The Astalvi (Zveahe: povell /pɒ̃ˈvelʲ/) are a sapient species native to central and northern Nagu. They are often brown or black furred (occasionally with a slight purple tinge in black-haired individuals), and are generally shorter than the average human.
Habitat and population
Astalvis are common in much of northern Nagu, with their only other significant presence on the continent being in Nanghung. Most populations elsewhere are the result of trade networks established within the last thousand years. As of January 2017, the total population worldwide is estimated at [??] million, with roughly 40 million living within Astalva alone. Archeological evidence suggests that their prehistorical range spanned most of Nagu as well as the western regions of the Draconic Islands.
Astalvis are members of the suborder Povelliformia in the order Macrodactyla ('long-finger'), which is a sister taxon to the order Chiroptera (bats). This order is characterized by hands and limbs adapted originally for grasping and climbing, and lacking the patagium that gives bats the ability to achieve true powered flight. Historical attempts to place members of Macrodactyla often classed them as or placed them as close relatives to Primates (with which bats were sometimes also placed), in the greater clade Euarchontoglires. However, modern genetic analyses have shown that while they are in fact most related to Chiroptera, neither group is very closely related to Primates at all. Instead, the two sister orders have been shown to be more closely related to other orders like Carnivora and Euungulata, in the clade Laurasiatheria.
Like most placental mammals, Astalvis have dichromatic color vision, as they lack the long wavelength cone cells of primates and some other species. As such, they are unable to easily distinguish red, green and yellow hues. This is reflected in their languages, which generally tend to distinguish green and blue, but almost always sharing a common word for red, yellow, and green. Compared to humans, however, astalvis have appreciably greater visual acuity, especially in low light environments.
Some studies have suggested that some female astalvis may possess a limited degree of trichromacy, resulting from having two slightly different copies of one type of cone cell pigment. However, while some study participants have reported a "distinct but unexplainable" difference between red and green hues, no conclusive evidence has been found regarding the possibility of fully functional trichromacy.
Astalvis possess a much greater range of hearing than humans, with a range of approximately 30Hz to 38KHz (a range of roughly 10.3 octaves). Unlike humans, astalvis generally do not experience progressive upper hearing loss as they age. They also possess sensitivity at lower volume levels than humans, with their ears also being able to pivot in order to focus in on the direction of sound sources.
Astalvis are semi-arboreal, adapted both to arboreal environments (like many other members of Macrodactyla) and terrestrial environments. They make use of all four limbs while climbing, and use bipedal locomotion on the ground like other sapient species.
On account of their abilities to reason, process complex thoughts, and utilize spoken language, astalvis are one of the six extant species on Sahar that are commonly recognized as sapient legal persons.