Ape-Men

(Paranthropus sp.)

The recent biological history of the hominids is considerably more complicated in the world of Lament than on Earth; in addition to the sentient human and dhaja species, there exist several living semi- or subsentient lineages most commonly called ape-men. Though formerly pushed back to deep jungles, mountain fastnesses, and other inhospitable regions during the rise of the sentient species, these man-like creatures have become more aggressive since the beginning of the Long Winter; many groups have expanded their range, and some have even adapted to the magic-polluted wastelands left by the relur nations. A few now compete directly with sentient civilizations, either of their own accord or guided by influences not their own.

Several species of ape-man exist, each adapted to its own environmental or behavioral niche; most, however, share a number of physical and mental characteristics. Though somewhat more intelligent than the apes proper, they cannot comprehend language; some can be taught to speak or understand simple phrases of one or two words, but syntax is beyond their ken. They use few and crude tools, little more than pointed bones and branches, choppers of split rock, or nests and shelters of collected wood. Most are physically more robust than humans or dhajas, with heavy muscles and ridged skulls, though few are much taller than a human. Almost all are at least partly carnivorous. They do not use fire, and most fear it.

Ape-men are most commonly encountered in troops or bands of one type, mixed in terms of sex and age, though the details of their social organization vary by species. Some sentients living nearby have been known to keep captured ape-men as curiosities, but they tend to adapt poorly to such settings; aggressive by nature and used to their own social structure, they require constant watch and care. Some species can do better if raised from birth, and a few ambitious and well-to-do sentients have had some success keeping hand-raised individuals as exotic pets or guards.

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