Monday, April 22, 2013

Lowell Was Right! - Martians

Martians in Lowell will be non-hominid, but humanoid in general form.  They are of the same taxonomic order as the armadillos, Cingulata, and share many traits with these Earth species. They are native to Mars, but have spread elsewhere in the Solar system, particularly to Mercury, where the gravity and air thickness is much like Mars.

Martians are larger than the earth animals they resemble, and are bipedal. The most striking difference from armadillos is the length of their limbs, which are as long as human limbs, which with their long bodies make them taller than humans. Like armadillos, they have a jointed leathery armor shell. There is a  Cap on their heads, a Cape round their shoulders, four or five Bands across their backs, a Skirt around their hips, and a set of small bands down their tail. Only the back is armored, with the front being covered by fur.

As Martians dye their fur and armor, it seldom shows, but armor runs from bone white to chocolate brown, while the fur ranges from off white to sand color. The fur is thick and warm, and well insulates the Martians from cold, though they have great trouble in heat. The four banded Martians are a distinct sub-species encountered only on Mars. Most Martians are of the five-banded variety.

Martian hands have three fingers, the middle one formed by the fusion of the middle and ring finger bones, and correspondingly longer and much thicker. The thumb is opposable, and thicker than the two side fingers, though not as thick as the middle finger. The feet have four toes, with the fifth toe being vestigial. Both fingers and toes have long, extremely strong digging claws. Martians generally lacquer and sharpen these implements, with more complex and precise painting signifying consequent social rank.

Martians give typically birth to four genetically identical children. These are smaller and more immature at birth than Human babies, and require a warm and comfortable den to survive. Primitive Martians carved these dens from the soil, while civilized Martians build them, furnishing them with every affordable luxury. The Martian children take somewhat longer to develop outside the womb than humans, but by six months are equivalent to a newborn Human.

This four-fold birth is central to the development of Martian culture. Martians ideally marry an entire brood of four to another brood of four, forming a very tight and strong family unit. This family unit is the basis of the Martian Houses, clans of strongly interconnected families. As Houses rise or fall in wealth and status, the families of the House prosper or decline in step. Dens are generally built by the House, not the family, and are available to all families. Most marriages are made by mothers confined for giving birth at the same time. Families have standing within the House, just as Houses have standing with other Houses, but the status of a Family is dependent on performance within the House.

Where the four-fold symmetry is broken by disease or death before marriage, families tend to unravel. Threesomes seek threesomes and pairs seek pairs, but often singletons of various families end up cobbling something together with pairs or triplet survivors. These catch-as-catch-can marriages are held to be extremely unlucky, and are low in status. If death occurs after marriage, however, there is no loss in status, and the surviving triplets remain mated with the relict quad.

Like Humans and armadillos, Martians are subject to Hansen's Disease - leprosy - and lepers are subject to social sanctions.

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