"On Wings of a Living Past" (August 1, 2009)
I suppose some people would wonder and want to pose questions to me about what it is like to have an extinct theriotype, and to be honest, at this point I must say that I don’t know what it feels like to “be extinct” (therianthropically, of course). I, and thus my theropod theriotype, am quite alive and have no conception of “being extinct”, on top of the fact that for all the time I have recognized my fourth, avian-like theriotype, I didn’t until recently realize it was even an extinct animal (assuming it was a type of animal that really did exist, and it seems likely to have been one). The conception of ‘being extinct’ does not so much for me tie into the experience, as I’d imagine it probably wouldn’t anyway. Instead it ties into my perception, knowledge, and acceptance of being this animal therianthropically and eventually reaching a likely point of knowing that I never will nor ever can see this animal in actual photos (rather than just artistic depictions), see video or hear audio of it, or read information from ethologists on its behaviors, among other details. So far I know this is the reality of my situation, yet I don’t think it’s really set in much emotionally.
However, I will say that as odd and new of a realization as this is for me, that non-therian otherkin in general often have to deal with a similar feeling, and probably many of them to a heightened extent, as they live with being animals that either never existed at all, didn’t exist on Earth, or didn’t exist on this plane of existence—some feeling extinct on top of that. Relatively speaking to that, my feelings may remain comparatively mild, though I won’t try to make blanket assumptions on whose feelings are the most warranted for knowing oneself is, in some way, a type of creature that will never be captured in photos, video, audio, or zoological texts except through the use of aesthetics and fiction. In some way, it sort of ties me together a little more to non-therian otherkin, in experience and perception of our ‘kintypes (rather than online community aspects), like I am one of the examples of a branching between most [extant] theriotypes and fantastical ‘kintypes, possibly similar in part to that of gryphons and dragons (though they are on the fantastical (or at least, non-Earth creature) side of the branching point and my extinct theriotype is on the therianthropy side).
I do not make claims of myself having past lives as any of my theriotypes, or any past lives at all except that I believe reincarnation may happen and that I may have had past lives (whatever number of them), I just don’t have any viable memories of such. Thus I can’t look to my past life memories of being, as I term my theriotype, an erdenvogel, because I either do not have such memories (from not ever living as that animal or not retaining the memories to now), or I can’t access them, though even if I could access them I’m unlikely to place much validity in them as being real memories of an actual past life of mine. So my experiences and knowledge of me being an erdenvogel are pieced together over years, on and off, especially through comparing those aspects to extant and extinct animals to develop a clearer picture of that theriotype.
I will say though, that I haven’t yet experienced feelings of being ‘out of my proper time and place’, like I should be living in a distinctly different period of time and within ecosystems notably different from modern ones in the world. Lacking that feeling may in part be related to me not having ‘memories’, per se, of that different time and place—knowing myself as having an extinct theriotype seems to be something just limited to this theriotype itself and how its anatomy and physiology do not fit with the modern world’s animals, nor any life on Earth for dozens of millions of years (since the Cretaceous period). Without that sense and understanding of the ecosystem (and thus some of the organisms within it) that the erdenvogel, as a physical animal, would have lived in, I think I lack the comprehension or subconscious recognition that I (as a winged theropod) do not ‘belong’ and “fit into” this modern time of Earth and the life in it. Some people with extinct theriotypes experience quite the opposite, with them feeling ‘out of place and time’ while having “memories” or understandings of sorts about where their extinct theriotype would have been, and how it would have lived (regarding its ecological life); something that remains missing in me.
What is it like for me to be an erdenvogel therianthropically? That’s something I’m still trying to make more sense of and enhance my knowledge of that part of myself, though I feel I’ve made some notable headway, especially in the past few weeks of finally putting together so many, what were, disjointed ‘puzzle pieces’ associated with that theriotype. Like my other theriotypes, I experience erdenvogel through mainly sensations, body-oriented thought (involving behaviors), and phantom parts, therefore making the experiences primarily body and behavior associated. I feel mild phantom sensations of feathers on various parts of my body, particularly my neck, chest, back, and arms—feeling as they gently move, fluff up, and ruffle, or the times in winter when they combine with my fluffy scarf across my neck and chest as those feathers fluff up in futile attempts to retain more heat.
I have felt for many years my avian-like feet—never sickle-clawed—with three main toes and a possible fourth, smaller (dewclaw) toe on each foot. The feet and legs are seemingly thin, not thick in proportional diameter like many tyrannosaurs, but not as thin and delicate in proportions as songbird legs, because they are sleek yet strong and powerful, designed for walking, running, and living primarily on the ground rather than in trees. They are reminiscent of emu, oviraptor, or ornithomimus feet and legs in their form, while in some ways reminding me of seriemas, cranes, and secretary birds because of the ground-dwelling use of them. Numerous times I have experienced them in relation to dancing, such as strong desires to just submerse myself into dancing; and then cranes come to mind, yet with a different pattern of dancing for erdenvogel—the basic concept is similar though.
One of my very frequent, though not constant, phantom parts is my somewhat strange 4 digit fingers on each hand, and after analyzing the feelings for so many years, I believe that the actual fingers correlate strongest to that of some dinosaurs, such as troodontids, dromeosaurs, etc., rather than anything extant. This feeling is always in the manner of my 5th digit (pinky) being “gone”, which often leads to me having a tendency to tuck my pinky fingers down and not use them, including while driving, among various other times, and it can take me awhile to even notice I’m doing it. It’s an odd sensation to say the least because rather than just feeling an extra or different body part there (although, as I mentioned, this is often accompanied with the theropod phantom fingers), I feel as though one of my body parts should seriously not be there, so my subconscious makes strange, futile attempts to “get rid of” that digit. This has repeatedly led me to wonder if my theropod theriotype actually has four digits (thumb and three fingers) on each hand, yet in terms of wing evolution, it’s something that doesn’t fit the real, paleontological evidence. So, after thinking about it more, I’ve come to think that it’s actually a strong combination feeling that mixes the three theropod digits with my five human digits—a sort of concept that if I ever decided to depict an “anthro” version of myself as an erdenvogel, I’d probably end up going with giving it those four fingers as I feel them and leave off the fifth digit. Therefore I feel it’s sufficient and accurate enough to depict the erdenvogel with three fingers instead of four, at least in its full, non-anthro form.
The wing part of the arms is something that I’ve determined through phantom parts—albeit relatively uncommon compared to some other phantom sensations of this theriotype—and through certain other associations and factors that I’ve pieced together to draw the assumption that it has feathered wings on its fingered arms. Microraptor forearm wings, particularly, have worked as a good correlation reference to me identifying a wing-type (or feathered theropod arm type in general) like that I feel and understand myself to experience as this theriotype. Although the hindlegs do not seem to me to have wing feathers, like a microraptor, so it’s just a forelimb thing. The feathers depicted on troodontids and dromeosaurids, even oviraptorids, are often too short and the best alignments I can find with Maniraptora theropods is those, like microraptor, rahonavis, archaeopteryx, among some other similar types, that have long enough wings (skeleton-wise) and feathers on those wings that would at least allow for some extent of gliding. It’s an interesting feeling when I have these phantom wings because I retain the full feeling of my fingers, yet with feathers being extended out from those fingers a notable extent, and the remaining feathers being ‘draped’ along the rest of the wings to connect up with my torso. I can feel me spread and close the spaces between the primary feathers, and how the feathers are separate from, yet in some ways still ‘blended’ into, the theropod fingers.
Erdenvogel’s tail in my understanding aligns much to end-of-tail feather fans, like that of microraptor and many troodontid and dromeosaur depictions I’ve seen, in which the long feathers on the tail are limited toward the ending section of it rather than edging the entire length of the tail. Thus I don’t feel a sense enough of the “right fit” with archaeopteryx’s or jinfengopteryx’s tails, for example. It’s been a trickier, ambiguous aspect of this theriotype’s body to determine, especially considering I don’t actually experience a phantom tail of it (or for any of my theriotypes, to be honest), so I’ve had to figure it out through other means of correlation, similar to that of many other body parts and structures of the erdenvogel I have figured out to this point so far. Of course, there nevertheless remains the potential to be wrong about this or numerous other aspects of this theriotype.
Regarding the head structure for my theriotype, I have never gotten much of an impression that it actually had a beak of some type, though I often tried to force the assumption on myself that it had to have a beak because “it must be a kind of bird”. I believe it has teeth, although relatively small ones, and its head is a moderate length and of a sort of slim build, though not as narrow and small appearing as that of an archaeopteryx or microraptor, nor as heavy and large as a deinonychus. Some types of troodontids have more similar head lengths and shapes, such as sinovenator, though I can’t currently point out any other particular species that seems to fit well enough (even with sinovenator, I’m mainly going off of Scott Hartman’s skeletal drawing reference for it rather than some of the other renditions I’ve seen of it, because those appear too long and thin in the snout).
Sinovenator’s neck length happened to align pretty well with what I feel erdenvogel’s is, though there are various other theropods that fit too for that aspect. Unlike the eyes and brow shapes of dinosaurs like many of the dromeosaurs and even microraptor, which often appear more “fierce” looking, so to speak, I perceive my theriotype as being less fierce and predatory looking in the face and eyes and instead being an alert, sometimes preyed upon type of dinosaur with eyes and face reflecting that of numerous birds like that. I have also gotten the impression that it has some type of feather crest, and though I like the aesthetics of the larger, almost mohawk-like crests I see in many depictions of dromeosaurs, erdenvogel’s seems to be something smaller, less conspicuous (though I could be wrong about that of course), so in my drawing of it I made a simple, small crest that appears more similar to that of secretary birds and Indian peafowl.
I also experience erdenvogel sometimes through singing, as I either make the bird-like head and neck movements outwardly or mentally see myself making such motions. I have likened the motion to something similar to a male peacock’s head movements when it does its prominent call, as also meadowlarks, seriemas, among some other birds. It’s like singing toward the sky—head tilted upwards, diagonal to the sky—feeling as though there’s some form of phantom snout that is lipless, and my neck moves my head in a way that correlates with a phantom sensation of a longer neck (and one that attaches at the back of my skull instead of bottom), as it curls into an “S”-like shape and then stretches out in an upward, diagonal motion, cyclically moving through this with different parts of the singing vocalizations (although most of the time I don’t actually sing during it, just sort of “lip-sync”, so to speak—well, as close as a lipless animal could ‘lip-sync’ that is). This is sometimes accompanied by phantom sensations of feathers on my upper body, my arm-wings tucked in and slightly stretching the primary feathers out, and my phantom theropod feet feeling apparent.
I’m rather unsure about what its diet would be, but I think it’s a smaller type of theropod, probably not much if any bigger than a seriema, if even that big (though I don’t think it would be smaller than an American crow), and it may have eaten insects and small animals, though I don’t see it as mainly a predatory carnivore of prey near its size or bigger, nor a scavenger. And its habitat may have been in more open areas, possibly “grassland” (or a Cretaceous equivalent to such) or areas with a sparse amount of trees, although that’s a guess on another thing I’m quite unsure of.
For years I’ve wondered sometimes what the flight capability would be for my avian-like theriotype, but after identifying it as what seems to be a type of winged theropod, I have come to think that it may only be a type of animal capable of gliding flight and not powered flight. I had my assumptions though that it wasn’t the type to do soaring nor long distance flight, yet recent realizations have helped me recognize it as something more akin in flight to grouse and pheasants, although technically less because it would probably not be able to lift itself of the ground in take off and would instead descend by gliding from a higher area (exactly what types of things it would have used to jump off of for gliding, I don’t know, but I think trees were much less used). However, it nevertheless may have still been capable of at least lifting itself into the air in a powered way and then gliding for a short distance; just as a remaining possibility. In doing a visual design of erdenvogel I took inspiration in wing feather design from a combination of microraptor, grouse, and Cooper’s hawk, because they all have a more rounded shape to the outward half (in the primary feathers) of the wings.
My mind prefers to feel sensations and see stimuli go by quickly like that of flying or gliding low, as opposed to flying up high or moving slowly by soaring. I want to see objects below and around me rushing by, and I want to feel my body like it is banking around turns in the air. Satisfying this desire works well with some rollercoasters and while driving 60 miles per hour or more, particularly on wider roads like interstates. Yet I have other associations to the sensations of, and desires for, flight, in part through my totemic connection to Crow and my symbolic phantom wings that anymore are an often occurrence on my back. Currently, I view more powered forms of flight and soaring with my symbolic wings, other personal symbolism, or a totemic guide, while flight feelings that are based on being closer to the ground or a gliding movement, I think may have more connection to my erdenvogel theriotype. Though there seems to be some blending between those different aspects anyway so it’s not uncommon for my symbolic wings to stretch out and glide while I’m driving, for example. And really, even if I may have ever lived as an erdenvogel, I like that things like driving and riding rollercoasters can provide me with flying/gliding sensations at speeds and for distances that I doubt I could have attained in that body, so it’s a comforting and wonderful feeling to have those sensations regardless of how much faster or longer they last compared to what would have been physically possible by the body of my theriotype.
As far as the relation of erdenvogel to dancing goes, it’s something I would like to explore more, and maybe even incorporate more spirituality into it at some point. Depending on what particular way I dance (which varies based on numerous factors at the time I dance), it can be a rather relieving, revitalizing, or otherwise wonderful experience for my mind and body, so I tend to get strong desires to simply get up and dance to whatever type of music I prefer at the time. Sometimes, on top of the phantom bird-like feet and legs I feel for some of my dancing times, I can feel phantom wings from my arms, an occurrence that I used to relate to cranes (or even Crane, in a totemic sense). Regardless of whether those particular wing sensations during dancing are therianthropic or not, I believe they can still function as a means to integrate and better incorporate my “birdishness” into my physical life and behavior, therefore I’m wanting to see if I can open myself up to ‘welcoming’ those phantom wings more while dancing. I would like to also begin exploring other ways to encourage my extinct theriotype to manifest more during dancing, or even yoga or some other forms of physical activity that are alleviating for me to do. I also wonder if maybe possible future totemic work with some types of ground fowl, whether grouses, pheasants, or some other type, including through feather work, so to speak, could influence and have a positive affect on my bird-like theriotype; just something for me to consider doing.
Eventually I may add more to this essay, or make a separate writing, if I figure out more of therianthropic experiences I want to write about for this theriotype. For now, this covers a sufficient array.