In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:
A creature of the wild lands of Australia, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is said to be a vicious little creature that feasts on its prey for several days as it continues a cycle of draining blood and then slowly digesting until the prey becomes another of the horrible little creatures.
All in all, typical aggressive Aussie animal behavior.
But how much of that is true? Why do these creatures continue the process of regurgitating their prey over repeated instances and how’d a creature that bizarre avoid being spotted for so very long? Today we take a look at one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures.
The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is a 4 foot tall red humanoid creature with a very large head and big mouth capable of fitting a whole human being into it. In it’s mouth it has no teeth as it does not chew whatever it happens to inhale. It has fingers and toes with octopus-like suction cups on it, capable of latching onto anything including human flesh and then sucking the blood from its fictim through these suckers.
The skin of a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is supposed to be very smooth, however it is often described as also being covered in a great deal of red fur which is sometimes depicted dyed with white markings.
Their eyes are sometimes yellow, though this is up for artists interpretation much like the markings and the texture of their skin. The only things that are truly known about the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is that they are short, red, and have suckers at the ends of their digits.
The description of being short, red and having suction cups at the ends of the fingers are quite accurate. The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who people are a descendent of Homo floresiensis, the so called “Hobbits”, who migrated to the Austrailian continent prior to the arrival of the Aborigines and began adapting to their new environment over time. They have taken a reddish skin tone over the years due to a difference in exposure to sunlight from what they had experienced in their original homeland and have evolved to be well adapted to the forest.
The structures at the tips of their fingers and toes are less like an octopus’ suckers and more like the toe-pads of a gecko, covered in an adhesive structure of setae which allow them to grip almost any surface and scale trees without the use of claws or a strong hand grip. These setae can cause damage to human skin if the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is not careful, leaving behind raw skin where they touch which can make the appearance of attempting to suck the blood from that individual.
The head of the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is quite large in proportion to the rest of the body and while they do have teeth, the forward teeth are underdeveloped while the molars are quite pronounced, producing the illusion that they have none without closer inspection of their mouths. The jaw structure is also quite similar to that of a frog’s as it is meant to take in a great deal of food at once without the use of the hands (which are often holding onto the tree).
The skin of the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is no more or less smooth than that of human beings, though they do happen to grow hair uniformly over their body rather than just the select locations normal to humans. The markings on their fur and skin is typically tribal in nature, part of a well developed culture rarely seen by outsiders.
The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is a predator of opportunity. Rather than hunting for its prey, it will wait for that prey to wander too close to its chosen tree and give it a good angle for attack. Once the prey is close, it will drop onto the prey, latch on and begin draining the victim of its blood until it is too weak to resist.
Upon draining the victim of its blood, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who will devour the prey whole, lacking teeth for chewing, and will drink water, taking a nap in order to digest this prey. After digesting for a period of time, they will regurgitate the prey and begin the process once again, adjusting for its lack of teeth by digesting slowly over a long period of time.
The suckers on the toes and fingers are powerful and allow to draw blood or hold onto trees for days, weeks or even months at a time as it awaits for food to wander too close to it’s territory. In this regard, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is actually quite well adapted to scarce food supplies.
Of course, this may be because the food in question are humans.
Unlike the creatures of mythology, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who are actually herbivores with little reason to prey on anything that wanders into their territory. Like the Koala, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who prefer to eat Eucalyptus – a tough, toxic plant with low nutritional value. Because of this, their mouth structure has adapted specifically for chewing the plant material with strong grinding teeth and mouths large enough to eat great deals of it at once to make up for the low nutritional value.
The suckers on the fingers and toes cannot be used to help feeding, adapted specifically for holding onto the trees and not to drain fluids from what it holds onto. However, this gripping mechanism combined with the enlarged mouth does allow the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who to eat great deals at once without much movement, gripping the tree and then feeding in large clumps of leaves at a time.
Once they’ve devoured their food and chewed thoroughly, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who, like the Koala, is faced with the fact that the Eucalyptus’ toxic and nutrient poor nature makes normal digestion insufficient. So, like the Koala, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who will regurgitate their food in order to chew and swallow it once again, somewhat like a cow. Over a period of time, the diminutive creatures get the nutrients they need from repeatedly digesting the same leaves over a long period of time.
This constant exposure to a low level of toxins does happen to make them more capable of resisting poison, however, making the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who’s immune system as aggressive as the standard Alter despite their differing origins.
The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who does little besides wait for humans to wander into its hunting territory. Once there, they attack and begin the process of feeding on them. What is peculiar, however, is the act of taking the human victim and converting them into another Yara-Ma-Yha-Who over the course of several digestions. With each new digestion, the victim will slowly become shorter, redder and hairier until they emerge as a second Yara-Ma-Yha-Who.
Besides this, the creatures do very little and seem to only become active when a human has approached, otherwise waiting in treetops and constantly watching for the foolish to wander into their woods – especially children.
The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who people have a vibrant culture despite their primitive roots with the Homo floresiensis people. They form communities in the treetops, often constructing humble tree-houses to shelter them from the harsh Australian sun in the summer months. They have a tradition of art and form tight nit communities often unseen by the people below, camouflaged by the leaves that line the base of their simple houses. To indicate their tribes, these people apply white markings to their fur and skin to match those of their people. As of this time, roughly a dozen Yara-Ma-Yha-Who tribes are known to exist, though rumors say that others have formed in all regions of the world to have the Eucalyptus they prefer.
The stories of regurgitating people until they become another Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is actually a misunderstanding. Due to the nature of their food supply, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who will regurgitate it repeatedly to assist in digestion. Over the course of this, some parts of the plant that are too tough to be digested even with this slow process. As this occurs, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who will spit out this material. After centuries of doing this, it became common practice for them to take this wet, squishy material and begin to craft art with it, as to not waste what they could not digest. The result? Small tribal statues of their people constructed in a similar fashion to paper-mache.
Which, from a distance, could be kind of creepy.
(If you like the Alterpedia and the world that inspires them, support it by picking up my books. Otherwise, get eaten by the mythological version and tell me which you prefer afterwards!)