Medicine and biology are certainly blurred in the eyes of the species; doctors have knowledge of several subspecies; a person's place in the taxonomic structure is used to determine their illness.

The intelligent species

Among scientists on the farthest-western continent, the question of whether there is one intelligent species or several is still rather heated, although it's settled down somewhat. It isn't so much that there are species whose intelligence is argued over; rather, it is the question of whether to split the groups of intelligents into separate species or not. This has actually become a political question in some areas—Taarafesa, notably.

General consensus is that there is one species which is intelligent and "dominant," the settlers of the land. This species is labeled as an endothermic animal, vertebrate and with an endoskeleton, a clawed bipedal omnivore which lays eggs and suckles its young. It is of a group which specifically shares a short cat- or ape-like muzzle, an opposable thumb, fur and a mane and a short tail. Their shoulders are rather narrow, and their torsos are rather stocky, similar to the build of an unusually skinny bear. Their legs and arms are jointed and proportioned much like human arms, and their eyes are also outwardly humanoid, although they can't see color as humans do. Their noses and mouths (perched at the tip of a snout) are similar to human ones in structure, but a bit flatter and broader than most, and wet and cold and dark. And the ears are large, cupped, pointed like those of a jackal.

The subspecies

The species is split into two or three subspecies; this number is a matter of debate even among those who say that there's one species. The subspecies called rafui has relatively long fingers compared to the others, and usually four fingers, excepting in cases of polydactyly. (Polydactyly, which is quite common in humans, is even more common in this subspecies. Nearly one cub out of every 350 has the trait, and their extra digits often have bones, although they are shorter than the rest.) The snout juts out further, relatively speaking, but is narrower than those of people outside the subspecies. In general they are fine-boned (thus the nickname, rafui, which means "slender"), with smaller sharper teeth and a slightly longer lifespan. They can interbreed with others in the same species.

This subspecies has a population which is smaller, though not much more, than the other. Almost all scientists consider it to be a true subspecies. The country Taarafesa, which after several wars with Kastefet has become legally independent, is almost entirely populated with them. This war, and this wish for an independent country, was not based on a feeling of subspecies nationalism as such; rather, the members of that subspecies have an entirely different political system among themselves, which they wanted to be acknowledged.

Interbreeding

However, because Sciidh anatomy does not make sexual intercourse pleasurable, the possibility of interbreeding among subspecies is remote; no romantic or sexual attachments could develop between members of different subspecies, since the entire population uses sex for child-bearing rather than recreation. Politically, interbreeding is a very bad move; it is physically difficult for a small mother to produce a large egg, although the cub would generally be born without defect. There is no motivation to have sex except out of a physiological urge and a sense of duty, and interbreeding is not dutiful. If the species enjoyed having sex, and members of different subspecies were attracted to each other, interbreeding would much more common.

As it is, the general lack of interbreeding between the two populations has created a race of individuals who are genetically different from the norm, not simply different in physical appearance.

Inter-species politics are an enormously hot topic, and inbreeding between the two subspecies is very controversial, although in general it isn't practiced. The rafui advocate strongly towards preservation of the subspecies, and the youth have recently embraced their subspecies identity. Liberal non-rafui are respectful of this, and prefer to mate with locals and friends anyway; conservative non-rafui see rafui as inferior (or at the very least "exotic") and are generally against interbreeding. One notable example of extreme conservatism, an individual named Broadshoulders, advocated interspecies breeding in order to "purify" the "defiled race of weakened tribes." He considered that it was doing the rafui a favor to gradually phase out their differences, although he acknowledged that the non-rafui subspecies would grow more physically rafui-like; however, he believed that the natural superiority of the non-rafui would overcome the half-rafui cubs, who would then abandon their rafui heritage altogether. He was widely regarded as a crackpot, and his ideas are not remembered so much for their popularity as for their key role in a famous court case about rafui rights and censorship of hate speech.

Rafui/non-rafui crosses are therefore comparatively rare, although a number of them exist in Taarafesa; there are very few in Scaithe or Kastefet, fewer still in Kotukoë countries or any of the outlying Tesh-speaking islands. A word which translates to "interspecies-fucker" is exceedingly impolite in Sciidh non-rafui society; it's only printed by radical publications, although it has been freely used by the youth culture as an expletive, and very rarely as an archaic scientific term. (Current scientists favor the term "parent of a two-subspecies offspring," which describes the person's relationship with the child, rather than the sexual relations leading to the child's being hatched.) Taarafesan officials, and rafui representatives elsewhere, have officially derided the word as reducing rafui to sex-objects, as exotic, and "different." Younger and less political rafui sometimes use the word among themselves, and even half-rafui include it among their conversations, although they usually use it to refer to their own parents; talking about others' parents in that way would be insulting.

Cases of half-rafui tend to occur through rape, as the lack of sexual desire within the species (as well as the taboos) prevent rafui and non-rafui from feeling a need to make cubs together. The species as a whole rapes for similar reasons that humans may: a perverted wish to exert power, or a senselessly violent act of the mentally ill.

Taxonomy

The standardized taxonomy on that continent divides organisms into eight subgroups, and also classifies minerals.

The first categorization is the essential type, roughly equivalent to the Linnean idea of "kingdom," and divided almost identically to Linnaeus' first system: one group of animals, another of plants (including algae), and another of minerals.

The animals are further placed into a division, based on whether they are endothermic, ectothermic, or homeothermic. In the simplest terms: endothermic animals are those which control their body temperatures through internal means, like panting or burning off their fat. Homeothermic animals keep a constant temperature, often slightly higher than the air temperature, and ectothermic animals control their temperatures through external means. The species are classified as homeotherms.

The division is then split into a subdivision, which classifies animals as either "inner-bones," "outer-bones," or "without bones"—inner-bones being vertebrates with internal skeletons, outer-bones being invertebrates with exoskeletons, and without-bones being boneless invertebrates.

It is at this point that the taxonomy truly deviates from Earth standards. The lower organisms on Kaseftibalas can be comfortably classified as bacteria or protists; but the higher organisms, though certainly animals, are more distinct. An individual of the intelligent species resembles a mammal in body and fur. However, it also possesses a cloaca, which is found only in older forms of animal life on Earth, and is rarely seen on mammals. Unlike the monotremes, Earth's egg-laying, cloaca-possessing mammals, the species is intelligent, has nipples and teeth, and cannot use electroreception.

Afteer the subdivision, therefore, is the tribe; for vertebrates the tribes may be loosely classed as "fish and fish-like reptilians, hollow-boned feathered flying creatures, grounded solid-boned feathered creatures, true reptiles, amphibians, psuedo-monotremes."

The intelligent species is categorized as follows:

Essential type: Animal
Division: Homeothermic
Subdivision: Inner-bones
Tribe: Psuedo-monotreme [of course, it's not called "psuedo"-anything on Ibalas!]
Clan: Claw-bearing omnivore
Subclan: [of the subclan called batek by Kotukoë taxonomists]
Species: [of the species called "intelligent batek" by Kotukoë taxonomists]