Selkie

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In a nutshell: Shore-dwelling semi-aquatic descendants of humans that herd seals.

Selkies are a race of people whose bodies are specially adapted for living on the shore.

One of the arks landed on a chain of islands far from any mainland. The people learned to subsist on fish. Over the years, they have adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle.

As selkies live far from where our scouts have landed, our scouts have been slow to report on the appearance and habits of selkies, and most of our information is nth-hand. We seek good questions to investigate to help fill in the gaps.

Physiology

Compared to the average Nognese, selkies have greater capacity to hold breath, longer bodies,[1] more solid fat, shorter legs with larger feet,[2] and a larger spleen.[3] Think of the adaptations that helped Michael Phelps win eight golden medals for swimming at Beijing in 2008, and four more in London in 2012: long, thin torso, long arms, short legs, and large feet connected to hypermobile ankles.[4][5] Also consider those that helped fisherman Gudlaugur Fridthorsson survive a swim back to shore,[6] taken up to eleven.

Selkies and seals

Now wild seals tend to be heavily polygynous. The males compete for exclusive breeding rights to dozens of females. Indigenous communities of selkies are located near seal rookeries, and during the seals' breeding season, selkies closely observe the combat rituals of seals, often camouflaged in a sealskin wetsuit. They slaughter only those adult male seals least likely to defeat the alpha male in combat. Selkie wetsuits cover both legs together to the ankles and may be responsible in part for myths about mermaids, which aren't real.[7]

A few seal species are commonly kept as pets or livestock in the game world. Our scouts are inclined to believe claims that selkies domesticated seals long ago through selective breeding, seeing as it took less than half a century to breed foxes to noticeable domestication.

Artifacts

A scout on Stack Exchange reports finding fishing nets that appear to have been crafted from hair.[8]

Language

Because of the humid maritime climate of selkie homelands,[9] their native languages aren't "spoken" as much as sung. A tone terracing system similar to that of Twi language is typical, with three tone classes: low, mid, and high. Low tones are realized as a leap of at least a third in and out, a mid tone is a step lower than the last high or mid tone in a prosodic unit, and a high tone is the same pitch as the last high or mid tone. When speaking quietly, or when it has been too long since an opportunity for pitch reset, they revert to a tritonic chant with low near the bottom of the speaker's range, mid a minor third above low, and high a major second above mid.

Conversations from one islet to another in an archipelago sound like beautiful music. In the early days of sea exploration, this singing tended to distract sailors and cause shipwrecks. This reputation for causing accidents led early explorers to leave selkies in peace.



References

  1. Kathy Benjamin and Eric Yosomono. "5 Physical Details That Reveal Highly Personal Information". Cracked, 2011-08-23. Accessed 2012-03-16.
  2. Howard Berkes. "Dolphin Kick Gives Swimmers Edge". All Things Considered, 2008-08-23. Accessed 2012-08-26.
  3. Melissa A. Ilardo et al. "Physiological and Genetic Adaptations to Diving in Sea Nomads". Cell, Volume 173, Issue 3, p569–580.e15, 2018-04-19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.054 Via Sarah Gibbens. "'Sea Nomads' Are First Known Humans Genetically Adapted to Diving". National Geographic, 2018-04-19. Accessed 2018-04-21. Via Slashdot
  4. Phelps, No Limits, p. 67.
  5. Pauli Poisuo. "5 Real Athletes With Strange-Ass Superpowers". Cracked, 2015-10-10. Accessed 2015-10-10.
  6. Orrin R. K., Nyameye Dwomo-Anokye. "5 Epic Disasters at Sea (Survived by Un-killable Badasses)". Cracked, 2014-09-21. Accessed 2014-09-22.
  7. National Ocean Service (US). "Are mermaids real?" Accessed 2012-07-04.
  8. Cognisant. "Why would merfolk have hair?". Worldbuilding Stack Exchange, 2016-05-31. Accessed 2016-05-31.
  9. Stuart Mason Dambrot. "The clime's speech: Data analysis supports prediction that human language is influenced by environmental factors". Phys.org, 2015-01-30. Accessed 2015-02-01. Citing paywalled article by Caleb Everett, Damián E. Blasi, and Seán G. Roberts. "Climate, vocal folds, and tonal languages: Connecting the physiological and geographic dots". PNAS, 2015-01-20, doi:10.1073/pnas.1417413112.

External links


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