August 4th, 2010

  • dfotw

Fantastic ecology: substituting big predatory mammals for reptiles?

Setting: fantasy world that I'm only now developing, with Renaissance-level of technology; for the culture the question refers to, the setting is a warm climate swampland around a river and its delta, and further away from it, dry terrain moving into a tallgrass prairie (think the oak savanna of the eastern Great Plains); nativa fauna includes dragons (Western-style, fire-breathing dragons, and also Chinese-style, river-dwelling dragons), wyverns and firebirds.

Search engine and keywords used: Google search for 'big reptiles', 'alligators', etc, Wikipedia and other sources for researching the ecologic niches of the reptiles I intend to adopt, but I have no idea how to go about researching my main question, so even search-word suggestions would be most welcome.

I want this culture to use reptiles like the Western medieaval and Renaissance cultures used big, predatory mammals. For example, stone-carved wyverns at the entrances of public buildings, crocodiles and iguanas in the heraldry, sayings like 'strong like an alligator' instead of 'strong like a lion', pet lizards instead of cats, etc, etc... I figured the best way to do this would be to substitute most of the big, predatory mammals in the local fauna for reptile equivalents, to make it logical for this culture to adopt them as symbolic animals, but I know very little about ecology and I don't know if this change would be feasible or what kind of (unexpected) consquences it could have. I don't want to wipe off all mammals from existence (I need cows, oxes, some horses and mules), but I want reptiles to take precedence. And I don't want to sprain my wrist hand-waving the ecological concerns away!

Or, maybe you could just tell me if, with just a high-number of reptile species in this world, you'd find it believable if the culture adopted them as symbols instead of the traditional mammals we did on Earth.

I have access to my University library and on-line scientific journals, so any reading reccommendations would be most welcome!

Qur'an - using it for a cipher?

So -

I know that it is required by Muslims that the Qur'an be treated respectfully -- the physical book should not be abused or desecrated etc. But, does anyone know if using the Qur'an as a book cipher would be considered desecrating it? The book(s) would not be harmed but a code would be used to pick out individual words within the text to create messages for my purposes.

Searched: qur'an (and variations), desecration of the qur'an.

ETA: it would be in the Arabic -- part of the reason for the choice is the fact that the Qur'an, due to the long preference for a single language, has a pretty stable text.
music, serious face

Adjusting to the loss of toes

I have a character who lost some, but not all, of his toes. They were amputated due to injury. I want him to have a certain level of handicap, and am trying to figure out which and how many he lost based on that.

This is an old injury, so at the time the story starts he's as adjusted as he's going to get. He has no access to prosthetics or special shoes.

Basically, I want him to be able to walk without much difficulty. An odd gait is fine, but I'd like to avoid him relying on a cane or other device. At the same time, I want to interfere with his ability to run, either by making it totally impossible or slowing him down.

I've searched for various things like "toe amputation" in combination with "gait" and "recovery," and I've found some information, but not with the level of detail I want. I've found out that that people do adjust fairly well to losing toes, despite myths that if you lose x toes you'll never walk again, etc. I've found out plenty about modern devices to help people who have lost toes. But nothing detailed enough that I can decide how much my character has lost.