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Sarah J Kinder

"Illustrated Basic anatomy of pharlans" by Sarah J Kinder

SciFi/Fantasy text 3 out of 5 by Sarah J Kinder.      ←Previous - Next→
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A scientific document cataloging the basics on the anatomy of the pharlan species. Illustrations hand drawn by me in Adobe Photoshop. - new version (I added the references and some more data)
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←- Kigrada and the Pact of Dragons | The First Hunt -→
29 Oct 2005

Journal of Comparative Anatomy.

Vol. 258 No. 3 pp. 2266-2273

5 Cionlas AT5634






Kelesphi Telste [1], Sheiltra Peltia [1], Alastre E. Grelatse [2], Kirtsai I. Eilonkiva [2]

[1]Sentient Races Department, Institute for Biological Studies, Kelzen, Iristine

[2]Mria’ka’Mrioga University, Trezen, Rona




Pharlan anatomy has remained largely a mystery for many centuries.  Past political situations have hindered and in some cases prohibited research on the subject by outsiders.  Often pharlan anatomy was considered a national secret by the Ronan government.  However the current state of openness after the creation of the council of seven has allowed this research to go forward. Pharlans are a unique species and do not seem to belong to any of the clades that all currently known sentient species belong, mammalian, avian, ploidomorph, reptilian, or crenloan (Felsi, 5629). Indeed pharlans seem to bear no direct relation to any extant clade (T. E. Drakara, 5431).  Pharlans are believed to have descended from a four footed creature bearing both avian and mammalian characteristics, but direct comparison is impossible because the progenitor species is known only from fossil evidence (K. I. Selaotoe, 5013; O. E. MaruSeke, 5625).  However there are a number of notable features which distinguish the pharlan clade, including a boneless prehensile tail, tipped with a secondary pair of wings with eyes similar to those of insects, muscular finger-like appendages and a unique covering sometimes referred to as scale feathers, called kyrtsay by pharlans (A. E. Grelatse, personal communication).  Our current study is a complete study of pharlan anatomy which will for the first time elucidate internal and external structures of this important and intriguing species.




Gross Measurements and structures

Typical height of pharlan males was on average about 1.85 cadla[1] with females slightly taller being around 2 cadla. Typical wingspan was 5.7 cadla for both sexes. See Figure 1. The tail is variable in length, being largely boneless and elastic, but typically ranges between 2 and 3 cadla. Mass of individuals was on average 0.34 kred[2].

Illustration pharlanfig.jpg for Illustrated Basic anatomy of pharlans



External Covering

Surface areas of pharlan specimens were composed of three covering types, true feathers, scales and feather-scales or kyrtsay. Scales are the basic skin surface found over most of the body. Even areas surficially covered with feathers were underlain with fine scales. The scales was not keratinaceous, unlike the feathers, and the exact composition of the scale structures is still unknown as they have been largely resistant to attempts at chemical characterization. Studies regarding the biochemical nature of pharlan scales are still being conducted and will be published in a separate volume: Biochemistry of Pharlans.

Scale Feathers or kyrtsay covered much of the back and neck of all individuals examined. The wings were composed entirely of kyrtsay which are relatively thin structures, superficially resembling feathers in overall shape, consisting of less than five cell layers covered with a transparent protective material apparently similar in chemical composition to the scales although this has not been confirmed.  Kyrtsay are stiffened by central veins and cross-linked structures. These veins are hollow and it is thought the stiffness of individual kyrtsay can be controlled hydraulically.  Like the scales, kyrtsay are generally quite resistant to both chemical and physical damage. The cell layers seem to be involved in energy absorption as well as pigmentation, but the precise nature of the layers has not yet been fully examined.

The Pharlan specimens that were examined all bore true avian style feathers over the head, torso, back and leg regions. Head feathers were generally longer and thinner than those found on the body and were often of a different color pattern than the remainder of the body feathers. Facial structures are quite similar to those found in Homo sapiens but the skin was relatively finely scaled on most of the face with the nose being covered with larger protective scales.  Two small slits along the nose open into the nasal cavity, near the eyes presumably to allow for enhanced airflow during dives. 

The ventral portion of the neck and chest region of all individuals examined was largely devoid of feathers and covered with interlocking shield shaped scales. Scale size increased with distance from the neck area and reached its peak at the midpoint of the rib cage. From the sternum downward the scales were smaller in overall size and more round in shape. Feathers again became apparent on the ventral portion near where the legs joined the body. Feathers in some individuals continued down to the tops of the digits while other individuals had feathers only continuing to the knees, with larger scales extending to the knees. 

Scales covered the feet of all individuals, larger protective scales covered the three digits while finer scales covered the footpads. Similar scaling patterns could be seen on the hands. Each digit on both feet and hands harbored a single talon of approximately 5 inches and 3 inches in length respectively. The color of these talons was invariably black.

The tail structure of pharlans is unique, it is long cylindrical, prehensile and without ossified bones allowing it to be extremely flexible.  Scales on the tail are smaller and thinner than the rest of the body, presumably causing the tail being much more touch sensitive than other areas of the body.  At the tip of the tail, small sub-wings (called akalate) are typically 8-9 inches in length and frame the kabaign or “tail head” which has 5 multi faceted eyes on the dorsal surface approximately 0.5 inches in diameter. The kabaign itself is scaled but the eyes do not bear eyelids of any kind. The eyes are capable of forming a grainy and uncolored image (A. E. Grelatse, personal communication). Posterior to the kabaign are the two interlocking scales, krentan which cover the ielan or “tail fingers”. These highly elastic structures are essentially scale-less and highly touch sensitive, often used by pharlans for manipulation of small objects. They are typically kept covered by the krentan except when in use. See figure 2.

Illustration opentail.jpg for Illustrated Basic anatomy of pharlans


Color patterns

Color patterning in pharlans seems to be quite variable ranging from black to white, with most colors represented by at least a few individuals. Most of our subjects were of gold to brown coloration on the feathers and grey to brown skin tones. Some of the volunteers had green and blue feather and Kyrtsay coloration while the measurement data contained occasional reports of pharlans with black or red coloration. Patterning was occasionally intense and detailed but solid colors seemed to be the most common. Two distinct races had been noted in the records, called Sayarten and Galesa.  Our volunteers reported that the two races still exist but are much less common than in the past, none of our volunteers were members of these two races but were reported to be mostly of mixed heritage.  The measurement records seemed to support the assumption that more distinct forms of pharlans existed in the distant past.


Internal structures

From the dissection and scanning operations we obtained considerable data on pharlan internal anatomy.  Brain size was proportionately on-par with other sentient species. The cerebellum was proportionately larger than most other species.  Eyes were also proportionately large averaging 1.2 inches (30.48 mm) in diameter. Pharlans have 2 eyelids and an additional nictiating membrane.  This membrane is transparent but quite flexible and resistant to both physical and chemical damage.  It is presumably used for protection of the eyes, while still allowing sight.   Pharlan dentition indicates a carnivorous habit with large canines as well as slicing incisors and sharply pointed molars, similar to carnivorous mammals.  Large jaw muscles indicate a powerful bite, which is likely essential for their typical diet.  Pharlan tongues are generally rough and studded with hairs.  Throat and esophageal tissue was thicker than most other extant species, presumably an adaptation for the consumption of bones.

Pharlans are similar to most other extant races in the possession a centrally located heart, liver and kidneys. Instead of the usual saclike lungs and diaphragm found in mammals, pharlans have a system of interconnected tubes and smaller sacs which provide air to the body. There was a connection from the lungs to the Kabagain region, which apparently allows pharlans to breathe through their tails. This secondary air opening also apparently allows for flow-through breathing during flight. In addtion to the usual organs pharlans have an additional accessory organ called the chadake was usually located just below the diaphragm. The chadake is thought to be responsible for energy storage and transmission and was connected to the rest of the body via nerve-like tissue. True nerves and chadake connections were often intertwined and often inseperable, leading to speculation that the chadake may also be involved in pharlan telepathic abilities. The digestive system of pharlans consists of an extremely large expandable stomach with two chambers and a relatively short intestinal tract. Sexual organs in the vivisectioned and dissected individuals of both sexes were of an extremely reduced size in comparison to most other sentient species of similar size. We were later informed that these organs only develop during a physiological period known as metnena’a.  We were told it would be very difficult to examine an individual in this physiological state, as they would be “otherwise occupied” and extremely dangerous (A. E. Grelatse, personal communication). 

Skeletal structures

Skeletal structures were difficult to examine as pharlan bones are very resiliant and resistnant to damage despite being of extremely light construction. The pharlan skull is strikingly similar to that of humans but a number of notable differences were found. The top of the skull near the rear bears a large crest for the attachment of powerful muscles. It is these muscles thought to give pharlans their extremely powerful bite. Additionally the jawbone estended much further back on the skull and the attachment on the neck was towards the rear of the skull rather than directly beneath - as with most other upright species. This adaptation, combined with the longer neck structure gives pharlans the ability to rotate their heads in almost any direction. The neck bones of both sexes had direct connections to the overlying kyrtsay and were well reinforced with muscles and tendons. Pharlan arms were attached in a standard fashion, like most other known species but the wings were attached about 9 inches farther down the skeleton with a second set of scapula and wishbone. Additionally the sternum at and slightly above this region elongated into a keel to support the large flight muscles. The rest of the skeleton was not unusual, when compared with other extant species, save the cartalaginous nature of the tail. it's appearance was of small harder knobs interspersed with more elastic cartilage. The kabaign retained a skull-like structure, but the bone covering it was quite thin. The ielan contained no bones or cartilage.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is subtle in phalrans and less obvious than that of most mammailan races. At approximately 250 years of age a pharlan reaches sexual maturity. Female pharlans have proportionately longer ears and usally grow long featherlike tassles on the ends of the ears. These structures are attractive to males (K. I. Eilonkiva, personal communication). Females are typically taller and thinner than their male counterparts by about 15% on average and typically bore duller coloration. Sexually mature male pharlans bore elongated kyrtsay on the back of the neck which can be raised as a threatening gesture.

Materials and Methods

Cadaver Studies

The Ronan government graciously donated three specimens of deceased pharlans. Each was handled with utmost care to ensure preservation and accurate data collection. External measurements and photographs were taken to document the state of the bodies before dissection.  Dissections were performed in the standard fashion, however the very hard bone structure of the pharlans forced us to utilize the Drenara University high density saw apparatus for cranial, kyrtsay and bone structure studies. 


Measurement data

Since the sample size for dissection was quite small we also utilized data from the pharlan institute for anatomical studies.  These data have been collected continuously from all members of the population over a period of 10,000 years and intermittently for several thousand years prior.



About 50 pharlan volunteers aided us with this study. Due to the excellent healing ability of pharlans we were able to perform vivisections on some of the volunteers without compromising their safety. These were performed with the aid of several volunteers to hold those under dissection.



Drakara, T. E., and Tavais, R. I. (5431). Origin of Pharlans: A new look at old evidence. Discovery 2620, 201-204.

Felsi, J., Kladara, K., Nirina, T., and Breztai, Y. (5629). An overview of sentient species: Lessons from intergalactic conquest. Journal of Animal Systematics 176, 3584-3588.

MaruSeke, O. E., Sialen, Q., Gizaiden, B., and Ishaikeliak, F. E. (5630). New discoveries of Nerianke homo: A separate population. Archeology 130, 3655-3670.

Selaotoe, K. I., Klashdaolo, T. E., Shakraotoe, Y. I., and Ishaikeliak, F. E. (5013). Fossil evidence of Nerianke homo. Discovery 952, 155-157.

[1]Cadla are a keynari unit of measure - one cadla is approximately 3.5 feet.

[2]Kred are a Keynari unit of mass - One kred is approximately 250 pounds (under terran gravity)

←- Kigrada and the Pact of Dragons | The First Hunt -→

21 Sep 2005:-) Keith D. Brooks Jr.
I read this after I read 'Koshai chapters 1-4' and I must say, i have never seen anyone put as much work into their creation. I particularly like the anatomy of the tail; very original! i wish i had artistic talent to lend to you but alas, your descriptions in your stories and the drawings you have here lend my mind's eye a picture of your fantastic alien race. 2

:-) Sarah J Kinder replies: "Wow, well that's a very nice compliment there. Really though, this work is the tip of the iceberg. I am really glad my descriptions are clear enough for people to picture pharlans, being they are rather unusual . . ."
27 Sep 200545 Max Hebditch
I think this is really good, its great to have "goverment files" to help. Ive got the same sort of thing for the nations in my story sort of like inteeligence but they help to work out a character would react in any give situation.

:-) Sarah J Kinder replies: "It's pretty good I think but there's plenty more I could add to it. Perhaps the next incarnation will have more illustrations."
2 Oct 2005:-) Jacqueline 'Jac' Tanner
When i was reading your stories i knew you would have created something like this... The way you described and wrote your characters was with such knowledge that it was like anyone writing a human.
This sounded very much like a psychology report/ biology report. You are obviously know a lot about anatomy and the way body/muslce and internal organs work to write such a piece and i appluad you for it. You have put so much detail in to this that its unbelievable great work!

44 Sarah J Kinder replies: "Thank you for the compliment. I've had the pharlan race envisioned for so long I've had plenty of time to think about and figure out things like this. For me it's easy to know them well. . . 2"
9 Oct 2005:-) Ray Arquette
Ooh! Goody! Science... and bio, my favourite. Alright. So, to clarify the tail-eyes, are they in fact compound eyes, like an insect's? Because otherwise, they'd only see light and dark... Oh, and, if there's no bone in the tail, what is? Is it cartilagenous, or primarily a muscle? I would think you still need some kind of structure to it, but maybe something more flexible, like cartilage, would work best. Also, about the wing structure... I'd like to see some descriptions of that, too, you know, how is the musculature integrated, etc. As is, it's hard to tell much about the wings. Based on your stories, they seem capable of independant movement, so is there a joint there? I'm curious, you see...
Nice scholarly tone here. I think citations, should you be able to come up with enough, would be awesome to see!

28 Sarah J Kinder replies: "Hey thanks for reading!Yes the eyes are supposed to be compound eyes. The tail is supposed to have a cartilaginous type "backbone" (looks kind of like beads on a string) to it but it's primarily muscle. As to the wings they are completely separate from the arms (I fail to see how wings sprouting from the middle of the back would function) A second set of collarbones and scapula are located lower down from which the wings "hang" - about halfway down the ribcage, the sternum is keeled and houses the flight muscles. I guess I need to add all of this stuff in and make some more illustrations - the head and neck are attached to one another in an interesting way . . . And citations, I'm working on it . . -S"
24 Oct 200545 D Joelle Duran
That was a fun read!

I don't see any trouble with a 'boneless,' primarily muscular tail. The tongues of some creatures like frogs and woodpeckers can be quite long, very flexible, and still quite controllable. Cartilage 'beads' or tough ligament-type tissue would do the job quite well. Though since there are some important nerves running down to all the sensory apparatus on the end, some sort of protection akin to our spinal cord might be entailed.

In response to some of the remarks above, the make-up of the muscles has impact on it's comparative strength. A muscle packed with a greater number of thinner myofiber will be stronger than one with fewer, thicker ones...but will also have a higher energy need. Which you certainly need if their wingbeats are that fast! I find the organ you've dreamed up to meet those difficulties quite interesting. =)

I'll probably find the answer in another of your pieces, but I was curious. What sort of ears do they have, and are those ears or horns visible on your sketch?

13 Sarah J Kinder replies: "Glad you liked it, after glancing over it again, I think this piece in dire need of an update - there's a few minor things in the design I've changed and need to update - nothing critical but also some more to add. As to the spikes in the picture, they are ears that are somewhat like a cat's ears but longer and covered with very small feathers. Sexually mature females bear tassles on the ends and their ears tend to be longer while males have shorter more stubby versions. "
5 Nov 2005:-) Laura A.K. Peacher
Wow! I really enjoyed reading this. I would love to do fan art but all i can do is anime style 14. anyways very good scientific descriptions. I really love science and most of my stories have a sci-fi feel to them. Reading this makes me want to do an in depth on my three races.

:-) Sarah J Kinder replies: "Glad you enjoyed this, it's one of my more unique works. I'm going to put up some of my more detailed art soon. It's not particularly good but maybe it'll inspire some people . . ."
16 Nov 2005:-) Samuel V. R. Joseph
Hey there this was really cool! Very well thought out, and nicely presented too! Nice work =)

16 Sarah J Kinder replies: "Glad you liked it, I think I fixed up the formatting a bit. But, I just saw a few new typos in this version!"
5 Dec 2005:-) Marcus W. Ager
Wow. When you go in depth, you go in depth, lol. VERY well thought out! I like how it's structured like lab notes, though that has good and bad points. The good point, and I think this cancels out the bad point, is that it gives TONS of information and it's very realistic. Seriously, during my reading of this I was actually wondering whether these things actually existed. The bad thing is that it causes it to be slightly boring.

Anyway, overall good stuff! ^^

45 Sarah J Kinder replies: "Maybe they do actually exist *grins* . . . Ahem, yeah as informitive as it is there's even more information than that lurking around in the dark recesses of my memory.
21 Dec 2005:-) Miriam Doris Plachta
Wow, this is extremely hyda, hehe. I now know more about pharlan anatomy than human anatomy- and I think I might ask for a pharlan tail for christmas2
A few suggestions:
-Maybe you could explain the physiology of the pharlan's "excellent healing ability"?
Well that's a bit complicated but I'll write it out here for now. Every pharlan cell is "totipotent", meaning capable of de-differentiating and re-differentiating to re-make any damaged tissue/organ. The cells "know" their location based on the signals from existing surrounding cells. They can begin re-growing when the cells surrounding them are missing or damaged. Many "lower life forms" on earth are capable of this, for whatever reason this tended to be lost in higher life forms. Mammals simply make undifferentiated "scar tissue" because the cells cannot re-differentiate.

-I would put the "Materials and Methods" before the "Results" section, unless you have a reason for the current order.

I just used one of the orders you can somtimes find in human scientific publications
-I did see a few typos, but you mentioned in response to a comment that you'd seen these. Just let me know if you want me to point out the ones I found.
-I don't know whether you were actually planning on writing "Biochemistry of Pharlans," but if you do decide to write another scientific document, I would love to read about their psychology. I admit I haven't read any of your other works yet, though, so it's entirely possible that their psychology is identical to that of humans.
I'm not sure if I really want to go into biochemistry of pharlans or not - although I know some of it to that level - I think it will be much more difficult to write. I doubt their psychology is identical to that of humans although it is fairly similar.
In which case I should read some more stories before attempting to make intelligent comments. Yes.
I am in awe of your attention to detail and the way you've managed to intertwine disciplines to give your world an amazing degree of depth. Pharlans are way cool. I can't wait to read their stories!

1 Sarah J Kinder replies: "Very glad you enjoyed this work and I hope you like the rest of the stories too. 2Thanks for another great comment!
10 Jan 2008:-) Désirée Dippenaar
This is really creative! I like the way it is laid out like a real paper, with bibliography and everything. The pharlans are very original creatures - really interesting! I hope I’ll find time to read your stories soon ^^ Sorry I took so long to come to your page after you visited mine...

:-) Sarah J Kinder replies: "Hey no problem and glad you liked it, I’ve been a little busy lately too. Thanks for reading!

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'Illustrated Basic anatomy of pharlans':
 • Created by: :-) Sarah J Kinder
 • Copyright: ©Sarah J Kinder. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Anatomy, Pharlan, Wings
 • Categories: Extrateresstial, Alien Life Forms
 • Views: 2147

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Kigrada and the Pact of Dragons
The Pharlan Dictionary
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