The world of the Manifold Sky
plays host to four major sentient species as of the year 10,000 AR. In order of relation to Homo Sapiens Sapiens
, these sentient species are:
- Humans: The humans are the most robust race of sentient hominids in the Manifold, endemic to the Medial Tesseract in a region known as The Human Arc.
- Verdials: The verdials are a mid-sized race of sentient hominids descended from humanity. They are differentiated from humans by their long-term cohabitation with Distal species, resulting in a somatic symbiosis with Caudal lichens. Unlike those of other hominids, many verdial cells contain chloroplasts which allow them to engage in a degree of photosynthesis. Verdials are endemic to the Caudal Tesseract, in a region known as The Verdial Arc.
- Rostrans: The Rostrans are a gracile race of sentient humanoids descended from humanity. Unlike the verdials, the Rostrans are slightly morphologically different from human stock as a result of long-term isolation and adaptation to warm, wet environments instead of exposure to alien lichens. While these distinctions are not so extreme as to prevent interbreeding with humans or verdials (meaning that they are not technically a different species), they are different enough to distinguish them as non-human. The Rostrans are endemic to The Rostran Arc, but are also present throughout the shared Rostran-Ovinex Complex.
- Ovinex: Ovinex are a bipedal species of sentient ovines descended from an unknown breed of montane, wool-bearing sheep. While less intelligent than hominids, ovinex are still capable of tool use, verbal communication, and large-scale social organization. A long-term mutualistic relationship with the Rostran species is slowing raising the ovinex's access to technology and overall levels of intelligence. Ovinex can thrive across a region known as The Ovinex Arc, though they can be found anywhere within the shared Rostran-Ovinex Complex.
In addition to the modern sentient races and species of the Manifold Sky, several other hominid races once existed and have since been rendered extinct. Some of these early coevals of modern hominids included races such as the Lepidosians
. Many of these peoples met their fates at the hands of environmental changes (such as the Ventral A Volcanic Event
), while others were simply subsumed into other groups of humanoids and eventually rendered indistinct through inbreeding. The descendants of these so-called 'Lost Tribes
' can sometimes be found among the Freelanders
. Occasionally, traces of the unique features of these long-lost races can be seen in modern Freelanders whose parents unwittingly shared ancestry with them; for example, descendants of the Lepidosians are occasionally born with a tendency to walk in a digitigrade fashion, their calf tendons being just slightly too short to permit a gait with grounded heels without regular stretching.
Though there are minor and major differences between all extant species within the Manifold, there are a few traits which are notably constant across all of them:
- All sentients - as well as all species within the native arcs of the sentient species - are evolved to use the same chirality of amino acids. This distinction is important because it separates the 'terrestrial' species with which the sentients can interact (i.e. eating) and the 'alien' species of the Distal Tesseract (i.e. Distal polyps).
- All sentients are mammalian bipeds with broadly humanoid body structures, including two legs, two arms terminating in dextrous hands (though ovinex have a different number of fingers and thumbs), and the usual number of sensory organs.
- All sentients, with the exception of ovinex, are descended from a common hominid ancestor whose origins remain shrouded in mystery, the race or species divide having taken place long before The Curved Time.
- All sentients are known to share a common mammalian ancestor, though this probably dates back tens of millions of years within the clade Boreoeutheria.
- While it is possible that some undiscovered species has done so (likely within the darkest corners of the Distal Tesseract), no sentient species is known to have evolved independently within the Manifold itself.