Mrithi
Mrithi
Mrithi busara
Other Names
  • Wise Heir
  • Posthuman
Intelligence Sapient
Homeworld Iphasi
Composition Carbon-based
Taxonomy
Realm Terra
Empire Cellularum
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Proboscidea
Family Elephantidae
Genus Mrithi
Subspecies None known
Languages
  • Phakathi (mostly defunct)
  • Shisayo (most-spoken second language, employed as the global lingua franca)
  • Many others
Size ~5000 kg
Ancestors
Descendants
  • Mrithi kupitisha
Notable Civilizations
  • Phakathi Empire (defunct)
  • Globalised society
  • Many others
Notable Individuals
  • Ardi
  • Daka
  • Karabo
  • Ples
  • Selam
  • Touma├»

Mrithi are the elephant descendants that, after human extinction in the early 22nd century, evolved to become Earth's second technological species.

Physiology

The trunk is used to manipulate tools. It has four muscular fingers at the end, which evolved from the African elephant's two finger-like extensions. The tips of the fingers are highly sensitive and are capable of very delicate work. The main trunk, on the other hand, is extraordinarily powerful, capable of lifting weights over a hundred kilograms.
The larynx is much better-developed than in the African elephant, able to produce complex speech-patterns. A mrithi has relatively poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell and touch.

Races

Over the course of their outward migration, Mrithi diversified into a number of visually distinct races. These are now, thanks to globalisation, in the process of intermixing once again. A selection inc

  • Mrithi from northern Ubude (Eurasia) are hairier and smaller-eared, both adaptations to deal with the temperature.
  • Mrithi from Phakathi (Africa) tend to have more wrinkled skin (to increase surface area and hence cooling).
  • Mrithi from Wokugcina (South America) have sloped foreheads.
  • Mrithi from Olwandle (Pacific islands) are smaller.

Diet

Mrithi are completely herbivorous, subsisting on a large volume of tree bark and leaves. They will consume fruit occasionally, and enjoy certain species of flower.

Life Cycle

Mrithi are able to reproduce at 10-12 years of age, and can reproduce at any time of year depending on the female's menstrual cycle. In oestrus, females signify their availability to attractive males with an infrasonic rumble. It is common for a female to mate more than once per day during oestrus, usually with several different males across the term.
Males too have a sort of cycle; the interval of peak libido is called musth, in which they have elevated testosterone, aggression, and sexual activity.
Females outnumber males, so competition between them is often fierce. Although considered uncouth in many cultures, physical contests over mates are not uncommon and are encouraged by some females.

Gestation takes around 24 months. Females generally reproduce every six years or so, typically having six or seven children in total. Although elders lose their teeth later in life, and their ancestors would have simply died of starvation as a result, false teeth have been developed, resulting in lifespans often exceeding a century.

Communication

Mrithi, like their elephant ancestors, can communicate over great distances using infrasound. They can also trumpet with their trunks and produce a complex range of vocalisations with the larynx. An important component of their language is signing with their trunks and fingers.

Habitat

Although most comfortable at the tropical and subtropical latitudes in which they originated, with their technological aptitude they are able to settle in almost any environment, like humans before them.

Ecology

Like any technological species, mrithi shape, disrupt, and dominate the ecology of any biome they inhabit, sometimes causing extinctions. However, as they progress technologically and socially, they have become more aware of their environmental impact and have taken deliberate measures to mitigate it - more immediately and effectively than humans did in their time.

Technology

Reading and Writing

Mrithi written language generally consists of raised, Braille-like bumps and ridges; or else indents with the same shape. Both practices are common in several languages, depending on the context. The extruded version is common in trunk-writing, with computer-printed or carefully engraved script usually being protruded. Writing is generally read by touch, with the trunk-fingers, although with the rise of telecommunications technology visual reading has become more prominent.
Most mrithi reading/writing systems start at the bottom and moves upwards. The primary lingua franca, Shisayo, is written in columns, but other languages are written right to left or left to right.

Computing

Mrithi touch-screens are able to protrude and extrude language and images to be experienced with the trunk-fingers. These are usually triangular, and when used for typing the characters (the 'keyboard') is arranged around the edges of the triangle.

Culture

Economics and Sanitation

Because the vegetation that supports them is nearly ubiquitous, at least in fertile regions, money is less important for food. In general, this results in a less stratified society; mrithi have, through most of their history, not had the problem of resources collecting in the control of a privileged few.
Mrithi do not share the same repulsion for their own leavings as humans - as herbivorous animals, it does not have the same pathogenic quality as human faeces. Hence, mrithi often use their own dung as fertiliser.

Family and Gender

Mrithi have a matriarchal culture. The eldest female in a family is traditionally the head. Mrithi society tends to be conservative, partly because once a female becomes her family's matriarch, she remains so until she passes away - her opinions remain of vital importance to the group for much longer than in human society.

Males are generally believed to be less intelligent and more emotionally-driven than females, and traditionally pursue careers that involve labour - however, attitudes towards this are changing. Adult males tend to move from city to city (which is the cultural norm - males that remain in one place for a long time sometimes arouse suspicion or are viewed as social outcasts), while females are more static - although wanderlust occurs in both. Females treat males as disposable and are heavily favoured by the current social dynamic. It is uncommon (but not unheard of) for a child to know its father.

Mrithi society is built around allowing females to work and raise their young at the same time. Usually, family groups share the load of caring for all of their children, and work hours are almost always flexible to accommodate this. However, this does make it difficult for lone mothers or bulls to raise children and maintain careers at the same time.

Sexuality

There is no taboo around sex, and public mating is common. It is common for same-sex friendships to have a sexual component. These relationships usually last longer than heterosexual relationships, which are commonly fleeting.
Contraception exists but is uncommon, as most mrithi take it for granted that they can have children at any time.

Male-female rape is almost unheard of and is considered an even more dire crime than in human society. However, male-male rape is more common and taken less seriously in general, but certain nations are in the process of updating their laws.

Education

Education is mandatory in most societies, but only for females. It is only a recent development (in the last fifty years or so) for males to be allowed to go to the same school as females. The gender gap is moving toward closing in some societies, but all still have some way to go.
There is a system of higher education similar to, but less formal than, human universities.

Death

The mrithi do not bury their corpses but typically transport them to a location beloved to the dead individual (one far enough from civilization to not pose a health risk). Depending on the culture, they may cover them with leaves or other decorations.

History

The cause of human disappearance from Earth remains a mystery, but mrithi palaeontologists, who term them 'house-apes', presume them (and all other apes) long extinct. Human disappearance coincided with the Anthropocene extinction - some in the field believe humanity to have been the cause of the extinction, and not an unwitting victim. (Note: my understanding is that this mass extinction is well underway in your time and timeline, and that your species is doubtless to blame.)

The early ancestor of the mrithi, extant at the time of human civilisation, is the African elephant. The survival of the elephant through the mass extinction is mysterious in itself, as large animals almost always disappear in mass extinctions. Certainly, the Asian elephant was wiped out, as were the vast majority of large animals, including all apes. Perhaps an isolated group of elephants remained insulated from the mass extinction, or else was deliberately preserved by human action. There is fossil evidence of a population that became isolated on a new island in Phakathi - which was created by rising sea levels due to climate change. Mrithi palaeontologists have suggested that this was the seed population that allowed elephants to survive and mrithi to evolve.

Whatever the case, mrithi ancestors certainly struggled for a time, arriving at a narrow population bottleneck - but they subsequently rebounded and continued to evolve in the post-Anthropocene diversity radiation. The larynx developed greater sophistication, allowing a wider range of complex vocalisations. Their trunk-fingers developed greater dexterity as they began using them for more complex tool manipulations, and their brains continued to grow in size and complexity to deal with their proportionally growing social structures. The brain was able to do so thanks to the development of stomach bacteria that is more efficient at extracting amino acids from vegetable matter, for the construction of the necessary proteins.

From eight million through to ten million AD, several waves of mrithi ancestors migrated from Africa. One of these was Mrithi wamoto ('heir to the fire'), the earliest fire-using mrithi, and reached as far as east Asia. Anatomically modern mrithi appeared in Africa around ten million AD, and themselves spread quickly to Asia and Europe. They either interbred with or displaced their older relatives. Australia, Antarctica and the Americas were not colonised until later, in part because of the higher sea-levels necessitating ocean travel - which, because of their weight, was late to develop. The Pacific islands were the last landmasses colonised.
Agricultural practices developed with less urgency than in human history because mrithi food (plantlife) is widespread. However, domestication and stockpiling of food plants allowed them to colonise climates in which plants are inaccessible during winter. In addition, mrithi domesticated some woolly animal species for their hair, which they used for warmth in colder climates.

Two hundred thousand years after the African exodus, mrithi had spread to every continent, replacing humans as the dominant species on Earth. Their technology continued to improve, and the development of fast ocean travel, and later air travel, resulted in large-scale globalisation. Eventually, they initiated space programs; although their weight again made manned spaceflight infeasible, at least for now, they did launch increasingly sophisticated probes with which to explore the solar system. One of their Moon probes discovered the landing site of Apollo 16, including a near-intact descent stage and lunar rover. At time of writing (10,213,129 AD), technological development continues apace.

Etymology

The name 'mrithi' is a translation to human-pronounceable syllables of one particular name of the species for itself, meaning 'heir'. It is also present in the binomial name, Mrithi busara, which comes from Swahili - directly translated, this means 'wise heir'.

Similar translations have been applied to the mrithi continent names - each in Zulu:

  • Africa is known as Phakathi (centre - because it covers a sizable chunk of the equator).
  • Antarctica is called Ithiphu (tip). The Antarctic ice cap is mostly gone.
  • The Americas are Wokugcina (last - because it was the last landmass colonised).
  • Eurasia is Ubude (longitude - because of its east-west length).
  • Australia is Ukuthula (peaceful - because of its lack of geological activity).
  • The Pacific Islands are known as Olwandle (ocean).
  • The Earth itself is known as Iphasi (globe).

Documentation

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