Cetomorpha

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  • Class Mammalia
  • Subclass Placentalia
  • Order Cetomorpha

The Cetomorpha are an order of semi-aquatic mammals found primarily in the rivers and lakes of the Southwestern watershed of the Kellsith. They are descended from an extinct group of hoofed predatory mammals with long jaws. Modern Cetomorphs are all semi-aquatic to a degree, ranging from the wading dalanestids to the free-swimming paegmocetids.

A few cetomorphs spend their adult lives in coastal waters, but their expansion into the sea is limited by their need for fresh drinking water, and all cetomorphs raise their young in fresh water.

Cetomorphs have long, often shallow, skulls dominated by their jaw. Their bodies have deep chests and tend toward being heavily built. They range from 1.1 to 4.2 meters in length from snout to tail.

There are three primary families of cetomorphs: Dalanestidae, Ambulocetidae, and Paegmocetidae. The paegmocetids are an offshoot of the ambulocetids.

Family Dalanestidae

The dalanestids are the least aquatic of cetomorphs. They are primarily waders who snatch fish from the edges rivers and lakes.

Dalanestids are stocky animals, a typical dalanestid might be 2 meters long, but weigh up to 340 kg. Dalanestids have front legs that are longer than their back legs; also the latter are often held splayed out from the body. Thus their shoulders are are noticeably higher then their pelvis. The slope of the back continues into their long neck, in resting position, and their long, narrow jaws slope back down from the braincase. This creates a resting posture in which the head is held, jaws pointed down, out over the water when the animal wades, suitable for the dalanestids heron-like fishing behavior.

Besides fish, dalanestids often eat frogs, and small mammals in or near the water. One extraordinary species strains small crustaceans and algae from the water by sweeping of its long jaw through the water.

Dahlanestids are slow swimmers. Their hips are less adapted for swimming then those of other cetomorphs, but better for walking.

Family Ambulocetidae

Ambulocetids are the largest of the cetomorphs ranging from 2 to 4.2 meters long. They, too, are stocky animals with deep, broad chests. A 2 meter ambulcetid waeighs about 250-280 kg; more common 3 meter animals weigh around 600 kg.

Ambulocetids are more aquatic than dalanestids, and are much more at home swimming than walking. Their back, hips and tail are adapted for effecient swimming by way of vertical undulations of the body, though they are not as fast or manueverable as the smaller paegmocetids.

The ambulocetid jaw is broader than that of a dalanestid, but still rather long and pointed.

Besides catching fish while swimming, many ambulocetids are ambush predators. They rest just below the waters, with the nostrils at the end of their long snouts able to breathe. When animals come to the edge of the water, the ambulocetid lunges out and grabs them. Smaller animals often die from the powerful bite, but larger terrestrial animals are usually dragged into the water and drowned.

Family Paegmocetidae

Paegmocetids are the most agile swimmers of all cetomorphs. They live mostly in the lakes and larger rivers and ponds, where their agility gives them a significant advantage in catching fish.

Paegmocetids are also the smallest of cetomorphs, ranging from 1.1 to 2.3 meters, and much more lightly built than other cetomorphs. A 2 meter paegmocetid weighs around 130 kg.

Shallow water hunts around the edge of the water are generally performed indivdually, but most speices of paegmocetids are social and coordinate their efforts for deep water hunts in small family groups. In accordance with this, paegmocetids are the most intelligent and social of cetomorphs. The sentient lresa'i are a paegmocetid species.

Paegmocetids are primarily aquatic animals. While they agily climb up river banks, rocks, or fallen trees, the water is their true element.

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