Dwarf

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Trade Tongue:
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("Hekad")

Anthropus robustus


Dwarves are a species of sentient hominid. They originated in the highlands of the Iirîk Kata'at (also called the Core Mountains). They are of the genus Anthropus, along with humans.

Contents

Distribution

Though perfectly capable of living elsewhere, physiological and cultural adaptations make dwarves most comfortable in the highlands. Also since they are more comfortable there than any other sentient, they have little competition for these spaces. As a result nearly all major population centers are in the highlands, of the Iirîk Kata'at (total dwarven population, 5.5 million), the White Mountains (1.5 million), and the Edgewall (5 million). But there are plenty of dwarven villages in lower areas, and in addition dwarves have a strong representation in cosmopolitan areas, comprising the remaining 3 million dwarves; for a total population of nearly 15 million.

Physical Characteristics

The dwarven body shape is an adaptation to the highlands. It is short and stocky to slow heat loss (and absorption) in the rapidly fluctuating highland temperatures. Their torso makes a relatively large part of their height, and houses large lungs to extract oxygen from the thinner mountain air.

Females range from 115 to 145 cm and 40 to 65 kg. Males average 15 cm taller and 23 kg heavier.

Dwarven skin ranges from light brown to deep tan, and is slightly reddish, in contrast to the often olive-tinted skin of humans. Eyes are dark brown to black, and hair the same, though reddish tints or highlights, of various degrees, are not uncommon. Hair is typically fairly coarse, and ranges from straight through wavy to almost-curled.

During the initial expansion of anatomically modern dwarves through their ancestral territory, the rugged terrain isolated populations and led to division into several basic genetic groups.


Life Cycle

As eurycephalines, dwarves have very long gestation periods and young less altricial than dolicocephalines, and with lower infant mortality rates. Dwarves are the most long-lived of any eurycephalines, though not as long as dolicocephalines.

Gestation Period: 300 days

Skull Fusion: 3 years

Base Infant Mortality: 1 per 15 live births

Weaning: 2.5-6.5 years, average 4 years

Physical Maturity: 13-18 years

Life Span: 100 years

See the Life Cycle Key for definitions of characteristics.

Culture

One outstanding characteristic of dwarves is their sex ratio at birth: there are approximately 8 male for every 3 female live births.

The ancestral existence of the dwarves in the cold, rough Core Mountains often required that more than two adults cooperate to successfully raise offspring. The dwarves' response was to skew the birth ratio heavily towards males, and for excess males to help provide support for the children, most often of their brothers' families. That is, to live in extended families with lots of uncles.

Many animals form such family groups including non-breeding individuals, notably wolves and many species of birds. But the path to that behavior taken by the dwarves (a gender imbalance) differs from other animals, where it is more common for reproduction to be suppressed behaviorally or chemically.

One reason a gender ratio skew was evolved, rather than one of the more common mechanisms for suppression of sexuality in helper individuals in a cooperative, is dietary. Because of the relatively rocky, cold, and seasonal conditions of the Core Mountains, dwarves have always had a very meat-rich diet. Since hunting has overwhelmingly been performed by male hominids throughout their evolutionary history, a skew towards males in the non-breeding part of the population was favored.

Different dwarven cultures have developed different social structures around this innate sociobiologic structure of helper males. For example, the Takental clan system, or the adelphic polyandry of many Ilos tribes.

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