The North American Obeast is a genus of endangered bipedal mammals descended from ungulates, a group of mammals which includes manatees, aardvarks, and elephants. Obeasts in their current form have been around for the last 100,000 years, having evolved from large marine mammals living in warmer Atlantic waters. The oldest known obeast, Obeastus rex, was nearly twelve feet long and weighed two tons—over four times the size of today’s obeast. There are currently three named obeast species: the Northern Obeast (Obeastus gelidus), the Southern Obeast (Obeastus galbulus), and the Western Obeast (Obeastus pratarius).
Obeastologists agree that there are two distinct sexes of obeasts (male and female) and that is typically where their agreement ends. Male obeasts can be identified by their lack of ocular spectacles, their bright facial coloring (which is at its most spectacular during musth), and their slightly larger size. Females tend to be plainer with characteristic spectacles on their faces. Both sexes have pouch-like pelts with colorful patterns that vary depending on region and species.
Obeast reproduction had been the subject of much controversy within the scientific community until recently. Because of the obeast’s ability to conceal and carry its young within deep skin folds under its pelts, scientists hotly debated whether to classify the animal as marsupials. Consensus against the marsupial classification was reached when obeastologist Dr. Paul Keith proved that young obeasts are fully formed at birth and then concealed with its parents’ pelts for safety and warmth. Dr. Keith was also the first to identify the specially adapted mammary papilla (later named Keith’s papilla) within the female’s folds that nourish the young without it having to leave its fold. Male obeasts also possess these incubator folds and in fact take turns keeping the young, although only for short periods as they cannot suckle the young.
Obeasts tend to be opportunistic omnivores that will eat whatever food they can find or catch. They are strong and clever, though not quick; it is assumed that they when and if they hunt, it is by ambush. Fecal analysis of specimens from each species has revealed widely varied diets consisting of nuts, seeds, berries, vegetation, roots, fungi, certain lichens, small mammals, fish, crustaceans, and insect larvae. This feeding profile supports what scientists know about obeasts’ habitats, which are ideally located near fresh water sources with moderate brush cover, though they can thrive in many conditions. At their peak population during the late 18th century, obeasts inhabited the cold coniferous forests of Quebec, the arid semi-deserts of Mexico, and everywhere in between. Obeasts are neither nomadic nor migratory, and instead establish long-held territories that are often passed down through heredity groups. All three species of obeasts appear to live solitary lives, except for during mating season when they gather in the dozens. Humans have never witnessed obeast courtship or copulation.