The temperate freeple represent a tremendous leap forward for amphibian intelligence.
Era: Mid tertiary
Time: 80,000,000 BCE
Habitat: constructed cities
Sentience is a very complex and poorly defined concept, even more so when applied to a creature whose very nature is so alien to us. For our purposes, we define sentience as a species able to reason and understand abstract metaphorical concepts and ideas, make and use tools, and communicate with written or spoken language. With this is mind, we are able to look at a sentient species in the Amphiterran timeline, the temperate freeple.
The freeple as a species enjoy the gift of advanced from the ancestors, the frixels. The frixels’ tool use has expanded into development of technology, art and culture. To go into freeple culture in any great detail would be an undertaking as vast as examining the whole of human culture, so only a brief overview can be touched upon. Amphiterra is written from a perspective of biology, not anthropology, linguistics, ethnography or theology.
Freeple communication is auditory, but not necessarily what we would consider vocal. All speech occurs within the gular sac, and seems to be coded like an advanced form of morse code, the pitch and space between croaks determining the phonemes. The jaw is not involved in vocalization, so all freeple would seem strangely tight-lipped to a human observer. They would similarly appear stoically impassive, emotions being conveyed through stance, posture, and minute eyeball movement, rather than facial expression, freeple lacking the needed facial muscles.
Freeple reproduction involves the female laying three to four eggs within a private basin, where they are kept until they hatch. Upon doing so, the tadpoles are brought to a communal pool, where they swim and compete with the rest of the community’s tadpoles. Before entering the pool, tadpoles are affixed with a family-specific adornment, usually a tail piercing. As with our amphibians, tadpoles are highly competitive and often canniballistic. Only those tadpoles strong enough to survive this infancy and climb out of the pool themselves are recognized as individuals and returned to their families based on the previously attached jewelry. Reproduction/survival based wagers are common.
Hallmarks of freeple culture include ritualized events combining poetry and physical combat, intense debate spectacles, and a proclivity towards psychotropic fungi.
An obstacle that may prove the greatest to overcome for the freeple in terms of their advancement of technology is a limitation of their amphibian physiology. Fire and freeple do not easily mix. The freeple’s amphibian respiratory system and permeable skin make even light smoke dangerous in a way that our hearty mammalian lungs endure relatively easily. Because of this, freeple cannot easily smelt ore, create heat for their homes, or the myriad chemical transformations we rely on in our history. Yet, despite these limitations, the freeple thrive. They derive heat from composting vegetation, and masterfully work wood with techniques beyond human knowledge. Farming and breeding of flora and fauna have let to extremely specialized livestock, living tools and means of production. Freeple are capable of growing a bush of shovels, or breeding a pet that produces gloves.
Freeple villages are often suspended high in the canopies of fungal forests, above potential predators. Freeple retain their innate affinity for life in the trees. Though not as agile as their frixel ancestors, their movement can favorably be compared to the movement of orangutans, allowing for both brachiation and occasional quadrupedalism, even able to leap in great bounds over twenty feet, though this is a skill that is being gradually lost as a sedentary lifestyle becomes more prevalent in society.
We cannot know what lies in store for the freeple, for we have no idea ourselves of what happens at the end of a sentient species, but, like us, they seem brimming with potential.