For a short time after emerging from its cradle, homo sapiens was not alone in humanity. We lived alongside homo neanderthalensis, homo floresiensis, and many others. We might've fought them, might've fucked them, but in the end they all went extinct long ago. Only we survived.
It's a neat narrative. Easy. That's because it's been deliberately cleaned up. Our family tree's been pruned.
The branches of humanity that have been clipped from history are collectively called homo occultus. What follows is only, can only ever be, a small accounting of them. A complete record will never be possible:
1. HOMO OCCULTUS VELOX - 30,000-100 BCE
A culture group originating in North Africa which learned how to extract a potent stimulant drug (as well as contraceptives and others) from the now-extinct silphium plant. Generations of lifetime users of the silphium-derived stimulant developed biological and cultural systems which enhanced its positive effects (increased reflexes, mental processing speed, alertness, endurance) and minimized its negatives (heart exploding, battle-madness).
With this power H.O. Velox was able to maintain significant territory as nomadic hunter-gatherers in the face of encroaching agricultural civilizations, relative to better known groups. Even as late as the 3rd century BCE, Carthaginian writings suggest a retributive raid by an H.O. Velox clan which successfully penetrated Carthage's city walls, and lead to significant diplomatic concessions and a military withdrawal.
After the annihilation of Carthage, wild populations of silphium were exterminated on the order of Roman authorities, and H.O. Velox is believed to have followed soon after, though an apocryphal record attributed to the scibe Ahmad ibn Umar ibn Ahmad al-Misri attributes several techniques that would be incorporated into El Matreg as coming from "a pariah from the desert" who could "move like lightning".
Recent findings indicate that the "shadow people" sometimes reported by those in the throes of stimulant psychosis are vestiges of H.O. Velox retained within the noosphere.
2. HOMO OCCULTUS OBSERVATOR - 1762 BCE-527 CE
A number of Babylonian priests and astrologers in the service of Hammurabi discovered the celestial object [REDACTED] millennia before the Royal Astronomical Society, and due to being exposed to it through nothing but their own mathematics and naked eyes rather than telescopes and other tools were exposed to the full brunt of its emissions both physical and metaphysical.
All H.O. Observators were Type 3- organisms. Each individual was sterile, and so long as they were able to watch the [REDACTED] object on a nightly basis were both biologically immortal and anti-entropic, able to survive with a negative caloric intake.
While at first the H.O. Observator organisms were retained in their original service to Hammurabi, their cumulative mutations over the centuries and their increasingly incoherent advice made them less and less popular at court. His successors kept them and heeded them at greater and greater distance. Without royal support or their own accurate predictions of the future, the remaining individuals found themselves easy scapegoats, and found their numbers reduced. The last H.O. Observator individual was kept as an oracle by a Nestorian monastery in Uzbekistan, and died of old age in their care.
3. HOMO OCCULTUS AETERNUS - 930-974 CE
A clonal human variant solely descended from a Byzantine man named Methodius, a eunuch who served as a minor functionary in the imperial court in Constantinople of his time. The entire existing documentation of H.O. Aeternus comes from his personal journals.
During an exploratory expedition into the Derinkuyu underground city, Methodius reports that their route became cut off in a cave-in that killed the rest of his party. After several days of searching for another way out and nearly dying of dehydration, he found what he described as an "upwelling of the blood of Christ" and drank from it. This is the apparent cause of his mutation from homo sapiens into H.O. Aeternus.
While externally there is no difference between the two, H.O. Aeternus was capable of cellular regeneration and asexual reproduction through budding, with one's buds sharing many of one's memories from before the point of detachment. Methodius saw in his new body both the resurrection and the kingdom of heaven promised by the Church. Over a span of decades he set about mass-producing clones in cloistered isolation, refining his personal theology, attempting to find his "upwelling" again, and vetting others to find someone worthy of the same gift.
The entire population of H.O. Aeternus was wiped out in 974 CE by a local outbreak of plague, to which they had all inherited a significant susceptibility to.
4. HOMO OCCULTUS SUMMUS - 250,000 BCE-?
An offshoot of homo naledi, an archaic human species that remained in an arboreal lifestyle, which entered into a shadowy parasitism with homo sapiens as we rose to dominance.
H.O. Summus became slighter and sharper as we became upright and more social. Their mirror neurons underwent a strange inversion: rather than a "monkey see, monkey do" sort of reaction to others' actions, they became hyperfocused on analyzing the attentions and actions of homo sapiens and how to avoid them at a speed faster than the conscious mind - one could be in the room with you right now and you'd never realize it, but at the same time this doomed them to forever play second fiddle to homo sapiens, living off our scraps. For this peerless stealth they traded their capacity to live in large groups. To this day, the vast majority of H.O. Summus live their entire lives in only small extended family units.
Time's only honed their sneaking ability, and the increasing size and complexity of our buildings have provided an unmatched shelter for them. In fact, loss of wild habitats was decreasing their global population until the introduction of the skyscraper, which has since exploded.
HOMO OCCULTUS INFANIPHAGUS CANIS FAMILIARIS HOSTIS - 12,000 BCE-?
Originally believed to be a variant of homo occultus, now known thanks to dissected specimens to be much more closely related to canines than great apes.
C.F. Hostis is a breed of domestic dog, unique among all of them for not having been selectively bred by human intervention. Like the orchid mantis, which can switch between imitative stillness and rapid striking, C.A. Hostis has two modes: the first, a contorted, seemingly painful posture which allows it to take on a bipedal stance, and the second, its more natural, quadrupedal stance wherein its hunting jaws are allowed to extend past its mouth.
Its imitative mode, while obscured by rags or other such coverings to hide the straining muscles and misplaced bones, bears a remarkable resemblance to a human being, often the sort of human being that would be ignored or overlooked, like the sickly, the very old or young, or the disfigured. That, in addition to vocal mimicry, allows it to get close to vulnerable targets for opportunistic attacks in its hunting mode. Contrary to what was previously thought, observation of tagged C.A. Hostis individuals in the wild has revealed that humans make up only a small part of its diet, with the rest mostly composed of scavenged discarded food and other urban animals. The rare attacks on humans are now believed to be the origin of the werewolf myth.
While capable of sexual reproduction, most new individuals of C.F. Hostis come from an extremely malignant transmissible cancer that most of the subspecies carries. Exposure to this cancer will cause any other breed of canis familiaris to metamorphose into C.F. Hostis in a matter of days.
The C.F. Hostis subspecies was meant to be destroyed during the invasion of Ryukyu, however it spread infectiously beyond the ability of Roman authorities to control due to use of contaminated individuals in dog-fighting.
6. HOMO OCCULTUS SUILLINE - ?-1972 CE
Discovered after routine testing for swine fever at a Greek meat processing plant.
H.O. Suilline is a homo occultus variant of uncertain (though likely Grecian) origin which differs from homo sapiens on an entirely epigenetic basis. There have never been, and could never be, wild populations of H.O. Suilline.
The variant is indistinguishable from the domestic pig both physically and behaviourally. Only a genetic test can detect the difference. The discovered samples were traced back to a minor Greek mafia family, which apparently had been using inherited torture techniques to transform their enemies into H.O. Suilline through selective traumatic gene activation for centuries, at the very least. Unfortunately by the time the sample had been traced back to them, the entire family had been executed for crossing the Regime of the Colonels, taking their techniques with them.
7. HOMO OCCULTUS NOVUS - 1960-1993 CE
The sole viable H.O. variant produced by the collision of Lysenkoism and Russian Cosmism in the race to make the "New Soviet Man". Angelic in silhouette, with enormous solar-sail wings and metallic, radiation-reflective skin, capable of extended survival in the vacuum of outer space. A breeding pair was covertly included in a Soviet rocket launch, and this is believed to have precipitated the assassination of John F. Kennedy due to the terms of America's pact with the Saturnian archons.
The remaining celestial population of H.O. Novus was eliminated by targeted comet strike shortly before the first launch of the International Space Station, as it was worried that this would otherwise spark conflict that could cause a Kessler Syndrome scenario.
8. HOMO OCCULTUS APIS - 2018 CE
Resemble homo sapiens with branching digits, much-reduced jaws and abdomens, and enlarged eyes and noses. They possess an exceptional visual sensitivity to ultra-violet light, including a susceptibility to memetic programming using the same. Only food containing the proprietary additives of the [Redacted] Corporation are known to sustain them. All known, extant individuals were found half-dead in a shipping crate a short distance outside Tecate by Homeland Security.
H.O. Apis is believed to be an artificial, CRIPSR-created offshoot of homo sapiens engineered to solve two problems facing America in the 21st century: the collapse of natural species of pollinators, and growing numbers of climate refugees coming from its Southern border.
The H.O. Apis individuals who were discovered by Homeland Security agents were vivisected to the last on the order of Roman authorities.
9. HOMO OCCULTUS AQUATICUS - 200,000 BCE-1604 CE
A very distant cousin indeed, which evolved out of the trees and on onto beaches, living off the bounty of the tides and shallows. They were hairless, had more subcutaneous fat, could hold their breath for hours, if not days, and had wide, webbed hands and feet. Beyond that, little else can be said for certain.
H.O. Aquaticus apparently once spread across reefs and seamounts across the globe. The Yonaguni Monument and the Antikythera mechanism were built by them, and later misattributed. For millennia on long millenia they were the dominant species upon the Earth, with terrestrial homo sapiens merely a remote and backwards tributary.
All that was changed by two factors: the imperial ambition of James I, and the accidental discovery by Francis Bacon of ontological weaponry in his studies of taxonomies and the unremembering practices of Classical philosophers. To create an unrivaled, English, thalassocratic empire that weaponry was deployed, sloppily, and H.O. Aquaticus was rendered extinct. It's unknown how much else in the world was lost as collateral damage, though backdated gravimetry suggests approximately 1.2% of the planet's mass was lost around the same time.
10. HOMO OCCULTUS FERREUS 20,000-750 BCE (Contested)
In a bizarre, near-parallel spontaneous evolution to the scaly-foot gastropod, H.O Ferreus developed the ability to leverage the abnormaly rich levels of hemoglobin in its blood into complex extrusions of weapons-grade steel.
The variant ruled as god-kings in the Mediterranean of their time, undertaking an extensive eugenics project to preserve and even enhance their incredible biology. Eventually their dynastic webs of aristocratic inter-breeding grew so much as to become catastrophic for all cultures in the region, what we now know as the Bronze Age Collapse.
As they were never of significant population relative to homo sapiens due to much higher nutriotional intake demands, this devastating internecine conflict reduced the H.O. Ferreus population to the extent that Roman authorities were able to capture the few remaining individuals and tease the secrets of industry from their bodies.