The Ashkathi are streamlined and smooth-skinned, much like dolphins. However, unlike dolphins, Ashkathi do breathe underwater, through gills on their hips, which means that Ashkathi traveling on land require waterbelts to allow them to breathe when out of water. They have four limbs much like humans do, but their limbs are lanky and have long fingers and toes, much like that of a frog's. They are also webbed to allow them to swim. They have long, salamander-like tails to let them keep balance when they do leave the water. When their mouths are closed, the mouths are almost invisible, but they can open their toothless mouths almost as wide open as a human's head.
Ashkathi have spots on the sides of their bodies that are mildly bioluminescent, lighting up primarily in the ultraviolet spectrum. However, when sufficiently agitated, these flashes of light bleed into the visual spectrum as a dim purple glow. Ashkathi eyes are yellow and reflect light, allowing them to see in the dark. Also, they can see the lowest frequencies of ultraviolet light. This allows the Ashkathi to partially tell another Ashkathi's emotions by looking at the spots on their sides.
Ashkathi are 80% water, and their skeletons are made of cartilage fused with particles of ossified material. This makes the bones lightweight. However, it makes the Ashkathi physically weaker and more susceptible to injury than most other species. The skull and the ribcage, on the other hand, are almost completely made of ossified material, to protect the brain, the melon, and the heart. The brain is large compared to the body size, especially the temporal lobe (the section of the brain that governs sensory input). The melon, similar to that of Earth's cetaceans, is primarily composed of body fat, and amplifies incoming and outgoing auditory information. The Ashkathi sense of smell is poor. However, to compensate, their sight and hearing is stronger than that of a human.
Ashkathi do not have lungs. Instead, they have gills on their hips which gather oxygen from the surrounding water. For this reason, the Ashkathi repiratory system is not connected to the esophagus. An Ashkathi can only survive out of water without a waterbelt for about 5 minutes before suffocating to death.
Ashkathi blood contains hemocyanin rather than hemoglobin. However, Ashkathi blood also contains more metallic compounds than simply copper, giving Ashkathi blood a silvery-clear hue. Because the planet Larine has a fairly consistent temperature year-round, the Ashkathi are more sensitive to variances in temperature than other races, especially cold. Cold enough temperatures can alter an Ashkathi's internal body clock, postponing the breeding season or skipping it entirely, as well as making it difficult for an Ashkathi to sleep or eat the proper amounts.
Since the Ashkathi are toothless, they sustain themselves on nearly-microscopic food when in polite company, such as phytoplankton or zooplankton. However, due to the size of the Ashkathi mouth and esophagus, an Ashkathi can swallow something as big as a carp whole. The main food source for the Ashkathi is kull, an animal native to Larine that resembles a herring-sized shrimp. However, Ashkathi are omnivorous, and will consume plant matter when kull are scarce. Despite being aquatic, Ashkathi can and do drink liquids when on the surface, but alcohol in sufficient doses provokes a mild allergic reaction in the Ashkathi bloodstream, meaning Ashkathi can't hold their liquor as well as a human can.
Genders and ReproductionEdit
Sexuai dimorphism between male and female Ashkathi is minimal. Ashkathi have internal genitalia, and neither males nor females differ much in terms of size. Male Ashkathi have more flattened faces than female Ashkathi, as well as facial tendrils over the eyes (whereas female Ashkathi have tendrils on the back of the head).
During breeding season, the Ashkathi become agitated and restless. They swim to an open area of the water, and then let out specialized mating calls through frequencies much too high for other species to hear. When an Ashkathi finds a mate, they mate for life. The female then lays anywhere from 2 to 6 eggs, over a period of a few hours, and keeps the eggs buried in sand and Shuulua fronds, waiting for them to hatch. The Ashkathi are extremely protective of their offspring.
Ashkathi eggs typically hatch in 3-5 months, and mature at around 25 years of age. Ashkathi hatchlings typically resemble Earth's tadpoles in that they have no limbs, and their tail is short and stubby. After 4 years, an Ashkathi will grow limbs and their tail will elongate, making them resemble androgynous, small versions of the adults. After roughly 15 years, their dimorphic features will begin to grow in; male Ashkathi will grow their tentacle "eyebrows", while female Ashkathi will have their face elongate and grow tentacles on the back of their head.
- Ashkai: The semi-mythical founder of the Ashkathi.
- Toth-met-Deneth-Tal: High Minister of the Beyond during the Point Grace Incursion. Founded the Brothers of Larine.
- Kuune-met-Biiran-Alar: An ambassador to the planet Siria. During a diplomatic function in 3547, Kuune imbibed in a shot of renowned Sirian alcohol, and promptly fell ill. At first thought to be poisoned, it was at this moment that the Sirian Union found out about the Ashkathi's allergic reaction to sufficient quantities of alcohol.
- Katuure-met-Aladaan-Luuti: Under the stage name BC, Katuure is one half of the Ashkathi/Norb music duo BC/AD, alongside the Norb frame Makine-met-Primus. Their music is often played on the Norb television network NMTV. Despite their popularity in the Norb Network and elsewhere, they are considered to be eccentric within the Ashkathi Union.
- Gaani-met-Fasaaren-Tainu: An actor for the Haana-Gani Stage Company, most well-known for narrating the Ashkathi animated production "Stories from the Sea", an adaptation of Ashkathi myths and folklore, including "Why Torra Chases the Kull". Gaani had since starred in over 30 other movies and animated productions before his death in 3402.
- Telaki-met-Kankalu-Telaake: One of the first doctors in the Ashkathi Union, he was the first individual to study biology extensively by using cadavers, and determined the cause of disease was micro-organisms. As this was illegal under the tenets of Ashkathism at the time, Telaki was found guilty of heresy and banished to the Gaaka trench in 2950. However, his legacy carried on due to his followers, who made advances in his work and eventually founded the Telaki Institute of Medicine, which is now the largest medical conglomerate in the Ashkathi Union.
- Liikuni-met-Kaanta-Loren: A naturalist and host of the television documentary series Life Beyond.
- Taaki-met-Nalaken-Tainu: An actor who plays the television detective Hake-met-Paaru.
- Denna-met-Kalaara-Tal: Current High Minister of the Ashkathi Union.
- Koruuna-met-Alassh-Alar: Current Ambassador to the Galactic Nations.