Copakodamas (literally Hunting Smoke) are a notoriously elusive species native to Deruuk. They are in the same genus as the Kexs, though are considerably less advanced. They are easily comparable to humans and gorillas.
The Copakodamas are renowned for their stealthy nature, and they are so rarely witnessed that many claim they are just a legend. This particular trait has made them an important part of Kexs culture, as potential hunters must track and ultimately capture a Copakodama as part of an initiation ritual. Their natural stealth has also made them one of the most successful species on Deruuk, and their high population is a harsh contrast to their elusiveness.
Copacokamas are quadrupedal amphibians, living both in bodies of fresh water and on dry land. Much like their closest cousins, the Kexs, they have sets of filters that extract oxygen from water when submerged. Other similarities include blue-tinted skin, similar facial structures, and large sets of quills on the head and neck.
An average male copkodama is just under 5 feet tall (when bipedal), and weighs around 90 pounds. Females are of a very similar build, and save for obvious biological differences, there is very little that distinguishes the two sexes. A healthy Copakodama can expect to live for roughly 50 years. Their quills are notably longer and more abundant than those of the Kexs, forming a distinct mane around their necks. These quills will naturally rise if they feel threatened, though can also be lowered and compressed at will to form a sturdy -if thin- layer of armor. Secondary sets of quills are also found on their palms and on the soles of their feet. Primarily, these vastly increase their sense of touch, so much so that they can feel the vibrations of footsteps from nearly a half kilometer away. As a secondary function, they also marginally assist in moving across certain surfaces.
Arguably their most defining trait is their ability to camouflage the color and texture of their skin in seconds, allowing them to blend in with virtually any environment. In addition to this, Copakodama hunters can also lower their heart rate (to an extent), steadying all of their movements. These traits make them one of Deruuk's top predators. They are simply undetectable to all but the most perceptive creatures. The name Copakodama directly refers to an ancient and brutally efficient Kexs method of hunting.
Copkodamas are ambush predators, sneaking up on potential prey and then charging in for a quick kill. Their hunters are capable of preforming quick bursts of immense speed, sometimes upwards of 40 kilometers/hour. Once prey has been caught, they lacerate it to death using their claws.
Copakodamas are typically solitary, travelling and hunting in families. Typically families will stay clear of each other, rarely cooperating unless it's to take down large prey (after which the spoils are evenly distributed).
On very rare occassions, extended families will join together, forming a large pack. While this increases the odds of survival via strength in numbers, it also diminishes their element of surprise when hunting. Conversely, interactions between unrelated families are quite common. Most often, these interations are simply non-aggression pacts between otherwise rival families. However, there are also fair amounts of violent disputes, typically over territory or food. Killing a member from another family practically guarantees a string of retaliation raids.
Relations with KexsEdit
The Copakodama are revered by the Kexs to a near-mystical level. They play an integral role in initiation rituals. Potential hunters, after years of training, are instructed to track down and capture a Copakodama and bring it back to the tribe. The creature is then marked with a ceremonial paint, fed, and let back into the wild. The following day the Kexs is made a full-fledged hunter. During such rites of passage the Kexs potential hunter is given no knowledge of their targets' whereabouts, save for, "In this general area". Some Copakodamas have learned of these rituals, and will playfully go along with them, sometimes intentionally getting caught, or actively avoiding the hunters. There is no bias or preference to this, it's purely for sport, and is seen as a game.
The Copakodama are so elusive that they were once mistaken for violent ghosts. It was common for the ancient Kexs to be hunted as prey, as they similarly lived in solitary families. It wasn't until they reached the Fifth Age (Kexs equivalent of the Late Middle Ages) that the unexplained deaths and disappearances were found to be at the hands of the Copakodama.
With other racesEdit
Outside the Kexs, the Copakodamas' existence is viewed with great skepticism. This is largely due to the mystery surrounding them, as well as the lack of fossils, though the latter is a direct result of the former (ie paleontologists simply don't know where to look). A common view is that the Copakodama are a fictional species of ruthless predators created by the Kexs to deter other races from setting foot on Deruuk.