The Kaiila, Rebuidling a Species

To preface- There are currently three subspecies of kaiila found throughout Gor. The Southern kaiila, a carnivore. The Desert kaiila, an omnivore. The Barrens kaiila, strictly an herbivore. These are the only three in Gor, though hybrids are somewhat likely what with trade, the moving of and breeding of livestock. For the purpose of this essay I will collectively refer to them as “kaiila”. This will be my rebuttal against long-held views of the species and as a possible way to further build upon what has already been gathered together and inferred.

Firstly, the size of the animal relative to the average Gorean. The kaiila in the books are Very Big and Very Tall, standing around 20 to 22 hands in height. However, so many people in SL-Gor are extremely focused on just that- Being Very Big and Very Tall. The kaiila role player that doesn’t fit this formula is quietly ridiculed. How silly would it be for a Huge Man to ride what amounts to a PONY! How they would be mocked! Woe be unto the Warrior who rides a little kaiila, for they are the least among men! Woe unto the kaiila who is of small stature, for they are not towering over the heads of their Masters! They are a mockery of the species!

Let me bring your attention to one Genghis Khan- Head of the Mongol Empire that conquered, pillaged and ruled Eurasia from 1206 to 1368. Back then there were no modern vehicles or even horses- No massive Draft horses, no fancy Frisians, or long and lanky Thoroughbreds. At least, not as we know them today. Horses then were smaller, mostly due to poorer diets and conditions, as well as less specialized breeding. It was one such animal, the Mongolian Horse, that brought Genghis Khan and his army raping and pillaging through Eurasia at a mere 12 hands in height. To put that into perspective, modern ponies are generally around 14 hands in height. Half of the known world was conquered on the backs of ancient ponies, and none of them were considered any less for it.

I also have reason to believe that the average Gorean was around 5 feet in height, not the six to eight feet Tarl Cabot was hinted at, and that he was the exception and not the rule-! But as I have long lost the quotes, I have nothing to back this up with. Anyway back to the scheduled beating of a dead horse, because at this point anyone who has met me has heard some form of this rant at least twice. Hopefully after this you won’t have to hear it any more!

What I have long wanted to bring to other’s attention were various attributes of the By The Book kaiila. The kaiila’s possible origins, it’s teeth, and it’s temperament specifically concerning humans.

I disagree with the Moropus theory [1]. This theory states that all kaiila are descent of Moropus Distans, an omnivorous early split-off ancestor of the horse that routinely used it’s large blunt claws to dig up tubers, roots, and other ground plants for food as well as for hunting down live prey in the form of smaller animals, such as early lizards and rodents with sharp sabre teeth. At some point these creatures were brought to Gor and adapted. Eventually their descendants, the Kaiila would be tamed and used as pack animals and war mounts.

This theory, while quite sound at first does not hold water when examined. From further study of remains, Moropus and other Chalciotheriodae were in fact herbivores, solely plant eaters more akin to giant sloths [2]. The large claws associated with digging were in fact used to drag down branches as the creature reared upwards to browse. The long canines and incisors once thought for the rending of flesh and tough roots were in fact baby teeth- Once these creatures hit adulthood, they would fall from the mouth never to grow again as their eating habits changed to match their greater size. No more eating tough plants but browsing for softer ones.

The modern kaiila could not have naturally come from such an animal, although given time and enough work by Physicians or Priest Kings, could have been forcibly given the attributes as needed. Alter the genome and code to have a shorter intestine for processing meat as well as plants, to have the anterior teeth never fall, and you have the base for a kaiila.

On an equally important side note, the common depiction of a kaiila’s canines as large and thick, visibly poking out from between the lips to descend down past the jaw is inaccurate. It is claimed that those are it’s fangs, and how can it rip and tear without them? Well, for one- humans have fangs, as do dogs, cats, and hippos. None of these are shown with such disproportionately large teeth, and here is why- Shrinkwrapping. It is an outdated but still widely used method of reconstructing a long dead organism without the proper muscle and fat around the skeleton. Without these, you get velociraptors with a visible pubis bone [3], entelodonts with no face [4], and shockingly, a predatory catlike mammal with no gums or lips to speak of, much less with. With the proper muscle and fat, the kaiila would likely have less visible fangs, or indeed fangs hidden by fleshy lips [5].

This last part I will admit is a bit of a reach, and a little preachy considering I write this to Gorean role players. First off, Gor is a harsh world, one of men and power, where might makes right. Second, and most important- Everything is your enemy. Everything that walks, flies and squats in the mud wants to tear your face off and eat your eyes like fleshy grapes.

This is a lie. Not everything on the planet wants you dead or in chains. Every person? Unlikely, unless you are on their hit list for one reason or another. It is far more likely you are a complete stranger to them, and thus an enemy. Every animal? Also unlikely, as unless they are specifically trained to respond to humans, or have learned on their own to respond, will ignore you after a bit of sniffing, if they notice you at all. In short, that herd of kaiila in the nearby fields Will Not Eat You. For all their size, a kaiila will generally eat once every few days and unless trained to attack and defend will not descend in a ravenous fury of teeth and claws on every person in the vicinity. Animals do not do that, and if they do it means they are starving for food or very sick. However it is also possible that they have found humans to be a relatively plentiful, low-risk meal. Add in the whole “throwing slaves to feed the kaiila” that seems to offered up as a very real threat [6], and you could have a trained man-eater.

Citations

[1] (( In my Kaiila class, I use a reference to an Ancient Earth animal. There are no references in the books for this. It is simply a way to express a further sighted idea much like what is expressed for Human cultures in many of the books. This particular portion is taken from classes I attended myself and is an accepted scientific extension within certain circles of the Game.
As with most things, I will research each concept for relevance and Ideological consistency and have found this idea to pass the test. This generally has no bearing upon RP with Kaiila within the SL game of Gor. Your Mileage may vary. Ketchakah ))

From Internet. NOT my words

Moropus distans (Moropus Marsh, 1877) http://prehistoric-fauna.com/Moropus

Order: Perissodactyla See below
Family: Chalicotheriidae See below
Time period: Early Miocene of North America
Size: 3,3 m in length, 240 cm in height, 1000 – 1700 kg of weight
Typical representative: Moropus distans Marsh, 1877

Moropus is an extinct genus of mammal, belonging to a group called chalicotheres, which were perissodactyl (“odd-toed”) mammals, endemic to North America during the Miocene, existing for approximately 9.4 million years.
Moropus is related to the modern horse, rhino, and tapir. Like other chalicotheres, they differed from their modern relatives in having large claws, rather than hooves, on the front feet; these claws may have been used for defense or digging for food. Moropus stood about 2.4 m tall at the shoulder. The three highly compressed claw-like hooves on each foot were split down the middle. These claws actually gave Moropus its name: ” slow “or “sloth foot”. This name implies that because of the claws, Moropus was a clumsy mover. But the articulation of the phalangeal (finger) bones, in addition to probable large foot and toe pads, shows that Moropus probably could raise the claws slightly to enable it to move about quite smoothly. Because the paws curve inward, it probably had a pigeon-toed gait.

(( Below are some explanations of the above classifications. Remember not all animals belonging to a said group are the same, just related. There is much conflicting information. The references are to just give an idea of what we are talking about. ))

Distens : From Greek meaning “distant”. There are several known sub species within this classification as it relates to Moropus.

Perissoddactla : http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/mesaxonia/perissodactyla.html
Odd-toed” or “odd-hoofed” mammals make up the Perissodactyla. Like the “even-toed” Artiodactyla, perissodactyls are unguligrades; that is, they walk on the terminal bones of the toes and have enlarged toenails forming hoofs. Unlike artiodactyls, perissodactyls either walk on three toes (like rhinos, tapirs, many extinct horses, and other extinct groups) or on a single toe (like recent horses).

Only seventeen species of perissodactyls remain on the Earth today, a shadow of the group’s former glory. Perissodactyls were once much more diverse, including the enormous horned brontotheres, the bizarre browsing, clawed chalicotheres, and the largest land mammal of all time, the Eocene Indricotherium (formerly known as Baluchitherium). It stood five meters (over sixteen feet) tall at the shoulder.

Chalicotheres : https://research.amnh.org/paleontology/perissodactyl/evolution/groups/chalicotheriidae http://cenozoiclife.blogspot.com/2016/11/marshs-chalicothere-moropus-elatus.html

(From Greek chalix, “gravel” + therion, “beast”) were a group of herbivorous, odd-toed ungulate (perissodactyl) mammals spread throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa during the Middle Eocene to Early Pleistocene subepochs living from 46.2 mya—781,000 years ago, existing approximately 45.519 million years.[2]

They evolved around 46 million years ago from small, forest animals similar to the early horses. Many chalicotheres, including such animals as Moropus and Chalicotherium, reached the size of a horse. By the late Oligocene, they had divided into two groups: one that grazed in open areas and another that was more adapted to woodlands. They died out around 781,000 years ago, with Nestoritherium being the most recently dated chalicothere. Chalicotheres are related to the extinct brontotheres, as well as to modern day horses, rhinoceroses, and tapirs.

(( It has been said to me that Moropus may have been a knuckle walker, much like a modern gorilla. Of course this is totally possible, and some sources will support this theory. There are however, NO other animals within the Phylums that behave this way. Scientific logic would say that this thought is not consistent with other forms of later creatures that have developed from this animal.
The animals speculated shape is also in question. Many fossil skeletons of this animal have been recovered, most are extremely complete. Depending upon how the animal was re built will determine its stature. A simple Internet search will show rebuilt skeletons in all different configurations.
It is however ALL theory so up to each to decide for them selves. The Portion here is but to add consistency. It really has nothing to do much with the game of Gor. Ketchakah Kaiila ))

[2] http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/c/chalicotherium.html

[3] http://a-dinosaur-a-day.com/post/181328521115/a-dinosaur-a-day-american-museum-of-natural

[4] http://palaeofail-explained.tumblr.com/post/161993294101/something-that-really-upsets-me-about

[5] https://fineartamerica.com/featured/homotherium-sabre-toothed-cat-mauricio-anton.html

[6] I had been troubled that the shock of her radical transposition between worlds, coupled with her reduction to servitude, might disarrange her mind, might shatter her and make her worthless to the Tuchuks, who might then have simply cast her to the Kaiila and herd Sleen. — Nomads Pg 99

“On the other hand,” said Kamchak, “I may feed you to the Kaiila.”
At this the Turian maiden trembled slightly, and looked down. “I doubt that you are good for much,” Kamchak said, “but Kaiila feed.” — Nomads Pg 216

“You were actually quite fortunate. A girl who does what you did might be maimed or thrown to sleen or Kaiila”—Nomads Pg 425

“You do not sound to me sufficiently sincere,” I said. “But I am!” she laughed. “I think in the morning,” I said, “I will throw you to Kaiila.”—Nomads Pg 463

Lokiande Resident

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