The biosphere of Harry Turtledove's "The Mrem Go West" (in Exiled: Clan of the Claw) includes two sentient species - the Liskash and the Mrem - and numerous examples of non-sentient fauna. The latter include common present-day Earth creatures such as lizards, turtles, and frogs, and extinct species such as the woolly mammoth. The following is a list of fictional wildlife unique to the Mrem-Liskash world. As the story takes place in a shared universe, some of these animals may be further developed by other authors.

Annotations on clarity[]

Scientific terms such as dinosaur, mosasaur, pterosaur, artiodactyl, etc., do not appear in Turtledove's story. ("Dino" is introduced as Mrem slang for Liskash by other authors in the series.) However, his descriptions of certain creatures quite clearly place them in these and other categories, so the terms are used here for convenience.

The cover of Exiled: Clan of the Claw is inaccurate within series parameters. It shows a sentient winged dragon wielding a scimitar against a Mrem archer. In the series, the sentient Liskash do not have wings. The only winged reptiles mentioned in the series are pterodactyls which are only "dumb animals."

Within the story, the Mrem refer to all reptiles as "Liskash". For simplicity's sake, it has been decided here to use Liskash to denote only the one sentient species, which appears to be an analog of dromaeosauridae.


Axeheads were pterodactyls with large crests on their heads. The Liskash lord Sassin used an axehead for aerial reconnaissance, probing the creature's mind for an image of what it had just seen, then feeding it smerps which it eagerly gulped down.[1]

See also[]

  • Pteranodon, on which the axehead appears to be based.


Bundor were horned artiodactyls herded by Mrem as livestock.


Frillhorns were eight-horned ceratopsian dinosaurs herded as livestock by the Liskash, sometimes with the aid of a zargan. Mrem generally found frillhorn meat distasteful,[2], but their larger wild cousins the somo were not so picky.[3] Frillhorns were also hunted by gantrak, but had a chance of winning against one.[4]

See also[]

Real-world ceratopsians referenced in Turtledove's work:


The gantrak was a tyrannosaur which dwarfed both the Liskash and the Mrem. It was capable of bringing down a frillhorn, but showed the ceratopsians as much cautious respect as its tiny brain could hold.[5]

See also[]

Real-world tyrannosaurs referenced in Turtledove's work.


Hamsticorns were mammals herded by Mrem as livestock, for their meat and luxurious golden pelts. Despite their name, hamsticorns did not have horns. During rutting season, the males butted heads, which were thicker than those of any Liskash.

Literary comment[]

In a pop cultural image spread mainly by internet memes, a hamsticorn is a hamster with a unicorn's horn.


Krelprep were horned artiodactyls used by the Mrem as beasts of burden, pulling chariots. During the Clan of the Claw's battle against the Liskash lord Sassin, Talonmaster Rantan Taggah had his krelprep shot out from under him.


The leatherwing was a pterodactyl with a long, droopy tail, which hunted for fish in the New Water. This was a dangerous enterprise, as the hunter could be hunted by mosasaurs.[6]

New Water mosasaur[]

A large aquatic predator took up residence in the New Water, preying on anything that came its way, including leatherwings.[7]

See also[]

  • Mosasaurus, on which the sea creature appears to be based.


Smerps were small, frequently-reproducing, vermin-like mammals. Young Mrem often learned to hunt by catching smerps. The Liskash lord Sassin found smerps to be a major pest, as they were constantly gnawing, even through solid stone. Sassin found smerp meat extremely distasteful, but his tame axeheads didn't mind them as feed, so he kept smerps for that purpose.

Literary comment[]

Smerps are based on rabbits. "Calling a rabbit a smeerp" is a common expression in analyzing fantasy and science fiction works. It is most frequently a perjorative metaphor to describe "lazy world-building" which consists entirely of creating "alien" synonyms for everyday objects and animals.


The somo was a large non-sentient felid distantly related to the Mrem. The somo never mastered bipedal walking. Its strength was such that it could take down bundor or frillhorn singlepawedly.[8]

Literary comment[]

The somo is Turtledove's self-reference to his earlier story "Moso" and its titular fictional largest felid species.


Zargans were small theropod dinosaurs. They could be psychically tamed by Liskash liege lords and used to guard their herds of frillhorns.


  1. Exiled: Clan of the Claw, pgs. 36-38.
  2. Ibid., p. 39.
  3. Ibid., p. 71.
  4. Ibid., p. 41.
  5. Ibid., p. 41. Turtledove leaves this creature unnamed. Eric Flint identifies it as a "gantrak" in "Sanctuary" in By Tooth and Claw: Clan of the Claw, volume 2 (2015).
  6. Ibid., pgs. 5-6.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 5-6.
  8. Ibid., p. 71.