Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kai'us Racial Genetics

This is the last of series of posts regarding Kai'us culture (for now).
The first bit was a five-part series last month going into the Kai'us creation myths.
Earlier this month I also talked about the system Kai'us' use to prevent inbreeding.

This post will talk about how interracial Kai'us pairings work on an over-simplistic genetic level.
Kai'us races are different from Human races.  What we consider different "races" are just regional and ethnic variations.  Any human can successfully produce viable offspring with any other human.  In short: every "race" of humanity can interbreed.

When I refer to "race" in regards to Kai'us', I'm actually referring to different sub-species.  The seven genetically-unique Kai'us races can successfully interbreed and produce fertile offspring, but the racial genetic markers do not hybridize and it's possible (easy actually) to "breed out" specific genetic markers.

This hasn't always been the case however.  When their world goes through its periods of great geological instability, everyone's DNA becomes unstable and hybridization occurs much more freely.  During the time period I'm working in though (Post-Second Cataclysm onward), Kai'us DNA is incredibly stable to the point where chromosomal abnormalities are practically unheard of.  Even identical twins are incredibly rare (though fraternal twins are actually more common than among humans).

Before I go into the details though, let's refresh ourselves on basic genetics.  Remember that every person typically has two genes for any particular trait: one gene they get from their mother and the other they get from their father.  Using that Punnett Square I mentioned in the last post, let's do an easy one and lay out the probability of parents producing a boy or a girl child.  (Genetic) gender in humans is determined by the x- and y-chromosomes.  If you have two x-chromosomes, you're genetically female.  An x- and a y- together makes you genetically male.

Let's step it up a notch and pretend a person's height is determined by one of only two genes: "T" would produce tall people, "s" would produce short people, and a combination of the two would produce a person of medium height.

Okay, so now that you've recovered from flashbacks of Biology class, let's apply these principles to Kai'us'.  As mentioned before, I'm going to over-simplify the following explanation significantly since no one gene determines all of a Kai'us' racial characteristics, but to make both our lives easier, let's just say that Kai'us race is determined by either a dominant (D) or a recessive (r) gene.

Pairings made from the same race can produce viable offspring no matter what combination of genes are expressed (DD, rr, or Dr would all be viable combinations).

When you start blending races however things get tricky: to produce viable (live) offspring, one parent must provide a dominate racial gene, and the other parent must contribute a recessive racial gene.  Two dominate genes or two recessives will not produce live young.  Interestingly enough, when interracial pairings do occur, people are often more drawn to each other when they're genetically compatible.

Another nice thing is that any children produced with the requisite dominate and recessive genes will be fully fertile and able to produce offspring of their own.

For our first hypothetical pairing, let's put together a Spider Kai'us (represented by a "$" for dominate, and an "s" for recessive), and a Cave Kai'us (C for dominate, and ¢ for recessive) as this would be the most probable pairing, especially among the Ka-Kiu.

Spider Kai'us' are a tall, desert-dwelling race with four arms.  Red/orange mane colors are not uncommon among them, but various shades of brown are the norm (running more to the lighter end of the spectrum).  Brown eyes are by far the most common, but other shades pop up here and there and run strongly in families when they do appear.

Cave Kai'us' bear the "basic" Kai'us form (two arms, two legs, and average build).  For mane colors, nearly every shade of brown can be found among them, though the extremes (blond at one end and black at the other) are very rare.  Like most races, brown eyes are what you're most likely to find, but Cave Kai'us' are the most likely to have dark blue or dark green eyes of any other race.

Obviously this isn't the only combination that will produce viable offspring.  A $s Spider Kai'us parent could have children with a ¢¢ Cave Kai'us (with a 50% success rate; all children would have four arms), or even a CC Cave Kai'us (50% as well; with two-armed children).

A $$ parent could have children with a C¢ person (with 50% success; all children would have four arms), as well as a ¢¢ person (100% success; all children would have four arms as well).

A ss parent could also have children with a C¢ person (also with a 50% chance of success; all children would have two arms though).  Mating with a CC person would provide a 100% chance of Cave Kai'us hybrids.

Even though statistically there's a 50/50 chance of a genetic mismatch with most combinations; nearly every attempt at conception will produce a viable baby.  This is because Kai'us' tend to only mate six times in their entire life. (The reasons are many) and Nature will do everything in its power to ensure the right genes match up to produce live offspring.

Now let's pair up a few hybrids and see the interesting combination that get produced:

For chuckles and giggles, let's introduce a third race.  Though this is rare, even among the Ka-Kiu, let's put together a Cave and a Spider hybrid that both carry the racially recessive genes for Mountain Kai'us' (represented with an "m").

The Mountain People have a heavier build than the other races. They're known for their physical strength; and they have thick, bristly hair that runs down the backs of their arms and legs the same color as their mane.  Both their mane and eyes colors are consistently darker than the other races, almost always dark brown or black. 

From this combination, you can see there's a 25% chance of no viable offspring, a 25% chance of a Cave/Mountain hybrid, a 25% of a Spider/Mountain hybrid, but a 25% of a genetically pure Mountain Kai'us.

And so there's the long and the short of Kai'us racial genetics.
I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the science end of Kai'us'.
If you liked what you've read these past two months, be sure to bug me periodically to get the book finished so you can read a whole novel about these fascinating creatures!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kai'us Clans

Last month I posted a series of Kai'us creation myths (check out the intro here if you like; it will also lead you through the rest of the myths).

I was having so much fun writing all this Kai'us stuff that I thought I'd spill things over into this month and get science-y; discussing a little about Kai'us genetics and how they avoid inadvertent inbreeding.  Both these topics are very briefly touched on in the novel I'm working on (currently called "The Kai'us Planet"), but obviously they're far too involved to go into in-depth in the book, so I'll post about them here.

This week's post will be about the complex clan system Kai'us' use to ensure couples aren't too closely related.  It's not fool-proof though because people as close as second cousins would be able to marry, and sometimes people who we wouldn't consider even remotely related wouldn't be able to wed.  Still, it certainly keeps siblings and first cousins away from each other at the very least.

Though the dynamics are there (and have been for years), there's certain details I'm still hammering out, like: should each race have 24, 32, or even 64 clans?  How much bearing should a person's clans have on how they're viewed in society?  Are there "good" clans and "bad" clans for instance?  What should the clans be called?

I've thought of the Cave Kai'us clan names being after birds and things related to birds (they REALLY like birds!); Spider Kai'us' having insect and small, desert-dwelling creatures names; Mountain Kai'us' having names to do with stones, jewels, and metals; Winged Kai'us' after types of trees and plants; but that's a whole boat-load of vocab I've haven't even begun to hit on yet! (And that's just the Old Races!!)

So for the sake of argument, I'll do this break-down with just numbers (which is how I've been doing it thus far).  Even with this simple labeling system though it's likely still going to get confusing, so I'll do my best to keep things simple.

Unfortunately it gets insane right out of the starting gate: each and every Kai'us is identified by four separate clans, and how they're ordered is slightly different depending on if you're a boy or a girl.

First I invite you to re-familiarize yourself with the Punnett Square that you likely learned about in biology class concerning bean plants, fruit flies, and blood types.  Though it'll relate more to my next post about Kai'us racial genetics, it's general principle will come in handy with the clan break-downs as well.

With that in mind, you get your first clan name from the parent who's the same gender as you.
Your second clan name comes from the first clan of your opposite-gendered parent.
You get your third clan and fourth clans from your grandparents (that part will be easier to show than tell).

Let's break it down from the beginning starting with the "first man" and the "first woman".

The colors are arbitrary by the way.  I’m just using them to separate things out a little better visually (you’ll thank me in a moment).

The boy’s first clan is the same as his Dad’s.
The girl’s first clan is the same as her Mother’s.
And their second clan is the first clan of their other parent.
(Obviously for this example their parents only have one clan, but this will work even if there’s the normal four clans involved; we're starting out simple here.)

Now, these kids can’t hook up because they share clans. 
Even if just one clan is shared between two people, they can’t get married.

Lucky for these kids, their parents had neighbors of completely different clans!
Now let’s see what happens when all these young people get married and have kids.

This chart is likely going to look like an overwhelming mess, so let’s take a looksie at just one grandbaby.

Following the numbers (and handy colors), you can see that this young man’s first clan is the first clan of his father and his paternal grand-father.
His second clan is his mother’s first clan as well as his maternal grand-mother.
His third clan is his father’s second clan, which is the first clan of his paternal grand-mother.
And his fourth clan is his Mom’s second clan, same as his maternal grand-father’s first clan.

If you scroll back up, you can see that his sister’s clans are the same as his, just reversed.  
His cousins' clans are also the same, just flopped top to bottom
Now let’s go one more generation and see what happens.

As you can see, half of the clans get lost by the fourth generation, but the first clans of all the men carry through as do the first clans of all the women.

This is why it’s so important to Kai’us parents that they have at least one boy and one girl.
Boys carry on their father’s clans and girl’s carry on their mother’s lines.

Because the people living in a village can become very related very quickly, the clan system helps keep straight just who are cousins and who are a little too closely related for comfort.  

To give young people more options in the potential mate department, groups of villages gather together once every four years or so in a great festival called, "Keush-na-eekai" which translates roughly to the "Gathering of Young People".  Here eligible folks wear colored ribbons or beads to clearly display their clans.  They show off their skills and talents in various games of skill involving archery, races, and the like; or they'll set up "booths" where they can show off their crafts in weaving or pottery-making, etc.

Obviously these games and displays aren't just limited to the unmarried; anyone is welcome to participate.  These gatherings are an excellent opportunity to trade with others outside of one's home village and to see new techniques for making products and tools.

Village chiefs also have an opportunity at these festivals to discuss crops, births, deaths, and any problems they may have run into in the years between Gatherings.

There's music, singing, dancing and story telling in abundance at these multi-day events, and of course plenty of food.

If two people meet up who like each other, they'll spend time at the festival to get to know each other.  It typically doesn't take long for Kai'us' to determine if they like a particular person or not due to their telepathy.

Matches are made purely at the young people's discretion; parents are rarely directly involved in who their children choose to marry.  It's actually the villages chiefs (each village is run by a husband/wife pair) who make the ultimate decision if a potential match is a good one.

If the two young people are from different villages, the two sets of chiefs will sit down together and discuss what the young couple will contribute to the village they would live in and then determine which village needs those particular skills more.  If both villages already have a glut of what the pair has to offer, they'd be encouraged to move to another village where they'd be more useful.

Either way, once married, a young person leaves their parents' house and moves in with their new spouse.  When a person marries, they're considered part of the whole village rather than just their parents' families.

And so there's your glimpse into Kai'us clans and how they work.
Be sure to come back next time for an explanation of Kai'us racial genetics!