Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lowell Was Right! - the Dinos of Venus

In Lowell Was Right!, Venus was explored and developed by the Martians. Using mostly trained Humans from Earth, along with a few Martians and Mars humans in exo-skeletons, the Martian Great Houses scoured Venus for resources to exploit. Oil, vegetation, and animals - and particularly various pharmaceutical plants which grew only in the equatorial jungles - were extracted and used all over the inner Solar system.

Among the Venusian animals used by the Martians and their Human slaves was a bright dinosaur of the bipedal carnivore type called Kraat by the Martians. They associated themselves gradually with the exploring bands, living on the edges of their settlements, where they could sometimes be seen aping what the Humans or Martians did. The bands thought their antics amusing, and they were very useful to the bands, being set to do simple and repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, no one realized just how bright they were.

These Kraat were learning from the Humans and Martians, and when the time was right, they rebelled simultaneously, all over Venus. Many exploration bands were wiped out. Others survived, but at the cost of living a feral existence in the jungles, while the Martians abandoned their programs of exploration. In time, most Humans retreated to the more temperate polar areas and highlands which the cold-blooded _Kraat_ disliked.

The Kraat have built up a civilization in the tropical lowlands of Venus, while the humans tend to stay in the highlands and polar areas. The Humans have degenerated technologically as the _Kraat_ advanced, so that both are roughly at a medieval technology. The Martians on Venus' surface have either left or died out, so that there are none left today.

The Kraat  - or Dinos as the Earth Humans call them - are  roughly Human-sized. Derived from dinosaurs similar to the Troodons, they are smaller and far stronger than Martians or Mars Humans, they eat mostly meat with their terrible sharp teeth. Their arms are short in proportion to  their legs and bodies, but not nearly to the extreme of Earth's T-Rex. They have two clawed fingers and a thumb pad - a ridge of muscle, skin, and callous along the bases of their palms - which gives them a strong and versatile grip.

Kraat have a long and narrow head, and a long, muscular neck. Their tails are short and thick, and help balance their heavy tops. Their legs are lithe and muscular, and bear three toes forward and one behind, like many birds. They are not great runners, but instead live in trees, being very adept and climbing and leaping. They stand fairly erect on their two legs, though not as straight as Humans or Martians, but are comfortable moving on all fours in the trees.

They have an excellent sense of smell, poor but binocular eyesight, and superb hearing. _Kraat_ use echolocation like bats to find their way in the dark and tangled jungles. They are very social creatures, and communicate vast distances  with their ultrasonic language.

Kraat are egg-layers, but they defend and tend their nests with a deep fanaticism. There is no real difference in size between males and females, though they are different in coloring, and they mix easily in work or hunting. Once every three Venus years or so the females go into estrus  - luckily for the _Kraal_ about a third of the females at a time - and wander out into the jungle, to be followed by males interested in them. There is a sort of trial wandering, and the last male standing gets to mate, whereupon  they return to their tree-village. Both parents guard and raise the clutch.

Clutchmates grow up together, and are the core of Kraat social structures. They form hunting parties and scouting groups, and work together very cooperatively. Other clutches associate on a secondary level, and still others on a tertiary level. Dominance within the clutch forms alphas and betas, and between clutches sorts out which clutches are in charge. These contest almost never involve bloodletting, instead focusing on tactical maneuvering in social ways.

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