Paulans are an aquatic, pre-industrial alien species from the garden world of Paula in the Metasoft Volume. All Paulans live in Paula's land-locked ocean at an estimated population of 1,700,000. Due to cultural interaction restrictions imposed by Metasoft, Paulans are mostly unaware of Terragen existence save a few accepted xenologists using Paulan-shaped bots. These restrictions still keep Paulans at a primtech level of technology. Despite this, Paulans are famous among collectors of xenosophont art for their complex, unique, and aesthetically pleasing pottery work.
Paulans are water-based, oxygen-breathing, bilaterally symmetrical arthropod analogs with comparable appearances to nautiluses and hermit crabs.
Paulans have a large, spiraled, chambered shell containing their exoskeleton-covered carapace, limbs, and many vital internal organs. They have four limbs: two used for manipulation and two for swimming. Like arachnids, they have a cephalothorax containing four pinhole eyes with two situated near the top and two in the front. Lastly, Paulans have two antennae on their cephalothorax just behind their manipulator limbs. These antennae are used for smelling and detecting vibrations in the water. The maxillulae and maxillae mouthparts are found just below the eyes.
Paulan shells are their most obvious and unique characteristic. While it may look like a separate part of their body, their shell is actually a fused exoskeleton containing many of their internal organs. Early in their evolution, archaic Paulans lacked these shells and had a chitinous abdomen and tail. Over time, their abdomen and tail coiled over itself and grew an exterior to become the shells Paulans have today. Paulans can retract their cephalothorax and limbs into their shells as excellent protection against predators and difficult prey. Shells come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Colors include shades of orange, brown, red, yellow, gray, turquoise and magenta with rare cases of combinations. Uncommonly, their shells also come in many sizes in comparison to their exposed body. However, this is at times be a hindrance at best and fatal at worst. Shells too small for their cephalothorax will be unable to fully protect it and be susceptible to damage. Shells too large will create an over-exertion for a Paulan that could make finding food difficult or even cause them to die of exhaustion. Small sizes are usually from malnutrition when growing into adulthood and large sizes from genetic defects. Most shells are smoothed and spiraled with some exceptions. Some individuals have small protuberances, stubs, and ridges along the curve of their shell.
Paulans have robust and thick fine manipulator limbs and paddle-like swimming limbs. Their manipulators are flexible and versatile, being able to turn 270 degrees in either direction. The manipulator limbs have four joints: one for rotating, two acting as elbows and one as a wrist. Paddle limbs have three joints that help propel the Paulan in a motion like frogs and toads. While their paddle limbs may seem more spindly compared to their manipulators, they are actually a great deal stronger. Paddle limbs have a higher density of muscle and more hardy joints. They have four digits on each manipulator limb with two functioning as thumbs. At the tips of the digits, small vestigial claws are seen. These claws, at one time in their evolution, assisted in grabbing onto prey and bringing back their carcasses to the main group.
Grabbing onto prey was also crucial in their ability to grow back limbs. Much of their prey are dangerous fish or cephalopod analogs with strong jaws easily capable of ripping off or chewing through their limbs. Even when the limbs are not fully severed, it must be amputated if the wound is too deep to heal properly. Limbs regenerate back anywhere from two-three weeks if a Paulan has adequate nutrition. Because of this ability, Paulans are generally nonchalant with the loss of a manipulator and consider it more of a nuisance.
Most internal organs are stored in the shell which includes a crop, a tube-like stomach and intestine, kidneys, uterus (for females) and a hepatopancreas. The cephalothorax contains a heart, reproductive organs, and foregut. Paulan nervous systems are mainly ganglionic with a large pseudo-brain in the cephalothorax. However, this is not the only pseudo-brain. Paulans have many nerve-cluster nodes that act like many, albeit less intelligent, brains. Because of this, Many nodes can keep the body conscious when others have been destroyed.
Paulans have gills that line the walls of the crop. These gills are composed of wispy fibers that allow a large surface area for oxygen to be absorbed. To allow quicker and more oxygen delivery, blood vessels have a smaller amount of oxygen than the water it is deriving to from in a countercurrent exchange. This method of breathing does not allow Paulans to breathe while chewing and must take many breaks to catch their breath.
Paulans are speedy swimmers compared to most sea life as they can only go on an average of 16 km/h when swimming with their paddle legs. But, they can release water from their crops with such force that they, along with using their paddle legs, can reach speeds exceeding 30 km/h. Though, this method of transportation drives them backward which makes them blind to where they are heading towards.
Paulans possess the senses of touch, sight, smell, advanced prioperception, and hearing.
Their major sensory organ is their antennae which are responsible for most of their touch, smelling, and hearing. As low-frequency vibrations and chemicals in the water come in contact with these antennae, their setae interpret these sensations as hearing and smelling, respectively. This antennae sense of touch is sensitive to help find objects and food it may encounter. However, this not their only sense of touch, just their most sensitive. Many fine setae cover their manipulator limbs as well. These antennae are also used for a very keen echolocation and detecting electrical fields.
Their eyes provide very dimly, monochrome, poor-resolution images of their surroundings and it is a sense they rely little on. However, they do have a wide field of view encompassing up to 290 degrees.
To properly navigate their aquatic environment, they have an evolved sense of space. This makes them particularly good at imagining 3D seascapes and objects. It is especially helped by their statocyst which determines up from down and left from right.
Reproduction, Life Cycle, and Sexual Dimorphism
Paulans are separated by two sexes with females being the dominant sex. Males and females differ in size with females weighing, on average, 52 kg and males weighing 65 kg. Females are, on average, 1.4 meters long, 0.5 meters wide, and 2.7 meters tall (including the shell) with males being 1 meter long, 0.35 meter wide, and 2.1 meters tall. The reason for males weighing more despite being less in size is their denser body composition. The males have a denser exoskeleton, shell, and muscle mass than females to raise changes of survival when hunting, protecting territory, and fleeing predators. Both sexes have a cloaca underneath their carapace and mate belly-to-belly.
females have a larger shell in comparison to their cephalothorax than males. This is because while female Paulans are oviparous, they incubate their offspring within a small pouch in their shell until they are hatched. Females have thicker and wider paddle-limbs to accommodate their heavier weight and eggs.
Females produce offspring through mating. However, females will not give birth to males or females unless they are in a resource-rich and protected environment. Birthing times can also depend on seasons and population size. This is why females can store their mates' sperm in a special pouch in the shell. However, while they can store their mates' sperm, they cannot choose from a specific partner and must use it all. The sperm is used to fertilize different ova in a process called superfecundation. These children will have unknown biological fathers. Incubation periods are seven-eight Old Earth months that produces a clutch of 12-15. Because of such a large amount of children birthed and relatively low child mortality rates, Paulans have high birthrates. However, due to attacks from predators and many adult members leaving the group, tribes consist on average 300 members with the most populous being over 2000.
Before mating, male partners will present many nuptial gifts to the female. Gifts comprise mostly food to keep the female healthy, but works of art such as vases and poems are not uncommon.
Newborns are vulnerable as they have yet to grow shells and a resilient exoskeleton and resemble shrimp or krill. They will swim on the underside of their mother while the multiple males scout the area and protect them from danger. As they grow, they will continuously molt for seven Old Earth years and gain a more durable exoskeleton. At around seven years old, they will begin their metamorphosis to their juvenile forms. The mother produces an adhesive silk-like substance to wrap her offspring in a cocoon. This process takes, on average, four months before they emerge as adults spouting a new exoskeleton and shell. These juveniles will continue to molt and grow until they reach sexual and physical maturity at 16 years old. At this age, they will venture out into new territories and join different groups. Though, some do stay with their birth group and place. As Paulans become elderly, Paulans will molt less which causes the exoskeleton and shell to begin flaking and losing its color. Their muscle mass decreases to the point where their shell becomes burdensome for them to hunt or scavenge for food or, in extreme cases, to even move. However, this handicap is mitigated through family and tribe members bringing food and protection to the elderly or by thinning the shell to cut weight. Paulans have a typical lifespan of 170 years.
When xenoecologists first started research on Paulan biology, many assumed Paulans would use hemocyanin or hemoglobin like most crustaceans or marine life as their oxygen transport. In actuality, Paulans use a combination of erythrocruorin and vanabins in their blood vessels. Erythrocruorin is efficient at transporting oxygen through the body and is many times more than hemoglobin. Because of the scarcity of ocean currents delivering oxygen past the pycnocline, Paulans evolved this protein to allow them to migrate the long distances to new oxygenated areas when their environment was no longer breathable, dubbed by Paulans as "dead scapes" or "choke escapes". A beneficial side effect of this newly evolved protein supplied their nervous system with enough oxygen to reach self-awareness and eventually sophonce. Vanabins serve as a secondary oxygen delivery and primary immune system. Due to the toxicity of vanadium to much of Paulan life, Paulans are resistant to parasites and bacteria and are toxic to many predators. To replenish vanabins, Paulans eat certain vanadium-rich plants and sea squirts.
Paulans are warm-blooded and can survive great variances in temperature. Their comfort temperature is around 18 C, but they can survive, and even thrive, in temperatures as high as 50 C and as low as 5 C. Paulans are comfortable at 15 bars of pressure, and communities typically stick in mesopelagic, and rarely epipelagic, zone. However, Paulans can live in pressures exceeding 200 bars through their tough carapace and shell. Most Paulans will avoid the surface as their eyes are not adjusted to such intense light and the frequency of predators in the epipelagic region. They are a salt water-dwelling species and will die if their environment has low salinity.
Paulans are omnivores, but their diet consists mostly of meat with little vegetation in comparison. They feed on many analogs to annelids, crustaceans, cephalopods, and bivalves along with woody plants and seaweed. They are predators that chase down and occasionally ambush, their prey. When larger prey is scarce, they will migrate along ocean currents, or they will scavenge immobile animals on the seabed or meat from carcasses. To maintain optimum health, they must roughly consume 10% of their body weight every day.
Paulans possess a separated state of mind. Due to them having multiple ganglionic nodes that are sophont, Paulans are polysophont. Their personalities are unified and connected by their prime personality stored in the largest node in the carapace. This personality is what most other individuals will interact with at first, But this does not mean this personality is always in control and is hijacked or influenced by other personalities frequently.
When children reach sophonce a little after their metamorphic age, they are generally quite mentally stable. Juvenile nodes have not yet had enough time to absorb enough experience and develop their nodes to maturity. Later on in their life, their nodes will grow more and more self-aware and independent from other nodes, especially their prime node. Their nodes not only act as different brains but also as lobes similar to vertebrate brain lobes. A few nodes may handle eyesight but also empathy and have a proclivity towards empathy. Another node may deal with controlling heart rate and breathing but also foresight and have a proclivity towards planning. Combine these personalities along with many different interpretations of life experience and how to go about life, this leads to an almost constant battle for control inside a Paulan's mind.
Even though this mind state can be chaotic, it is beneficial in many regards. Paulans are slow but deep thinkers as different personalities discuss and argue for what the best course of action is. They are able to view their own thinking and see things through different perspectives and notice things that may take multiple sophonts to detect. However, this group-mind is usually overridden by their instincts and will make rash decisions if a situation warrants it. They are master multi-taskers that put many superiors to shame as most Paulans can intensely focus on many different tasks, though with great effort. This is done by these nodes focusing on each task and having parallel lines of thinking and is only limited to the number of nodes in their body. Paulans also have a great memory because certain personalities each keep track and remember certain events that the other nodes may forget.
Pain is a strange and infrequently felt sensation to a Paulan. Whenever a Paulan is wounded, the signal for pain will normally reach other nodes before reaching a node controlling the body. Intercepting nodes will then block the signal and communicate to other nodes that there has been damage to the body that should be addressed. If the signal for pain reaches a node controlling the body, for instance, the prime node, it is intense but quickly fades away. Paulans do not feel a long and agonizing pain like many mammals and birds do.
An interesting aspect of Paulan psychology is what they associated with directions. While most terrestrial biont clades would associate up with good and down with bad and vice versa, Paulans view both and up and down to be negative and forward is positive. This is because, in the Paulan mind, both up and down mean death. On the seabed, many carcasses of animals and corpses of the old or diseased have drifted to be eaten by scavengers or bottom feeders. Near the surface, predators prowl the ocean for prey and the open air suffocates and beams down blinding light, leading to a horrifying death for a Paulan. However, these directions do not represent the same kind of death. Down is more of a peaceful dying rather than the violent death up connotes. Forward is good because a Paulan always must be moving forward to find food, to interact with others, to hunt and defend oneself, and to migrate to new areas.
Community and mating
Paulans are reliant and place special importance on familial bonding to survive and grow. It is seen as community service and duty to raise the children in virtually all Paulan tribes. In a group, there is a disproportionate amount females to males, with males outnumbering females five to one. Due to the superfecundation of the species, all fathers are unaware which child belongs to which father. To allow the process of raising the children to go smoother, all of them assume they are the father and nurture them accordingly.
Males and females do have different roles when raising. Mothers are responsible for feeding, grooming by consuming the exuviae during molting, supervising, and teaching children foraging, fleeing and controlling their other personalities. In some tribes, subjects like art, music, philosophy, and writing are taught along as well. 'Fathers' on the other hand teach their children martial arts, hunting, and, in some cultures, crafting, mathematics, navigation, timekeeping, and farming.
It is obvious that Paulan mothers and fathers deeply love and bond with their offspring, but this is not the case between mates and members of the same sex. Because of their unique brain structure, Paulans cannot form close bonds as they can with their offspring. Every time a mother meets their lover, it could be an entirely different personality from the one they adored. This is the same for would-be friends. To prevent hostilities and confusion among community members, concepts such as friendship and romantic love have all been evolved out and are thus alien to them. The community's sole purpose is child rearing and mutual protection.
While females stay with their group when they come of age, males will travel off to nearby groups to spread their genes, culture, and technology. However, different groups are not as welcoming as they might seem. Before a male can be accepted into a new tribe, he must prove himself mentally and physically. What these trials consist of varies from culture-to-culture, but usually involves hunting dangerous game, races, sparring with the best warriors, demonstrating exceptional knowledge of the world and themselves, etc. But, decent control of Paulans other personalities is universally required. A male that does not have at least some control of their other personalities is useless at best and dangerous at worse. These males are quickly cast out to ensure the wellbeing of the group. Even males who have control will be studied for some time to determine if they have a negative personality: basically, a personality that compels a Paulan to selfish, lazy, and neglectful behaviors. If a male is welcomed, he will have access to all their technology, art, females, and resources.
Privacy is a concept unknown to most Paulans. Because of the almost constant company of one's tribe, privacy is an incredibly foreign and eccentric concept. In fact, any situation that an individual may receive some privacy or separation from the group is avoided at almost all costs unless absolutely necessary. This is because of a deep instinctually ingrained fear of isolation. The fear of isolation for a Paulans is roughly equivalent in strength to the Anakim fear of heights. Paulans who experience isolation will grow more and more lonely that ultimately lead to mentally damaging effects. The effects are most clearly seen in documented predatory raids where one member has managed to escape or a member is exiled from the group. Three different outcomes occur: Suicide, insanity, or searching for another tribe. Insanity is especially interesting as the Paulan will cease being a unified consciousness. Nodes will begin addressing other nodes as individuals and converse with each other in an attempt to create social contact. These Solipsistic Paulans will be numb to inside and outside stimuli and usually starve to death or perish from a predator attack. Rarely, some individuals manage to reach civilizations and are either exiled or treated by shamans. Very rarely would a Paulan tribe realize that the Paulans infliction is from solitude and offer the adequate care it requires.
Paulan beauty is quite similar to what many Terragen bionts would consider sexually beautiful. Healthiness and ability to care for young are universally enticing across all sexes. Examples include Bilaterally symmetry, non-flaking carapace, and shell, strength, Sleekness, etc. Sleekness is especially important to much of Paulan culture. Paulans are not the most hydrodynamic species and getting as less drag as possible is very useful when fleeing from predators or chasing prey. Many Paulan cultures, specifically in the southern portion of the sea, will carve their shells with stone scrapers to a more oval-shaped form for faster movement.
There are also sex-specific characteristics of beauty. Females who have larger shells are thought as beautiful for their ability to carry more offspring and offer better protection. Males who have thick and robust manipulator arms are thought as able-bodied and effective to protect the tribe. Of course, different cultures will have different ideas of what's beautiful or "sexy". This can be anything like poetry, jewelry, tattoos, art, complex strategic hunting of prey, and so on.
Territory and Aggression
Some females will also journey out of their group, not to join other tribes, but to start new settlements. A single female and small band of males will scout a suitable area with adequate food, oxygen, and a low predator population and immediately begin mating. Once this new group has had time to remain stable, trading of resources scarce in the new groups' location and the old groups' location will begin. New colonies are almost explicitly for more resources.
Paulans lack the aggressiveness and dominance hierarchies seen in many social animals. This doesn't mean Paulans aren't predatory or defensive, just aggression between groups members and groups are exceedingly rare. Early in their evolution, cooperation and mutual protection took precedence as expansion resulted in resources and territory becoming more and more finite. This, along with the increased attention of predators, triggered the honor and importance of community found in all Paulan cultures today and the universal negative connotations of aggression. Aggression, whether direct or indirect, is normally viewed as possession at best and insanity at worst. Aggressive individuals are brought among the tribes' spiritual leader to remove negative spirits possessing them. Many symbols representing passiveness or peace are tattooed into the afflicted individual's carapace and shell. The members are then instructed to various tasks to test their patience such as herding livestock and pottery making. If their aggressive behavior continues, the member is proclaimed insane or cursed then exiled from the tribe to the open ocean, far from protection and oxygen.
Leadership and Roles
Even though Paulans have leaders, they are not leaders in the same sense as a ruler. Leaders in most Paulan societies are neither chosen nor born into these positions but are rather members that are relied on for their experience, planning, and intellect. Leaders do not possess any form of power and privilege more than their other fellow Paulans. Because of their close connections with their children more than their 'fathers', mothers most commonly lead the entire tribe, while males take on more specialized roles such as martial arts instructors or leading hunting parties.
Different roles are not only unique to leaders. Females serve few, but vital, roles as teachers, broodmothers, and occasionally foragers. Males fill in many niche roles such as hunters/warriors, navigators, scribes, doctors, and spiritual guides that most fall naturally into without being assigned or coerced.
Mythology, Death, and Afterlife
Almost all Paulans cultures are spiritual in some sense. Many Paulans believe they possess souls that become great ancestor spirits after death. These spirits supposedly serve as guardians and teachers to all members of the tribe with unique spirits depending on the tribe. However, ancestor spirits are not usually worshipped or given gratitude due to a Paulan's sense of duty to the community. Many spirits are also are not viewed as omniscient or omnipresent and must be informed on what service to provide for the tribe or individual. To show these spirits what to do, symbols are etched onto themselves. Symbols vary in meaning and purpose with some providing a Paulan with strength in battle and hunting, healing injuries, control over their personalities, and intelligence. This is thought by many xenocologists to be the origin of their writing systems.
Spirits are not always viewed as helpful. Funerary practices are vital to much of Paulan culture and determine if a spirit becomes helpful or harmful. After the death of a tribe member, Paulans will engage in "The Communal Feasting" where all members of the community will consume a very small portion of the corpse. Xenocologists believe this practice came from certain fringe cultures in the past that had scant resources within their territories. To prevent hunger, the dead would be eaten. For many Paulans, it is seen as reverence and respect for the body and the individual, supporting the tribe even after death. There are, however, some tribes that have not accepted this widespread cultural meme. These tribes have many diverse procedures for funerals such as dropping the dead into calderas or putting the body on top of floating platforms to decay in the sunlight.
Another interesting aspect of their mythology is where spirits reside. Good spirits live among their patron tribe and watch over the various members. However, most good spirits are considered to be invisible to the senses as they are thought to dwell generally around the tribes possessing objects and creatures such as rocks, plants, animals, and shamans. Evil Spirits live either below ground in the sediment or above the water in the air. However, what malevolent actions these spirits perform depend on where they live. Spirits living below ground cause Paulans to die of old age or sickness. At the surface, spirits openly attack and maul hunters and travelers or send monsters to do the killing. Mischievious spirits, spirits of Paulans that were kind and communal but were not given a proper funeral, live in ocean currents and can help or hinder any Paulans they come across by either bringing pollutants and predators or fish and oxygen.
While many Paulans believe and rely on their many ancestor spirits, there has been a cult growing in the northern portion of the sea that worships one spirit. 'The First Mother's Temple' is a new religious movement that worships the first Paulan female's spirit simply called The First Mother, with an estimated follower count of 20,000 and growing. She is believed to be the progenitor of all Paulan-kind along with the First Fathers after a great smog filled the ocean and suffocated much of the Paulan populace. She is thought to bring fertility and knowledge to all who tattoo and inscribe for her aid. In return, followers prove their love for her by burying food, poems, vases, and other objects, assuming she will accept these gifts. In the cult's worldview, there is no good, bad, or mischievous spirits, only helpers to the First Mother.
Heroes and monsters play important roles in many Paulan mythologies. Heroes are recognized and praised for their contributions to the community and their selflessness that goes beyond what normal a Paulan would be willing to do. One example would be the myth of Fleshy of the digits of the Sweeping Rocks tribe that sacrificed herself to feed her tribe by ripping off her own limbs and regenerating them at an alarming rate to the point of death. Other feats of heroes include protecting the tribe against dangerous monsters, traveling above the water, cheating death, and being accepted by all tribes. While these accomplishments are commended no matter what sex, females are, in most cases, eulogized for starting mighty tribes or taking care of and teaching swathes of children all on their own. Monsters and fantastic creatures are thought to live in the mysterious and scantly treaded deadscapes and surface. Children are taught by their mother to fear such places from an early age. Such famous monsters and creatures include the Teeth in the Night, graceful floaters, sinkers, surface grabbers, air fish, and lava ropes.
Currents have a special place among Paulan societies. Paulans uses currents to arrive at new destinations and most have territory near currents. This is because currents can be a blessing or a curse with currents sometimes bringing clean and oxygenated water or pollutants and prey. In essence, currents represent fate, change, and uncertainty. These currents have become important to many Paulan cultures spiritually as a shaman uses currents as a means of divination and appeasing the trickster spirits that dwell in the currents.
Like humans, a Paulan's main way of communication is through speech. Unlike humans, however, Paulan languages are not nearly as diverse, consisting only of roars, growls, pulses, stridulation, and rarely clicks. Paulans can only produce speech patterns ranging from 0.01 Hertz to 15 Hertz. To baseline humans, their language would be silent but would definitely be loud. While their voices are infrasonic, they reach can around 130 decibels allowing them to communicate tens of kilometers away. To make up for their limitations in speech, they employ a complex releasing of subtle pheromones as their form of body language.
Most Paulan societies have invented writing. This is done by etching characters and symbols into surfaces with a sharp, hard stone. These symbols are for visual, echolocation, and tactile sensations and carry much more information than a purely tactile, echolocation, or visual writing system. These languages are carved into cliff faces, caves, clay slabs baked in lava tubes, and on their shells. Shell writings are especially interesting since they are usually depicting events or beliefs one held in their life. Though, these tattoos are used for different purposes in different tribes.
Art, Song, and Stories
Paulans have a rich history of art and storytelling. An interesting aspect of their arts is that they combine artwork with stories or music. Engravings, of course, have their aesthetic appeal but have written meaning to explain the artwork. For instance, let us say a Paulan engraves an image of a great hero, the engraving would have symbols within the etched lines to explain who this great hero was, what they did, a song or poem about them, or even philosophical standpoint that would include this hero. Although artwork, songs, and stories have been produced separately many times, Paulans are usually uninterested in them and criticize them for being "Empty". Xenosophont art enthusiasts have dubbed this "Omniart".
Clay vases are one by far the most common and most famous art pieces. Vases allow Paulan artwork to be more mobile and shapable than engraving on cliff faces and caves. Vases are decorated with an assortment of materials, formed into many different sizes and shapes, and typically depict small images and stories. The uniqueness of Paulan vases has them only having a general shape similar to each other.
Because of their environment, Paulans only have primtech societies. Water presence and resistance prevent paulans from discovering fire and using rapid movements over long distances like throwing or striking. Despite these limitations, Paulans are amazingly inventive and industrious.
Their oldest and most used technology, pottery making is ubiquitous among Paulan civilizations. Pottery is dried on floating platforms, covered with non-permeable sea plants, and then transported to hydrothermal vents and calderas to bake into stoneware. Xenocologists believe Paulans developed pottery to lessen the negative effects of low populations. In low populations, there usually is not enough males to simultaneously protect their offspring and have large enough hunting parties to hunt successfully. Females would use mud to construct small dwellings in which newborns could hide if a predator was lurking about. These chambers were later used to also house the injured and elderly. Eventually, females discovered a stronger material that was easier to shape that allowed sturdier child dwellings: clay. It is unknown how exactly Paulans discovered drying and firing clay, with one prevailing theory suggesting paulans left clay possessions of deceased tribes members with them on floating platforms that then dried in the sun.
Stone and Shell Tools
Stone and Shell tools were a great leap forward in tool using. Tribal gorging of prey was many members chewing off pieces. Though this is an inefficient distribution of food and some prey have carapaces or bones too solid to chew through. Because knapping is all but impossible in underwater environments, obsidian became a vital tool for slicing and scraping off portions of meat and piercing shells. In time, it was realized shells and stones could take the place of obsidian if the ground on rough surfaces and pressure flaked with a bone to create sharp edges. This opened up new routes of possible tools such as awls, burins, hand axes, etc.
The next big shift in technology were weapons. As numbers grew, hunting large game become more imperative to maintain the population. Although, this came with its costs. Larger game meant more dangerous game and resulted in many males ending up dead or too incapacitated to protect the offspring and females. Males began using long woody plant tubes to pin down these large game while one went in for the kill. Ropes of female membrane were soon attached nooses on the tips of the wood tubes, allowing easier control of prey. Population exploded again prompting even more hunger. This drove many Paulans tribes to more desperate measures for survival leading to some pivotal prey species becoming extinct or endangered from overhunting.
An easy remedy to this would be to hunt the largest prey species which are filter-feeding fish and cephalopod analogs. Still, these creatures proved too dangerous or cumbersome to be subdued. That is until the spear and harpoon were invented. Males began chewing the tips of wood tubes to construct a sharp point. These allowed them to attack these excessively large prey while also staying at a safer distance. Heads made of obsidian or stone were hafted with strings of membrane to penetrate the hides and carapaces of prey deeper. Harpoon heads came later from barbed bones.
From the harpoon came the blow-harpoon. Blow-harpoons are wood tubes that use the Paulan ability to jet out water to shoot darts at high speeds. Even though using spears and harpoons were a safer method of hunting than ever before, it was still a risk to hunt such big game. These blow-harpoons allowed them to utilize ambush techniques and kill their prey from a much safer range.
Agriculture and Cooking
Animal husbandry has been an important practice for many millennia. After the invention of the noose, it became possible to hold prey captive for later use in hard times than to eat them immediately. Herds are kept together by skilled herders and membrane ropes preventing any from wandering off from the main group. Still, livestock didn't become a major food source until 5,000 years ago. Around this time, Paulans noticed certain livestock had desirable traits, such as higher fat deposits and muscle mass, more fitting for consumption. Farmers began mating these individuals with other of their kind to create highly-prized livestock producing larger quantities of meat. Paulans had uncovered the method of artificial selection.
Animals are not the only organisms domesticated. After animal domestication became popular, experimentation with breeding and cultivating begun in sedentary cultures. The first plants were the vanadium-rich seaweed used to upkeep their immune system. These plants were bred to be bigger with a larger quantity of vanadium. Algae and other plants were selected for their high nourishment and fast rate of growth. Unlike livestock, however, crops cannot be brought along when a tribe migrates to a new area and must be left behind.
Many species of animals have been domesticated for mainly as a food source but some species have quite unique purposes. For instance, an anemone analog called joltweeds are used as an early warning system. Whenever an animal draws to close, an electrical shock is released by the joltweed as deterrence. Because of the electrically sensitive setae on Paulan antennae, this shock can be detected and lets a Paulan know if there could be a predator or prey nearby. Joltweeds have been bred to have stronger and stronger electrical pulses so that they may be detected further away and to not shock their caretakers.
Strangely, Paulans are able to cook their meals despite not using any fire or heat. Food cannot be cooked at hydrothermal vents or underwater volcanoes without poisonous chemicals, such as sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, infusing into it. Instead, Paulans use a few species of an acidic aquatic plant to wrap around their food and letting the acid denature it. These plants exist in dense patches along continental shelves and where many animals decompose. Xenocologists propose that this form of cooking was found from livestock wandering into these patches and dying within. The carcasses were brought back to the group and were discovered to be mostly denatured and could be easily ripped into pieces. "Preparing plants" soon were grown and harvested for their unique properties.
Surprisingly, many Paulan cultures have developed advanced surgery operations. Surgery is only used for ectomies and sewing punctured or ripped organs shut. The exoskeleton or shell is cut and sawed to show the internal organ. The blood vessels are then clamped shut by severed crustacean analog pinchers. The organ is either deftly cutout or sewed shut with bone needles and membrane string. The incision is blocked by sheets of sewed membrane or plant fibers. Necrotic tissue is then eaten by the surgeon to keep the wound clean. Surgery was most likely discovered from tribe members amputating limbs badly damaged or hanging on by a few strips of tissue.
Paulans separated from their previous species around 320,000 BT. As far as can be determined there were no sister species to Paulans extant at that time. Over millennia, Paulans began to develop from their more ancient forms, such as small shells and small manipulators, into "modern" Paulans around 140,000 BT.
Paulan Prehistory is tricky to pin down due to the lack of research allowed from Paula, but there have been important events in such an era. An extinction event occurred in the southern sea when an asteroid, roughly 5 km wide, struck the southern sea and wiped out 50% of life on Paula and 72% of Paulans around 42,000 BT. Most Paulans lived in the southern sea at this time and forced them to migrate to other areas of Paula's ocean to survive. This kickstarted Paulan technology and arts and began Paulan history at 16,000 BT.
When Paula was discovered in 5809 AT, a brisk trade in Paulan artifacts began until Metasoft imposed cultural interaction restrictions. Since then, only specialist xenocologists are allowed access to Paula. Most of Paulan culture remains unaware of the alien presence. However, stories about how the evil spirits of air and fire stole mere vases in old times are still popular in many traditions
First Contact - Text by Steve Bowers Strategies and policies for contact with alien life forms (xenobiota) and Xenosophonts (intelligent alien life).