The Tahawes are a race of peaceful alien creatures which have a deep physical and cultural bond to their habitat. Tahawes are what human scientists would probably call "arboreal", as they spend most of their lives in large, tree-like lifeforms called shyulls.
Tahawes evolved on a planet where shyulls completely dominate the surroundings, creating dense tridimensional jungles which would make the Amazon rainforest look like a humble suburban backyard. Together with the shyulls live hundreds upon hundreds of related species, making the shyullforests look similar to a huge coral reef, but with no water.
Tahawes move fast through the shyulltops and their diet consists 74% of shyull fruits, with small plants, animals, eggs and fungi making up for the remaining 26%. Tahawes are known for their agility and being able to coordinate their movements in a complicated tridimentional puzzle-like environment. The gravity on their homeworld is similar to that of Mars, although being in orbit around a red dwarf, it is much colder than Mars, allowing the atmosphere to be denser. As you can probably guess, the metabolism of these creatures is not based on water, but rather ammonia; which rains upon the shyull jungles in huge quantity.
The Tahawes are invertebrate; and their musculature system is based on hydraulic pull of nitrogen-based fluids. They are not very strong, and completely unable to lift objects of considerable weight, which is not much of a problem in their light-gravity habitat. Their bodies are specialized for dealing with tension and other forces involved in the act of being hanged on a branch-like structure. The average Tahawe is 120 centimeters from the tips of "front" tentacles to "rear" tentacles.
Tahawes are most notable for their unique symmetry, which is neither radial nor bilateral. Basically, they have a central part and two opposite extremities which are built like mirror versions of each other. Concepts such as "front" and "rear" are not applicable; and "up" and "down" are also hard to apply, since they are constantly changing which side will be kept upwards. Each end of the Tahawe body consists of four tentacle-derived structures: two "arm tentacles" used for manipulating objects, moving around and hanging on the shyulls; a "mouth tentacle" contains two long mandibles and a sub-tentacle used as a prehensile tongue which is used for eating but not for talking; and the "sensory tentacle", which contains the creature's hearing openings (also used for vocalizing), light receptors, balance receptors and other poorly understood sensory organs. Living in such a dark, jungle-like environment, eyesight is not an important sense for them, as much as hearing and equilibrium.
Hopefully, the images will allow you a better understanding of Tahawe anatomy, despite my crude drawing :- )
Despite using ammonia as a solvent, rather than water; the Tahawe biochemistry is not so different from our own. Their bodies are based on complex carbon-nitrogen compounds and they breathe oxygen produced by the higher layers of the shyull forests and which precipitates to the lower levels thanks to the cold temperature. In fact, Tahawes need much higher concentrations of oxygen than humans, and have a faster metabolism. However they sleep the Earth equivalent of eleven hours a day on average.
Tahawes are omnivorous, as stated above. They ingest food through their two mouth-tentacles located on opposite ends of the body. The digestive chamber is located on the central part of the body. Once the food reaches this chamber, the chamber is "locked" to prevent the creatures from vomiting when changing which portion of the body will be upside; keeping in mind that this changes a lot whenever they move through the jungle. Surrounding the digestive chamber there is a very efficient organ which combines the functions of liver and intestine; and gives exit to the circulatory system to distribute nutrients to the other organs.
Since the Tahawes are in constant movement, they only activate their hearts during sleep, that being the only time they need pumps to keep the blood circulating. Oxygen is absorbed by the skin and mouth. After the food's nutrients are all consumed, the remains are pushed back to the mouth to be expelled. One interesting fact is that, although there are no visible walls inside the stomach, the food always exits through the same mouth it was ingested. The mechanisms and reasons for this still trigger the curiosity of xenobiologists; as Tahawe scientists themselves have never cared enough to explain.
Despite being small creatures, Tahawes have amazing cognitive abilities and are able to deal with complex math operations better and faster than most sapient species (a skill doubtlessly evolved out of the need to quickly coordinate movement in a tridimensional jungle habitat). This is possible because the Tahawe brain is built differently from most other creatures: the nervous system is centered on three ganglia in the central part of the body; but even the peripheral nerves and small tentacle-ganglia take part in the cognitive and memory functions. Furthermore, the whole system is condensed to save space, allowing for grand quantities of brain cells to occupy a small volume.
Tahawes are a peaceful, gregarious species, and could in fact be described as an apolitical race. Being asexual and having evolved in a resourceful environment; they have almost no competitive or hierarchical instincts whatsoever and live together in groups merely as means of defense against predators and quite possibly to keep their large intellect satisfied with deep, philosophical conversations. The Tahawe mind is also capable of a great deal of empathy, which is why they have been able to maintain a fairly pacifist relationship with the majority of alien races. There appears to be an interesting contrast between the Tahawe's quick and agitated movements and their tranquil and pacifistic mind.
Culture and society Edit
The same thing that makes Tahawes a peaceful bunch, however, has also caused them to be completely apolitical, with the curious result of them living in anarchy. After several years of technological improvements and the creation of weird-looking cities growing alongside and within the natural shyull growth, Tahawes finally came to uncover the secrets of space traveling. Even then, however, it took them many more years to be able to built huge spacecrafts containing entire shyull jungles inside, after which they finally felt comfortable with following curiosity and expanding-territory instincts which are common to all intelligent species out there.
Nowadays there are literally millions of large nomadic Tahawe vessels drifting through the galaxy. No political bond, no central government. The groups living within each ship consider those living in the Tahawe homeworld as nothing but another isolated group. There are no rules and no interference among groups of different ships, and even cultural exchanges are rare. After thousands of years, each ship has created a unique culture; and some Tahawe groups have even diverged into different subspecies, the same thing happening to their shyulls and associated plants and animals.
Tahawe jungle-vessels rotate slowly to simulate the gravity of their homeworld. Adult Tahawes can be either engineers, scientists, philosophers, gardeners, builders, artists or teachers; and many of them carry out all seven of these professions ("gardener" is the designation given to those who avoid the shyull to grow uncontrollably, damaging the ships' systems).
As for the other species of the galaxy: for most of them, the Tahawes are just a harmless curiosity, though some species have expressed disdain at their lack of government and isolationist tendencies toward large interspecies affiliations.
- Tahawes were created as my entry for the "Design an Alien Contest" on Alien Species Wiki :- ) BlueFrackle 18:14, June 22, 2011 (UTC)