"Deconstructing the Raptor" by Nomad, written January 9, 2011
My theriotype is Deinonychus antirrhopus, a brand of raptor dinosaurs. Needless to say, it's not the most common one amongst therians, so I want to share some thoughts on how it feels in the inside, and try to discover which things are similar and different from other theriotypes.
The way I experience my theriotype resembles that of a bird, both in looks and behavior. A flightless and predatory bird with teeth and a long tail. If you want to get a quick idea you should go to videos of secretary birds, eagles, and so on, rather than Jurassic Park. Here are some pics that look similar to what I feel:
The raptor side is not a "side" at all, but my baseline identity. If any, it's the human bits and learnt behaviors what feel most unnatural and not well integrated into me, even when I realize I'm definitely human, and consider myself a member of human society.
The avian traits show through in the way I walk, the gait, the head bobbing, or the quick and sharp head movements. I fancy folding my arms when I'm not using them, and sometimes my feet are my first choice when manipulating certain objects, or back when I got in some fights. Even if these behaviours are what feel the most natural, I keep a tight control over myself and know how to handle socially, so you won't see me doing these things in an obvious way unless I'm really tired, sick, or just don't care.
When I experience a mental shift, it feels like I lose conscious control over these behaviors and traits. I lose access to spoken language and have trouble understanding other people, TVs, and so on. My mind focuses primarily on processing the basic senses rather than high abstract thought. As a result, I become more instinctive and situationally aware, but I never stop being "myself". This is not binary either, so most times it will be partial shifts and I'll still keep some control over the situation.
Since it feels as I'm still "me", just in a more raptorish mood, I'm not sure whether the mental shift terminology is the most appropiate, or whether that would fit mostly with contherian, suntherian, etc.. I'm not that knowledgeable in these labels.
I have some animal vocalizations as well, such as a low growling when upset, a hissing when startled or angry, a purring sound if I'm comfortable and relaxed, or a clicking one when curious, playful, etc...
I'm not a strong phantom shifter, and whenever I experience one of these they tend to not last much. My most common phantom shifts are feathers, especially in the back of the neck and head, shoulders and arms. They feel especially strong against the wind. Though I don't indulge in this much, I do have a preening behavior during which I'll nip, bite and lick my forearms.
Second to feathers are claws. I guess these are similar to what most therians can feel, except for the sickle claw. This one is funny as it maps to the big toe (in the real animal, it's actually the second toe). That makes me raise slighty those toes when walking, and placing most of my weight on the outer zone of the feet. This claw is also present in my kicking motion even if not phantom shifting. The kicking motion is 2-part: first the kick itself, then a "grab" motion with the toe and its inexistent claw.
My theriotype is digitigrade, but I won't walk that way unless when deeply "shifted". That kind of walking also makes the other gait or postural traits even more obvious, so I always try to avoid it.
Other phantom parts I've felt, though rarely, are the muzzle, and the tail. The tail is not completely rigid, and has some flexibility. I feel some tail-related instincts when moving, even if I don't experience the phantom tail. For instance, when leaning forward I'll feel the need to use the tail for balance, and will usually replace it with a leg. When I'm running and want to make a sharp turn, I feel the instinct to use the tail to add a torque force and turn quickly (I can't, obviously).
My theriotype is a predator. That doesn't mean a furious fearless beast, as despicted in some movies or (gasp!) "documentaries". It's a predator in the same way wolves, or cheetahs, or even housecats, are predators. I share some of these predatory traits. I like stalking, I like watching others while they can't see me, and the process of getting close to them unnoticed. I feel the urge to follow and chase other creatures, especially small, fast-moving, prey-looking ones.
On a more gruesome tone, I like blood and red meat. I don't consider other humans as "food", but sometimes a child or some random person will be classified as so by my brain. I don't like it when that happens.
Some other behaviors I'm not sure whether come from the therianthropy aspect of me are my curiosity, and some playfulness regarding new, shiny things. I can't say for sure these are therian related, but they seem to match somewhat.
So, why deinonychus? For a long time I identified just as a "raptor person", or as something "dromaeosaurish". It always was apparent to me my theriotype was some kind of raptor dinosaur, but narrowing it down to a specific species took me a long research process, in which I also evaluated other similar animals (rahonavis, archaeopteryx, utahraptor, some current birds...) before realizing deinonychus was the closest hit. Of course, any new palentologic discovery can change that, and throw me back into the research process.