CLASS: C H T H O N A
From the Greek khthōn and the later 19th century chthonic, this classification refers to complex organisms not known to man.
ORDER: C A R O M U T A
Caro from the Latin word for flesh, and mutare meaning transform.
FAMILY: T H E R M I D A E
While the other family in the Caromuta order refers to cold blooded creatures (known colloquially as “cryptids”), the Thermidae family encompasses the warm blooded.
GENUS: C H I M E R A
This is the predominant group for characters found within this story. For more information about the Chimera genus, see below.
These names are a work-in-progress and will be updated in time.
RAPID CELLULAR CHANGE.
The right combination of biological factors interact with one another seamlessly, allowing them to change or alter their physical state. The Chimera genus has three physical states.
ONE: Chthona scholars continue to debate which is the most “natural” state. Some believe the larger anthropomorphic form is the baseline for all Chimera, while others reject this as most Chimera rarely, if ever, use this form. This form is typically bipedal and measures over twelve feet in height. The individual’s appearance seemingly takes influence from the regional animals from where they hail -- though human activity may have expelled those animals and thus, the subject no longer accurately reflects its home. For example, tigers are found within parts of east, central and south Asia, but traces of this appearance can be found as widespread as East Europe. This is also thought to be due to Chimera migrating with humans, venturing into East Europe, and dispersing those traits through reproduction.
TWO: Thought to be a defensive mechanism, Chimera have the ability to “shift” into an “animal” state. This animal state often takes its appearance from specific mammals, avians, or reptiles. For whatever reason, there have been no recorded insect-like Chimera; this could be because “insect” deviations are more commonly found within a separate family classification.
THREE: The final physical state mirrors homo sapiens. While this physical state is indecipherable from other natural humans, Chimera are known to be physically stronger and more agile. The eyesight and reflexes of Chimera greatly outmatch natural humans. There’s debate whether Chimera are more intelligent, but this is impossible to truly know. Chimera live longer lives and have more opportunities for education than natural humans. More on that below.
A Chimera in its largest bipedal form has heightened senses that extend well beyond those of their human appearance. In this state, two Chimera might be able to communicate strictly through body language. It takes very little to communicate lethal intentions like this, thus direct physical contact between two shifted Chimera is rare outside of courtship and mating.
Within their human appearance, this perception is reduced greatly. Barriers that limit homo sapiens from understanding one another can also prohibit two Chimera humans from communicating clearly. Language barriers and cultural customs passed on from natural humans can lead to unintended faux pas or escalating aggressions. Thought to be an evolutionary response, Chimera in this state have a unique way of “speaking.” Skin-on-skin contact -- often with hands clasping the forearm -- opens a direct mental “line” between the two parties. This is non-verbal tether able to express feelings, images, and symbols. Chthona scholars struggle to accurately express this connection with human language, as it’s seen as vastly superior. One does not use the connection to share simple “sad” or “agitated” feelings. It involves a different visual processing language -- more akin to short, sped up films where a single frame can express a larger message.
As a result, this is seen as a more intimate connection shared between two friendly parties. Just as homosapiens keep deeper thoughts to themselves, so do Chimera. It should be noted that this physical form of communication does not happen with any rogue touch -- the most vulnerable place for mental connection on the body is the forearm, but many have reported forms of speaking through various physical contact.
Chimera age exceptionally slow compared to other organisms, with their lifespan more akin to large trees than mammals. The oldest Chimera are thought to be thousands of years old, but most alive today sport ages in the hundreds.
Unlike most life forms on earth, Chimera do not rapidly decay with age. A long lived Chimera is more lethal than its younger counterparts.
Despite its long lived life, the Chimera is susceptible to mental illness and mental decay. To counteract this, Chimera are urged to hibernate every two to four hundred years. This is especially important when healing physical wounds or recovering from trauma -- which Chimera, with their proximity to humans and human conflicts, are intimately familiar with.