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This is a work of fan fiction. I do not own the characters of the series Gargoyles or the world they live in. They are used here without the knowledge or consent of their owners, Disney and Buena Vista. I make no money from this work.
 
Gargoyles: Biology and Life Cycle
Chapter 1 of 1
Expand Author's Story Note
Expand Author's Chapter Note
 

            Gargoyles are a species of intelligent beings who vary greatly in size, coloration, and physical characteristics.  The most common and recognized form of gargoyle is humanoid with a generally reptilian appearance and at least one set of wings.  These wings are designed for sustained gliding rather than true flight and themselves vary in number and configuration.  Though tending toward a reptilian appearance, they are warm blooded and may possess fur, feathers, horns, or hooves, as well as scales or reptile-like skin.  They are often found with less intelligent animals of non-humanoid form, sometimes referred to as "Doggoyles" or "garbeasts."

            Both gargoyles and their companion beasts experience an extreme form of hibernation during daylight hours.  They appear to become stone during the day, and unless subjected to careful scientific scrutiny, their bodies display all the characteristics of building grade stone and if shattered or broken retain that stone-like state.  At sunset, the creatures revive, shedding a layer of stone-like skin and waste.  The time spent in "stone-sleep" rejuvenates them and allows them to heal at an unusually rapid rate.  Gargoyles prefer "roosts" which allow them exposure to natural sunlight during the day, and will seek out these places unless they feel threatened.  Natural sunlight appears to augment the rejuvenation and healing process of hibernation.  There is insufficient data available to determine if there are long-term risks for those who do not receive adequate natural sunlight.  Occasionally, objects such as clothing and personal effects appear to become stone as well but on closer examination are covered by the stone-like layer that is shed upon waking.

            Gargoyles and their companions are long lived creatures.  Gargoyles live approximately twice as long as humans living in similar environments.  Companion animals often live as long as forty or fifty years given proper care.  Gargoyle males outnumber females, by how much varies from group to group, but typically is three to six males per female.  Males and females are both considered warriors and females receive special protection only during breeding and pregancy. 

            Gargoyles have a strong community bond and raise their offspring communally rather than forming individual family units.  Gargoyles usually mate for life, but as they are a warrior species, it is acceptable to take a second or even third mate, either as replacements or insurance against loss.  This custom may vary from community to community or "clan".  Voluntary separation of mates is unusual, but may happen from time to time.

            The following outline of the gargoyle life cycle is generalized from known example "clans."  Variations due to culture and circumstance may occur, but this explanation is useful to the understanding of this species.  Companion animals usually are included in the synchronizing of reproduction.

            Gargoyles reach physically maturity at approximately thirty years of age.  Before they take their places among the fighting adults they are expected to choose their mates and undergo a breeding season.  The females initiate a breeding cycle when they have reached a consensus.  Any female may initiate a breeding cycle by releasing the correct pheromone, but will not do so unless she has the consent of other females.  Once one female begins to produce breeding pheromones, the other females will be stimulated to give off the same pheromones.  By use of these pheromones, the entire adult population synchronizes its breeding cycle.  Gargoyles are only fertile during a breeding season which typically lasts three months or until most of the fertile females conceive.  The females carry the eggs for approximately six months.  The laying of the eggs is also synchronized, with each female producing between one and four eggs.  The number of eggs each female produces is influenced by age, health, and physique, with smaller framed females producing fewer eggs.  A typical laying will take three days.

            Except for the smallest framed gargoyles, the laying of eggs is less stressful than human birth, though each egg is slightly larger than a newborn human.  In order to make laying easier, eggs have a tough leathery shell that hardens only after several hours exposure to air.  The eggs will incubate in a dark place, away from sunlight and drafts for ten years.  During the incubation phase, the clan will tend the eggs communally, seeing that each is turned several times a night and that each is cushioned carefully with straw, sand, or other material.  Usually this duty falls on non-combatants such as juveniles, elderly, or injured gargoyles.  A gargoyle or companion beast guards the eggs between turnings.  The long incubation period and the high mortality rate among young fighting adults probably lead to the development of communal child rearing.  It is not uncommon for one or both members of a mated pair to perish before their eggs hatch.

            Like breeding, hatching is also synchronized.  The newborn hatchlings are much more advanced than their human counterparts.  They can see, hear, and smell much as the adults do and possess the coordination and understanding equivalent to a human child of two.  Each hatchling is cared for by an adult for at least the first year of life.  After that the young gargoyles are usually placed under the supervision of older juveniles and elderly adults, often in small groups. Members of these groups often form very close, lifelong relationships.  Because of the difficulty of raising hatchlings in such large numbers, most clans plan breeding seasons carefully.  A typical clan may space breeding seasons ten to thirty years apart according to need and circumstances.  Only when populations become desperately low will a clan produce a second clutch of eggs before the first one hatches.

            Young gargoyles grow rapidly the first year, reaching a stage equivalent to a human of four or five years, then development slows significantly.  Young gargoyles grow more slowly than their human counterparts, reaching their full height by age twenty but are not fully mature until age twenty five or thirty.  The duties of young gargoyles change with their age.  As they grow older they are given more responsibilities and are taught the traditions of their clan.  Duties often include tending eggs and younger gargoyles.  Later they may be responsible for gathering food or other supplies, tending injured or infirm adults, or even sentry duties.  They are usually not allowed to assume full adult duties until they have passed through a breeding season in which they are old enough to participate.  Delaying the more dangerous occupations until after they have had a chance to contribute to the next generation helps a clan maintain its strength.

            Gargoyles do not undergo menopause, but do become gradually less fertile as they age.  Once they begin to experience old age, many choose to no longer participate in breeding seasons and will isolate themselves until the season has passed.  

            Human-gargoyle hybrids do occasionally occur, but there is too little data available to make many generalizations in regard to their health, appearance, fertility or life spans.  Hybrids appear to vary greatly.  However, a few trends have been observed.  Hybrids born to gargoyle females hatch from eggs and are more likely to follow the gargoyle pattern of development than those born to human females.  Most hybrids possessing at least fifty percent gargoyle ancestry go through at least a short period in which they must undergo daily hibernation.  How long this period lasts varies from a few months through adulthood.  However, those hybrids that practice daily hibernation all their lives are usually those raised as gargoyles and may be influenced by their environment.  Many hybrids can choose whether to undergo hibernation by the time they reach puberty.  Further study is needed in this area.

 
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