The Convergent Intelligence Directed Evolution Research Project, or simply Project CINDER, was an extremely long-duration experimental superprogram which shaped the early biodiversity of the planet Sphaera until its unscheduled, premature termination by the Collapse in Sphaeran Geohistorical Year Zero. Orchestrated by an interstellar scientific consortium of harpies and karura, it was proposed during the terraformation of Sphaera as a "master plan" of sorts for the planet's future biological history. To call CINDER "ambitious" would be a criminal understatement; the project's scope and scale were unprecedented for a biological experiment at the time, with detailed plans to steadily steer over 20 separate evolutionary paths toward recognizable sapience over the course of roughly two million Sphaeran years. When the inhabitants of Sphaera made contact with Sol millennia later, proponents of CINDER argued that the experiment had served its purpose after all, albeit differently than its creators had envisioned, and was invaluable to sophontology.
Candidates* denotes closely related offshoot species which are nonsapient, but highly intelligent otherwise.
For millions of years prior, the academic side of Venusian civilization had struggled to understand the driving forces behind the evolution of sapience in organic life. Project CINDER was intended to provide revolutionary insights into this biological mystery by subtly manipulating the environments of certain candidate species to theoretically guide each to the eventual capacity to realize and understand their own origins. Sparked by the discovery of ancestral humans (Homo erectus) on the ancient harpiian homeworld of Earth, these primitive hominids were used as the control species on Sphaera, allowed to more or less freely roam the planet without interference.
Series FourThe Collapse interrupted the guided development of Series Four, leading to delays in technocultural development.
- Pteronura brasiliensis
- Varanus varius
- Trochilus robustus
- Birgus latro
- Portia africanus