Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Species: Hktrikcht

The Hktrikcht are one of the sapient races in my SF project. They are an amphibious and (superficially) arthropod-like species. Some physiological traits, like a complex central nervous system (which has several "brains"), a chambered pulmonary organ in addition to gills, and closed blood vessels, set them apart from insects and crustaceans on earth. An average adult stands at just .7 meters, and generally weighs no more than 25 kg.

An albinistic individual. (Illustration from senior thesis.)

Because they are so different, the Hktrikcht are an opportunity to play around with how culture and biology might intersect. For example, the character Two-Colors is a gynandromorph.

Gynandromorphy is not especially common among the Hktrikcht, but it is also not so rare that individuals like Two-Colors are seen as unusual. Their culture accepts more sexes than "just male" and "just female," and most of their languages either have many gender-specific pronouns or don't indicate gender at all. How English-speakers make due with only "he" and "she" baffles them.

I did this quick color sketch last night to try and develop the Hktrikcht and the character Two-Colors a little more. Since almost any kind of clothing would be impractical underwater, the Hktrikcht paint or etch their carapaces. (That's something I didn't have the chance to include in the first illustration, due to time constraints.) Every symbol and pattern has its own meaning, like the spiral, which symbolizes balance. If you can read the symbols, it's easy to tell quite a bit about an individual, such as where they come from, how old they are, and what their occupation is.

For anyone curious about gynandromorphy in real creatures, there's some info on Wikipedia. London's Natural History Museum currently has a gynandromorph butterfly, which you can read about here.


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