eutherian

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Critters! Animal people appear in Killjoys a lot, so I needed to spend a little time thinking about how they’d look as background characters. Since the whole theme in-universe for KJ is “what if the ‘fantasy’ in ‘urban fantasy’ was candyland bullshit”, all the animal folks are cute, colorful, and fall into a few narrow ‘species’.

I say ‘species’ because they’re technically all ONE species (called Eutherians) that just display a wide variety of traits. Early Eutherians were essentially highly magical chameleons, mimicing traits of whatever animals seemed most successful (usually over the course of a few generations) to better endure their environments. Modern descendants have lost that ability, but still display a pretty high species-wide magic saturation. This manifests mostly in their garish coloration, symbol-based markings, and the ability to burst into perfectly synchronized group songs (which sounds cute but is found by non-Eutherians to be terribly creepy in practice).

The three most common types of Eutherian are rabbits, bears, and the slightly rarer cats. Haven’t decided if there should be more kinds yet.

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Basilosaurus

Mounted skeleton on display at the Smithsonian.  

When: Late Eocene (40-34 million years ago)

Where: North American and the MIddle East. 

What: Basilosaurus is an extinct whale. The word ‘saurus’, which means lizard, is in its name as the first fossils found in the early 1800s were isolated vertebra which were misidentified as reptilian. Soon thereafter additional material was found which easily diagnosed Basilosaurus as a form of whale.  However, due to the rules of nomenclature, the first name that is applied is the name of the taxon for all time. The first Basilosaurus material was found in Louisiana, USA and specimens were commonly found throughout the southern United States. At one point vertebra were turning up so often they were used as furniture by the locals. 

Basilosaurus is not closely related to any modern whales, diverging from the cetacean lineage prior to the odontocete (toothed whale) mysticete (baleen whales) spilt. Though it is not the longest whale ever known, at 'only' 72 feet (22 meters) long , it reached this length in a manner unlike modern cetaceans. All of this elongation comes from duplications of vertebra past the ribs whereas modern whales of this length are just overall bigger in all aspects - Basilosaurus was extremely narrow for its body length. Basilosaurus did not swim like modern whales, which move the whole tail as one unit, instead it is thought it swam much more like an eel, with the movement undulating though the long body - though in a vertical fashion rather than horizontal. Another interesting aspect of Basilosaurus is it retained extremely small hind limbs, which were useless in locomotion. These tiny appendages were most likely used as copulatory guides, such as seen in some snakes, to make sure that the proper bits of a mating pair lined up.