The Recreation of Extinct Species

Image from Luke Campbell
Once a species has been recreated, the next stage is provolution; the benefits of civilisation are great, but the concept of table manners is a mixed blessing

Lazurogenics is the art of resurrecting past species or clades, sometimes as individual specimens but more usually as entire viable populations. These are usually, but not always, extinct bionts that were native to Old Earth.

Full lazurogenic reconstruction requires the genetic data (or equivalent) of at least one and preferably several representatives of the original population. Gene banks were established specifically for this purpose on Old Earth as the Great Dying (the extinction of a large fraction of the Old Earth biota under the impact of Information Age technology and populations) became evident. The best known such effort was the Burning Library Project, which sought to establish caches of information on as many Old Earth species as could be sequenced before their extinction. This and similar initiatives are the source of nearly all the data used by lazurogenists in the millennia since, though many species went unrecorded and some caches of information went missing during the Nanodisaster.

If genetic data are incomplete or lacking entirely, lazurogenics enthusiasts may attempt to create an imitation of the life form that has the morphology and habits of the original, to the extent that these can be reconstructed from fossils or historical data. Sometimes the genetic material of descendant or related varieties is used as a starting point, to reduce the labour involved and to increase the authenticity of the final product. For instance lazurogened dinosaurs often carry genes from archosaurian relatives such as crocodiles or birds. The first 'dinosaur' lazurogen, the so-called 'chickenosaurus', was achieved in 94 AT by splicing and remodeling a number of avian genomes. This creature was the size of a turkey and did not resemble any known species, but this was a very primitive result, of the sort that a beginner might achieve today. Later efforts more strongly resemble actual known species of dinosaur, and of necessity have a stronger component of fiction and speculation in their genotype. Even reconstructions of recent species may be as much art as science. For instance the first lazurogened dodo was re-created from various tropical Old Earth species. Sometimes, of course, there are no genetic data at all to work from. The organism may be so long extinct that it has no known descendants and only the most distant of extant relatives. In such cases the lazurogenic work is simply to produce a creature that looks like the original, either "from the ground up" from first principles or (more usually) by modifying a basic template derived from some other organism entirely. Lazurogened organisms from the Cambrian such as anomalocarids fall into this category. If a strong effort is made to achieve authenticity, such work is still considered to be lazurogenic, though technically the creation is actually a splice or neogen approximation of the original.

Lazurogenics enthusiasts often refer to the creation of a new individual or species based on popular myths and legends, without close reference to authentic documents or scientific findings, as pseudolazurogenics. Such efforts are considered disreputable by some; the result of sloppiness or laziness. It is true that some such beings are poorly thought out, and may not be viable without special supports. Nevertheless there are some very fine species, and even sapient clades, created entirely on the basis of popular myths, misconceptions, and legends. Yetis, loch ness monsters, and various dragons as produced by the more advanced practitioners in the Zoeific Biopolity are a case in point.

Lazurogenic work is a common hobby or avocation for suitably equipped sophonts. Sometimes even mere youths of less than a hundred years old have done very fine lazurogenic work. Societies of ordinary sophonts, or low to middle level transapients, have been known to create entire ecosystems. In civilized polities there are restrictions on the creation of any life form capable of reproduction, mostly to prevent the creation of weeds or pests. Work on sentient-level beings (animals or the equivalent) is subject to additional regulation and oversight as a matter of sentients' rights. Lazurogenic creation of fully sapient beings is subject to local reproduction and provolution statutes in the Sephirotic meta-empires and in the civilized portions of the Terragen sphere generally, and is not generally undertaken by individuals or even by small groups.

Lazurogenics as applied to non-Terragen bionts is usually called xenolazurogenics, and is a much more difficult field for the modosophont individual to undertake unless it is done on worlds that have long been part of the Terragen Sphere. This is because the huge volume of background knowledge and experience that has been gained over the millennia regarding the biota of Old Earth must be created from scratch. Xenolazurogenics is generally the domain of transapients or large groups of subsingularity individuals.

Though the original impulse and sometimes some of the methods are broadly similar, reconstruction of extinct varieties of non-biont beings, such as bots or AIs (or vecs and sapient AIs) is usually not generally referred to as lazurogenics, even if the result is capable of reproduction. Such re-creations are nevertheless a popular pastime in some Metasoft and Silicon Generation territories, or in the Keter Dominion. In those regions such activities are sometimes referred to as lazurogenics.

The next stage after lazurogeny in many cases is provolution, proactive evolution often to the stage where the creatures become fully sophont. The extensive Archosaurian Empire has a large population of archosaurs who are the result of both lazurogenics and provolution by the archai GEvidian .

Image from Luke Campbell
Some aspects of sophont culture are more popular among lazurogened species than others

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Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 01 June 2005.