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Mountain banshees (Na'vi name: ikran) are large, dragon-like aerial predators that are native to Pandora. They can be found roosting on the various cliff sides on the Hallelujah Mountains.

Use by the Na'vi[]

Many Na'vi clans utilize the mountain banshee in numerous ways. They use them for traveling long distances, for hunting from the air, or even during times of war (as seen during the Pandoran War). Na'vi have been taming banshees for thousands of years.

In Na'vi Culture[]

Bonding with a banshee and becoming an Ikran Makto is a dangerous and required rite of passage for Na'vi warriors in some clans, including the Omatikaya. Like the direhorse, a Na'vi can connect to a banshee through a neural interface that allows animal and rider to move with apparent effortlessness through the skies. The first ikran makto was Taronyu, a Na'vi of the Kekunan Clan. After eight days studying an individual banshee, he was able to bond it and name it Rotalyu[1]. Unlike the direhorse, however, the banshee will only bond with one Na'vi in its lifetime. A rider can bond with a new banshee should the previous one die, as was the case after Neytiri's first mount Seze was killed during the Assault on the Tree of Souls; it remains unknown whether the same applies to a banshee that has lost its rider.

Catch

In Na'vi culture, taming a banshee is a test every young hunter has to pass.

The mountain banshee rookery is high in the Hallelujah Mountains. The largest rookery, which features the largest specimens (and therefore the best to tame for riding), is in grottoes and outcrops on the sheer cliff faces of Mons Veritatis, one of the largest of the floating mountains. It is here that the Na'vi come to select (and be selected by) a banshee for domestication. The bonded mountain banshees nest in the highest branches of Hometree, where they can be close at hand for their Na'vi rider.

Omatikaya Clan[]

In the case of the Omatikaya clan, when a Na'vi is ready to tame their own banshee, most of the time accompanied by other hunters, they travel to the Hallelujah Mountains, which takes them directly to the banshee's colony. The journey itself is an ordeal, during which you have to climb, balance and jump, always careful not to fall from a great height.

Once they reach the colony, they must choose their own banshee. The Na'vi believe that the banshee itself also chooses a warrior. While most banshees simply fly away, the one who has made its choice manifests it by first showing aggression and then trying to throw the warrior off or just kill them at all costs. If both coincide, the hunter must connect their neural queue with that of the animal and thus perform the Tsaheylu. Since this is rarely done peacefully, it is sometimes necessary to immobilize the banshee. Wrapping a Banshee Catcher around its mouth can simplify the task. Once the bond is formed, the rider and their banshee take their first flight together, sealing and solidifying their bond.

Tayrangi Clan[]

The Tayrangi Clan, also known as the Ikran People of the East Sea, placed the banshee at the center of their culture. Banshees are their totem animal, and each member of the clan has bonded with their own ikran. Riding banshees is their specialty, and they use their banshees skillfully to fish, for which they dive on the back of their ikran into the depths of the sea.

Kekunan Clan[]

The Kekunan Clan is the second of two known clans that specialize in banshee riding; their riding skills are said to be the most advanced of all the clans. Kekunan Na'vi are known for their signature banshee toys, which are brightly colored and whose main purpose is to familiarize Na'vi children with the prospect of taming the banshee and then flying with it. The first banshee rider comes from this clan.

Tipani Clan[]

The Tipani practice customs similar to that of the Omatikaya, and it is the duty of each member of the clan to bond with the banshees. Their Iknimaya ritual, however, takes place in the region of the same name, and the banshees they tame nest in a place called Ayawa Ikran.

Aranahe Clan[]

The Aranahe clan is one of the most famous clans of Ikran riders, but it is not known whether taming one's own mount is a separate ritual or part of a larger initiation. They obtain their mountain pests from the Kinglor Forest colony, located in the Boundless Range in the Western Frontier.

Biology[]

Flying banshee

Though reptilian in appearance, the banshee has a bird-like metabolism which generates tremendous heat. The banshee has a complex cooling system to keep it from overheating during strenuous flying. The respiratory system is vital to this cooling. The air inlets, or spiracles, face forward at the front of the chest cavity much like the air intakes of a modern fighter jet. Induction of air is controlled by a cartilaginous operculum, or flap-valve. The banshee lung is a bellows-like structure, inflated by rib movement, but unlike the lungs of terrestrial animals, it has unidirectional flow, venting aft through gill-like slits.

Seze(g).Hometree

Neytiri pets Seze, her ikran

The banshee has two primary eyes which see in full color in roughly the same spectrum as human vision. Aft of the primary eyes are smaller secondary eyes, which can move independently or together with the primaries. They see in near infrared, for night hunting. Additionally, these secondary eyes are also highly sensitive to motion, and act as an early warning system against attack from the rear. All four eyes are protected by lids and by transparent nictitating membranes, much like an eagle's eye. Forward of the primary eyes are lines of sensor pits. These are thought to provide airflow information in flight, like a pitot tube on an airplane. Another hypothesis is that they are sensitive to sound, and have a role in echolocation. It is advised to never look directly into other's ikran's eyes, which most likely causes the ikran to feel threatened and thus make it prone to aggression.

Like many of Pandora's creatures, the banshee also has a remarkably strong cell structure. This structure, which is a biologically produced carbon-fiber, makes their bones much lighter and stronger than any organic Terran equivalent. This in turn allows them to generate more power and lift with every flap, power which is necessary in the dense atmosphere of Pandora. The biochemistry of their muscle tissue allows them to generate nearly twice the force per pound of muscle as terrestrial flying animals such as bats and birds. This, again, generates tremendous metabolic heat. The hollow bones are connected to the bellows-like lung, and cooling air moves through the long bones of the fore and aft wings. The mountain banshee (like its smaller cousin, the forest banshee) is highly adapted for flight. Specially developed muscles attached to the breastbone allow for the powerful strokes needed to achieve lift. Xenobiologists continue to study the aerodynamics of the banshee. It is believed that all of Pandora's flying animals take advantage of gravity that is lower than Earth's and the increased air density, (which requires more force to displace with the downward/rearward stroke of their wings, and thus gives the animal's body more impetus with each flap). The downside is that the denser air is harder to move through, and requires highly-efficient streamlining to achieve high flight speeds.

Unlike most other creatures in Pandora they have only four limbs, all of which are modified into wings (unlike their cousin the great leonopteryx) which might suggest a life mainly in flight, only landing to feed their young. It also suggests that prey will be smaller airborne creatures or possibly creatures perched high in the trees as they could not grab on to something while in flight, as seen in Earth eagles (and the Great Leonopteryx).

The wings have a claw or finger that is used to cling on to cliffs and to "walk" on flat ground, using the talons on both front and hind wings to clamber along similar to an Earth bat. All in all, they are not as agile on the ground as in the air.

Their leathery skin has a wide range of complex color schemes. Some banshees have been seen which display only two colors. Since the color concentration is mainly on the back of the animals, it is assumed that the colors are for mating display. Both male and females display these complex patterns of colors.

All flying animals on Pandora, including banshees, are thought to have evolved from sea creatures because of their fish-like jaw structures. Despite their nature as flying creatures, banshees are fully capable of diving and swimming effectively underwater.

Wings[]

Flying

Ikran flying

The wings of a banshee are shaped like a mixture of Terran bird and bat wings. The arm ends with four "fingers" with membranes and a thumb forming a claw like a bat. The first three fingers, however, are separate from the main membrane and from the fore-wings. Each large fore-wing has three primary vanes at its tip. These form like the wings of a dragonfly, by the extrusion of a resin into the veins of a flexible membrane, which unfurls, then cures in the sun into a rigid transparent vane. These vanes are replaced through molting. The vanes function similarly to the feather structures of Terran birds. They are designed to let air pass between them easily for upstrokes and partially overlap to block the air and provide a greater upstroke for downstrokes. The partially overlapping wing design possibly serves to increase the buoyancy in still flight. They are also quite robust structures designed to fold inward if the wingtips hit tree limbs or other obstacles.

The banshee also has a deep flight keel protruding from the chest between the fore-wings. This keel acts as both a stabilizer, by virtue of its mass, and as an anchor, allowing the flight muscles to generate additional leverage by anchoring them further from the tip.

Jakes first flight experience

3D Version: red/cyancross-eyedJake riding his banshee

The smaller hind wing, or horizontal stabilizers, play a dual role in banshee flight. In level flight, when large amounts of power are not required, the creature propels itself with the fore-wing and uses the "stabs" as a tail-plane, for altitude control. When more lift is needed, for take-off and climbing, or escape from an aerial predator such as the leonopteryx, the "stabs" becomes additional wings, flapping to provide propulsion. The stabs are capable of coordinated and uncoordinated operations. This provides both elevation and roll control to the creature just like 21st century fighter aircraft. The stabs are also formed from its hind legs – due to their almost entirely airborne life, the rear limbs have evolved to a more useful role.

The steering vane under the banshee’s lower jaw and the feather-like fan at the tip of the tail provide additional turning authority for high performance aerobatics. The banshee is highly maneuverable and can dive at speeds close to 140 knots.

Communication[]

The banshees are social animals, and communicate frequently, generating quite a din at rookeries and other communal areas.

Banshees were so named because of their piercing signature cry. This is only one of the banshee's many vocalizations and is thought to be a distant call defining territory.

Other vocalizations include a warning hiss, which is part of an overall threat display posture, and a short sharp shriek which denotes stress or fear. There are also warning sounds, and other stress vocalizations, as well as more guttural vocalizations associated with social grooming and contentment.

The banshee emits sound from its head, using the open mouth to focus the direction. However, it does not have a trachea in its neck, since it breathes directly into the chest cavity. It has instead, a tube running from the lungs up into the head which pumps air through the vocal organ, the syrinx. Chambers in the head amplify the sound before it is emitted into the mouth cavity for directional aiming. Some banshee vocalizations are emitted directly from the resonating cavity, when the mouth is closed.

Diet[]

Mountain banshees are omnivorous creatures.

Neytiri is seen feeding her banshee, Seze, a chunk of meat. As revealed in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, banshees can eat a wide variety of foods, including meat, fish, and eggs, but can also consume fruits, mushrooms, seeds, and nectar.

Wild ikran hunt several creatures, such as platebacked lizards, prolemuris, veilswarm, great western tetrapteron, and hexapedes, and are able to snatch fish as they fly over the surface of bodies of water.

List of known individuals[]

Banshee Gender Status Title Portrait
Bob Male Alive Jake Sully's banshee
Jake's Banshee
Seze Female Deceased Neytiri's first banshee
Seze 01
Neytiri's banshee Female Alive Neytiri's second banshee
Neytiri's Banshee New
Tsu'tey's banshee Unknown Deceased Tsu'tey's banshee
Tsu'tey's Banshee
Ikeyni's banshee Unknown Unknown Ikeyni's banshee
Avatar br 2376 20100627 2057952591
Neteyam's banshee Male Alive Neteyam's banshee
Neteyam's banshee
Lo'ak's banshee Unknown Alive Lo'ak's banshee
Lo'ak's banshee
Tanhì Female Deceased Kiri's first banshee
Tanhì
Kiri's banshee Unknown Alive Kiri's second banshee
Kiri's second banshee
Miles Quaritch's banshee Unknown Alive Miles Quaritch's banshee
Banshee's Quaricth
Zomey Female Deceased Eetu's banshee
Zomey
Talu Female Alive Etuwa's banshee
Talu
The Sarentu's banshee Female Alive The Protagonist's banshee
Promotional image 12
Zawko Unknown Alive Nesim's banshee
Zawko Side
Songoay Unknown Alive Minang's banshee
Songoay 2
Anara Unknown Unknown Faiu's banshee N/A, never seen, only mentioned

Trivia[]

Emoji 45
  • There are some banshee emojis in Avatar: Reckoning.
  • A fossil of an unknown species of pterosaur was discovered in China in 2014 and named "Ikrandraco avatar" because of its long skull and a prominent blade-like crest on the underside of the lower jaw, similar to an ikran.[2]

See Also[]

References[]

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