Cava

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Cava
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Clade Dinosauria
Class Paraves
Order Lofioforos
Family Aborealantus
Genus Sapiopteryx
Species S. cava

Cava are a species of beaked, Paravian therapods which are the direct descendants of a member of the Dromaeosauridae clade of dinosaurs. They are one of many intelligent, sapient species native to Urth, and are characterised by their striking bird-like appearance featuring shiny black plumage, colourful crest feathers and corvid-like heads. Anatomically modern cava evolved in central Aurora approximately 2 Mya. They remained isolated on the continent until 50 Kya, where they migrated along a land bridge into the east coast of Yasteria and further Northeast into Novaris where they generated formed a small minority amongst the existing populations. They coexisted with elves humans and orcs on the continent, although remained the majority in certain areas into the present

(OOC note: there are several inaccuracies with the picture but its better than the last one)

Evolution

Illustration of Microraptor gui, a possible Cavan ancestor

The cava are the descendants of a species of small dromaeosaur of the genus Microraptor that survived the C-P mass extinction 66 million years ago that were isolated on the then-conjoined Aurora and Sempiterna. Competition from emerging birds and mammals left few ecological niches to exploit, however a number of arboreal species specialised towards masterful climbing and dexterity over their gliding flight and subsequently thrived in the canopy environment of thick forests. The Aborealantid 'treeclaw' family led lifestyles similar to the ancestors of the human species group.

An omnivorous species of Aborealantid entered a trend of rapidly increasing cranial capacity approximately 10-15 Mya, resulting in a new genus with a range of new species capable of creating and using basic tools and achieving a rudimentary use of fire for pest control and hunting. This alongside the long-term aridification of Central-East Aurora led to upright bipedalism evolving as a response to the thinning forests and the expanding grass plains biome as a means of faster locomotion and predator detection. Anatomically modern cava evolved 2 Mya in the Ethaln Plain and quickly spread to dominate the continent, however without any continuous land bridges to Yasteria at the time they remained geographically isolated.

History

Cava interacted with several human-group ancestor species that rafted over form Yasteria 1.8 million years ago. A distinct hominid species, Primus Primus aurorensis, developed in the arid eastern regions, only declining into extinct approximately 20 Kya.

Although highly disputed, evidence from uncovered tools suggests that a community of Cavan and Elven hunter gatherers in modern Staynes may have domesticated and farmed several crops for a brief period of time approximately 500-300 Kya. It is unknown how developed this culture became, how long it lasted or why reversion to hunter-gathering occurred due to the advanced decay of the recovered artefacts. Agriculture was possibly developed a second time approximately 100 Kya, from which tentative evidence of basic metalworking exists at a site in the Axdelian peninsula. However, the onset of glaciation and more extreme climate conditions, expansion of the harsh but ecologically bountiful tundra steppe and the failure of crops likely forced a return to hunter gathering.

Falling temperatures lead to a land bridge forming between Yasteria and Aurora at various points from 200 Kya onwards, leading to cava encountering migrating elves. Whilst there are signs of interspecies violence, there is evidence of prehistoric coexisting communities across many regions of the continent. It is unknown why no Cava migrated northwards into Yasteria during this time. Anatomically modern Humans and Orcs arrived during another fall in sea levels 50 Kya, mostly settling in the center and east of the continent respectively. The range of Cava in Aurora remained approximately the same as it had before, however with several other sapient species competing for the carrying capacity of the continent populations in the center and east declined somewhat, whilst the Axdelian peninsula saw very little human or elf inhabitation and thus no significant change. Whilst the land bridge existed, Some Cava migrated north into Yasteria, with small numbers settling along the east coast an up into the Northeastern reaches of the continent. Some continued across the land bridge into Novaris before rising sea levels closed it off again. Although they settled across the entire continent, as relative latecomers these Novari Cava existed only as relatively small communities, although Western Novaris would host a greater population density.

With the rise of complex civilisation on Aurora, Cava were present all across the continent, although predominantly inhabited the West side, with large populations of elves in the Center and Humans in the East. Over time oppression against Cava in the center of the continent, largely from human-dominated civilisations in Staynes and the Ethaln Plain, slowly drove migration outwards, towards more tolerant and/or Cavan-majority civilisations elsewhere on the continent or into rural isolation within the interiors of mountainous regions. The Axdelian peninsula and its neighbouring regions remain majority Cava to the present, although significant populations are still present across the continent such as in Lovelia and the Bishlan. Qayami and Kormistazic colonisation of Arcturia has meant a significant Cava population exists on the South East coast and beyond, with Quariin for example being majority Cava. There was also another diaspora of Auroran Cava across Urth from the 16th century onwards with the fall of the Third Kormistazic empire, both as refugees from the Morstaybishlian empire and as colonist labourers. With some exceptions, Novari Cava usually formed small minorities in the population of various civilisations, with the exception of the West where they were numerous enough to form significant pluralities in a several cases, but nonetheless becoming an important element of the continents diverse cultures. occasionally even a majority has been formed, with Castralanza being a modern example. The present cavan population is approximately [] million.

Anatomy

Cava have an upright, humanoid appearance, but their skeletal structure differs significantly from most other sapient species. Like many therapods, parts of cavan skeletons are pneumatised and hollow, strengthened with criss-crossing struts. This provides great strength, comparable to mammalian bones, whilst being much lighter. Cava possess a vestigial keel bone on their sternum, which often appears as a noticeable bulge on the chest. Cavan Legs possess a digitigrade arrangement and their digits are tetradactyl, with four for each limb. Cavan feet have an anisodactyl arrangement and the hands consist of one opposable thumb and three main digits. Their skulls and beak are remarkably similar to that of corvids, indicative of their ancestors' generalist lifestyle and omnivorous diet. Intracranial volume is typically somewhat smaller than other sapient species, however the neuron and synapse density is greater and seems to result in equivalent general intelligence. Average lifespan is slightly longer than humans, adjusted for the fact that most Cava live in developed nations.

The entire body of a Cava save for its forelimbs is covered in thick plumage. The feathers come in a range of colours, black being the most common but shades of grey and blue in various pattern are also very frequent phenotypes, and there are numerous random mutations such as leucism. The upper to mid limbs feature several vestigial wing feathers akin to their dromaeosaur ancestors. The back of the head features a crest with two or more plumes of brightly coloured iridescent feathers that strongly reflect UV light. This may have served a role in sexual selection as the strength of the reflectivity is often an indicator of an individual's physical health. Crest feathers can often grow very long, allowing them to be styled. On average Cavan eyesight is better than other sapients, especially in terms of ability to follow movement and UV sensitivity, however they have noticeably poorer contrast detection. Eye colour varies but light blue and silver are the most common. Cava possess a syrinx organ instead of vocal cords which allows for a decent vocal range and even mimicry. Despite this, the lack of lips and teeth does limit the possible sounds they can make with ease which has had major impact on language and cultural development.

Individual Cava are androgynous and have few sexually dimorphic features, and thus without closer inspection it is difficult to discern an individuals sex based on appearance or voice. Eggs only develop when fertilised and the usual clutch size is one, with incubation taking 6 months.