Physeteridae (Sperm Whales)

Image from Steve Bowers
Ishmael, a provolved sperm whale astronaut, equipped with handtech to manipulate space

Terragen family of large-headed toothed whales (Suborder Odontoceti), including both baseline and modified species.

There is only a single baseline species Physeter macrocephalus and subspecies, although two provolved subspecies left Earth during the Federation period, and they have established a notable presence in the galactic community. Like other neo-cetacea, they make capable ship pilots, interstellar artisans and traders. The huge size of their ships mean that the spacers are relativists. Apart from the spacers, most members can be found on Oro Mistral (Ahag-III) and Pacifica (the two populations seem to be racially distinct). Relations on Pacifica between the Physeterids and the Mysticeti tends to be heated at times, as the two groups do not always get along. No such problems have ever been reported on Oro Mistral. It is believed some relativistic and Outer Volumes colonies have geneered themselves into distinct subspecies, species and genera.

Physeter macrocephalus macrocephalus, the baseline sperm whale of Old Earth, is the largest toothed whale (Suborder Odontoceti), and had the largest brain for any baseline terragen animal. They averaged about 16-18 meters in length, with weights of around 15-20 tons. They fed on deep-water squid, fish, octopus, eels, etc, and could dive to depths of more than 1,000 metres. Like all cetacea they lived in complex social and family groups called pods. The sperm whale was one of the few species of great whales not to be hunted to extinction during the atomic and information age, although it's genome was drastically impoverished and had to be artificially restored during the interplanetary period. Human attempts to provolve the Sperm Whale were not successful. It is not known what the current status of P. m. macrocephalus is, as GAIA and her Children do not encourage contact.

Physeter macrocephalus sapiens, the typical Sperm Whale Provolve, appears to differ from the baseline form primarily in its superbright sapient-augmented brain and large number of symbiotic bionanite implants. Among the most famous members of the species is Primus Sii'yiut'ee of Oro Mistral, ecclesiastic head of the Splice and Provolve Universalist Church.

Physeter macrocephalus superior, the second provolved Physeterid species, differs from P. m. sapiens in its type and degree of augmentation. This subspecies has the largest brain of any provolve, and has produced a number of notable philosophers. While they maintain large populations on Oro Mistral and Pacifica, the majority of members are spacers, and they have built up a diverse number of relativistic interstellar microcultures.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 19 December 2001.