Troll biology

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Troll biology

Post  Snicka on Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:47 pm

The following extract is from the recently published work of the head biologist from the Stormwind Academy, Herb Malfred, Animal and Humanoid Life on Azeroth and Draenor. Malfred's book is divided into ten volumes; the chapter about trolls is in the last one. It's one of the most objective biological description of trolls.

Trolls (Trollus zandalari) are one of the most ancient and most diverse sapient species in Azeroth with many primitive characteristics. The earliest documents about them come from the trolls themselves; the Zandalari tablets explain their history very well. Studying trolls with anthropological methods is not easy because of their savage behaviour towards strangers. Their anatomy was examined by scientists of Arathor, who could easily obtain many corpses during the Troll Wars.

Physical characteristics:
Size:
Trolls vary between 190-280 cm (6,2 - 9,1 feet) in height and 80-135 kg (175 - 300 pounds) in weight, the arctic Drakkari being the largest and the Sandfury being the smallest subspecies. There are extreme occasions, see "dire trolls" below. Sexual dimorphism is strong: females are usually taller, but lighter than males.
Limbs:
Trolls are bipedal, having three fingers on each hand, and two toes on each foot. Sometimes, a reduced third toe appears near their heels, which suggests that primitive trolls had three toes. Female trolls walk in an upright gait, while males walk in a lanky, semi-erect gait, due to the large weight of their tusks. Trolls are plantigrades. Their thumbs are opposable, making them able to use tools. They have flat nails on each finger. Every troll lacks tail.
Dental anatomy:
Adult trolls have 32 teeth; the canines of in the lower jaw are larger than other teeth in both sexes, but show great sexual dimorphism: while they are 5-15 cm (2-6 inches) long in females, male trolls have 25-60 cm (9,8 - 23,6 inches) long tusks. These tusks are also very heavy, making the male trolls unable to straighten up completely for a long time.
Integument:
While their skin has a greyish pigmentation, trolls are covered with short, usually blue fur. Forest trolls have developed a symbiosis with a moss species that makes them look green, see below; sand trolls lack fur except for their mane. On the top of the trolls' head, hair grows much longer and differs in colour, forming the typical mane.
Senses:
Trolls have elongated, pointy ears and large, hooked nose, which traits make their acoustic and olfactoric senses extremely sophisticated. Their eyesight very good, too; they can see colours, which explains their colourful manes and habits of face-painting.
Regeneration:
When injured, trolls regenerate with an efficiency uncommon among vertebrates, but very common among primitive invertebrates. There are documented occasions when a troll lost a limb, and it has grown back in a few months; although the new limb doesn’t function perfectly, it’s sufficient for the trolls to live with.
Dire trolls:
On occasions, extremely large, "dire" trolls around 320 cm (10,5 feet) and 300 kg (660 pounds) are born in tribes. These mutants are, although stronger an fiercer than normal trolls, however, less agile, and mentally disabled.

Diet:
Trolls are omnivorous, but meat forms 60-90% of their diet; the remaining 10-40% involves various fruits, fungi, fish and insects. Due to this predominantly carnivorous diet, unlike other civilized races, trolls have never developed agriculture, but have tamed various animals, such as raptors and tigers, that help them in hunting.
Many troll tribes practice cannibalism, killing and eating the members of rival troll tribes. Civilized trolls usually don't consume troll flesh, but only the Darkspear tribe extended this ban on other humanoid races too.

Subspecies:
Zandalari troll (T. z. zandalari):
The most ancient troll subspecies, now living only on the Zandal and the Yojamba islands. Brown or black, their skin and fur pigmentation is darker than that of other trolls (except for the dark trolls). They are almost the largest of trolls, being 240-270 cm tall; only the drakkari trolls are larger than them.
Forest troll (T. z. amani):
Medium-sized (220-250 cm), forest trolls live in the eastern areas of Lordaeron: the Hinterlands, the Arathi Highlands and Eversong Woods. Unique among trolls, they developed a symbiosis with a moss species (Trollobryum viridis), which grows between the trolls’ fur, giving them the original green colour which disguises them perfectly in the forest. Although once being civilized, they returned to primitive tribal lifestyle after being defeated by the Sin’dorei. Many of them have returned to the ruins of their former cities.
Jungle troll (T. z. gurubashi):
Rather small trolls, 200-220 cm tall and less muscular than the Zandalari, the Amani or the Drakkari subspecies. Covered with blue or purple fur, they’re known for their extreme agility. They’re mostly found in the jungles of Stranglethorn Vale and the Swamp of Sorrows, though the Darkspear Tribe, allied to the Orcish Horde, lives in Durotar and the Echo Isles. Like forest trolls, uncivilized jungle troll tribes like to settle down in ruined cities.
Sand troll (T. z. farraki):
The smallest troll subspecies, 190-210 cm tall, sand trolls lack hair except for their head. Their skin is pink or brown. They live only in the desert of Tanaris, in the ruins of their ancient city, Zul’farrak.
Ice troll(T. z. drakkari):
The largest (260-280 cm tall) and fiercest trolls live in the frozen continent of Northrend. They have adapted to the cold climate with thick, light-blue or white fur. Due to the lack of plants on their homelands, drakkari trolls are almost 100% carnivorous. The Frostmane trolls of Dun Morogh look very similar to the Drakkari, but it is unlikely that any ice troll would have travelled that far from Northrend; it is possible that Frostmane trolls evolved from forest trolls, and lost their green symbionts due to the cold climate. If this is true, the drakkari and Frostmane trolls are good examples of convergent evolution.
Dark troll (T. z. nocturnalis):
Unique among trolls, dark trolls are nocturnal; during day they hide in caves and go hunting only during night. 220-240 cm tall, dark trolls have dark-grey skin and black fur, which disguises them perfectly in the nightly shadows. They are the less civilized of the trolls, using only paleolithic weapons and living in small groups instead of bigger tribes. They’re mostly found around Mount Hyjal, which supports their relationship with the Kal’dorei, see below.

Evolution:
The earliest troll civilization, the Zandalari is 16 000 years old, but it is likely that the trolls have evolved thousands of years earlier. Their possible ancestor is a predatory primate species dwelling the rainforests of Kalimdor, which was the only continent that time on Azeroth.
It is likely that the earliest trolls were dark-skinned and nocturnal, like modern dark trolls. Their behaviour and social structure might have been very much like that of uncivilized troll tribes nowadays. The Zandalari might have become civilized after changing their nocturnal lifestyle to diurnal. Some assume the opposite though; the early trolls were diurnal, and the dark trolls shifted from day to night later.
The Zandalari documented the origin of the other troll subspecies very well. They founded two empires, Amani and Gurubashi; the citizens of the fomer evolved into forest trolls, the latter into jungle trolls. The ice and sand trolls were outcast from civilization very early because of their savage behaviour, having to flee to the frozen continent of Northrend and the deserts of Tanaris, where they formed their own cities, Zul'drak and Zul'farrak. Anatomical differences between troll subspecies (explained above) suggest that, unlike the Zandalari state, they might have have evolved earlier, and the Zandalari only colonized and civilized them. Ice and sand trolls might have had to flee because they did not accept the Zandalari as their new leaders.
Trolls seem to be attracted to reptiles: they ride raptors, and keep snakes as pets. This seems to be a proof of trolls’ early origin, when dinosaurs and serpents were both more common on Azeroth.
Relationship with elves:
Various sources suggest that night elves descended from the nocturnal dark trolls, which explains the physical similarity between elves and trolls, such as long pointy ears, long limbs, and extreme agility; some of these sources point out that male blood elves have sharp canines, though much smaller than trolls’ tusks. The critics of this theory suggest that these characteristics all might be the result of convergent evolution, and point out that elves have more fingers and toes than trolls, and this digit multiplication is very unlikely; although it is possible that the common ancestor of trolls and elves had five digits on each limb, which reduced to three in dark trolls. Both elves and trolls deny the theory about their common ancestry.

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Glossary

Post  Snicka on Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:17 pm

Herb Malfred uses many scientific terms. Here's the explanation of the tems you may not understand.

Acoustic sense
- the ability to hear sounds
Bipedal - walks on two legs
Carnivore/carnivorous - a creature that eats almost exclusively animal flesh
Convergent evolution - two otherwise unrelated creatures develop similar characteristics because they live in similar environment
Dental - refers to teeth
Digits - fingers and toes
Diurnal - active during the day, like humans or most birds
Evolution - the changing of organisms from generation to generation, which results in the development of different species
Integument - the surface of the body; skin, hair, feathers, scales etc.
Invertebrate - a creature without backbone; insects, worms, snails etc.
Nocturnal - active during the night, like owls or bats
Olfactoric sense - the ability to feel smells
Omnivore/omnivorous - a creature that eats both animal flesh and plants
Plantigrade - a creature that stands and walks on the sole of the feet
Predatory - gets food by active hunting
Sapient - thinking and reasoning
Sexual dimorphism - difference between males and females in secondary sexual characteristics, such as colours, beard, tusks etc.
Symbiosis - close connection between two different species, usually (but not always) beneficial to both
Vertebrate - a creature with backbone; fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals

If there's any other word you don't understand, tell me!

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