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Animal

Strictly speaking, any member of a major group of related Old Earth organisms that are multicellular, eukaryotic, motile at some or all stages of life, and digest their food internally. More broadly, any similar biological organism, Terragen or otherwise, and natural or otherwise. Xenobionts, neogens, and sufficiently biological-seeming synano or cyborg organisms are often called animals. Inorganic beings like bots or subturing AIs are typically called animals only by analogy. In popular usage, sophonts like humans or provolves are not usually referred to as animals, even though they do not differ biologically from their relatives. Some xenologists and biologists prefer to reserve the term "animal" exclusively for Terragen species, while others will extend it to cover similar xenobionts with a water-based and oxygen-breathing biochemistry but exclude life forms that are otherwise animal-like but show some other form of xenobiochemistry. In such cases they typically invent alternative terms. There are similar disagreements regarding the nomenclature for sentient but subsophont neogen, synano, and cyborg organisms that resemble natural Terragen animals.

Most Terragen animals have complex tissues, and embryological development that leads to organs or even organ systems. Though a typical animal has a worm-like morphotype and is a few millimetres long, even these "worms" have some extraordinary variety in their internal anatomy, and animals generally show a wider range of shapes than any other Old Earth phylum. They might be as simple as sponges and placozoans or as complex as vertebrates; they might be sessile or motile; they might be subterranean, aquatic, terrestrial or airborne; they range in size from microscopic rotifers, tardigrades and nematodes consisting of a few hundred cells to cetaceans or sauropods weighing a hundred tons or more, and they range in intellectual capacity from subsentient forms without any nervous system at all to primates, cetaceans, corvids, parrots, and proboscideans. Animals first became common on Old Earth at the beginning of the Cambrian, and have been important in their biosphere ever since.

A typical animal's lifestyle involves seeking out food to ingest; food that may itself be another organism that actively avoids this fate. As a result, animal species often evolve sophisticated sensory organs for detecting their food, extensive musculature and an nervous systems that allow them to search widely and efficiently for their food and capture it if necessary, and a brain sufficient to process the internal and external information for these tasks. For these reasons the most intelligent life forms both on Old Earth and on other garden-worlds are almost always animals. According to some xenobiologists and paleoxenobiologists, fully five percent of those naturally evolved garden-worlds able to support large animals will produce sophont or near-sophont life forms at some point in their history.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss
based on the original by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 18 March 2009.

 
 
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