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The saurion are a sapient species native to the Anitolipeiros, with three subspecies distributed along the western coast of the continent proper. Though distant cousins to the larger saura—found further north on the Northern Peninsula-Archipelago region—they have vastly different morphologies and social behavior and little knowledge of one another.
Like other faunal species native to the Anitolipeiros (i.e., excluding the sea species' amphibious crustacoids, membranous flyers from the Vorrapeiros, and faunal fungoids), the saurion were hexapodal. As opposed to most native faunal species of the Continent, the saurion were semi-tetrapodal—a feature present in their closest relatives—using their medial and lower limbs to move in a fashion similar to the knuckle-walking locomotion of gorillas. This is reflected in the particular morphology of their limbs: althought the major distal segments of all three pairs are prehensile, the upper-most pair has the greatest level of prehensility and the greatest level of fine motor control. This pair also has the least amount of fine muscle control, and a greater range of motion. The lower two pairs have greater muscle mass and differing bone structure to help in stabilizing the body, and less fine motor control. All of the major distal segments of these limbs contain four digits including an opposable thumb that is anterior when the limbs are hanging freely.
The respiratory system was also similar to other native faunal species: bilateral series (found anteriorly and posteriorly) of pulmoform puteli ("little lung-like pit") found in a line from the upper to lower portions of the abdomen covered by a protective operculum, which are used for breathing. In the saurion and other Cantilacerta species (c.f., the saura), the uppermost pair of anterior puteli have become modified and lost their pulmoform behavior. Instead, they connect to the esophagus allowing for vocalizations for communication and mating displays, with accompanying modifications in the throat and mouth (the vocal tract). This behavior is further modified in the saurion to allow for complex speech.
The saurion are covered in long, rough feathers whose primary functions are for camouflage. In males, many of the camoflauge feathers (especially on the head, chest, back, and rump) leading up to the mating season and are replaced by brightly-colored feathers used for mating displays. These feathers are also used for thermoregulation, including a dense underlayer that is used to keep them warm and dry when diving.
Staturally the saurion are shorter than humans (mean female height is 165cm; mean male height is 142cm) from foot-to-head (foot referring to the distal segment of the lowest limb pair) when standing bipedally, but they are heavy owing to a large amount of muscle (mean female weight is 80kg; mean male weight is 45kg). Saurion are both amphibious and semi-arboreal, using treetops for protection against their numerous ground- and water-dwelling predators, but largely hunting and foraging on the ground or in the water.
Socially, the saurion are matriarchal and female-dominated. The basic social unit is the family, lead by a dominant female and containing two to three paired males (particularly desirable females may have more, up to six) and any immature children. This structure is often augmented by accompanied mature children of both sexes as well as 'periphery males', who will opportunistically mate with females but otherwise shift from family-to-family and pack-to-pack over time. These families with coalesce into larger structures called packs, which are organized along matriarchal relations (i.e., immediate relations such as mother-daughter or sister-sister) when necessary. Most often this happens when war occurs between tribes (which are infra-pack social structures organized along percieved matriarchal relations but rarely organizing in a particular location), or when it is useful such as when food is plentiful and can sustain larger groups, aiding in mutual protection.
During the mating season, males compete with one another to mate with the dominant female in their family (including any present periphery males). Mating displays vary, but often include a combination of 'primitive' (whistling; non-lyrical singing; dancing) and 'non-primitive' (lyrical singing; poetry; presentation of crafted goods such as jewelry, weaved baskets, or pottery) behaviors. Occasionally, these mating displays will involve posturing or combat, but any behavior that leads toward actual harm to one of the individuals will often be broken up by the dominant female, with the participants chastised. Periphery males will often be ejected from the familiy in such circumstances.
Actual reproduction is typical of sexual reproduction in faunal species (the male's penis is inserted into the female's vagina, semen containing the male gamete is ejaculated and fertilizes the egg). Females typically produce two eggs but as many as four in a single breeding season, and each may be independently fertilized. These eggs are grown in the uterus for several months before moving into the post-uterus. At this point, they are passed from the dominant female to one of the paired (non-periphery) males, typically one of the less-dominant males. This is accomplished via an ovipositor inserted into a pseudo-uterus in the male. The egg continues to develop and hatches after approximately a month, and the post-fetus continues to develop for another several months. Sustenance is provided by a blood-derived secretion released from the walls of the pseudo-uterus. After giving birth, the infant (capable of walking on its own after several days) is raised communally by the family members (non-periphery males exlucded) and transitions to eating semi-digested food, passed mouth-to-mouth.
The female's ovipositor is highly sensitive, and for many purposes is treated similarly to a penis. In particular, the process of passing the egg from the female to the male has similar physiological and psychological responses as sexual copulation does. Females will mount males and unrelated females (in rare cases where unrelated families come together) as dominance displays, much in the way that dominant males will mount other males intrafamilialy to assert dominance.
The three saurion subspecies—marsh-swap saurion, insular saurion (further divided into temperate and tropical saurion), and rainforest saurion—are broadly similar and have contact at the fringes of their territory. While there are other morphological features that distinguish the three subspecies (e.g., the insular saurion tend to have a larger mean height and weight), the primary distinction between them is the camouflage pattern of their plumage.
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