Another WC universe question


Hey, it's me again. Do you guys remember the in-game animation of Firekkan Sivar Eshrad? There's an image of kilrathi priestess, who definitely has eight tits. So the question is - how many kittens can kilrathi female have at once ?
On the assumption that this is actually a serious question...

I never even noticed this on the Kilrathi priestess before, but on closer examination, it seems that behind her blue robe she is wearing a set of three 'bras'. So that accounts for six to me - where are you getting eight from?

As for number of children... I don't know if any of the literature actually go into that level of detail for Kilrathi reproduction.
Considering a Kilrathi is like our common housecat, they can have any number of kittens(three is most common), exceptions are 7 or 8 or even more.

And the Kilrathi also use the term "stillborn", wich is the term for a Kitten who does not make it.
Emperor says to Thrakhath: " of your fifteen cousins will replace you as Heir to Kilrah!"

Lets assume this includes only male lines, emperor's sons' sons. If Kilrathi have approximately equally males and females, that would mean emperor has about 64 grandchildren, who judging by Thrakhath and Khasra are adult, their parents generation wont have (at least many) more children.

BUT... this is war time and we can expect number of casualties even among highborn (as they must prove themselves) so number of emperor's sons and grandsons have died. Plus the reference to stillborn kittens suggests that is common (maybe average of 1 per litter?).

So let's call it four times 64 = 256 grandchildren, in natural conditions. Take square root and you get 16 children for one generation. Now royal family isn't a typical example, but consider: on one hand royal families need to have many heirs; but on the other hand poor people seem to have lots of children so it also works the other way round. So I'll assume that relatively normal.

A person has 16 children, how many pregnancies should we count? 3-4?
By that calculation we get typical litter of 4-5 (including the one likely stillborn), a fitting number to six tits.

But are kilrathi monogamous, does anyone know? That's the assumption on this math and if emperor had more wives, I've got large mistake here.
That could work either way. Concubines could mess up my math, but if it means there's only one actual official wife and children of concubines don't count as heirs, then my calculation stands.
Ok, this is going to a bit long, so make a sandwich, get a drink, use the bathroom, whatever.

This brings up some interesting questions about Kilrathi social structure.

In many human societies, the poor or peasant class often had large families for two reasons: first off, infant and child mortality rates were very high; secondly, the family needed more hand to work the land. Other factors, economic, religions, ect have perpetuated this into the modern era.

However, royalty and nobility have always had lots of kids, because they could afford to have many heirs. Charlemagne had twenty children over the course of his life with eight of his ten known wives or concubines.

In ancient China, the imperial family was made up of the Emperor as the head and the empress as the primary consort and “Mother of the Nation”. In addition, the emperor had a series of other consorts and concubines ranked by importance into a harem, in which the empress was supreme.

Every dynasty had its set of rules regarding the numerical make up of the harem. During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), for example, imperial convention dictated that at any given time there should be one Empress, one "Imperial Noble Consort", two “Noble Concubine”, four “Consort in Ordinary” and six “Imperial Concubines”, plus an unlimited number of other consorts and concubines.

Although the emperor had the highest status by law, by tradition and precedent the mother of the emperor, i.e., the Empress Dowager, usually received the greatest respect in the palace and was the decision maker in most family affairs. At times, especially when a young emperor was on the throne, she was the de facto ruler. The emperor's children, the princes and princesses, were often referred to by their order of birth, e.g., Eldest Prince, Third Princess, etc. The princes were often given titles of peerage once they reached adulthood. The emperor's brothers and uncles served in court by law, and held equal status with other court officials. The emperor was always elevated above all others despite any chronological or generational superiority.

It is likely that the Kilrathi Imperial families are organized in a similar manner, though knowing their penchant for the number eight, these figures could be radicly different.

Now, to Kilrathi physiology.

Generally the rule of thumb is the large the species, the fewer offspring it has at one time. This has to do with the amount of energy, food, time, ect. needed for gestation and child rearing. Smaller animals generally reproduce often and in large numbers simple because their small size puts them lower on the food chain. A single female rat can spawn hundreds of young in its short life time, while a long lived blue whale may only have a dozen or so. This (in a simplified way) is why industrialized hunting and climate change have driven the blue whale nearly to extinction, while the common rat, despite all the cats, poisons and traps, flourishes.

Since the Kilrathi are much larger than your average house-cat, let us look at the genus Panthera instead. Among the “big cats”:

-Lions typically have 1-4 cubs.

-Leopard cubs are usually born in a litter of 2–4.

-Jaguars females give birth to 1-4 cubs, and most commonly to two.

-Tigers litter size usually consists of around 3–4 cubs

It is of note that over the course of her life, a female tiger will give birth to an approximately equal number of male and female cubs. If the Kilrathi are similar, then this could be used to factor in population figures and birth rate.

Overall the between 40 to 50 percent survive their first or second year. But this has to do with the dangerous environment they live in.

The picture on the wall of the Shrine appear to depict a Kilrathi female with only two visible sets of pectoral breasts.


Princess Zukara from WCA is shown with two pectoral breasts which appear flatter than the human equivalent, though this might be the fault of the flight suit.

The priestess, however, appears to be wearing three bikini tops

It should be note that with the first two examples, only the upper pectoral breasts are visible, and that smaller mammary glands may be located on the thorax.

Most other mammals tend to have less conspicuous mammary glands than humans, protruding only while actually filling with milk. The number and positioning of complex and simple mammary glands varies widely in different mammals. The nipples and glands can occur anywhere along the two milk lines, two roughly-parallel lines along the ventral aspect of the body. In general most mammals develop mammary glands in pairs along these lines, with a number approximating the number of young typically birthed at a time.

Now this doesn’t always mean number of breasts = number of offspring.
Look at human females; two breast but usually only one child at a time. Twins are doable, but what if you have triplets, or more? Well you get wet-nurses, but that’s beside the point.

It’s very well probable that he Kilrathi give birth to 1-4 or 1-6 young, with the average being a litter of two or three.

As for the number of breasts, the Kilrathi females may have two protruding pectoral breasts and two smaller sets which my only protrude after she has given birth, or perhaps is pregnant or nursing.
The Kilrathi do give birth to litters, there is an organized system of concubines and stillbirths are common--especially in the Imperial line. Here's a bit of internal monologue from Thrakhath in Fleet Action: "There was no denying the horrifying fact that the seed of his family was weakening. His grandfather had sired many litters, most of them born dead, with but two sons surviving. His father had actually been executed by direct order of the Emperor, his uncle killed in the first days of the war. He was now the only heir, and not one son had been born to him, a sickly daughter his own surviving offspring from a single letter, and that from a lowly concubine of the second order. It was a humiliation almost beyond bearing. He should have sired dozens of offspring by now."

That said, we don't really see this anywhere. In the few instances where we see Kilrathi children and know their place in families, they're treated like furry humans--Thrakhath had a single older brother, Mar'buk's suicide note identifies his heir as his "oldest cubling" and so on.

As for the breasts, I think the sad answer is that there was a conscious shift behind the screens from 'Kilrathi are cats in space!' to 'don't mention that Kilrathi are cats in space!' between Wing Commander 2 and 3.

Here's another Kilrathi female:
He was now the only heir
That and most of this version kind of contradicts what's said in WC2. Of course that "fifteen cousins" could refer to wider family, 2nd cousins and even further.

The problems of royal family suggest long inbreeding and I think that's only possible if children of wives have been clearly in higher position and concubines' children are not considered royalty (fitting to "humiliation almost beyond bearing"), keeping family tree small.

Maybe the priestess has just had children (next question: do they?) and that's why all breasts are so notable instead just top two.
there was a conscious shift behind the screens from 'Kilrathi are cats in space!' to 'don't mention that Kilrathi are cats in space!' between Wing Commander 2 and 3.

Huh? Does anyone else get that same impression?
I get that impression, but not specifically so much as a broader stroke. WC2 felt very cartoonish from art style to the story - almost tongue-in-cheek as I play it these days... like Thrakkath wearing a human flight suit and talking things over peaceably with Blair from within a brig. WC3 by contrast felt overly serious, with its 'dark history' wingmen, do-or-die scenarios, and issues of slavery, genocide, and all the other good things.

So yeah, the Kilrathi went from being cats in space to being super sinister aliens.
That and most of this version kind of contradicts what's said in WC2. Of course that "fifteen cousins" could refer to wider family, 2nd cousins and even further.

It doesn't necessarily contradict WC2, since Fleet Action is a particularly strife-filled year later. I believe we see two of these cousins die in End Run alone.

(Of course, Ralgha was Thrakhath's cousin as well... presumably he wasn't included in the Emperor's count in either instance.)

Maybe the priestess has just had children (next question: do they?) and that's why all breasts are so notable instead just top two.

Do we know if priestesses have children? Remember Ralgha's quote about how he should have married Hassa "before Lord Sivar claimed your [life]".

Further frustrating to you anatomy (catanatomy?) students, various artists show Kilrathi with both four or five claws on each hand.

Huh? Does anyone else get that same impression?

Not just the Kilrathi, the whole Wing Commander world gets a complete and theoretically 'more adult' (certainly darker, at least) makeover between Wing Commander 2 and 3. You have new writers and a significantly different creative team reimagining things--and they make a point of eliminating stuff that seems kind of juveline (like Firekkans and how they imply that space is filled with aliens that look like familiar animals).

The fact that doing that was such a success is probably part of why Chris Roberts didn't think it would be a problem with the movie.
I've never, ever understood biological comparisons between feline species on Earth and the Kilrathi.

Household cats/Tigers/Lions/Panthers/Cougars/etc = From Earth
Kilrathi = From Kilrah

They look similar, but they are from different worlds. We can not draw any link between litter numbers. I repeat, they look alike, but Kilrathi are aliens.
In all honesty I had that same rant typed and ready to post a few days ago... and then I decided to leaf through Fleet Action to see exactly what was said about Thrakhath's offspring (the quote posted above).

So my reaization was that while you are absolutely correct, it's also true that anyone who has ever contributed to the Wing Commander canon *has* written the Kilrathi as though they were giant cats... so thinking about them that way is probably a valid way to come across evidence in the text.
There's a great part in C.S. Lewis's "Out of the Silent Planet" when the main character encounters a boat on another planet where everything is alien and is consoled by the fact that it looks a lot like a terrestrial boat...until he realizes "What else could a boat be shaped like?"

Convergent evolution. The Kilrathi are predators, predators need fast reflexes and a means of catching prey--e.g. claws--to survive, hence the Kilrathi have them. Predators need ears that are designed to be very sensitive when turned to a certain direction, hence catlike ears. It is entirely possible that the Kilrathi could look like cats because that is the most efficient form for a large predator...but not have a single gene in common with Terran lions or tigers.
The outer similarities of Kilrathi to big cats, while explainable or even logical, don't necessarily mean this gives any indication about breeding. An echidna is in many ways like a hedgedog, but reproduction is completely different.

I don't think WC1 (despite Mopoks & Firekka) was as cartoony and adventurous as WC2. SM1 was rather grim and SM2 had some moments like Maniac going insane that made it one of darkest WCs. I think WC2 started slipping to too light tone (followed by Privateer) and they acted to correct that with WC3.
The outer similarities of Kilrathi to big cats, while explainable or even logical, don't necessarily mean this gives any indication about breeding. An echidna is in many ways like a hedgedog, but reproduction is completely different.

Sonic the Hedgehog
Knuckles the Echidna