Several species of sentient aliens are known to exist in the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, and many more species have become extinct; but none resemble humanity very closely. This is a little surprising, as the humanoid bodyplan is relatively useful for an intelligent creature. However the erect biped bodyplan is quite rare, and the evolution of intelligence does not require this form to evolve before sentience emerges. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that some humanoid species exist in our galaxy or in others nearby, or have done so in the past. But no evidence of such species has yet been found. The extinct Hyraian race was initially thought to be the first such race discovered.
In AT 9225 a newly discovered system in the Carina Rush region was found to have evidence of a previous sophont race. The main attraction was the wall paintings, which appeared to depict terragen-like humanoids. What's more, the planet itself had an atmosphere breathable even to ordinary baselines. Progenitists all across the Terragen Sphere offered this as proof humans were themselves provolved from a more ancient race. Many archaeologists believed it to be a hoax, but for the next dozen or so years, the progenitist theories gained more widespread acceptance than ever before.
The Paintings The paintings depicted beings with two arms, two legs, and a heavily rounded triangular head with three circles, two small ones on top and a larger one on the bottom, in a pattern reminiscent of a human face. Rather than being attached to a single stick, the limbs seemed to radiate from a point just beneath the head. The 'legs' were longer than the arms, and pointed at a more downward angle.
The Bubble Bursts In 9238 AT, a preserved Hyraian exoskeleton was found in an especially arid cave, having been preserved by the salt deposits. Since there were paintings on the side of the cave, and no evidence of animal domestication thus far, there was no doubt that these were the remains of a Hyraian. It was decidedly not humanoid. Rather the creature was a land-adapted jellyfish-like creature, similar to an Earth cnidarian. The so-called 'legs' in the pictures were actually sharpened tendrils, used presumably to lance the other in the mating process. The 'arms' were unsharpened, and much shorter, and were eventually found to be reproductive organs. The 'head' proved to be a fin-like stalk, growing out of the central body containing the reproductive clusters and digestive organs.
Apparently, the Hyraians didn't even have the ability to see; the paintings originally were laced with pheromones, and weren't even on the visible spectrum prior to oxidization. These paintings are theorized to have evolved from the female's tendency to spray pheromone-laced fluid to mark her territory. (Although their genders are barely recognizable by terragen standards, it was found that the gender that produces the eggs was also the gender that fought and attracted mates, contrary to many terragen species.) The fact that the sprays were in the shape of a Hyraian suggests that they had the ability to 'visualize' using their sense of smell, and may have had some grasp of abstract concepts.
The circles' patterns on the mating flaps remain a mystery; the leading theory is that they were the first semblance of a written language.
Text by Tsochar, with some additions by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 31 October 2007.