with how essential the cells is to the survival of the organism as whole, so that more essential ones have less self-repair capability [not unlike organs in animals on Earth]. This does mean that some exceptionally long-lived individuals can be crippled in various ways as what is essentially an entire organ is lost at a stroke as a non-essential cell dies before the body as a whole.


Back to the Top SOURCES OF ENERGY

The thin atmosphere and limited amount of tectonic activity on Vvvuurrukst means that most of its life forms depend, directly or indirectly, on energy from the two stars Kttvo and Bztvonn which is turned into chemical energy by plants using photosynthesis. There are a small number of life forms that subsist using chemosynthesis, but because of the limited amount of tectonic and volcanic activity on Vvvuurrukst these are much rarer than on Earth.


Back to the Top PLANT LIFE

Because of the redder spectral output of Kttvo and Bztvonn compared to that of the Sun the vegetation of Vvvuurrukst uses different photosynthetic pigments to plants on Earth. Because of this, rather than being green, Vvvuurrukstian plants tend to be a greyish green-blue.

There are the equivalent of flowering plants on Vvvuurrukst. These use a mixture of visual, olfactory and sometimes audible cues to lure in animals to carry their genetic material to another compatible plant. Because the thin air of Vvvuurrukst means there are few flying creatures these flower-analogues tend to be at ground level, either on drooping branches or around the base of the stem(s) of the plant. Some plants have evolved structures of chambers and tunnels to allow in only desirable pollinators and exclude others.

The thin air of Vvvuurrukst also means that those plants that spread their seeds using the wind make use of vast numbers of very light, and often very fluffy seeds, or of structures analogous to the tumbleweed. As an alternative to this many other plants use animals to spread their seeds. To avoid the need for seeds altogether many plants use runners to spread themselves across the ground.

Some runner-using plants have evolved into 'arch trees', which make up the dominant type of large plant on Vvvuurrukst [analogous to trees on Earth]. In these types their runners root at each end with the runner between the ends arching upwards into a tree-like structure, from which leaves and branches grow outwards. These can be taller than trees on Earth due to the lower gravity on Vvvuurrukst, and their trunks and branches either thinner and/or more rigid because of the weaker winds in the thinner atmosphere. Their leaves are often flexible, however.

Away from the coasts of Vvvuurrukst most plants are highly drought-resistant. Because of this many of them have features analogous to those used by cacti on Earth, and have very much reduced processes equivalent to the transpiration used by plants on Earth, or no such processes at all. Plants often have very deep tap roots for storing water, and their leaves are small [not unlike pine needles] to reduce water loss. Many plants deal with dry conditions in a manner not unlike the resurrection plants of Earth [in particular Selaginella lepidophylla] in that they survive dry conditions by desiccating and reviving what moisture becomes available again.

Many have also evolved protection against the omnipresent dust, with slippery-surfaced leaves that point downwards. Some also have hard surfaces to resist damage from dust storms. Plants in dust storm-prone areas often store nutrients and so on to allow them to survive dust storm periods when they are without sunlight.

Plant lifetimes are often longer than Earth plants, but as this is a side-effect of adaptations to the harsher environmental conditions on Vvvuurrukst they often also grow and heal more slowly than plants on Earth, and reproduce less frequently [not unlike desert plants on Earth].


Back to the Top ANIMAL LIFE

Like the plants of Vvvuurrukst, its animals tend to be resistant to dry conditions, cold and dust. All land animals have some form of biological anti-freeze in their blood.

The dry and rather resource-poor environment of Vvvuurrukst has further driven its native animals, particularly those that live away from the coasts, into the use of very energy-efficient lifestyles. Because of this they can be either slow-moving or slow living or both, or have energy-saving physiological adaptations [not unlike the jumping of kangaroos]. As part of this many of the animals of Vvvuurrukst also use of hibernation and aestivation to survive the harsh conditions that exist in many parts of their world. For the same reason many animals use burrows or other forms of shelter to sleep in as protection from the cold.

Because of the relatively thin air, all Vvvuurrukstian animals have very efficient respiratory systems, not unlike those of birds on Earth, with very efficient oxygen-carrying chemicals in their circulatory systems. Many creatures also have a supplementary respiratory system not unlike the trachea of insects on Earth to extract more oxygen from the air. Their respiratory systems usually have at least some ability to filter out dust from the air before it reaches the lungs (or equivalent) and remove dust if it does reach the lungs.

Because of the large cells making up their bodies, none of the animals of Vvvuurrukst use an equivalent of red blood cells to carry oxygen about their bodies. Instead, the oxygen-carrying molecules that their bodies use are suspended in the blood itself [not unlike the hemocyanin used by molluscs and arthropods on Earth]. Likewise, the immune systems of Vvvuurrukstian animals do not make use of any equivalent of white blood cells, though they have other mechanisms that compensate for this lack.

Even with their very efficient respiratory systems, many of the animals of Vvvuurrukst are slow, with low-energy lifestyles. A side effect of this and the generally thin air of Vvvuurrukst is that there are far fewer flying creatures on Vvvuurrukst than on Earth. Like Earth animals they use anaerobic respiration for bursts of activity [such as escaping predators], recovering afterwards. They can, however, perform anaerobic respiration for considerably longer than Earth life forms, and recover faster from its effects.

Some of the animals of Vvvuurrukst from both of the major groups are [cold blooded] while others are homoeothermic [warm blooded]; the advantages and disadvantages of these two strategies are roughly the same as for animals on Earth. Some animals, including the Wustrtuu, are a mixture of the two [not unlike swordfish on Earth] with some organs - in particular the brain and sense organs - maintained at a steady temperature while the rest of the body functions are roughly the temperature of the environment around it. In these creatures the warmed organ(s) are well insulated and otherwise protected from the varying temperatures of the body they are part of. In creatures whose brains are maintained at a constant temperature the brain works better and more efficiently, so that they tend to be the more intelligent animals of Vvvuurrukst.

Some animals have water storage capabilities analogous to those of camels on Earth, though not using humps. Many store water in their skins or internally using specialised water storage cells.

Because of the shorter day-night cycle of their world compared to the Earth [being 18 as opposed to 24 Earth hours long], many of the animals of Vvvuurrukst have endurance linked to this shorter cycle, and so can only work, hunt and so on for a proportionately shorter time before needing rest, sleep and so on.

Mainly because of the longer history of life on Vvvuurrukst there is a very significant amount of convergent evolution among the animals of Vvvuurrukst, more so than is the case on Earth.

As there is no natural fire on Vvvuurrukst, animals there have no experience of it and so no fear of it, at least initially. They would quickly learn to have such a fear if required, however.


Back to the Top NEUROPHYSIOLOGY

Perhaps as a side effect of their cells being much larger than those of life forms on Earth, all of the animals of Vvvuurrukst do not have brains composed of vast numbers of tiny cells linked and communicating by electrochemical means [like those of Earth animals]. Instead, their brains consist of one of more sacs containing a complex chemical mixture the exact composition of which varies on a very small scale, both in position in the brain and also in time. The processes of thought are carried out by overlapping and interacting waves of chemicals within the brain-sacs. These are both received by chemical receptors on the walls of the sac, triggering nerve impulses and such events elsewhere in the body, and also triggered by chemical transmitters on the sac walls whose activity is triggered by events elsewhere in the body, such as the receipt of sensory information. This gives a brain that gives the equivalent of human-level mental power in a somewhat smaller volume. The brains of the animals of Vvvuurrukst are thus a natural version of the chemical computer. [See also the BBC, more on chemical waves, their phenomenology, using them move objects and their relationship to disease.]

The development of sentience in the chemical brains used by the animals of Vvvuurrukst is, in my opinion, not necessarily more unlikely, over a timescale of billions of years, than a mass of tiny intercommunicating cells doing the same thing.

It is speculated by the Wustrtuu that their form of brain evolved from that used in large unicellular organisms in which chemical computing helped the cell respond to its environment more effectively. Larger and more specialised cells gave more processing power, so their brain is a collection of a small number of large cells, each one of which forms one sac, and each of which is a very powerful chemical computer.

Outside the brain, the nervous systems of the animals of Vvvuurrukst are a mixture of the purely chemical, like their brains, and the electrochemical [not unlike those of animals on Earth], with electrochemical signals triggering or being triggered by purely chemical activity in the brain.

In the former chemical waves in thin chemical-filled tubes carry messages from end to end, and can also send messages to, or respond to messages from, transceivers along the length of the tube [this has not been shown to occur in the laboratory, but it is not theoretically impossible for faster chemical wave fronts to occur]. Nerves can also, using different waves, carry multiple messages in parallel, and even perform some processing of them in the same way as their chemical brain does.

Because of the high degree of neural plasticity this brain structure allows, animals on Vvvuurrukst tend to be somewhat more adaptable, if not more intelligent, than those on Earth, and more creatures are social, or at least take care of their young, because they have much less in the way of instinct than is the case with animals on Earth.

The muscles of some groups of creatures are also part of the same system, with powerful moving chemical waves coupled with hydraulics giving motion. In these types of creatures the muscles, nerves and brain are all part of what is fundamentally the same system.

Low level chemical brain functioning begins in the foetal stage via a form of 'bootloader' [not unlike the case for Earth animals], so at birth all creatures of a given kind are roughly the same. However, after that the way in which they are raised to adulthood has a huge impact on the way they think and live, so that development can go in a vast range of directions, far more so than is the case for humans.

Because of the structure and functioning of their chemical brains most animals suffer quite a high percentage of 'bootloader' failure, with on average some half of all births failing to come to term. Some are miscarried and ejected from the host. Others can turn into a true cancer that devours the host. Others again simply remain as an inert mass within the host for the rest of their life. Some again are beaten by the immune system of the host and absorbed back into them. The animals of Vvvuurrukst can live with such a high mortality rate among their young because, evolutionary speaking, it is not the genetic parents bearing the cost, but the unrelated host. Among those that do come to term there is also a small percentage of young animals that suffer mental dysfunction of some greater or lesser kind. In a very few cases 'bootloader' errors lead to an advance in mental function. This kind of noetic [mental] mutation can be the source of step changes in the mental functioning of a type of animal.

The brains of animals have a noetic stability, analogous to software stability, that is, how likely a given program (brain) is to suffer catastrophic - fatal - failure or do something unexpected in a given time period. In most species evolution has adapted them so that the brains of individuals have a mean time to failure MTTF of about the same as their physical lifespan, and not much less, but sometimes more.

In addition to total failure, the chemical brains of the animals of Vvvuurrukst can also suffer sudden catastrophic changes to the entire personality and behaviour of an individual. Different noetic populations have different rates of this and therefore different needs to cope with individuals changing dramatically. Most are fairly stable, but not all...

In contrast to this most animals do change somewhat as they encounter and adapt to differing circumstances through the course of their lives. However, these changes build on a fairly stable set of noetic processes that are defined in the early stages of their lives.

Some primitive, unintelligent creatures are able to switch their brains between different noetic states to give them different types of thinking and behaviour as their lifestyle and the pressures of their environment require; this occurs in almost a lycanthropic manner. More advanced creatures cannot do this as it tends to irreversibly overwrite the preceding brain state, so although it would be possible to shift back to the earlier state the memories and so on associated with it - and encoded in the chemical wave patterns of the brain - would be lost and at best they would be amnesiac. This also limits the amount of brain surgery and brain injury animals can suffer without loss of what is essentially the original individual.

A side effect of this chemical brain structure is that animals on Vvuurrukst have a greater ability for their brains to find 'workarounds' to damage and other physical problems when compared to Earth animals. They are also much less susceptible to blunt brain trauma than a human, although punctures to the brain can be very serious indeed. Of course, given that as with Earth animals the brain is as well-protected as possible, damage sufficient to puncture the brain is often likely to kill the animal anyway.


Back to the Top NEUROPLASTICITY

The fact that brain function in Vvuurrukstian animals is based on interactions between chemical waves and other processes within their brains, rather than on a physical arrangement of brain cells as is the case with Earth animals, means that animals of the same species can have a much wider range of brain 'architectures' than is the case for Earth animals, and also that the functioning of their brains can be altered much more thoroughly and easily than is the case for Earth animals [including humans]. This means that all of the animals of Vvvuurrukst have a much greater degree of neuroplasticity [that is, the capacity to change the physical structure and organization of the brain - and so its function - by experience] than do Earth animals.

Because of this high degree of neuroplasticity that the animals of Vvvuurrukst possess, different groups of creatures, even if of the same genetic species, can have minds structured in utterly different ways to one another, so that their mental processing and thought processes work in utterly different ways. This variation becomes greater with distance, and also on opposite sides of geographical and other such barriers to the motion and intermingling of populations. Because of this most of the animals of Vvvuurrukst, whether social or solitary in nature, have an intrinsic distrust of strangers, because even among social species strangers may be, effectively, alien in their modes of though, and so cannot be relied on to behave in a manner that one group might consider to be the obvious or sensible one.

Because of this mental plasticity animals - and indeed other Wustrtuu - can be very easy to domesticate or brainwash by surgical or chemical means, though the success of this is not guaranteed.


Back to the Top ANIMAL EVOLUTION

Because of their high degree of neuroplasticity the animals of Vvvuurrukst actually develop by way of two parallel evolutionary processes. The first of these is physical (genetic) evolution, basically the same as that which occurs on Earth. The second is noetic (essentially algorithmic) evolution taking place at the level of their brains, but not genetically determined. This is similar to memetics but of a more fundamental - more physical - nature than it, perhaps more equivalent to a combination of memetics and Lamarckian evolution [the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring].

Genetic speciation among the animals of Vvvuurrukst is slower than that of animals on Earth, because noetic evolution and speciation is faster. Creatures adapt noetically rather than physically where they can, and only when physical limits are reached is there a drive for physical (genetic) changes to occur. Thus, genetically speaking, animal species last longer than those of the Earth due to their noetic flexibility; noetically speaking they last much shorter times.

Populations of animals have an optimal level of noetic variation, which varies with the environment in which they live in a balance between flexibility and stability. Populations can become too noetically unstable to survive. Also, with this form of memetic Lamarckianism, it is possible for animals to adapt themselves into evolutionary dead ends so that they cannot escape a certain way of thinking or of doing things, which may lead them into situations they cannot evolve out of. However, this is no more likely than an organism physically evolving into such a dead end.

Because of their differing and sometimes somewhat unstable mental structures individuals and groups of animals can acquire a sudden 'breakthrough' - a noetic mutation - that gives them an advantage. Because they are thus likely to dominate those without it, the advantage can quickly be spread across their home range, being passed on by the way young creatures are raised by their parents, the lack of a genetic component allow the faster spreading of such advantages. This is mental evolution by a form of punctuated equilibrium [a theory in evolutionary biology proposing that most species will experience little evolutionary change for most of their history and that when evolution occurs, it is localized in rare, rapid events of change and diversification].


Back to the Top GENDERS, LIFE CYCLE AND REPRODUCTION

All macroscopic multi-cellular animals on Vvuurrukst are hermaphroditic, but require genetic material from another individual of the same species in order to reproduce; they cannot self-fertilise. They gain this genetic material by eating part of the other individual. The eaten part has nodules of 'stem cells' containing a half genetic code (equivalent to sperm) scattered through it.

In some animals the genetic material resides in something not unlike sub-nuclei within the larger cell; in others it is contained in nested genetically distinct cells within the large cells making up the body of the animal. In some groups of animals, including the Wustrtuu, evolution has driven the development of a specialised appendage which is eaten when reproducing. This appendage typically has no pain receptors and a compartmentalised blood supply so that its being eaten causes as little pain and blood loss as possible to the individual bearing it.

Some creatures can eat parts of more than one other creature of their own species, with impregnation essentially at random from among the eaten genes. With others the new part replaces the genes from the old eaten part.

There is a time delay of perhaps a day after eating during which the genetic material is digested out of the ingested part, combined with the genetic material of the eater and used to produce a number of zygotes made up of a number of undifferentiated virus-like cells. Once these cells have developed impregnation can occur.

Rather than having organs to grow and support their young, the animals of Vvuurrukst instead grow within a host creature that can be genetically unrelated to either parent.

Offspring grow by a process that combines aspects of Earthly viruses, cancer and tumour growth. The parent injects a host creature with a zygote made up of a mass of virus-like cells, each of which holds the genetic material of the new individual. This host creature cannot be too different to the parent [so an equivalent of mammal-to-mammal would work, or reptile-to-reptile, but not reptile-to-mammal or vice versa]. Some of these injected cells are inevitably lost in this process, but at least some survive. They infect cells in the host organism, subverting them to begin cellular division, but using, and reproducing, the new genetic material rather than that of the host, to form tumour-like cell clusters - effectively neoplasms containing the genetic material of the parent.

As these cell clusters grow, they plumb themselves into the circulatory system of the host, and also meet and merge with other clusters of viral cells. In general, as the injection is in one place all of the subverted cells normally merge into a single new individual. However, if some become too far apart from the others - perhaps by being carried in the blood steam - it is possible for them to develop separately into the equivalent of multiple births. Some animals do this deliberately to produce multiple births. In some cases a host can be injected with zygotes from more than one individual, and these can also merge as they grow to form a chimera made up of two or more different populations of genetically distinct cells. Unlike cancer the viral cells do not spread to other parts of the body [metastasize], but grow only where they are initially injected or settle.

When these merged cell clusters grow above a certain size they begin to differentiate into a foetus which then develops into a new organism of the parent species. When the new organism is sufficiently well developed - which in most cases means that it is physically well-developed and at near to its adult size - it eats or cuts its way out of the host and begins independent life. How much effect all of this has on the host depends on the relative sizes of host and offspring, but can vary from inconvenience and discomfort to agonising death. Certainly if cell clusters grow in the wrong place, such as the brain or heart, then this will obviously be fatal to the host.

In most creatures the immune system of the host attempts to fight off the effects of a zygote injection. Thus many Vvuurrukstian creatures have very strong immune systems and a high degree of resistance to cancer and similar diseases. Because of this the injected zygote cells often actively attack or suppress the immune system of the host, or subvert it to be ignored. This does not always work, so not all impregnations succeed. The use of cancerous reproduction evolved in animals because the use of (more simple) parasitism became more difficult due to the evolving immune systems of the host creatures detecting and rejecting the implanted parasite, and also because implanting a parasitic offspring is rather hit and miss regarding its location and the goodness of the food supply and protection of the embryo. A mutation in which a group of animals developed the cancerous method allowed them to more readily avoid the immune system of the host, as well as growing the correct environment for the embryo regardless of its location in the host, giving a higher success rate for their offspring, and allowing them to dominate. There are still some animals that reproduce via parasite offspring, but they are very much a minority.

Some animals have evolved to have what is effectively a womb into which the fertilised viral cells are injected and inside which the offspring grows in what might be considered to be 'normal' (if hermaphroditic) sexual reproduction. There are also parasitic creatures that act as 'cuckoos', putting their offspring into the 'womb' of a host where it replaces the true offspring with another. Some animals specialise in implanting their offspring into a small range of hosts; others, including the Wustrtuu, are generalists and can impregnate any animal.

There are creatures of the same species that fight at the breeding season not to mate as such but to determine which individuals are impregnated and which do the impregnating.

Some animals have mutualistic relationships with other species. In these relationships one (normally the larger) species hosts the offspring of the other in return for (for example) protection from predators or a supply of food. Some creatures that make use of these relationships also have a 'womb'. Other creatures are simply parasites on the host, exploiting it for their own ends. Other still are parasitoids and use the injection of young to also eventually kill the host, providing a supply of food for the young once it hatches.

Because of this the animals of Vvvuurrukst have far more parasitic, symbiotic and so on relationships among different species than is the case on Earth.

The most extreme examples of the mutualistic relationships among animals on Vvuurrukst are a group of 'mother' creatures. These have well-developed 'wombs' in which they host the young of one or more other species in return for food and protection, as well as the carrying of its genetic material to others of its kind.

Within this group the most extreme form of these 'mother' creatures are entirely immobile 'mother mounds', an old group of creatures in a stable niche that have not changed very much in a long time. They provide many 'wombs' for hosting the young of their symbiotic protectors. Different species are of different sizes, but all have very little in the way of intelligence or senses. Some of these animals live in symbiosis with 'rat-bees' or amoeboid creatures to provide gene exchange with others of their species. Others have motile macroscopic gene packets.

Among some creatures the young of the species are the ones that have the mating parts that are eaten. Their greater regenerative powers help them grow them and re-grow them over time. For creatures of this type the end of this is the generally accepted transition to adulthood.

Some animals lay 'eggs', budding off self-contained 'cancers' that grow and develop. Others go through generations with the generations of a host creature as a form of inherited cancer. Others again have two species which alternate generations; one lives while the second grows inside it; the first dies as the second emerges, with a 'cancer' of the first growing inside it; a 'yin-yang' life cycle.

A small number of (mostly related) species of carnivorous animal use specialised injections of modified viral cells to kill prey via a severe allergic reaction. Others use viral cells modified in a different way to digest prey alive prior to eating it.

As with reproduction on Earth, there is a failure rate associated with the Vvuurrukst method of reproduction. This tends to be of one of two types. In the first, the growing young fails to develop properly and dies within the host. In this case it may simply remain in the host as an inactive mass of cells, or it may be reabsorbed by the host. At the other extreme the young develops into a malignant tumour which grows in an uncontrolled fashion, consuming resources until it either is removed or kills the host.


Back to the Top ANIMAL DEVELOPMENT

Because of the high degree of neuroplasticity in their chemical brains, none of the animals of Vvuurrukst possess a high degree of instinctive behaviour. Instead all but the very simplest animals must learn how to live and survive from their parents or other such individuals, otherwise they will remain incapable of all but the simplest behaviour and most likely not survive. Thus their lack of instinctivity means that most creatures have to care for their offspring, and that nature, which supplies the basic 'hardware' only, is much less important than nurture for Vvuurrukstian animals.

Because of this the raising of the young involves a very high degree of contact with and observation of others from the very start of life, that is, from even before they are born. This is effectively continuum concept parenting. If this is not done, the young creature develops with 'holes' in its understanding that can lead to all kinds of problems in later life.

Because of this there are a number of ways animals on Vvuurrukst care for and raise their offspring.

Because of the need to teach the next generation most of the animals of Vvuurrukst, including the Wustrtuu, have very good memories of their pre-birth lives [as they begin to develop consciousness then, much as Earth animals do], birth and early childhoods. The do not have to use these memories, but they can and most do.


Back to the Top TYPES OF ANIMALS

As on Earth, the original life forms of Vvvuurrukst were microscopic single-celled organisms, and there are still a vast number of species of these types of creature on Vvvuurrukst. However, from this point Vvvuurrukstian life has diverged from Earth-type life. This divergence took the form of the growth of single-celled organisms into larger and larger sizes, until they became macroscopic. It was from these macroscopic single-celled organisms that the first multi-cellular organisms evolved, and these retain the large cells that made up their ancestors to this day.

In the oceans of Vvvuurrukst multi-cellular animals evolved into a wide variety of forms, some worm-like, some jellyfish-like, some tentacled and ball-like [not unlike a soft spine-less sea urchin].


Back to the Top THE DOMINANT FORMS

In time a number of chance evolutionary factors led to the ball-like animals coming to dominate and be the most successful of the animal types. As more time passed the ball-like animals diverged into two groups, one retaining the large number of tentacles of the ancestral group, the other evolving a smaller number of stronger tentacles.

Further evolution of this last group led to the dominant animals on Vvvuurrukst becoming a type of spherically symmetrical animal with its four tentacles evenly arranged in a tetrahedral configuration. These creatures have four largely identical limbs, four combined breathing/mouth/anus/reproductive openings, one opposite to each limb, and six sets of sense organs mid-way between each pair of limbs.

Evolution drove the tetrahedral animals into a wide variety of forms. Some remained spherically or radially symmetrical, while others adopted bilateral symmetry. During this time both groups of tetrahedral creatures evolved eyes and sight; because of their six-fold sense organs most of these animals have six eyes, the size(s) and arrangement of which vary depending on their body plan. As part of this evolutionary radiation the limbs became more specialised and in many cases what were combined breathing/mouth/anus/reproductive openings became a single-use orifice.

The bilaterally symmetrical forms evolved into active swimming forms at least three times, in which one limb is the propulsive tail and the other three limbs form fins. One group has a vertical tail [like fish on Earth] while the other has a horizontal tail [like cetaceans on Earth]. A smaller third group uses jet propulsion. As part of this they also evolved bony skeletons.

Eventually, some time after plants adapted to life on land, these types of creatures emerged from the oceans and colonised the land surface of Vvvuurrukst. Evolution again drove them to adopt a wide range of forms. Some have three legs and another specialised limb; these types are mainly bilaterally symmetrical, but some have re-evolved radial symmetry. Another group are bipedal. Another are a kangaroo-equivalent with one limb as a jumping leg, one as a balancing tail, and the last two as balancing and manipulatory forelimbs. Others, the most widespread type, have evolved into four-limbed creatures, with their tetrahedral structure skewed to create a form that may be symmetrical externally, but is anything but internally. A small subset of these animals have evolved rolling at speed as their main form of locomotion. These are largely found in flat, mainly obstruction-free environments such as plains and deserts.

Although none of these creatures are warm-blooded as mammals are, generating body heat internally, the larger of them maintain a stable body temperature by virtue of their size in a process known as inertial homeothermy. Some of these also have insulating layers or fur-like skin coverings to assist with this.


Back to the Top OTHER MULTI-CELLULAR ANIMALS

Evolution drove the divergence of the jellyfish-like animals into two sub-types. One remained essentially jellyfish, with only minimal intelligence and senses. The second developed higher intelligence and a more developed musculature, becoming something not unlike starfish on Earth. Although they did not develop vision beyond the ability to sense the levels and very rough directionality of ambient light, they did develop electroreception, the use of electric fields generated by their bodies to sense objects around them.

In time members of this latter group with five-fold radial symmetry came to dominate [roughly analogous to echinoderms on Earth]. Further mutation and evolution split this group into two, one whose tentacles branched down their length into a number of smaller ones, so that five at the root might be twenty or forty at the tip, and another whose tentacles remained singular to the tip.

With multi-branched tentacles came the need for more of a central brain to coordinate everything, and to provide more planning and anticipation. In time some of these animals developed sophisticated thermoregulation mechanisms to keep their brains at a constant temperature, so that they worked better and more consistently. These types of animals thus became the most intelligent on Vvuurrukst. [They are not fully warm-blooded like mammals on Earth, but instead only warm parts of their body, such as the brain and sense organs, in a manner similar to the swordfish on Earth, which heats only its eyes and brain.]

Some time after the emergence of the spherically symmetrical forms onto the land a number of the radially symmetrical forms of animal life also made the transition to the land. These included both the worm-like and starfish-like forms, but not the jellyfish-like ones. This group had not evolved true sight, although they could sense the levels and very rough directionality of ambient light. However, they were more intelligent than other animals, and did have acute senses of hearing, chemoreception [taste and smell] and electroreception that allowed them to successfully adapt to life on land, in particular coming to live in a number of nocturnal niches.

Adaptation to different environments caused the starfish-like animals to evolve a wide range of different forms, from domes with many small legs, to domes with larger or longer legs, or similar types with ellipsoidal bodies, to brachiators that used prehensile tentacles to climb.

Much later than the radially and bilaterally symmetrical forms, some of the spherically symmetrical types also emerged onto the land. Many of them retained the spherically symmetrical form of their ancestors. Others evolved into a radially symmetrical form. Although sighted, like the bilaterally symmetrical forms, because of the existing dominance of the ball-like animal forms, they remained a minor component of land life, inhabiting a few niches not already taken by other forms of life.


Back to the Top LAND-LIVING SINGLE-CELLED ORGANISMS

The third group of land animals, making up the equivalent of insects and arthropods generally on Vvuurrukst, are large land-living macroscopic single-celled organisms that emerged from the sea billions of years ago [these are based on there being grape-sized amoebas in the depths of the Earth's oceans with a volume of some 14 cubic centimetres]. Since then they have specialised to fill a great many ecological niches, with any number of adaptations to different conditions, even to having shells and an equivalent of lungs. Some of these land-living amoeboid creatures are very flat to increase their surface area for gas exchange. Others again go further and have grass-like, branched or otherwise fractal surfaces to maximise their surface area for gas exchange.

All of these creatures can, like bacteria on Earth, exchange genetic material with most other such creatures, regardless of nominal species, through a process of conjugation. This makes them highly adaptable and successful.


Back to the Top CLADOGRAM

The following is a very rough cladogram of Vvuurrukstian animal life [each line represents a clade, with the name of the clade above it]:

A cladogram of Vvvuurrukstian Animals


Back to the Top SENSES


Back to the Top SIGHT

The dominant and originally spherically-symmetrical animals of Vvvuurrukst are the only animals to have developed true sight analogous to that of animals on Earth. Originally possessing six eyes to match their six clusters of sense organs, over time evolution has in some cases rendered some eyes vestigial or removed them altogether. In others they have become clustered or positioned in different location depending on their needs of their lifestyle. Different groups of creatures have evolved to have simple eyes, compound eyes or some combination of both of these, depending on their needs.

The minority radially symmetrical animals, as well as the giant single-celled organisms do not have eyes as such. However, they can sense the levels and rough directionality of ambient light.

Because of the somewhat redder spectral output of the stars Kttvo and Bztvonn, the eyes of all of the animals of Vvvuurrukst see somewhat further into the red part of the spectrum than is the case with Earth life, but less far into the blue region of the spectrum.


Back to the Top HEARING

Because the intensity of sound is proportional to the square of atmospheric pressure, the air of Vvvuurrukst transmits sound some 30% as effectively as that of the Earth [that is, for a sound source of the same intensity on Vvvuurrukst it will become inaudible at 30% of the distance it would do so on Earth].

Evolution has driven two responses to this by Vvvuurrukstian animals. In some, the sense of hearing has atrophied so the point of near uselessness, with the animals becoming reliant on other senses, in particularly sight and smell. In others, particularly the radially symmetrical group in which true sight has not evolved, the sense of hearing has evolved in the other direction, to become extremely sensitive. The bodies of such animals are often dotted with sound sensing organs [not unlike the tympanal organs of Earth insects] that provide them extremely sensitive and directional hearing. Many of these creatures use active sound generation to provide a form of sonar.

An additional adaptation used by a number of types of animals is the evolution of a form of seismic (vibration) sensing through the feet [not unlike that of elephants on Earth]. This allows them to potentially detect motion and also communicate over longer distances than would be possible for sound transmitted through air.

Because water transmits sound as effectively on Vvvuurrukst as it does on Earth, on average aquatic creatures hear better than land creatures. Some of them possess a natural sonar sense.

Many animals develop hearing before birth, and so can begin to learn about their environment, and be trained by their parents or others, even before they are born.


Back to the Top ELECTRORECEPTION

The radially symmetrical animals of Vvvuurrukst which formed the ancestors of the land-living types of these long ago evolved electroreception, the use of electric fields generated by their bodies to sense objects around them by the way they interact with these fields. Because of their lack of true sight these animals have evolved this sense to a very high degree, giving them an acute awareness of an area some metres in radius about themselves in all directions.

Because of their ability to generate and sense these electric fields many of these animals have also evolved the ability to communicate using electrical fields [electrocommunication]; some types use this in addition to sound, while in others electrocommunication entirely replaces sound-based communication [see here and here for more on this as it relates to Earth animals].

In creatures with this sense it is common for it to develop before the creature is born [not unlike hearing in humans, and indeed in Vvvuurrukstian animals]. As with hearing, this allows them to begin to learn about their environment, and be trained by their parents or others, even before they are born.


Back to the Top CHEMORECEPTION

In most of the animals of Vvvuurrukst separate senses of smell and taste have not evolved. Instead a single chemoreceptive sense combines the two tasks into one. In Vvvuurrukstian animals the chemoreceptive sense is not associated with the respiratory system as it is in Earth animals but instead chemosensor organs are scattered across the surface of the skin, so that they constantly smell the air around them and also taste objects that they are touching. Many animals have antenna-like fronds to detect chemicals in the air, and to provide some form of directional detection [not unlike snakes on Earth].

Like Earth animals the chemoreceptive sense is used to find food, track prey, find mates, avoid poisons and so on. How sensitive this sense is, is very dependant on the type of animal possessing it; some are acutely sensitive, while others are fairly insensitive.


Back to the Top MAGNETOCEPTION

The strong magnetic field of Vvvuurrukst means that most of the animals of Vvvuurrukst possess magnetoception, the ability to sense magnetic fields and their direction, that they use for navigation and so on. Many animals become at least confused in the absence of such a magnetic field.


Back to the Top THE VOVODZUUAA [THE PREDECESSORS]

Dotted across the Kttvo-Bztvonn system are the remnants of an ancient sentient species, now apparently extinct. These are some 1.6 billion years old. Geological evidence from Vvuurrukst, preserved by its low level of geological activity, indicates that the ancient race evolved there, but other than that very little is known about them. Their main remains are on tectonically inactive bodies such as Twttzbshoort as well as Stllztrraa, Llvozkzbkt and some of the moons of Aahhzb and Sstrff. They consist of the ruins of buildings, mines, tunnels and so on, and have been stripped of any clues as to the race that built them. This race has become known as the Vovodzuuaa [the Predecessors].


Back to the Top THE WUSTRTUU

The Wustrtuu are omnivorous creatures that form part of the non-dominant radially symmetrical group of Vvvuurrukstian animals. They evolved on a largely isolated triangular island continent, an environment that allowed the sightless radially symmetrical creatures to dominate the ecosystem.

Their ancestral creature was a flat starfish-like cliff-dwelling hunter that required more central brainpower and limb control than similar creatures in other niches. This brainpower was advantageous in other ways, in particular allowing them to work together to achieve goals and acquire food that they could not do alone. Thus it was kept as the ancestral creature evolved into other niches, away from cliffs to mountains and forests, becoming brachiators and in the process more as they are now. From there they developed to live on flat land, becoming full walkers in the process. As the ancestral Wustrtuu were relatively small hunter/omnivores [omnivores with a carnivorous bent], not unlike pack raccoons, their relatively high intelligence was again retained as a great advantage to them.

Over millions of years, tectonic activity, silting of parts of the ocean and other geological changes built up land bridges between the triangular continent and the adjacent continents, where the ecosystems were dominated by sighted spherically symmetrical creatures. The migration of sighted creatures onto the triangular continent utterly disrupted the ecosystem there as the better-adapted sighted creatures displaced the native creatures. Many native creatures became extinct, and others had to adapt to new niches and lifestyles. The proto-Wustrtuu were one such group. Their acute hearing and chemoception, plus their use of active and passive electroreception at close range allowed them to survive well enough to avoid extinction, and this evolutionary pressure drove them to become more clever, nocturnal - as their lack of sight was then not so much of a disadvantage, though they could be active in daylight if required - and, eventually, into sentience.

Physically, a Wustrtuu is some three metres tall, but with a small body and relatively thin limbs. Thus they nonetheless mass perhaps half as much as an average human. Like some of the other radially symmetrical creatures on Vvvuurrukst they are semi-warm blooded, with their chemical brain and sense organs held at a constant temperature while the temperature of the rest of their body varies with that of the environment. They are resistant to the cold, with a natural antifreeze in their blood. Thus a Wustrtuu needs less food than a human, and because of the very dry environment of Vvvuurrukst also less water. So although Vvvuurrukst could not support as many humans as the Earth can, it can support a much larger population of Wustrtuu.

Similarly to the related animals of Vvvuurrukst, the Wustrtuu are five-fold radially symmetrical. In terms of body plan, the Wustrtuu consist of an ovoid central body suspended below the junction of five multiply-branched tentacular limbs. These limbs act as both arms and legs, with the main trunk of each tentacle supporting their weight and the thinner branches providing manipulative and sensory ability. Some branches are held raised to help increase sensory acuity. Each limb branches essentially at random, so that the limbs of individuals all differ from one another, as do limbs between individuals. Each tentacle and branch is tipped with small hard nail or hoof-like structure, to protect them.

Their bodies are covered in hairless skin that is a pale purplish-white on their upper surfaces, with darker blue-black undersides. However, given their large number of flexible tentacles this is often less than obvious. With training a Wustrtuu can flex their limbs to present a zebra-like camouflage pattern that breaks up their outline still further. Of course, before the invention of Wustrtuu-compatible video technology, they had no idea why such a thing worked, simply that it did. The skin is dotted with sound sensing organs [not unlike the tympanal organs of Earth insects] that provide them extremely sensitive and direction hearing.

A picture of a typical Wustrtuu is shown below:

Thumbnail of Wustrtuu image

Dangling from the bottom of the body is the part of the body that holds their genetic material and that is eaten by a partner. This is a limp tentacle with no muscles made up of a roughly segmented chain of single cells. It grows constantly from its base at a slow rate, so that fresh genetic material is always available, and its blood supply is adapted so that when a segment is removed the blood vessels above the eaten part constrict to stop blood flow. Because of the limited blood supply of this body part if it becomes too long the end may begin to suffer from oxygen deprivation. If this occurs then its owner will normally trim the end by eating it, leaving fresh segments available for mating; doing so is something of a nervous tic among Wustrtuu. It cannot cause the Wustrtuu to create injectable viral cell clusters as they cannot self-fertilise. Having a reproductive segment eaten is somewhat painful, but only briefly [the analogous feeling to a human might be pulling off a hangnail], and also has a certain sense of relief to it.

The reproductive segment of another Wustrtuu that is eaten to reproduce tastes delicious to them, a fantastic orgasmic kind of taste. This is an evolutionary adaptation to encourage such ingestion.

Also at the lower end of the body is a single opening that functions as a combined mouth, anus and sexual opening. They have no sense of taste or smell in their mouths; it is instead located in their limbs. Inside this opening they have a five-way jaw/mouth not unlike that of a sea urchin on Earth. Above this is the digestive system, which includes a secondary part for digesting genetic material out of the eaten reproductive parts of another. In the centre of the body, where the temperature is most stable, are the series of chemical sacs that make up the brain of the Wustrtuu. Above this is a complex ten-chambered heart surrounded by the five highly efficient lungs they use to extract as much oxygen as possible from the air of Vvvuurrukst [like those of other animals on Vvvuurrukst these are not unlike the lungs of birds on Earth]. Each lung connects to the outside world via a nostril on the top of the body that includes highly efficient dust-filtering mechanisms. The lungs are supplemented by a system of trachea not unlike those of insects on Earth. The nostrils also contain structures to produce the multi-tonal whistling sounds that make up audible Wustrtuu language.

Also tucked inside a pouch in the mouth of each Wustrtuu is a second tentacle. Unlike the eaten part, this is shorter, stronger and very much under their control, and is tipped with a hard needle-like horn. It is used to inject mature viral cell clusters into a host creature. Not unlike the eating of the genetic material of another, the injecting of genetic material into a host has an orgasmic kind of pleasure to it, though one different to eating genetic material. This again is an evolutionary adaptation to encourage injection.

Individual Wustrtuu are not terribly strong, but they are fast (though not the fastest creatures on their world) and dextrous, with their many manipulative limbs which they use ambidextrously. Because of their physical weakness they have always lived and worked in groups and most of them, when alone, feel vulnerable and afraid, that is they have a racial form of (mild) autophobia [fear of being alone]. They can function when alone, but less well than when in the company of others. Tricks such as the use of recorded sounds, scents and so on can alleviate these feelings by fooling their subconscious minds into believing they are not alone.

Like related creatures the Wustrtuu have no eyes, but they do crudely sense light levels - though not colours - through receptor cells that are sparsely scattered across their skins. Because of this they can tell whether it is light or dark - the overall light level - and also, very roughly, the direction from which any sufficiently bright light is coming.

Sound icon

Like their ancestral creatures, the Wustrtuu have very acute senses of hearing and chemoreception [combined smell and taste], as well as active and passive electroreception. Their chemoreception is sufficiently acute that they can identify individuals and track by scent. Like many other animals on Vvvuurrukst the Wustrtuu also possess a magnetic field sense. [Were the electroreception of a Wustrtuu to be translated to audio it would be heard as a highly complex set of sounds over many frequencies, like something combining multi-layered noise, Theremin music and rhythmic signals; the icon to the right links to an example of this.]

Because of their high intelligence the Wustrtuu have quite large young. Because of this they require large hosts for them. As such a Wustrtuu cannot host a young Wustrtuu and survive, and so in general animals are used as hosts.


Back to the Top THE LIMBS

In addition to object handling provided by their numerous branches, and their contribution to walking, the limbs are where the senses of hearing, chemoreception and electroreception are located. As such each of the five limbs of a Wustrtuu is a complex system in its own right. Because of this flexibility and complexity, each limb of a Wustrtuu is not controlled in detail from its brain as (for example) a human hand is. Instead the limbs of a Wustrtuu are semi-autonomous, like those of an Earth octopus [see also here]. The central brain gives them instructions on what to do, and each limb decides how to do it, often helped by their electroreceptive sense allowing them to monitor their position and those of the other limbs, and aid in their control of them.

Because each limb has hearing, taste, smell and electroreceptive senses they can sense and respond to things without reference to the central brain much more than [for example] human limbs can. Another effect of this autonomy is that some limbs have distinct personalities, and because it is the limbs that read, write, 'see' and speak (at least via electroreception) different limbs can have different 'handwriting' and 'voices'. In a very few Wustrtuu they can even talk for themselves, if crudely, and many mutter quietly via electrospeech.

As among humans, the functioning of the central brain of an individual Wustrtuu lies on a spectrum from low to high intelligence, which subdivides into sub-types of intelligence, such as mathematical ability, perceptiveness and so on. However, in the Wustrtuu, each limb also has an intelligence, although limb intelligence is by no means the same as overall intelligence. Thus it is possible for a Wustrtuu to be clever and their limbs to be stupid, and vice versa. "One who's limbs are more intelligent than they are," is a Wustrtuu insult related to this. Some individuals have just one 'clever' limb while others have more, and precisely how intelligence is distributed among their limbs varies from individual to individual [this is very roughly equivalent to handedness among them].

Limbs and brain are linked by non-verbal communication. Perceptually this is not unlike a human remembering or realising something. In most individuals brain and limbs are reasonably well integrated, with limbs being effectively friends of the brain, and vice versa. Thus limbs do normally do as they are told but with quirks, a need for sometimes being told and so on, which gives the Wustrtuu a whole new meaning to 'talking to oneself'. Even in the most well-integrated individual limbs sometimes act on their own in a manner not unlike a more complex version of human twitching and reflexes.

The distinct personalities of limbs can, if unchecked, become very different to that of the central brain. Sometimes one or more limbs can be 'sulky' or otherwise uncooperative; this can especially happen if they are injured, tired or otherwise not fully functional.

In some, who may be considered mad, the integration between limbs and brain does not occur properly, and one or more limbs act independently to a greater or lesser degree. At its worst an individual can suffer from 'enemy limb syndrome', a psychological disease where one or more limbs become hostile to their owner.


Back to the Top WUSTRTUU HISTORY


Back to the Top THE DZDZUK MMMUUAA [TIME OF ANIMALS]

The Wustrtuu evolved on a largely isolated triangular island continent, and from there spread out across Vvvuurrukst as a whole.

The great mental plasticity of the proto-Wustrtuu meant that even though they had the mental capacity for sentience, as represented by actual brain size and complexity, they did not become sentient simply as a result of reaching that critical capacity. Instead they continued as clever animals until an individual with the appropriate noetic mutation made that noetic jump into sentience. Because of its advantages this mutation was passed on to its group, and then to the species at large. So unlike humans, the Wustrtuu did not gradually climb from non-sentient to sentient, but suddenly became sentient, almost overnight in evolutionary terms. Because of this it is possible, though unlikely, that non-sentient Wustrtuu still exist in very isolated parts of Vvvuurrukst. The time period before the jump to sentience is known as the Dzdzuk Mmmuuaa [Time of Animals].


Back to the Top THE ZTLLT MMMUUAA [TIME OF VILLAGES]

Since then new ways of thought have, from time to time, spread through the Wustrtuu population (as also happens with other creatures). These have tended to improve their minds by having some advantage over the mental structures that went before.

The low oxygen levels of the atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst, which inhibit natural fire there, have had a major influence on the history and technological advancement of the Wustrtuu. In prehistoric times fire was utterly unknown to most Wustrtuu. There were volcanoes and lightning, but no fire as such.

Despite this disadvantage, the primitive Wustrtuu did develop technology, using naturally available materials such as stone, wood and chemicals rather than fire and metals. This included the development of writing and a paper-equivalent. Their civilisations were sophisticated, but technologically primitive [not unlike the Aztecs and Maya on Earth]. Instead of fire they developed a number of technologies based on chemical treatments of materials, from food to building materials, to improve them in some desired way.

Not unlike humans, over time the Wustrtuu domesticated a number of the animals of their world and used them in various roles. Initially domesticated for food and/or as hosts for their young, like humans they also began to make use of animals whose senses extend beyond those of themselves, and in particular of a number of kinds of sighted animals that they used for warning, tracking, or as beasts of burden. They did not come to use riding beasts as they are hard to control without eyesight. These domestic animals greatly assisted the growth and spread of Wustrtuu civilisation, and continue to be used into the present day, even where technology could do a similar job. [Given the high level of neuroplasticity of Vvuurrukstian animals it did not take long for the Wustrtuu to domesticate animals; because of their close association with the Wustrtuu these animals have long been considered to be of the same noetic species as the Wustrtuu themselves.]

Because of the great neuroplasticity of the Wustrtuu their sociocultural evolution has taken a very different path to that of humanity. With different groups geographically isolated from one another, noetic evolution caused rapid noetic divergence between them, and the Wustrtuu became divided between a number of different cultures and states, with, in many cases, the cultures and so on being very different, very alien, to one another [far more so than, for example, seventeenth century Japanese were to seventeenth century Europeans, all of whom share the same basic mental structure].

As different Wustrtuu noetic groups inevitably came into contact as they expanded and grew in power, the great differences between them inevitably led to warfare and conquest, even with the evolution of groups of translators to help to ease communications and so reduce misunderstandings between the different groups. However, warfare among them was very different to that of humans, as they could not use ranged weapons beyond the range of their electroreception, that is further than metres away. Instead they relied on melee weapons, in particular ones made of wood and stone [not unlike the Aztec Macuahuitl].

Because of the alien-ness even of other members of their species, there have been many more instances of ethnocide or cultural genocide [that is, extermination of cultures and ways of thinking, though not of the individuals of that ethnicity, which would be genocide] over the course of Wustrtuu history than among humanity. There are also more instances of conquered or otherwise assimilated populations being made second class citizens, not allowed to reproduce or with their offspring being taken away to be raised in the dominant culture. In many of these cases there is only a single generation of these second class citizens, with their offspring being part of the dominant culture. With the medical ability to do so, most of these second-class citizens are lobotomised or otherwise rendered unable to pass on their unwanted ways of thinking to future generations.

However, even in the Wustrtuu equivalent of a small primitive hunter-gather band, where all roles are roughly the same, there are noetic evolutionary forces driving different groups - hunters, trackers, leaders and so on - apart. In a small group, everyone knows everyone else and this counteracts the divergences arising from their different individual roles.

The development of any kind of technological civilisation by the Wustrtuu, with its larger settlements and associated requirements for specialisation and diversification of roles even for relatively primitive technology, as well as the simple pressures of life in a technological civilisation drove different parts of society along multiple rapid paths of noetic evolution. This arose from the fact that in larger settlements the personal links between all groups and inhabitants do not exist. From this came the development of new and different noetic groups and so inevitably to societal fragmentation [as if jocks, nerds, class clowns and so on rapidly diverged in terms of manner of thought and schismed themselves, into something like Eloi and Morloks in terms of behaviour, until within a small number of generations they could no longer comprehensibly talk to one another]. The more advanced a society became, the more divergence occurred until a breaking point was reached beyond which it could not survive. This led to the fall of a great many early Wustrtuu civilisations, all of them victims of their own success, and restricted them to little more than a village-based level of development for a very long time.

During this time, known as the Ztllt Mmmuuaa [Time of Villages], trade routes developed slowly, following routes known since time immemorial and from there out across more inhospitable lands. These routes were often marked by scents and wind-powered whistles, often carved into the rocks themselves. Travel was assisted by the Wustrtuu being aware of light and darkness, and so being able to orient themselves relative to the suns. But even so, given their lack of sight, it was a hazardous undertaking. Travel on the trackless oceans of Vvvuurrukst was utterly impossible, even disregarding the limitations it suffers because of the thinner air of Vvvuurrukst giving less wind power to drive ships


Back to the Top THE LLNNRTZK MMMUUAA [TIME OF FLUX]

The Wustrtuu only escaped this civilisational stagnation thanks to another noetic mutation. In this case, it was the development of what became known as Zkuktnn [Connectives], a noetic species with the ability to think in more than one way at the same time. This allowed them to act as (somewhat schizophrenic) intermediaries between other noetic species sharing the same noetic roots that are otherwise be too different to communicate directly. That is, among the divergent noetic species arising when a society became sufficiently advanced and diverse. Because of the great advantages this noetic mutation brought, in almost an eye-blink of historical time societies that included Zkuktnn, which could now successfully form cities, large organisations and so on, swept away those that did not all over Vvvuurrukst, and soon began to war against one another for supremacy.

The development of towns, cities and technology were also hindered by the noise and stink of many individuals living in close proximity, which because of their acute senses of hearing and chemoreception were much more of a problem for the Wustrtuu than for primitive humanity. A noetic mutation for noise tolerance and the ability to filter meaning from noisy environments was an eventual result of this. As another effect of this their settlements have always been much cleaner than human cities at an equivalent level of technology.

The appearance of the Zkuktnn inevitably led to the growth of a caste-based society as the norm for all Wustrtuu, with each caste being a separate noetic species held together by the Zkuktnn as well as by certain shared activities such as food and music. Because the Wustrtuu making up the different castes could be quite different to one another, and could certainly have different average intelligences, language abilities and so on these castes naturally organised themselves into a hierarchy based on ability and intelligence, again linked and held together by the Zkuktnn.

Even though the Zkuktnn allowed large groups to operate effectively together, the new Wustrtuu societies were hardly stable. Instead, as societies developed, new noetic species - new castes - constantly budded off and changed from the old ones, so that all Wustrtuu nations were in a state of constant flux. Sometimes new castes would integrate smoothly into the existing hierarchy. Sometimes they would leave. And sometimes they would disrupt the hierarchy, by pushing aside or superseding other castes to make a place for themselves. Sometimes this led to success for that society, and sometimes to disaster, and sometimes both, one after another.

During this Llnnrtzk Mmmuuaa [Time of Flux] - a period lasting some tens of thousands of years - there were two additional highly significant noetic mutations. The first of these was a noetic mutation that produced a more social form of the Wustrtuu. This form can, indeed has to, live close to others, and is able to tolerate higher population densities, with less privacy and space, than their ancestral forms [and indeed than humanity]. They are also more noise tolerant. They still had pride and within the social group struggled with one another for dominance and so on, but politely and not physically. This did not make them any less xenophobic, however.

The current more social forms of the Wustrtuu are not natural communists or mindless hive creatures. They are an intelligent, individualistic form which simply requires less privacy and space than the older forms, and who can maintain much larger social networks than them and also much larger than humans can.

This did come at the cost of some loss of creativity, but as it developed at a time when the race was already fairly populous and technologically developed this is not disastrous, and there are still some Wustrtuu who are highly creative, though a lower percentage than among [for example] humanity. And this, of course, does not take into account any processes used to create specialised castes based on their noetic configuration, some of whom could easily be more creative at a cost to their socialisation.

The second important noetic mutation was the development of the Stuurrssaa [Diplomats] out of the Zkuktnn. Like the Zkuktnn the Stuurrssaa could think in more than one way at the same time, but were able to sustain more radically different modes of thought than the Zkuktnn. This made them more schizophrenic than the Zkuktnn, but also able to act as intermediaries between noetic groups that did not share the same root, that is, between different Wustrtuu cultures, nations and states. With the development of the Stuurrssaa there was a reduction in the level of war and ethnocide on Vvvuurrukst, though of course it was not entirely eliminated.

Both of these noetic mutations brought success to those societies possessing them, and so also spread rapidly across Vvvuurrukst.

However, even with these noetic mutations, because of their inability to harness fire, the Wustrtuu were stuck at a low level of technology for a very long time, some hundreds of thousands of [Earth or Vvvuurrukstian] years.

Sometimes noetic mutations would occur that caused insane civilisations to arise. Although these would inevitably self-destruct, or be destroyed by others, some of these reached vast mad heights before they failed. The monstrous ruins of some of the works of these mad civilisations can still be seen in some parts of Vvvuurrukst.


Back to the Top THE VOZKVOW MMMUUAA [TIME OF FIRE]

The Llnnrtzk Mmmuuaa ended when a Wustrtuu group now known as the Xtzbooukss [The Fire People] - a civilisation based in one of the few volcanic areas of Vvvuurrukst - learned to use volcanic heat to work metals [on Earth, volcanic lava emerges at temperatures between 700 and 1300°C; much the same applies on Vvvuurrukst; this is sufficiently high to allow the smelting of metals such as gold, copper, bronze and brass, though not of iron, as well as fire ceramics and so on]. The Xtzbooukss used these advantages to make metal tool and weapons and, using them, expand and take over large areas, becoming the largest and most powerful nation on Vvvuurrukst.

During the growth of the Vozkvowubzhhdk [the Empire of Fire], a 'chemist' using volcanic heat accidentally found an oxidiser that allowed fire to be sustained even within the atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst. When they recovered from the explosion and (brief) conflagration that resulted from this, investigation led to the development and use of true fire, first as a weapon [for example in incendiary grenades], then as a tool.

Despite the best efforts of the Vozkvowubzhhdk the secret of fire spread among the civilisations of Vvvuurrukst. With its great advantage lost, the Vozkvowubzhhdk, based in an otherwise isolated and resource-poor region of Vvvuurrukst, fell behind other civilisations and was eventually dismembered by its neighbours.

Since then, as with humans, making fire has been the underpinning of all of the Wustrtuu technological civilisations. Like fire for humans it is an enabling technology, but one that is much more complex to do on Vvvuurrukst than it is on Earth. The time period after fire spread across Vvvuurrukst is known as the Vozkvow Mmmuuaa [Time of Fire].

With the mastery of fire, Wustrtuu technology began to advance more quickly. This included travel technology, as the mastery of fire allowed the construction of land lighthouses to aid navigation [although the Wustrtuu cannot see as such, they can detect light and changes in intensity, so that coded signals not unlike those of lighthouses work reasonably well for them].

Even so, the limits of their senses meant that the Wustrtuu developed more slowly than (for example) humanity. As in their previous history civilisation remained in a state of constant flux, with periodic civilisational rises and falls, as well as problems with internal clashes over political or ideological disagreements. In addition to these long-running problems, later civilisations also suffered from the fact that their predecessors had used up a great many of the natural resources - minerals and so on - of Vvvuurrukst. These resource problems could be, and were, overcome, but they did further hinder the technological development of the Wustrtuu as a whole.

One of the advances in technology during and since this period was the development of medical treatments to prolong physical life. At first these treatments were of little use as the noetic stability of the Wustrtuu brain was evolved for a certain physical life span. However, selection pressure for a longer noetic life also occurred as a longer noetic life gave an advantage in that an individual could have more offspring and so on, so extending the average physical lifespan.


Back to the Top THE ZKWTRRWU MMMUUAA [TIME OF STABILITY]

In one of the Wustrtuu cultures of Vvvuurrukst a group of scientists and academics became concerned that their species would not survive in the long term due to resource depletion and conflict. They wished to improve the lot of the Wustrtuu race, and their advancement, by eliminating the constant social flux that occurred among them. In time they concluded that to do so they needed some means of controlling and channelling the noetic evolution of their race, while allowing it to continue to adapt to changing circumstances. They intended to take matters into their own hands rather continue to than rely on blind chance and noetic mutation.

The obvious way to do this was via the creation of another caste. This was not, of course, the first time in the history of the Wustrtuu that a group had attempted to make a new caste for some specific end, and indeed not the first time such an attempt had succeeded. It was, however, the first time it had been attempted by a group with such an academic background, and with such an end.

In time - over decades - the conspiracy, for such it was, developed a new caste combining elements of the Zkuktnn, Academics, Scientists, and Animal Trainer castes. They created a new caste, the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm [Caste Engineers], who formed a type of secret academic 'brotherhood' intended to tame and channel the noetic evolution of the Wustrtuu to more constructive ends. In this they were helped by elements within the leadership of their nation who supported their goals.

And in time they succeeded. With the creation of the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm the flux and change of their society was tamed, slowed, channelled and brought under some degree of control. Their nation was able to become more powerful and organised because of this increased stability, and was able to dominate significant areas of Vvvuurrukst. As such the creators of the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm were, and still are, celebrated there.

However, it did not take long for the secret of the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm to become known across Vvvuurrukst, thanks to espionage, treachery, bribery and so on, as well as to ideological and noetic schisms among the creators of the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm themselves. Thus variants of the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm spread through the nations of Vvvuurrukst and so although competition and discord among them was not eliminated, stability did spread, and the Wustrtuu did begin to advance more quickly. This was the beginning of the modern age, that is known as the Zkwtrrwu Mmmuuaa [Time of Stability].

Of course, it did not, in the end, go quite as its creators had planned...


Back to the Top CULTURE AND SOCIETY

Because of their high degree of neuroplasticity the Wustrtuu have a very wide range of different cultures and societies, far wider than is the case for (for example) humanity. However, there are common threads to all of their societies, based on their genetic and noetic evolutionary histories, and their history in general.

Wustrtuu society has developed from the pack/troop social organisation used by their non-sentient ancestors, with a number of Wustrtuu living in cooperative groups to survive. It has also been shaped by the need to provide a high level of care to their young to raise them to productive adulthood; this same need has driven most animals on Wustrtuu to be at least marginally social.

Because of their historical need to cooperate to find food and hunt, all Wustrtuu work well together and prefer to seek out company rather than be alone. As such they have little concept of privacy, and are often terrible gossips. On the other hand, because of their drive to succeed within the group - and thus to gain more reproductive success - they are also, as individuals, proud, feeling a need to ensure everyone else knows of their individual importance and being very concerned about individual success, wealth and social standing. Because of this there are constant dominance struggles within groups of Wustrtuu, although because of the noetic mutations that allowed them to live and work in large close groups these rarely descend into physical violence.

Thus because of their both social and proud natures, Wustrtuu society is full of gossip, plotting, social climbing, politics, shifting alliances and so on. They have no nobility as such; individuals may be born high on the social ladder but once adults they only remain there by their own efforts and those of their family.

They can be harsh and merciless to failure, and have very little concept of welfare or a welfare state. Instead they have what is effectively workfare, and indeed often the workhouse instead.

The combination of differing jobs/roles, along with nepotism, means that all Wustrtuu societies have a tendency to fragment into different groups. Because of this tendency to schism into new and different castes, only the evolution of the Zkuktnn [Connectives] has allowed technological civilisation been able to grow and prosper in the longer term. Even so, all of the dominant advanced and high-technology Wustrtuu societies on Vvuurrukst are caste-based ones, where all are part of a larger whole. Individuals buy into the caste system as they are told, and indeed can see, that the alternative is worse [and this is probably actually true!].

Zkuktnn [Connectives] and Nnsteetwtzkmdkm [Caste Engineers] are what allow Wustrtuu society to be unified (via the Zkuktnn) and able to adjust, adapt to and cope with change (both the Zkuktnn and Nnsteetwtzkmdkm). In addition to this the Wustrtuu try to build adaptability into their social system (if normally imperfectly), because they know that they will change, and if they do not adapt they will fail. Zkuktnn and Nnsteetwtzkmdkm provide a structure into which castes can slot, but the structure itself can (and must) also change. This change often consists of expansion, as the demands of technological society lead to more castes being necessary, but it also adapts to castes changing, or some castes being replaced by others. Thus Wustrtuu society is in fact highly robust against attempts by outsiders to disrupt or change it.

As a side effect of their acute sense of smell the Wustrtuu are all very aware of differences between themselves and outsiders, however that may be defined. Because of this chauvinism and the treatment of some individuals as lesser, second class, members of a group is almost universal among them.

The master-servant relationship that individual Wustrtuu have with their own limbs also means that the Wustrtuu are more accepting of the slavery or servitude of other individuals, or their being kept in subordinate social and political positions, than is the case with humans. On the other hand, and for the same reason, this subordination is coupled with respect for those in that condition too, as one must respect ones own body parts.

The competition between different Wustrtuu cultures and societies has also driven their social and noetic development. It has made the dominant Wustrtuu cultures and societies clever, innovative and aggressive but also essentially short-termist and reactive to events rather than proactive, as immediate needs inevitably gain higher priorities over long-term goals. This makes most Wustrtuu cultures essentially unsustainable in the long term. Therefore they tend to career from crisis to crisis, usually finding expedient solutions but not fundamentally changing. [This is not unlike an enhanced version of capitalist western civilisation from the real world.]

This short-termist and expediency-driven outlook drives the Wustrtuu to be expansionistic and growth-orientated in order to survive, but also - and basically inevitably - leads to disasters from time to time. This view gives members of all of the dominant Wustrtuu cultures a surface pessimism overlying a deeper and perhaps unrealistic optimism and they consider that, yes, bad things will happen, but that in the end they will pull through. This makes them all rather 'Micawberish'.

Of course, some Wustrtuu realise that their short-termism may doom them all in the longer term, but cannot stop it or their culture will lose to those who do not stop. Thus they are trapped. As one way to escape this trap more than one culture desires to take control of all Wustrtuu, and then impose a longer-term and more sustainable view on them all. This is, needless to say, a difficult proposition!

In the past there were a number of Wustrtuu societies that were in tune with nature and so on, primitive philosopher-types living sustainably on the land. They were wiped out by more expansionistic cultures. However, the dominant Wustrtuu cultures tend to be not very interested in history. Their short-termist view of the world discourages it. In addition, the fact that many older noetic groups - including in some cases their own ancestral groups - are essentially alien, and because of this difficult to comprehend, further discourages many of examining the past in any detail.

The Wustrtuu have always made great use of mass communications to bind societies together. The first such means was town criers making public announcements in the streets, but with the development of technology to do so, newspapers, radio and then other means of mass communications have largely taken over this role.

There have, in the past, been some attempts by some governments to force a fixed social hierarchy on the Wustrtuu. However, these have all failed, some of them disastrously, because of the occurrence of noetic evolution and mutation regardless of all attempts to control it. Others have attempted to stabilise society by avoiding nepotism and having all Wustrtuu start on an equal footing. This is also difficult to achieve. For the Wustrtuu caste systems seem to be the only practical way of including change within a roughly stable society.

Wustrtuu societies divide into two broad groupings depending on how their young are cared for. This split is between communal and parental care of the young. Most of the more successful Wustrtuu cultures make use of the latter as it allows individuals to become more competitive and expansionistic to maximise individual success (or that of the family), and so, generally, the success of their culture.

Because the raising of young Wustrtuu involves contact with and observation of others from the very start of life all Wustrtuu are raised using what is effectively the continuum concept parenting, that is near constant physical contact and interaction with those looking after them. If this is not done, their very plastic brains develop with 'holes' in their understanding leading to all kinds of problems in later life. Therefore crèches and the young being present in workplaces are very common among the Wustrtuu.

In most Wustrtuu castes it is possible for there to be love between individual Wustrtuu, and in particular those who pair-bond and care for their offspring in a family unit of some kind. Between partners this love does not have a protective elements to it [as a human man might have for his wife] as neither member of a pair is any more or less physically vulnerable than the other. On the other hand, most (though not all) Wustrtuu are highly protective of the host of their young, at the very least while they are carrying them if not necessarily afterwards. Wustrtuu are even more protective of their actual children. And of course, not unlike humans, most Wustrtuu can also feel jealousy and passion, and are entirely capable of committing crimes of passion if suitably provoked.

Some Wustrtuu cultures see themselves as the peak of evolution and so try to preserve their noetic groupings (phenotypes) as they currently stand. This means that many dominant groups have a tendency to drift into rigidity and stasis.

A minority take a more evolutionary view, and see themselves as inevitably being superseded, but as this will be by their own children, who will hopefully be better than themselves, do not object to this, and would see them adapt and advance down the generations.

Even with their efforts to maintain societies in a relatively stable, correctly functioning state, there are rare outbreaks of 'noetic cancer' where something, some idea or noetic process, goes wrong so that dangerous ideas and behaviours begin to spread through a society and must be contained, or that society as a whole will be in danger. This is the very thing brought down a number of ancient societies. The Nnsteetwtzkmdkm [Caste Engineers] are, in general, those responsible for detecting, controlling and stopping any such noetic cancers. Of course they are also, from time to time, responsible for attempting to create such cancers among enemy societies [something perhaps as dangerous and liable to grow beyond control as is the case with biological warfare].


Back to the Top CASTES

Castes predetermine the role an individual Wustrtuu will hold in life, at least to some extent. In some caste societies individuals are raised by their parents into the caste they are born into. In others young are divided among castes by lot, based on predictions of future need made from demographic data. However, in nearly all cases the state also reserves the right to assign children to families and/or take them away depending on how the future demographic needs of the society are perceived.

There are ranks within castes, with members rising or falling within them according to their competence and merit, and also through politics and other such means. Castes can also sub-divide, splitting off one of more 'child' castes whose function varies significantly from the 'parent' caste. Castes can also mix and sometimes even merge to create new or variant castes. Some castes even contain secret groups within them who emulate other castes, to give that caste more insight, power, influence and so on. Because of all of this the 'family trees' of castes can be very complex and convoluted.

It is possible to have castes with essentially the same function, but that have arrived at this functionality by means of convergent noetic evolution from different origins. Despite their similar functions such convergently-evolved castes are often mutually incomprehensible.

Dividing the franchise up along caste lines is sometimes used as a way to cut down the number of individuals competing for the leadership of a group.

Over the history of the Wustrtuu there have been a number of broad groups of castes that have nearly always existed in one form or another, because of the need for them in any long-lasting Wustrtuu society. These core caste groups include the following:

These broad groups of castes are subdivided into any number of sub-castes, the details of which vary greatly with the culture in question and the historical period they existed in. The lowest castes are non-sentient; these may be genetically Wustrtuu, or other Vvvuurrukstian animals.

All of this may make some castes less effective as standalone groups, but the effectiveness they gain as part of a larger group counterbalances this.

In most Wustrtuu cultures there are sumptuary laws that define and regulate what each caste can wear, how they live, and so on, as part of the overall cultural desire to maintain castes, social boundaries and so on.

Perhaps the lowest genetically Wustrtuu caste is the 'medical research subject' caste. Members of this caste are basically a brainless and non-sentient form of Wustrtuu, but obviously an entirely valid research subject.

Members of some castes, the masters of some noetic disciplines, can master pain, control the Wustrtuu equivalent of adrenalin, and so on.

There are a number of conspiracy theories among some Wustrtuu regarding secret, hidden or ruling castes. In particular regarding a dominating noetic mutation capable of subverting or incorporating others. There is no evidence for this, however.


Back to the Top THE ZKUKTNN [CONNECTIVES]

A very old caste that came into being at the end of the Tllt Mmmuuaa [Time of Villages] and allowed the development of larger and more complex Wustrtuu societies into the Llnnrtzk Mmmuuaa [Time of Flux].

The Zkuktnn are not unlike the Bridgers in the novel Diaspora by Greg Egan, and exist for much similar, if not more pressing reasons as them. See also here.

The Zkuktnn are a noetic species with the ability to think in more than one way at the same time. This allows them to act as (somewhat schizophrenic) intermediaries between other noetic species sharing the same noetic roots but that are otherwise be too different to be able to communicate directly. That is, among the divergent noetic species arising when a society becomes sufficiently advanced and diverse. Over time this new noetic species became known as Zkuktnn [Connectives], as they form the connections between all parts of a given society or culture [equivalent to connective tissue in a living organism].

Because of the great advantages the Zkuktnn noetic mutation brought, in almost an eye-blink of historical time societies that included Zkuktnn, which could now successfully form cities, large organisations and so on, swept away those that did not all over Vvvuurrukst. Because of the continuing and immediate need to maintain an advanced civilisation into the present day, and the caste-based system required to do this, Zkuktnn continue to exist in all Wustrtuu societies.

There is not a single type of Zkuktnn linking all Wustrtuu in a given culture. Instead, the Zkuktnn caste is a mass of sub-castes who can provide communication between a small number of other castes. Thus a Zkuktnn who facilitates communication between one set of castes will probably be unable to understand another group linked by a different Zkuktnn sub-caste. It is only when all Zkuktnn are taken together that a Wustrtuu society is linked into a unified whole.

Because of this there have to be large numbers of Zkuktnn among the Wustrtuu, to the extent that they are, as a whole, the most numerous caste. As such they are a massive drain on the Wustrtuu economy, over and above what would be required for a human society to function, but they are an absolutely essential one, and recognised as such.

Zkuktnn are not terribly imaginative or intelligent, intellectually speaking, but they do have very high emotional intelligence [the ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups] and very good memories. They specialise in 'modelling' others in a coherent way so that they can comprehend and translate between them. Note that as mentioned above a single Zkuktnn cannot do this between all the castes in any relatively advanced (and so noetically diverse) society; there are simply too many too many for one individual to cope with.

Were Zkuktnn to be a unified whole, in any caste-based society they would be extremely powerful. However, their disunity and lack of intellectual capability effectively prevents this from being so.

Even despite this there are a number of conspiracy theories around the Zkuktnn, often regarding their being the secret rulers of the world. These often revolve around there being a secret sub-caste able to link multiple castes while maintaining a high intelligence. There is no evidence for any such theories.

The ubiquity of the Zkuktnn means that their 'bridging' techniques are applied by the Wustrtuu in other fields and on smaller scales too, for example in the sciences, to integrate different fields of knowledge.


Back to the Top STUURRSSAA [DIPLOMATS]

A second important noetic mutation led to the development of the Stuurrssaa [Diplomat] caste out of the Zkuktnn. Like the Zkuktnn the Stuurrssaa can think in more than one way at the same time, but are able to sustain more radically different modes of thought than the Zkuktnn. This makes them more schizophrenic than the Zkuktnn, but also able to act as intermediaries between noetic groups that did not share the same root, that is, between different Wustrtuu cultures, nations and states. As such they are quite widespread, but in specialised roles rather than being essential to the functioning of Wustrtuu society as a whole, so that there are only a small number of them.

In terms of the role they play and how they function, Stuurrssaa are not unlike Motie Mediators from The Mote in God's Eye.


Back to the Top TRUKZTLLWTUKT [DOPPELGANGERS]

A small and very specialised caste derived from the Zkuktnn and Stuurrssaa, the Trukztllwtukt are able to, with study, learn about and emulate another specific individual Wustrtuu in every way, becoming essentially a doppelganger of them, but one that may not necessarily be on the same side as the 'original' entity. Because of this Trukztllwtukt generally form part of the diplomatic and military elements of a given Wustrtuu polity, but it is not unknown for them to also be involved in economic and business activities. [As such the Trukztllwtukt are not unlike the Motie Fyunch(click)s from The Mote in God's Eye.]

Other rather less specialised offshoots of Zkuktnn and Stuurrssaa serve as diplomatic and intelligence aides to Wustrtuu cultures and nations. In particular some of these can adopt and provide insight into other cultures and groups.


Back to the Top UKSHDZLLUURRLL [SPIES]

Another small and specialised caste derived from the Zkuktnn and Stuurrssaa, the Ukshdzlluurrll are able to not just think in more than one way at the same time, but effectively become a fairly low-functioning member of another caste with a second personality guiding and observing the outer, 'visible' personality from within. As such they function well as spies between different Wustrtuu states. Because of their nature Ukshdzlluurrll are even more schizophrenic than the Stuurrssaa, to the point that in some individuals the two sides of their personalities can permanently lose touch with one another.


Back to the Top UKMUUEELLMSSSH [TERRORISTS]

The Ukshdzlluurrll have themselves given rise to a sub-caste, the Ukmuueellmsssh [Terrorists]. Perhaps originally derived from 'lost' Ukshdzlluurrll, they are effectively a caste of terrorists, operating outside governmental control and oversight, towards any number of ends. In particular members of this caste make up the anti-caste egalitarian terrorists among the Wustrtuu who seek to destroy the records held by the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm as a path to freedom for all Wustrtuu.


Back to the Top THE NNSTEETWTZKMDKM [CASTE ENGINEERS]

In terms of the history of the Wustrtuu, the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm are a fairly young caste, having been in existence only for some thousands of years. Their existence has allowed the modern form of Wustrtuu society to come into existence, and their presence has allowed it to persist for a significant time.

The Nnsteetwtzkmdkm are a caste derived from the Zkuktnn, Academics, Scientists, and Animal Trainers castes that work to tame and channel the noetic evolution of the Wustrtuu to more constructive ends. Since their creation - the start of the era known as the Zkwtrrwu Mmmuuaa [Time of Stability] - they have largely succeeded in this, although not necessarily in ways their creators intended. They have also spread across Vvvuurrukst and been adopted by most Wustrtuu societies.

The Nnsteetwtzkmdkm have inevitably subdivided into sub-groups over time, although care has been taken to ensure that they remain able to communicate with one another without the use of Zkuktnn. These consist of:

  • Administrators, some of whom coordinate their activities with the larger Wustrtuu society of which they form a part, others of whom are archivists, and others again who run the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm themselves.
  • The Caste Police, some of whom enforce caste boundaries and training, while others work in a more undercover role to gather intelligence on activities that may need to be acted again. Their work includes the detection and elimination of noetic cancers.
  • Researchers, some of whom work on castes, the biology, psychology, neurology and so on of them, while others work on society as a whole, researching demographics, anthropology, linguistics and the like.

They form what is effectively a semi-secret academic 'brotherhood' who are essentially sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and planners. They maintain vast and detailed records of how to make members of different castes, who made what specific individual, and so on. The need for these records, and the need to use them, was a major driver in the development of computing technology by the Wustrtuu.

Unlike other castes, young Wustrtuu intended to be Nnsteetwtzkmdkm are nearly always chosen rather than drawn by lot as they must be the best of the Wustrtuu. This does not always work, of course, but it is considered the better option.

Is it possible for suitably trained individual to intentionally noetically mutate or modify Wustrtuu for greater (or lesser) intelligence, or even to give them different forms of savant abilities, by effectively implementing better (or worse) noetic algorithms in the individual. However, this is complex, and can only be done with certain limits, in particular for the raising of intelligence. Such manipulations may also have side-effects in the form of noetic instability and other less serious mental flaws. Because of the complexity involved this is almost exclusively done by the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm.

As part of this the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm maintain experimental programmes to develop new castes, groups that do different things and think in different ways, and also to optimise and improve the existing castes. This research is inevitably done in ways that might be considered cruel, unethical and inhuman or inhumane by humans.

With development of technology much of this is done by recognising and tweaking mental processes via the use of (for example) functional MRI scanners that enable researchers to 'see' what the brain is doing and change it to see what happens.

The Nnsteetwtzkmdkm are often involved in short-termist solutions to problems that include the creation of new specialised sub-castes. They are also involved in the culling of castes that are considered to be obsolete.

There are a tiny minority of anti-caste egalitarian terrorists among the Wustrtuu - mostly derived from the Ukmuueellmsssh [Terrorists] - who seek to destroy the records held by the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm as a path to freedom for all Wustrtuu.


Back to the Top SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE ATTITUDES

Because of their noetic flexibility, the Wustrtuu are also very flexible in their social arrangements, with individuals living as couples (with each eating only of the other, nominally at least) or as castes, groups, or with the entire society mating by some set of rules.

The Wustrtuu recognise one another and their offspring mostly by scent, and indeed cannot fail to do so. However, the significance given to this varies with caste and society. In some Wustrtuu societies individuals do not keep track of their offspring, with young being adopted by one or more Wustrtuu chosen by some means, or sometimes by the community as a whole. Most, however, do keep track of their offspring, which is done by noting the hosts used by each individual. In all cases these bonds are the basis of that society.

In some of the societies that keep track of their offspring, the number of offspring an individual has is a status symbol. On top of this, in some Wustrtuu societies the size of the host 'herd' (assuming they keep such) is also a status symbol, as are the type of host animals an individual uses, with there being a common superstition among the Wustrtuu regarding superior (more dangerous) and inferior (less dangerous) hosts. Under this system a Wustrtuu with a herd of dangerous carnivores would have higher status than one with a herd of large herbivores. Large animals also often have a higher status than small ones. In some societies a 'herd' of lower-status Wustrtuu used (fatally) as hosts - but considered to be hosts 'of the highest quality' - indicates the highest status of all.

On the other hand, many Wustrtuu, particularly those from lower-ranked castes, make use of large 'mother mound' creatures or other common (and cheap) creatures for their breeding as they are easy and convenient. In many cases these creatures have been bred for large size and other desirable characteristics, such as the ability to live off waste.

Of course, even at the lowest levels of Wustrtuu society it is not unheard of for Wustrtuu to be forcibly implanted by others, with fatal results unless the embryo is removed quickly.

Different cultures have different levels of respect for the host creature. Most care for them while they are being used to host their young, but after that some simply abandon the host. Others care for it. Some eat it, and some, even if it does not die, kill it to do so.

For much the same genetics-derived reasons as for humans, the Wustrtuu have strong social taboos against incest and inbreeding generally.

The eating of reproductive parts is often done between friends/lovers within the same caste. However, this can then lead to the problem of inbreeding. Because of this in some cultures Zkuktnn [Connectives] are used to negotiate matches between members of different castes and so avoid this potential problem.

In some groups and castes the eater and eaten are roughly equal, and genes are exchanged. In others the eater is the dominant one and just takes genes without reciprocation. In these cases the relationship between eater and eaten is a dominance relationship in which the dominant eater gets the pleasure of eating while the eaten receives only (a small amount of) pain.


Back to the Top THE CONCEPT OF SPECIES

Over the course of the development the Wustrtuu have evolved two concepts of species:

For everyday life, the latter is considered to be much more important than the former. These distinctions mean that all creatures can be divided into one of four groups:

Because of their concept of a noetic species being so important and the dominant one governing their relationships, the Wustrtuu are not overly biased regarding shape, more by thoughts as manifested in behaviour.

A domesticated animal raised by Wustrtuu would be - noetically speaking - closer to them than wild versions of its own species. So in addition to very different noetic groups within the same species it is also possible to have similar noetic groups extending across more than one genetic species.


Back to the Top DOMESTIC ANIMALS

Not unlike humans, the Wustrtuu have over time domesticated a number of the animals of their world and used them in various roles. Initially domesticated for food and/or as hosts for their young, like humans they also make use of animals whose senses extend beyond those of themselves. In particular, they make use of a number of kinds of sighted animals. Not that Wustrtuu in general need them in their everyday lives, but there are some roles where they are useful. Technology has superseded them in some - but not all - roles, and in any case many Wustrtuu are more comfortable with using animals than technology. Also, animals are, at least at pre-AI levels of technology, generally more adaptable and flexible than technological substitutes.

Several types of seeing eye animals are used:

  • Ones for warning. These are herbivores that watch the area they are in and can be trained to warn their associated Wustrtuu of various events occurring in the environment around them. The most common of these are smallish, the rough equivalent of rabbits, having radially symmetrical bodies with three eyes on a fourth limb that rises from the centre of the back, giving them three hundred and sixty degree vision. This limb can fold and bend for protection and so on. Over time these animals have been bred into a variety of forms [at least as varied as those of dogs on Earth].
  • Ones for tracking. The most common of these are a tripedal pouncer carnivore, roughly analogous to a cat, with binocular vision and that hunts with sight. They have a strong rear leg, and a sensory limb at the front of the body. The mouth is at the front of the body under the sensory limb. Although the original animal was cat-like in personality the noetic flexibility of the animals of Vvuurrukst has made them much more social and so on. Again these have been bred into a wide variety of forms over time.
  • Beasts of burden. Many of these, of roughly the same size as a horse, were used in the past. In addition to guiding themselves their eyesight was used to provide warnings much as for the rabbit-type creatures above. They have become largely redundant with advances in technology, while the smaller animals have not.

The Wustrtuu have never used riding beasts as they are hard to control without eyesight.

Given the high level of neuroplasticity of Vvuurrukstian animals it did not take long for the Wustrtuu to domesticate them, and because of their close association with the Wustrtuu these domestic animals have long been considered to be of the same noetic species as the Wustrtuu themselves.


Back to the Top POLITICS

Among the Wustrtuu political thought tends to consider the world to be governed by 'rings of control'. This is derived from the way in which the limbs of each Wustrtuu are semi-autonomous. They are considered to be the first ring. The world beyond the individual is considered to be a series of further concentric rings, with the individual exerting less and less control the further out from themselves they go.

The rings of control of each individual overlap and merge with those of other individuals into regions, nations and the world as a whole.

Because of this the politics of the Wustrtuu is not unlike the mandala system used on Earth, particularly in South-East Asia. Regions and states are linked by overlord-tributary relationships into overlapping 'circles' of control, with some areas being subject to several powers, and some (a very few) to none. Because of this mandala system of international politics it is entirely possible for the Wustrtuu to have what is effectively a world government at the same time as retaining local government on a national or sub-national level.

The concept of 'rings of control' that forms the basis of their politics means that to the Wustrtuu the terms 'body politic' and 'I am the state' [as allegedly said by Louis XIV of France] have a far more literal meaning than they do to humans.

Because of the 'rings of control' concept, some Wustrtuu consider that the universe - all of the universe - is a part of themselves and nothing is beyond them. Because of this Solipsism [the idea that one's own mind is all that exists and so that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified]. Another view arises from the fact that full control of their own limbs - imposing their will on that of the limbs - is a function of mental discipline and will. From this has grown a form of animism in which everything has a spirit, a will of its own, that must be influenced or controlled. From this Wustrtuu have, over time, evolved 'techniques' to influence the larger world outside their bodies using what is effectively 'magic' or superstition. This has heavily influenced their politics and political practises and traditions.

Over time, two major ideological strands have evolved among the Wustrtuu:

Fundamentally, this comes down to the difference between cooperation and domination.

Because of their caste-based system the Wustrtuu have no real consideration of equality among them. Some groups do consider that all Wustrtuu are conceived equal, but all accept that inequality between individuals begins even before birth, based on their experiences, training, chance, and their eventual caste making individuals unequal. Thus most Wustrtuu political systems on accept that life in unfair, and that, fundamentally, nothing can be done about this.

As part of this most cultures do not consider that all individuals deserve to have a political voice or even to be heard by others who do have a voice.

Because of their fractious and prideful social structure, the more successful Wustrtuu cultures of Vvuurrukst have evolved a system in which the challenges and social climbs and falls involved in them have become formalised and institutionalised. As such many of them are democratic. Among smaller groups direct democracy is normally practised, with individuals discussing and arguing matters among themselves until a leader emerges; individuals can rise and fall in status as part of this. For higher levels and in larger groups, these smaller groups select a representative - the means by which this is done vary greatly - to represent them in the higher level group. There is no specific timetable to the lower-level group selections; they occur as events and pressures drive them. This can, of course, cause sudden and possibly dramatic changes to the higher level groupings as new individuals are pushed up from below by changes there. Many groups also make use of large-scale referenda to decide issues that are considered sufficiently important.

Even cultures that have rigid castes use a variation of this system, with castes selecting their own leaders and so on, and being represented in the government as a whole. The main variation is that the views of different castes are weighted differently, either across the board [so that the opinions of some castes are considered to be worth, for example, half those of others], or depending on the subject under consideration [so that in military decisions the votes of warriors might carry more - or even less depending on how they are viewed - weight].

Due to the need for Zkuktnn [Connectives] to enable understanding among all the castes involved the political process among the Wustrtuu can be very slow, but this is an inevitable by-product of society being able to function at all. Another effect of their caste-based system is that Wustrtuu politics is very diverse and complex.

Because of their social and gregarious nature, Wustrtuu leaders cannot keeping themselves isolated from their followers. Their leadership is based on interpersonal skills applied essentially constantly. Thus leaders live visibly and as close to the action as possible. This can sometimes lead to problems with assassination and violence generally, but nonetheless their system cannot work any other way.

Separate to the two main ideological threads among the Wustrtuu - and applying to members of both of them roughly equally - there are two main forms of political organisation among the dominant cultures:

States of both of these types make up the most successful Wustrtuu polities.


Back to the Top THE ECONOMY

As with other aspects of their societies, the economies of the different Wustrtuu societies and cultures vary a very great deal between each other. However, in all of the more successful and competitive cultures as a whole an economy that is basically a fairly ruthless and driving form of capitalism has evolved. [The reasons for this are not unlike the reasons why capitalism basically dominates on Earth, in that it allows the most individuals the chance to make the most money for themselves, and thus for the state.] Individuals can climb as high up the social ladder as their ability will take them. But starting from different points depending on where their parents stand on that ladder. However, it does allow rising (and falling).

However, in all of the Wustrtuu economies there are mechanisms to allow the less economically able, and even non-sentient, members of society to contribute. In many cases they are basically wards of the state, or wards of some other, more able, group who direct them and basically profit from their efforts.

There are thus two distinct groups of Wustrtuu within the economies of the various Wustrtuu cultures and nations.

The noetic evolution that has favoured short-termism rather than the long view obviously also applies to the Wustrtuu economies, and needless to say this has caused problems down the years. Some Wustrtuu philosophers have suggested that a long-view adaptation would be beneficial in the longer term, but this has not been adopted because of the drop in competitiveness it would bring.


Back to the Top DEATH AND INHERITANCE

Death occurs among the Wustrtuu much as it does for humans. The dead are mourned at least partly because, with the solipsistic attitude of many Wustrtuu, the loss of an individual is taken as the loss of part of oneself. On the other hand this same attitude means that they are not mourned too much as the mourning individual themselves survives and so such separated parts as the deceased can be replaced.

In rare cases individuals are venerated for their particularly notable deeds. Such individuals include the founders of the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm [Caste Engineers], various historical leaders, messiahs and so on who created the caste system, founded things, did great deeds and so on.

Because of how they reproduce, in most Wustrtuu cultures, the bodies of the dead are disposed of via ritual cannibalism, with the body being eaten by the friends, relatives and colleagues of the deceased. It is considered that this ensures that part of them will remain alive. In general the corpses of the dead are treated to minimise the chances of disease [analogous to kuru] in humans among the mourners. The only exceptions to this are when it is considered important that the mourners gain reproductive cells and so one last set of children from the deceased.

In most Wustrtuu societies any inheritance left by the deceased is divided between the family of the individual and their caste.


Back to the Top CRIME AND LAW

Among the dominant Wustrtuu cultures, the purpose of the law is seen as maintaining the social fabric and society as a whole, with individuals having to fit into this overall goal. Attitudes to individual rights and freedoms vary widely across different cultures, but in all of them they are considered subservient to the good of society as a whole.

As such there is no unified code of law among all Wustrtuu, even those within a given culture/society. Instead, what is a crime, and what the penalty for committing it is varies between castes, and sometimes also between different locations.

Also, as an offshoot of their spiritual beliefs, among most Wustrtuu cultures it is considered that all events occur because someone or something caused them, and so that nothing happens by random chance or bad luck. Thus all accidents and so on are normally investigated as if they were crimes, normally considered to be of violence or vandalism.

Theft, violence and murder are considered to be crimes for all castes. The severity of theft depends on who it was done by, to whom, and what was stolen. Violence that affects the ability of an individual to work - culminating at its most serious in murder - is always considered a crime. It may be considered to be theft, either from a caste or from society as a whole. Murder is considered to be the ultimate form of such theft.

For many castes trespass is also considered a crime. Among the Wustrtuu trespass is part of a group of crimes covering actions seen to attack or undermine the caste system itself, and so society as a whole. As such it is treated very seriously and is covered by a variety of sumptuary laws. As part of this some castes are forbidden some types of things. Trespass outside defined physical and intellectual boundaries for ones caste and level within that caste are also considered to be crimes. How serious this is depends on the caste, and the level of the perpetrator within the caste. Other crimes considered to be trespass include illicit cross-training, unauthorised mind-wipes, child rearing or experimenting with same being overseen by non- Nnsteetwtzkmdkm, and so on.

There are some sex-related crimes among the Wustrtuu. Breeding outside of ones caste is not a crime; likewise there is no miscegenation. There is no rape as such among them. The taking of genetic material without permission is sometimes considered as minor theft and sometimes more as a form of assault. Impregnation of a Wustrtuu by another can be considered murder, but not always, depending on the relative caste/social positions of the parties involved.

The detection of crime among the Wustrtuu uses forensics and deductive skills, not unlike humans, with trials being carried out by members of a judicial caste (or the equivalent).

The punishment for a given crime depends on the crime, the caste of the perpetrator, and the level of the perpetrator within their caste. Punishments tend to be harsher for lower castes and lower level members of castes, though depending on the crime they may also be more lax. For example, lower castes have harsher punishments for breaking the rules, trespass outside defined physical and intellectual boundaries and so on, but less harsh ones for intra-caste violence, theft and so on.

Punishments include:

Some punishments, for minor offences, are handled through the caste of the offender. More major crimes are dealt with by the state.


Back to the Top DRESS AND DECORATION

Even though they have evolved on a colder world than the Earth and so are more resistant to the cold than humans, the Wustrtuu still require protection from the more extreme weather conditions of Vvuurrukst. In moderately cold conditions they wear 'vests' over their bodies to help insulate them from the cold, while leaving their limbs free. This helps their brains maintain a constant temperature while their limbs operate at whatever temperature they must. In even colder conditions they will wear a poncho-like garment that covers them from top to bottom, or, where this is required, a form of body stocking that leaves the limbs free. Neither of these are considered ideal, however, as they both restrain their limbs and tentacle branches, and also limit their senses.

With their lack of sight clothing has no colouration beyond its natural hue. However, it can be woven with conductive or resistive threads to give it patterns and other decorations to their electroreceptive sense. Tattooing using conductive or resistive inks is also practised for the same reason.

In addition to this, when necessary they will wear shoes not unlike socks with a sole. However, shoes are not worn by all Wustrtuu by any means.

Because of their sensitive sense of smell the use of perfumes and scents is very widespread among the Wustrtuu.

In most cultures members of different castes wear some sort of unambiguous identifying marks to instantly identify their place in society. These marks can take the form of some sort of uniform, tattooing, clothing items, body paint or jewellery.


Back to the Top WUSTRTUU FOOD AND DRINK

Much like that of humans, Wustrtuu cuisine has evolved in response to the foods available in their environment, their chemoreceptive senses and the mores of their societies.

With natural fire being impossible because of the low oxygen levels in the atmosphere of Vvuurrukst, Wustrtuu cuisine is based on chemical treatments of food - pickling, marinades and so on - rather than heat treatments such as those used by humans. The only exceptions to this are those cultures with access to natural heat such as hot springs and so on that can be used for cooking.

Because their senses of taste and smell are on their manipulative tentacles, and so using utensils would rob them of the tasting of their food, when the Wustrtuu eat, they make no use of implements such as knives and forks and instead eat with their 'fingers'. They do, however, use implements of various kinds when cooking and preparing food.

Their very acute sense of taste and smell also means that their food is very bland by human standards. They are not incapacitated by bad smells, but do not like them.

Because of how they reproduce, food and breeding are intimately linked among the Wustrtuu. Gene exchanges among couples are often the climax of a feast or banquet where each member of the breeding pair tempts and excites the other with tasty treats. Even food unrelated to breeding activity can still have that frisson attached to it.

Because of this, cannibalism, ritual or much more rarely literal, is common among them.

For particularly significant meals the reproductive cells of other creatures may be part of the menu. For the particularly rich these may be the reproductive segments of other Wustrtuu [obtained voluntarily or otherwise depending on the society in question], normally sterilised so they cannot become active when eaten. For others the equivalent parts of other animals are eaten; these are normally treated and seasoned to make them taste as much like those of Wustrtuu as possible.

Thus for the Wustrtuu food is even more socially significant than it is for humans. As such it has become surrounded by layers of ritual, manners and so on. Eating in public is considered rude by a minority of groups due to its being linked to breeding. Also sharing food across social and political boundaries is frowned upon - it can be considered not unlike 'sleeping with the enemy', or a transgression of the trespass laws.

On the other hand, because it is something essentially universal to all castes, food and the rituals surround it are a commonly-used way of linking the castes making up a society together, much like music and so on. As such national cuisines have very great significance to them, so that 'fusion' cuisines are very rare.


Back to the Top ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

The Wustrtuu have a sense of beauty and aesthetics which, like that of humans, has developed out of their assessment of the genetic fitness of others of their race, good places to live, good foods to eat and so on.

The Wustrtuu have a rich tradition of aural [sound-based] arts, consisting of music, song and the spoken word. Because of their different aesthetics, and also the higher sensitivity and different frequency range of their hearing, these can be both very odd and partly or wholly inaudible from the human perspective.

Their spoken arts have led on to literature and other written works, much as occurred with humans.

As might be expected, because of their lack of eyes, the Wustrtuu do not have any type of visual arts. However, their highly acute sense of smell has led to the development of a number of different types of scent art, some dynamic and some static.

Their electroreceptive sense has also led to the development of art forms using static and dynamic electric fields generated in space between and around field coils and other structures.

Wustrtuu dance and voice theatre often makes use of more than simply motion and sound, incorporating scents and electrical fields into the performance to add layers of meaning to it, all of which is perceived by the Wustrtuu in the audience. However, dance and so on are not things performed in front of large audiences due to the limited range of their electroreception sense.

Some schools of art - in particular ones using music and electroreceptive arts - are specifically intended to bind a given culture together. They do this using forms and themes that are something that runs in common across most or all castes within that society. These forms and themes tend to be ones that affect the very 'low level' parts of the Wustrtuu brain, so they may feel very 'primitive' to those sensing them. It also means that such arts may be very much 'lowest common denominator' art forms.


Back to the Top THEIR RACIAL SYMBOL

The overall symbol of the Wustrtuu race is a circle containing five circles with half the radius equally spaced around its circumference. Further sets of progressively smaller circles are spaced around the circumference of the outer circle, giving a type of fractal wheel effect representing the overlapping rings of control that make up the world view of most Wustrtuu.

A Wustrtuu racial symbol


Back to the Top LANGUAGE

For the Wustrtuu the idea that the varying cultural concepts and categories inherent in different languages make speakers of different languages think and behave differently [that is, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis] is very much the case across and even within castes. For them the reverse, that different experiences shape languages differently is also clearly true.

Because of this languages are another thing that is used to hold cultures and societies together. As such, for many of them the Nnsteetwtzkmdkm also do their best to shape and manipulate language to stabilise and control society, its changes and its evolution.

Words in one of the more common Wustrtuu languages, Oodkssvo, can be generated using this Wustrtuu Word Generator.

In terms of speech itself, the Wustrtuu have two possible modes of speech that they use as the situation demands.

With the intelligence and training to do so it is possible for an individual to use the intimate mode of speech to have different conversations with more than one individual at a time, and sometimes even while also conducting a conversation in whistle speech too. Because of the their nature of their speech-producing mechanisms they can speak constantly without having to pause for breath.


Back to the Top NAMES

Because of the very great differences between different Wustrtuu cultures and castes, the forms of names that are used vary a great deal. However, there are some common factors. All names include a caste designation, normally as the first part of a name. After that is some combination of family and individual name.

Depending on whether young Wustrtuu are raised communally or by their genetic parents the family name may be related to community that raised them or the individuals who did so. Depending on the culture and caste of the individual both family and individual names may be anything from simple to very complex and involved.

Even members of the non-sentient castes - whether genetically Wustrtuu or not - are given names, although of course they do not understand them as a sentient Wustrtuu would.


Back to the Top WRITTEN LANGUAGE

The oldest - and still the most common - Wustrtuu writing schemes are read by touch alone, using a tactile script, analogous to Braille. So that text can be written and read without the reader losing contact with the page, script often spirals into the centre from a defined (and often marked) corner or other point of the page; these spirals may be circular or elliptical but are more commonly rectangular so as to fill as much of the page as possible.

With advancements in their technology over time writing schemes using electrically conductive or resistive inks, that are 'visible' to their electroreceptive sense have also been invented, and since then also a few schemes that use scent or taste marks on a page to impart meaning.

Given that their senses of touch, electroreception and chemoreception are all located in their manipulative tentacles, Wustrtuu texts sometimes, particularly for cases where the text is considered particularly important or special, have extra 'layers' perceived by one or more of additional senses beyond the sense - normally touch or electroreception - used for the main meaning of the text. This adds extra meaning and depth to the text. With the development of higher technology these extra layers have become more commonly used by most cultures.

Because of the semi-autonomous nature of their limbs, the Wustrtuu are, with training, able to read more than one text at the same time.


Back to the Top NUMBERS

Because of the five-fold radial symmetry of their bodies, the basic unit of counting among the Wustrtuu is base five. However, because this is somewhat impractical when considering large numbers, most Wustrtuu use base 25 [a pentavigesimal system] for all of their everyday needs.


Back to the Top TIME

As for humans, time among the Wustrtuu is measured in relation to the natural rhythms of the world around them. As such the three major units of time among them are:

The Wustrtuu do not use the orbital period of Twttzbshoort, the moon of Vvuurrukst, as a measure of time. This is because Twttzbshoort is small and far from Vvuurrukst, so that it raises very small tides and is invisible to the Wustrtuu, and so, historically, had no influence on their timekeeping.

The Wustrtuu divide each day into six periods:

Originally these six periods had differing lengths depending on what they were and the seasons of the year, but with the rise and spread of civilisation and clocks they have become standardised to all have the same length. Thus each one is some three hours long.

For historical reasons related to an ancient tradition of symmetry, each of the six day periods is itself subdivided into six equal sub-periods [each of some thirty Earth minutes long]. These are each divided into 125 equal periods [each of some 14 Earth seconds long]. When smaller time periods are required these periods are further subdivided into smaller units by dividing them by 25 [giving periods some 0.6 seconds long], with further divisions by 25 being used for progressively smaller units of time.

Originally the Wustrtuu time measurement system was synchronised with the actual day-night cycle of Vvuurrukst. However, over time small errors in the system relative to the actual day length have led to it becoming de-synchronised from it [as has happened with various calendars and timekeeping systems on Earth]. Because the Wustrtuu are blind they operate as well without light as with it, so there is little motivation to change the system to synchronise it. Because of this the nominal time according to Wustrtuu clocks bears no relation to the time according to the position of the suns in the sky.

For similar reasons, over time the simplicity of doing so has led to all of Vvuurrukst becoming the same time zone, which of course means that local time bears even less relation to the time according to the position of the suns in the sky.


Back to the Top WUSTRTUU SETTLEMENTS

Across Vvuurrukst, Wustrtuu settlements of all sizes have a layout that is in general governed by a combination of geography and society [as for humans!]. In particular, the layout is governed by the needs of the castes that live in the place to work together. As such they are divided into quarters [areas] in which most of a given caste live and where - depending on the nature of their employment - they may also work. The quarters of Zkuktnn [Connectives] who facilitate communications between given castes are normally found between the quarters of those castes, and also around areas where castes may mix, such as railway stations, markets and so on. Among the poorer castes, their quarters are normally dotted with spaces for the enclosures of the host creatures that they use for breeding, often mother mounds.

Because of castes often living in the areas where they work, Wustrtuu settlements do not, in general, use zoning to divide up their settlements into areas based on land use.

Because of the blindness of the Wustrtuu there are no colours in their settlements other than the natural colours of the materials of which they are constructed. Likewise their settlements have a very utilitarian look to them. On the other hand they are often aesthetically pleasing to the Wustrtuu themselves [as human settlements, regardless of how aesthetically pleasing to a human, might be very much not so to a Wustrtuu].

To help their sightless citizens find their way about, Wustrtuu settlements are signposted in a number of ways. The most common of these are scent marks, renewed from time to time by civil workers, and often read by an individual slapping their tentacles onto walls and other structures. Wind-powered whistles and clackers of various notes and chords, and in more advanced settlements the use of artificial electric field patterns are also used to mark locations. In particular they are used for guidance and warnings in roads and on pavements [analogous to the use of white lines and the like on human roads]. In some places signage using lights exists; although the Wustrtuu cannot see as such, they can detect light and changes in intensity, so that coded signals not unlike those of lighthouses work reasonably well for them.

By human standards, Wustrtuu cities are very quiet and clean. There are very few vehicles that do not run on some sort of guideway, so that what vehicles there are vehicles such as trams, underground trains, guided buses and cable cars. There are no cars and lorries as such apart from a small number that use video-to-electroreception sensor systems or some other means for a Wustrtuu to drive them. As such most of the Wustrtuu in settlements are pedestrians.

Wustrtuu buildings are windowless and unlit inside, though they do have ventilation. Obviously their cities and vehicles - underground trains and so on - also have no lights or other visual signage. The nature of the Wustrtuu themselves means that their cities are active all the time, with no drop of activity at night. Where buildings are temperature controlled, they are maintained at a temperature above freezing, but considerably lower than a human would find comfortable.

The Wustrtuu use stairs in their buildings, but because of the nature of their limbs these have risers more than half as much again taller than those used by humans on Earth, and with much narrower treads than human stairs. They also have handrails to assist the climber.

The Wustrtuu have long made considerable use of canals and other forms of irrigation to expand the amount of fertile land available to them. They also make extensive use of dams and other irrigation schemes. In the past they have made use of deep underground aquifers, but in most cases over-use depleted these long ago. On the other hand shallower aquifers accessed via qanat-type technologies to supply water to settlements from far away sources are still widely used. Although some forms of irrigation have increased the soil salinity where they are used, this is not such a problem for Vvuurrukstian life and plants in particular due to its greater salt tolerance.

In terms of furniture, there are two main types of seating used by the Wustrtuu:

Wustrtuu beds are essentially padded nest where one or more Wustrtuu can curl up and sleep. Blankets and other forms of bedding are normally used; these are basically the same as the human equivalents.

Tables are basically the same as those use by humans, but at as with stairs at least half as much again taller than them.


Back to the Top RELIGION

Because of the semi-autonomous nature of their limbs, so that full control of them in many tasks requires training and mental discipline, some Wustrtuu see the universe as rings of parts of themselves over which they have increasingly little control, radiating out from themselves to their limbs, then other individuals, then the world around them, then the universe at large [the inverse of pantheism]. This is very similar to their view of politics. The main difference with many religious views is that rather than being in the centre of these rings, religions often see individual Wustrtuu as being within the rings of control and influence of one or more deities.

Some consider that the universe becoming more and more awake by their coming to control more and more of it is the best way forward for themselves and the universe. Others consider that the universe - all of the universe - is a part of themselves and nothing is beyond them. Because of this Solipsism [the idea that one's own mind is all that exists and so that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified] is common in their philosophy, as are messiah complexes. As part of this throughout their history many Wustrtuu have disbelieved in a larger universe as part of a kind of global solipsism.

Another common view arises from the fact that full control of their own limbs - imposing their will on that of the limbs - is a function of mental discipline and will. From this has grown a form of animism in which everything has a spirit, a will of its own, that must be influenced or controlled. From this Wustrtuu have, over time, evolved 'techniques' to influence the larger world outside their bodies using what is effectively 'magic' or superstition. Regardless of the details a belief in magic and spirits, but not necessarily gods, is common among the Wustrtuu.

Because of this a majority of Wustrtuu believe that all events that take place happen because something or someone caused them, or influenced events to do so. Thus nothing happens by random chance. And other Wustrtuu, the spirits (and perhaps gods) must be persuaded, placated or controlled to gain a desired end.

The evolution of magics among the Wustrtuu is what eventually led to the development of science by them [not unlike the case for humanity].

How the spirits are considered and treated depends very much on the ideology of the individual involved. In the competitive ideology that dominates the Wustrtuu, everything else is in competition with the individual and so 'magic' is tied up with dominance and control, of other Wustrtuu or of animals, hosts, nature and so on. Everything has spirits which are trying to make their way in the world and it is these spirits trying to control the world in what it considers to be its best interests - like those of the individual Wustrtuu itself controlling its limbs and the world beyond - that makes them compete with everything else for power, position and so on.

This leads to a bottom-up spiritual hierarchy rather than a top-down one. Of course, not everyone can control things beyond their own limbs well. In fact in many cultures only priestly types, or those with physical, intellectual or oratorical power are considered able to control things beyond the bounds of their own body. In parallel with this, some noetic groups include religion as part of their society while others reject it.

This spiritual competition includes both the spirits of things and places, and also the beliefs of other Wustrtuu. Because of this the destruction of the sacred and religious sites of others has long been part of war and this more general social and spiritual competition.

Wustrtuu religions include:

Many Wustrtuu cultures share a common belief in something not unlike 'demons of the dark' - things that lurk beyond the reach of what they can sense, and which are threatening to them. It is speculated that this belief stems from the primitive times when the sightless Wustrtuu were vulnerable to sighted predators and other such animals.


Back to the Top SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The science and technology of the Wustrtuu have been driven by the environment of their world, and also by the limitations of their bodies and senses [not unlike the case for humans].

It appears that in the low oxygen levels of the atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst things will, in general, not burn at all. Air on Earth is composed of about 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen and 1% of other gases. That of Vvvuurrukst is some 12% oxygen. According to this site wood stops burning when the oxygen content falls to 17% and plastic cables between 16 to 17%, while matches, candles and lighters basically do not work. For more see this post in the thread Fire in different oxygen content on the Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum.

The most major influences on their development have been their lack of sight and perhaps more importantly the low oxygen levels in the atmosphere of Vvuurrukst.

The former very much limited their ability to expand across Vvuurrukst, and also the development of sciences such as astronomy.

The latter means that fire cannot be created on Vvuurrukst without technological assistance. As such the development of combustion, metalwork, ceramics and so on were all delayed relative to humanity. As far as metalwork goes only those that exist in native forms could be used. Without ceramics wood and stone vessels - with all the limitations they imply - were used instead.

On the other hand, necessity and investigation drove the development of chemistry, within the limits imposed by the lack of fire, at least as fast as was the case on Earth. This combined the Wustrtuu electroreceptive sense also led to the development of (albeit primitive) electrical technology at a relatively early stage of their development.

Although with the development of fire at the beginning of the Vozkvow Mmmuuaa [Time of Fire] technology did develop more quickly, it was still limited by the need for oxidiser chemicals to make fire possible. This means that, although external and internal combustion engines, as well as jet engines and so on do exist among the Wustrtuu, their need for oxidisers such as nitric acid and peroxides make them more clumsy and cumbersome than is the case on Earth. Cars and so on do not just need to carry fuel, they need to carry fuel and oxidiser, with consequent reductions in the loads they can carry. Because of this electrical engine technology is used much more widely than on Earth and their technology went from wind, water and animal power to electrical power with combustion-powered engines only coming much later, or not at all.

Also, fire is treated as a potentially dangerous industrial process, not in the semi-casual way it is by humans. Perhaps the most analogous thing on Earth is the way piped gas is treated - as useful, but also as something to be careful of.

Another side effect of the low oxygen levels there is that once created, iron and so on corrode less rapidly on Vvvuurrukst than on Earth. This has an effect on how metal structures are protected from the elements. Likewise the dustier and dryer environment of Vvvuurrukst has affected how their technology is designed and protected.

Because of their lack of sight, the Wustrtuu did not develop any science of optics until they were quite technologically advanced in other fields, and had developed instruments - cameras - that could detect light. As such astronomy was also a science that developed much later for them than was the case for humans, which meant that the realisation that their world was not the centre of the universe, and also that their world is but a tiny mote in relation to the universe as a whole came to them much later in their technological development than it has done to humans. Because of the relative lateness of this, there remain some Wustrtuu who deny these facts, despite their being demonstrably true [much as there are still humans who deny the reality of evolution and natural selection, despite it too being demonstrably true].

On the other hand, their sensitive ears and electroreceptive sense led to their having advanced sciences of acoustics, electrostatics and electrodynamics much earlier than was the case for humans. As a side effect of the latter they developed electrical technology significantly earlier than humanity.

Electronic circuit design for the Wustrtuu is a much more intuitive process, and much more of an art for them than for humans, because they can sense the electricity in the circuit. Because of this many of their designs are more subtle and use effects such as parasitic capacitance in them than is the case with human circuitry.


Back to the Top ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

The problems with making fire on Vvvuurrukst again limit the means available for the Wustrtuu to generate energy. Coal and oil-fired generators suffer the same limitations as combustion-powered vehicles. The thin air of Vvuurrukst also means that wind power is not much used for electricity generation. On the other hand geothermal power is available, as are hydroelectric and wave power, and these are widely used. Likewise the use of solar furnaces with mirrors to focus the light of the suns are used in some places. The Wustrtuu also make significant use of flywheel power storage.

With no natural fire, is there thus almost no naturally-occurring charcoal on Vvuurrukst. This thus delayed the invention of gunpowder and explosives generally, as well as other processes that require such a source of carbon. With the rise of their industrial base, the Wustrtuu did make some use of this, and also of coke.


Back to the Top TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY

In addition to the problems with combustion engines, the thinner air of Vvuurrukst has also very much limited the development of aircraft and other types of flying machines. This is even before taking into account the sensory limitations of the Wustrtuu. With them they had to await the development of artificial substitutes for sight, such as radar and video cameras, before piloted aircraft could even be considered. What aircraft they do have, have larger wing areas relative to the size of the aircraft than those on Earth to compensate for the thinness of the air [as lift] is determined by the lift coefficient and so is directly related to air density and wing area; with the former smaller the latter must be larger to compensate. With the need for larger wings (or flying wing or lifting body aircraft forms), as well as lift enhancing devices such as flaps, and longer runways because of the higher takeoff speeds and lower engine efficiencies in a thinner atmosphere, aircraft are much less economical and carry smaller payloads for a given size of aircraft on Vvvuurrukst than on Earth.

On the other hand, the Wustrtuu make far more use of railways than roads or air transport for long-distance travel. This is because a railway operating on a fixed track, with appropriate signals for the sightless Wustrtuu driver, can be operated effectively, particularly if it is powered by cable-supplied electrical power, while multiple road vehicles of whatever kind doing the same thing would be far more complex and dangerous. As such most of the inhabited parts of Vvvuurrukst are criss-crossed by extensive railway networks used for both passengers and freight. Their engines and trains are highly advanced, and can be huge.

The thinner air and lower gravity of Vvvuurrukst do make getting into space easier for the Wustrtuu than for humanity, both in terms to overcoming air resistance to reach orbit and also in that less heavily pressurised space vehicles are required to provide life support for them. As such they make more use of rockets and ICBM-type transports [not unlike the Ithacus proposal] than does humanity. In addition to this their more developed science of electromagnetics means that electromagnetic space launchers are easier to develop and use on Vvvuurrukst than on Earth.

The shorter day of Vvvuurrukst means that its synchronous orbit is lower than that of the Earth. This combined with the lower gravity and thinner atmosphere of Vvvuurrukst would make it significantly easier to build an orbital tower there than on Earth.

On the other hand their expansion into space is also limited by their physiology, as it makes the construction of spacesuits or underwater diving suits almost impossible at levels of technology comparable to those of humanity in 2009. Instead, they use small vehicles for space or ground movement in hostile environments.

Because of their magnetic field sense, for their own comfort, off-world dwellings - space stations and so on - require an artificial magnetic field to be generated to avoid disorientation and discomfort among the Wustrtuu living there.


Back to the Top COMPUTING AND DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY

The Wustrtuu have developed computers that are analogous to those of humans. They do have the equivalent of keyboards, but advanced systems can also accept input from their electroreceptive speech [not unlike human computers with speech recognition] or from actual audible speech.

For output their computers do not, of course, have visual monitors but instead use sounds and also panels configured to generate computer-controlled dynamic electric field 'images' to provide the equivalent of visual displays for humans.

They can also construct chambers using similar technology to generate the same type of displays in three dimensions. These can include the use of false perspectives to provide 'vision' at distances greater than their normal electroreception. When configured for an individual this gives the impression of great distance even if not the reality. Another form of this technology is the use of 'viewing cubes' that translate video coverage of an area into an electrical field representation of the same thing that a Wustrtuu can sense and interpret.

A similar technology allows the recording of electric field impressions to give an equivalent of photographs.

This technology is also used to give Wustrtuu a form of vision provided by translating video from optical cameras into the form of electroreception. The development of this technology allowed the Wustrtuu to develop and use all of the long-range technologies, such as guns, that humans take for granted.

It is possible that with sufficient technological advancement the Wustrtuu could build cybernetic implants to give themselves true sight. Their high degree of mental plasticity would probably allow them to adapt to these and other enhancements relatively quickly.

With the technology available to do so some ultra-radical Nnsteetwtzkmdkm [Caste Engineers] would like to eliminate the Zkuktnn [Connectives] and replace them with computerised translation devices, thus making a vast saving of the resources required to support the Zkuktnn population. This is an idea that is actively opposed by most of Wustrtuu society, not just the Zkuktnn themselves. Even if it could be implemented this plan would be a horrifically complex task with much potential for problems and errors.


Back to the Top WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY

Because of their very different sensorium to humans, the development of weapons by the Wustrtuu has followed a very different path to that of [for example] humanity. In particular their lack of sight has greatly limited the development of ranged weapons. At most, until the development of video-to-electric-field technology, their ranged weapons were limited to indiscriminate area-effect weapons and short-range blunderbuss-like weapons with, again, an area of effect. Melee weapons were much more commonly used, making warfare a very brutal business even into their technological periods. The use of minefields and other forms of trap suitable for unsighted combatants also contributes to this brutality.

In addition to their the body plan of the Wustrtuu makes fully covering armour almost impossible for them. It is possible for them to have armour protection for the body alone, and also to use shields, but not anything more. Even this limited armour can be a problem as large quantities of metal can impede their electroreception sense.

It is not unknown for the Wustrtuu to use audio beacons as reference points in battles, or to use 'EMP' bombs against the electroreception of an enemy.


Back to the Top OTHER RACES

The low atmospheric pressure on Vvuurrukst may cause medical problems for un-adapted humans, such as High altitude pulmonary oedema or High altitude cerebral oedema. It may also cause problems with fertility and low birth weights in non-adapted populations [as mentioned here].

Similarly, Vvvuurrukstian animals - including the Wustrtuu - may suffer problems on Earth, the equivalent of oxygen toxicity in humans. The thicker atmosphere of the Earth would also mean that sounds there would be transmitted some four times further than on Vvuurrukst, which might make Earth environments uncomfortably loud for them.

In addition to this they may have technological problems on worlds with higher oxygen levels than Vvuurrukst. This is because they are unfamiliar with fire and their technology and materials are optimised for environments there things do not (indeed, cannot) burn. Likewise, as there is no natural fire on Vvvuurrukst, animals there have no experience of it and so no fear of it. At least initially.

Although the two stars of Vvuurrukst are dimmer than the Sun the thinner atmosphere of Vvuurrukst means that the life forms of Vvuurrukst are at least as resistant to the effects of ultraviolet radiation as those of the Earth.

Because of their neurophysiology, the animals of Vvvuurrukst are much more adaptable - in terms of behaviour, due to their noetic plasticity - then those of Earth. Because of this they would most likely win out in any situation where they were competing directly with Earth life, and in particular in dry and high altitude areas not unlike the environment of Vvvuurrukst.

Related to this, the need for and extensive use of Zkuktnn [Connectives] and Stuurrssaa [Diplomats] who are able to think in more than one way at the same time means that the Wustrtuu are actually quite well prepared and well-adapted for alien contact and communication.

It may take the Wustrtuu some time to realise that life forms such as humans lack their high level of neuroplasticity. This may make for an unpleasant time for any humans they attempt to warp into one of their own...

It is entirely possible that the Wustrtuu might distrust sighted sentient species as they are considered to have a (perhaps unfair) advantage over them. [This is analogous to the way that humans might distrust aliens with some additional and highly advantageous ability that humans do not possess.]

Assuming a level playing field in terms of technology and force levels, it is anyone's guess as to who might win a confrontation between the Wustrtuu and humanity. The blindness of the Wustrtuu is compensated for by their technology and their other senses. They might be susceptible to some form of noetic subversion, but they themselves have far more experience in - and so resistance to - such things then any outsider is likely to have. In fact, they may be able to use such techniques against an opponent more effectively than they could be used against them.

An additional advantage that the Wustrtuu have over [for example] humanity is that they are (in their current noetic incarnations) more sociable than humans. They form larger groups and can maintain larger social networks than humans, work better together in large numbers, and are more socially cohesive (at least within castes) than humans are. They can also live with less privacy and higher population densities than humans. All of this helps to compensate for the lesser efficiency of their society due to the need for Zkuktnn [Connectives] to mediate communications between castes.

Whether the Wustrtuu are sufficiently biologically compatible to Earth life to be able to infect humans with their offspring is something that is probably best decided by anyone wanting to make use of them in a story or suchlike.


Back to the Top NOTES

The Wustrtuu were designed as an alien race that, at the very least, had a significant 'ick' factor in terms of their means of reproduction and who in addition have significant ethnocidal tendencies that it is possible may impact other races they encounter. The ritual and literal cannibalism that the Wustrtuu practise is also intended to (plausibly) add to their general 'ick' factor. In addition they are (unavoidably) a caste-based society with all of the totalitarian and anti-democratic possibilities that such a system implies. Their short-termist, highly competitive, hyper-capitalist political and economic systems also drive them to expand, which obviously has potential for conflict of many kinds. At worst they could be a race of nightmare invaders using humans as wage slaves, prey and unwilling hosts for their offspring.

Their body form was inspired by the seed heads of the 'love in the mist' plants growing in my garden. The image of a Wustrtuu is a picture of one of these seed heads against a white background, edited to remove the stem then rotated to put the body uppermost and the tentacles down, stretched vertically, then solarized, turned into a negative and the brightness and contrast adjusted to give a suitably visible image. The erode effect was then used to enhance the edges of the image.

The map of Vvvuurrukst was generated using the Fractal Worldmap Generator site. MATLAB was used to transform it into a globe and generate a movie of flying around it. The MATLAB code to do so can be found here; this is a MATLAB m-file, which is basically a plain text file.

The cladogram of Vvvuurrukstian life was generated using a set of MATLAB m-files of my own creation, and is a generic data file driven tool to do so. A zip file of the MATLAB files and the input text files used to generate the cladogram can be found here.

The Wustrtuu symbol was also generated using a set of MATLAB m-files of my own creation. A zip file of the MATLAB files and the input text files used to generate the raw image can be found here.

The Wustrtuu Word Generator is derived from the Traveller alien word generator software found at the Welcome to The Patinir Belt site.

The audio translation of Wustrtuu electroreception pulses is a combination of the electroreception clicks of the elephant nose fish, Theremin music from ThereminVox.com and adjusted human speech from AmericanRhetoric.com, all changed, added to and mixed together using the Audacity audio editor program.

The background used on these pages is a modified version of one from Iridia's Backgrounds. It is used here without permission, but for personal use only and not for profit or other financial gain.

The font used in the banner of this page is called Antherton Cloister. It comes from the DaFont.com site.

The audio icon used on this page comes from the Wikimedia Commons.It is used here without permission, but for personal use only and not for profit or other financial gain.


Send any comments to me at tony {dot} website {at} clockworksky {dot} net.


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