Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Introducing Rhynia: A new speculative evolution project by Bob Guan and Me

It is Spectember, my dudes, and with this I proudly announce the beginning of a new speculative evolution project and its website,

Which you can click here!

This post here basically exists to answer some important behind-the-scenes questions and make some clarifications. As I have seen with some of the more classic spec-evo-projects, especially the Dixon-ones, it can sometimes be hard to discern how their production went along, with new details coming out even decades later, so I thought it would be nice to write a sort of snapshot at such an early stage for posterity’s sake.

What is this?

One could say that Rhynia, at its basics, follows the seed-world concept that has been greatly popularized by Sheather’s Serina-Project, but is different in that it is not about a planet being seeded by one or a few modern Earth-species who then have to fill out all the available niches on their own over the course of time. Instead, the Rhynia is a giant space-station (think of the Halo-arrays from Halo or the B.S.L. station from Metroid Fusion) built by an alien race about 380 million years ago and filled to the brim with the complete ecology of Middle Devonian Earth. Shortly after the station’s establishment, it was however abandoned for unknown reasons and the lifeforms on it were left to evolve on their own devices until modern times. The project is largely written from the perspective of human explorers who accidentally discovered the station (and gave it its name) and are exploring its insides. In a sense it is a classic lost world, but transported to space. Or more precisely a Skull Island, as many of the creatures are, admittedly, designed with a certain scare-factor in mind. Here is a little selection of creatures you might encounter:

How did we get here?

The original idea started with Bob, who wanted to create a world where terrestrial placoderms colonize a ruined space colony, though how the colony looked and functioned was still left vague. To also make the concept more palatable to readers, he presented it as a simple alternate timeline on Earth, where the Kellwasser-event (372.2 ± 1.6 Mya) had not occurred, hence why the project by this point was called Non-Kellwasser. He already made a lot of art and creature concepts when I got involved. Eventually he got inspired when he read my post on brachiopods, which itself involved a lot of speculative concepts. He thus decided to include a few terrestrial brachiopods in his world (though of a far milder variety than my ideas) and included them in his art, which he posted on the SpeculativeEvolution-Subreddit. There I saw his art, we started complimenting each other’s work and I casually suggested if I could write a guest-entry about terrestrial brachiopods. He agreed, but soon our cooperation positively escalated to an unforeseeable degree as I got more and more involved into the project and helped Bob out with some conceptual problems. We redesigned the station, I streamlined the backstory and also came up with a simple frame from which a story and zoological entries could be told. Eventually I even designed a blogspot-site for us, as Bob was still posting his art on his DeviantArt or on Reddit. That was also the time when we changed the name to Rhynia. I originally intended that to be a placeholder, but it stuck with us.

Where is it going?

This project is still in its very early stages and will probably go through a couple of redesigns and retcons but stay tuned as we have a lot of plans. The ultimate goal will likely be to fill each of the Rhynia’s six biodomes with its own full unique ecology, as well as telling a complete story arc using Prof. Alexander Waalkes Journal Entries. Regarding the many mysteries that envelop the Rhynia, both Bob and I have our own (sometimes different) answers and interpretations to them, but it is unlikely that we will ever reveal all of them. If the finale of Lost or Game of Thrones has taught one anything, it is that fans will usually come up with better answers than the authors themselves.


It might get a bit difficult to discern who made what in this scenario, as Bob so far does all the art (as he is infinitely better at drawing than I am), but I still came up with some of the creature-concepts and wrote a lot of text. Each post has a little author’s credit at the bottom, but the thing is that Bob initially did not have a blogger-account, so I copy-pasted some of his DeviantArt entries onto the site, which might make it look like they were written by me. Since Bob now has an account and can write posts by himself this will not be a problem anymore in the future, but to avoid any confusion with the current posts, here is a little rule of thumb: Almost anything that has to do with placoderms was written by Bob. Posts about other animal groups, journal entries and basic paleontological information were written by me.

Want to contribute?

If you have an idea and art that you think might fit in this world you can send it to one of us. We might canonize it and of course credit you.

Related Posts:

Online Sources/Further Reading: