[Thanan] Dromae Growth and Development
Dromae are a sapient race from my Thanan setting, that evolved from the Paraves (birds and the most bird-like dinosaurs). These drabbles are mostly extended background reference material for myself, and the ones relating to biology are mostly written on ancestral, pre-civilisation dromae (just as we write about evolutionary development of cro-magnons).
Dromae eggs are laid in pairs and a clutch is either two or less commonly four eggs. While clutches of one or three eggs are very rare it is not infrequent for one of the eggs to be non-viable, resulting in one to four hatchlings. Ancestrally the female would lay eggs in warm sands and (depending on location) cover them with more sand or vegetation once laying was complete. The clutch would then be guarded primarily by the male, but with the female and the rest of the pack taking turns as well.
More basal ancestors brooded their clutches directly but as the Arenicalia grew in size this became less practical. This was compounded by the development of thicker protective tissue on the belly to assist in hunting that reduced the size of the brooding patch (a section of bare skin covered by elongated contour feathers that allows better heat transfer).
Newly hatched dromae are called egglings. Egglings are born almost completely covered in white down, with only their snouts and the soles of their feet bare. Sight and hearing are well developed, balance and coordination are not. Within a few days of hatching an eggling is capable of walking short distances but is unable to hunt for itself. Instead the mother will lay special unfertilised eggs for her children to eat and continue this for their first few months of life. Because of this, the male takes responsibility for protecting the clutch as the female must hunt for the significant amount of food required to produce these eggs.
At four months old the infants begin to shed their down in favour of juvenile plumage. The colour of these feathers varies somewhat based on geographical region of origin, but is mostly brown or grey mottled tones. Contour and body feathers are fully formed but primary arm, crest, tail and leg feathers are not. The hatchings will begin to hunt insects and be weaned off eggs and onto supplied meat at this point. As the offspring grow they will begin to hunt small prey to develop skills but will still be dependent on their parents until they are teens and large enough to hunt with the pack.
Adolescent plumage grows in at roughly eleven years of age. The juveniles will begin to take on adult body colouration and the feathers of the belly and inner legs will be shed as the skin structure changes to scutes. This process is often very uncomfortable and itchy for the raptor. Primary feathers of the limbs and tail are fully formed although the adolescent still has a reduced crest and the colourful breeding markings of adults are absent.
Adolescents will engage in vigorous arm flapping to become accustomed to the elongated arm feathers and to learn how to use them as balancing aids when leaping on to prey. At this point they will begin hunting with the adults of the pack. It is at adolescence that the difference between males and females becomes obvious; prior to this females bigger but not excessively so, yet while males cease growing early in puberty the females will continue to grow until approximately 30% larger.
(The Arenicalia [“sand nesters”] are the genus that immediately precede ‘modern’ dromae, in the same way Australopithecus precede humans.)