An alien civilisation
that was created by Vernor Vinge
in his novel A Fire upon the Deep
. This is a race that's hard to describe, but start off with a dog. Then stick a big tympanum
in the middle of its forehead that's used for communication
Now here's the interesting bit. Imagine that a single entity is not one of these dogs, but a pack of 5 to 13 dogs. And that's what the Tines are. They are a civilisation where the individual consists of a group of independent subunits.
Naming is interesting. Each pup has a single syllable name. The name of the entity is then all the single-syllable names stuck together. Their scoiety is hierarchical, and when we encounter them, their civilisation is medieval (they've just discovered gunpowder).
Other interesting things: packs of up to 40 pups are possibly for tasks such as digging a trench. But it requires a lot of focus. Reproduction is kind of interesting too, with an entity sometimes having children within itself, and sometimes as a result of mating between two tines.