Werewolves are an ancient example of pseudolazurogenics based on mythological and folkloric shapeshifters. These rianths are distinguished by a lupine physiology, created in part by incorporating DNA from canine sources into the host genome. Historians generally agree Werewolves were the first example of a true rianth clade capable of endogamy.
There is evidence of Nekomimi modifications that predated the development of Werewolves, but these early catgirl genemods were individualistic and for the most part not compatible. Werewolves became a quick growing fad in the 130s a.t. following the popularity of Donna Mather's Pack Attack Tetralogy. The genemod's development took advantage of new progress in animal cross-species gene-splicing that had occurred over the previous decade. Gene therapies for medical therapies and enhancements had become acceptable over the past century for many cultures; however voluntary genemods used for purely superfluous alterations continued to remain a controversial topic. Morphological freedom was not a universally accepted human right, in the most severe cases Werewolves were ostracized or run out of town. This attitude drove many Werewolves to gather in minority neighborhoods that were historically sympathetic to their plight. Before the Technocalypse, the largest communities of Werewolves in SolSys were established in London, Paris, New York City, Mexico City, and Tokyo.
The first generation of Werewolves used a combination of germline modifications and prosthetics to emulate the look of classical werewolves. By the second generation a genemod standard had been decided on, and continued advances in gengineering allowed for the physiology to be further refined. Several centuries after being first established the werewolf standard was adjusted for breed specific traits in dogmen.
Since these early beginnings, most Werewolf clades have resisted all but the most conservative of bodymods. One option that first became available during the First Federation, is a shapeshifting ability to switch between a lupine state and a more baseline human state. This process can either be consciously triggered or cycled based on an external trigger. The shapeshifting is limited in scope, with the most dramatic changes occurring in the integumentary system and to a lesser extent the musculoskeletal system. Other organ systems like digestive and respiration remain unaffected. The process is energy intensive and requires a tripling of daily average caloric intake. Depending on the extent of shapeshifting taking place, an individual can complete the transition in about fourteen days.
Individuals from Werewolf clades that lack the ability of repeatable shapeshifting are nearly indistinguishable from baseline humans developmentally until they reach puberty. Once this stage is reached a number of physical changes take place. The maxilla and nasal bones are extended and widened into a proper snout. The canine teeth are enlarged and premolars are adapted to carnassial teeth to adjust to a predominantly carnivorous diet. The fingernails and toenails are modified into claws, and in some clades the shoulders and hips are modified to support efficient quadrupedal locomotion. Their strength is boosted by increases in muscle mass and muscle fiber density per square centimeter. A layer of fur is formed by an induced hypertrichosis, producing thick terminal and fine vellus hair. Further modifications deal with the sensory system, hearing and olfactory, and digestive system.
As with many early genemods, the standard Werewolf genemod had unforeseen complications. The combination of the changes in diet and neurobiochemistry has resulted in a high incidence rate of Werewolves suffering from episodes of melancholia and manic depression. A workaround to this defect has been known since the early 4th century a.t., however even with this cure many purists refuse to adopt the changes and instead have modified their lifestyle. These psychological symptoms are now well known to be caused by environmental factors, and can be minimized through avoidance. This misunderstanding of occasional foul moods by outsiders has reinforced the pack lifestyle of close connection to family and friends.
Text by Mark Ryherd
Initially published on 15 April 2011.