In the Old Speech of the sentient animals, the word 'centaur' is related to the word for 'sure-footed': hence, the centaurs are known as the 'Sure-footed People'. Adapted to mountain dwelling, they have a number of features similar to mountain goats. Their hind legs are deeply recurved, and they possess cloven hooves, as well as dewclaws. This enables them to easily maneuver the slopes of the Freshet Mountains, where their homeland is nestled. In addition, their physical coordination and balance is exceptional, a necessity in a mountain environment.
Normal centaur size is between fourteen hands (56 inches or 142cm) to eighteen hands (72 inches or 173cm) at the withers, with the head at its upper extension rising from two (61cm) to four feet or even five (122cm to 152cm) over that, with corresponding bulk to support the centaur's height. Occasional individuals may be slightly smaller or slightly larger, though it is uncommon. Height is distributed with the lower body slightly longer than the upper body.
Hair is thick, strong, and grows very long, with the manes and tails being of a texture between horse hair and human hair. Their colors range through any normal horse and human coloration, with upper and lower bodies having consistency of coloring; dapples, freckles, and patches tend to be exhibited on both upper and lower bodies. Their upper bodies are covered with a very light down, keeping the upper parts warm in mountain winds. A biological compound in their joints keeps them mobile even in very cold temperatures, though their natural habitat is more temperate.
Centaur spines are primarily cartilaginous, especially the upper spine, which is sufficiently flexible to enable them to lie almost flat against their lower backs. This cartilage continues down along the lower spine, finally turning to solid bone in the hip and tail area. As a result, centaurs can reach their back hooves and much of their hind ends, enabling them to clean and groom themselves effectively. In order to support this, they possess a considerable quantity and strength of ligament, tendon, and muscle in their upper half, which facilitates their ability to gallop at high speeds with a vertical upper body configuration.
Centaurs commonly sleep with their feet folded beneath them, and their upper backs angled over their spines.The strength of the muscles in this area
prevent them from lying flat against their backs, but keep them in a semi-vertical position with head thrown back. However, they do sometimes sleep leaning their upper bodies against some surface, whether a wall or tree. When sleeping communally, they typically use each others' bodies as braces, and will lean their upper bodies forward or even sideways against other centaurs. This is known as 'piling' (see Centaur Customs).
Centaurs possess several duplicated organs: heart, lungs, stomach, liver, and intestines. The hearts are located in both upper and lower chests, keeping their blood effectively circulated, assisting their ability to gallop at high speeds. The two sets of lungs expand and contract alternately, pumping air efficiently throughout the body. Their double stomachs and intestines allow them to eat a wide range of foods; anything which is not processed by the upper stomach proceeds to the lower stomach, where it is thoroughly digested. As a result, centaurs cannot vomit. Centaurs can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, grass, bark, fats, sugars, and grains; there is little they cannot digest. Food processing is exceptionally efficient, and they can live comfortably on small quantities, or on foods with little nutritional value.
The centaur uterus is located in the lower body, where foals are carried. Foals are born in a sac, without an umbilical cord connecting them to the mother. They are usually small in size, with lower halves the size of a pony foal, and the upper halves about the size of a two-year-old human. Nursing is done with the upper body, and therefore centaur mares have a pair of breasts on their upper torso. They often nurse by slinging their offspring's hind legs over their own backs, and cradling the foal in their arms to facilitate their ability to reach their mother's breasts. Centaur foals are able to stand shortly after birth, and their coordination is excellent, giving them the ability to hold easily carried items. However, they do not develop full coordination until they are approximately two years of age. Their growth curve is faster than a human, but slower than a horse, and they achieve physical maturity at between eleven and fifteen years of age. A third more fillies are born than colts.
A centaur's lifespan is commonly between one hundred thirty and one hundred fifty years of age, though there are recorded instances of some living beyond two hundred years.
All pages Copyright© 2012-2019 by Beth Hudson Wheeler and Eleanor C. Ray