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Original Species, at their most basic, are user-made creations often combining multiple animals into one new animal. However, not all original species are animals. Each species, and subsequently their userbases, are akin their own fandom sub-groups within the broader definition of original species.
An adoptable is a design created to be "adopted" by another user, either for money or for free. Species are frequently made and sold for real currency as adoptables, though not all. While not every adoptable will be based on an original species, the majority of for-sale original species will be adoptables. The sale and organizing of original species, particularly in groups on Deviantart or megathreads on Toyhouse, is quite lucrative. It's not uncommon to find a popular species adoptable sheet with designs that go for well over one hundred dollars. For example, a May 11th, 2015 Mantibab titled "Spring Fling" was set at auction for a starting price of $30, a minimum bid increase of $5, and an autobuy price of $2000 or $1000 (depending upon perks). The Mantibab was auto bought for $1000 on May 12th by Deviantart user EBZi.
Adoptables arguably were not gaining popularity on Deviantart until 2011, based on the lack of adoptable groups made on the website in 2010. The majority of adoptables before the boom in original species were regular animals, such as cats, dogs, birds, humanoids, and the occasional mythical creature. Original species adoptables were less common, and in the case of species created on or before 2011, were not usually created with the intention of making a major profit. Groups designed only for original species only began to become more frequent in 2012. One may count the number of species groups created between 2010-2011 on their hands. An outlier, the Species-Directory, was created in 2009 (when groups had not rolled out to every member), with the sole purpose of collecting original species.
The slow rise in popularity of original species and their adoptables between 2010-2012 could have been due to already popular artists designing them, such as popular artist Griffsnuff's 2009 original species and 2011 original species group "Dracavian," which has since been deleted.
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A survey was conducted between November 24 and December 3 of 2019, the goal was to gather information on the habits and opinions regarding original species and adoptables. Its audience was centered at Toyhouse and DeviantART users only, and it procured exactly 62 participants, including the surveyor herself. The survey was conducted using Google Forms. It contained both multiple choice questions as well as questions that required written answers, for a total of 30 questions.
Out of the 62 participants the majority were adults, with roughly 70% being 18 or older, 59% between the range of 18-15 and 11% being 25 or older. No participants were 13 or under. 33% of the 62 participants claim to have 100 or more characters, and 12% have between 50 and 100. 32% of these specific participants do not identify as a "character hoarder," though 17% do. 93% like adoptables, while only 82% like original species.
Over half (64%) of the 62 participants have created an original species, with 37% creating more than one. Despite this the overwhelming majority have created neither a DA group (75%) nor a Toyhouse world (77%) for their species.
Participants were asked if they had any complaints about original species. The biggest three complaints were "I cannot tell some original species apart (58%)," "original species often cost too much money (54%)," and "some original species do not allow you to trade, gift, or re-sell them (43%)." Only three participants had no complaints at all. A large amount also included their own thoughts, which gave a range of results.
Despite only three participants having no complaints, over half still had one or more original species they considered to be their favorite. In most of these praises, participants stuck to between one to three favorite species and would note the enjoyment of community or the species design. Whether or not the species was free or sold for currency did not matter, though one specific response noted they only liked species that "had no commercial aspects."
Oldest Original Species
"Original species" can broadly refer to any species not existing in nature, however this list only includes original species that either: label themselves an open or closed species, are sold as adoptables, are not one-off designs, or have had their own group, forum, or community dedicated to the species. This list only includes species created by artists online and not original species from media, such as the species Andalite from Animorphs.
- Baska - Catolf. A mixed closed species from 2008.
- Cabaret - ClopinMiseried. An equine open species from 2009.
- Dutch Angel Dragon - Ino. A dragon open species from 2010.
- Polarcat - gothic180. A feline open species from 2009.
- Sergal - Mick39. A mixed open species from 2009.
Mixed species simply mix together the anatomy of two or more animals, such as rabbits and sheep, and are less complicated than original species.
A closed species is a species that cannot be created freely. This means adoptables must come from admins, mods, or specially selected people such as guest artists.
An open species is a species that can be created freely. Anybody may use the main species reference sheet(s) to design their own character for that species. Open species are not done for a profit. A good example of this is the species Fawnlings on Deviantart.
A semi-open species (also called semi-closed species) is a species that has elements of both closed and open species. This may involve having characteristics available for any person to make a character with, but then have a number of reserved characteristics that must be bought with money. It could also involve a system in which every user gets one free character, but all characters after that must be bought. A good example of this is the Protogens and Primagens. Protogens are at their core the same species. However, Protogens were once a closed species. They've since become open while Primagens become closed. This makes the species as a while semi-open, where anyone may make the basic form of the "Protogen," but must pay for the more complex form of the "Primagen."
ARPG - Art Roleplay Game. The basis for which most original species are created outside of monetary gain. An ARPG is like a home-brew Dungeons and Dragons game, including currencies, roleplaying (visual and literary), and sometimes skill systems. ARPGs also include things like 'events,' in which one may draw or write their character to a theme for in game rewards. In order to play you need a character from the species, however some ARPGs allow users to make use of ready made "NPC" characters solely for events, so they can participate without buying a character. Most ARPGs are located on Deviantart due to the usefulness and ease in running a group there.
HARPG - Horse Art Roleplay Game. An ARPG based completely around equine animals. Involves leveling up horse characters by drawing them training either alone or with an owner. HARPGs have been around long before the boom of original species and subsequently their ARPGs. The oldest HARPG groups on Deviantart date to 2010, when groups were first added to the site.
MYO - Make your own. The staff of the species allows for a select number of people to design their own character based on the species. Often this is free and done through promotional events, but one may also pay for a MYO slot.
DTA - Draw to adopt. Common in general adoptables as well as original species. An artist designs a character, and in order to adopt that character one must draw it.
WTA - Write to adopt. Not as common as DTAs. An artist designs a character, and in order to adopt that character one must write a story about it, usually rather short.
Auctions. A design is made and is given three specific prices: the starting price, the auto-buy price, and the minimum bid increase price. For example, a design auction for a well known original species may start at $100, have an auto-buy price of $300, and have a minimum bid increase of $10. It's not uncommon to see a design of a well known species be quickly bought out in less than an hour with the auto-buy price.
Masterlist. A masterlist is a list the staff of an original species use in order to keep track of every individual design created and sold. Not every species uses a masterlist, but in an ARPG where keeping track of who owns what character is important, a masterlist can be useful. It also allows for stolen characters to be quickly identified. Masterlists on Deviantart are usually run by a separate account, which re-uploads designs and adds the username of the current owner. Designs are tracked with either a number, a name, or a phrase. When tracked by name, every character must have a unique name, disallowing for repeat names. The high market saturation of original species adoptables can be easily tracked by simply looking at a species masterlist. For example: as of November 2019, there are 1227 Cinnadogs, 4483 Fumis, and 1423 CCCats.
Rarity. Just about every original species has system in which some traits are more common and some traits are more rare. The rarer the traits the more a design will sell for. Common and rare traits are not consistent among every species, rarity is completely up to the creator. For example, an aquatic species may have fins as a common trait but wings as a rare trait, while an avian species would have wings as a common trait and fins as a rare trait.
Guest Artist. Guest artists are temporary artists who are granted permission to make a set number of adoptables based on the closed species. Guest artists often receive a fair cut of the profit if the designs sell.
Gacha/Gatcha/Capsule adoptables. Adoptables that make use of the concept of capsule machines to produce a design the buyer has not actually seen. Similar to collectible toys, wherein the buyer does not know which toy is inside. A designer will create a set of capsules, eggs, or even moodboards with a theme. Buyers pick one of these themed items, and the designer will create the design on the spot based on the theme of the capsule/egg/moodboard. This can arguably be considered gambling, as chance, coupled with money, plays a large role.
One can find a much longer list of acronyms used in the sale of adoptables in a journal by DeviantART user WBCamaraderie.
This is not a comprehensive list of all original species, but rather a look into a few notable or well known species.
The majority of original species are based on one or more animals. For example, one may take the body of a fox, the legs of a chicken, and the horns of a deer then combine them into one, then label it as an original species. Animal-like species are as diverse as furries in the furry fandom, and there is quite a bit of overlap. Some owners of original species make their species into a fursona before or after being labeled as an original species, such as in the case of the Protogen and Primagens. Not all animal-like original species are all animal, as some may take inspiration from robots, inanimate objects, or living objects such as flowers.
- Bagbeans - Griffsnuff
- CCCat - WellHidden
- Chimereons - ground-lion
- Cinnadog - cinnabutt
- Esk - witherlings
- Fawnling - Ehetere
- Fumi - Fumi-LEX
- Gastrosnap - Skelefrog
- Grem/Grem2 - MrGremble
- Jolleraptor - Simonetry
- Mantibab - PhloxeButt
- Pacapillar - toripng
- Primagen and Protogen - Malice-risu
- Ren/Ren Fair - Hauket
- Weaver - bananamantis
Humanoid original species, more often than not, draw from animal inspiration. They may have animal ears, horns, legs, or tails in a similar manner to nekos or satyrs. They may also have cyborg or inanimate parts. There is less wiggle room with creating a humanoid species, as instead of having multiple animals to pick and choose from, there will always be the human component in each design. The limit may result in humanoid species frequently being harder to tell apart than animal-like species.
- Dainty - Pajuxi-Adopts
- Eye of Ether - Hecatadopt
- Jellian - LovelyChronos
- Lovedrop - softsy
- Tsunajime - Jequu
The $20k Adoptable
In 2019, an custom adoptable auction for the popular closed species Grems went up. A user by the name of kintsugi-kitsune (formerly caravan-outpost) would begin to bid on the custom slot, with the bid going higher and higher through the day until ultimately kintsugi-kitsune stopped at $20.5k. The enormous winning bid would immediately cause a stir in the adoptable, closed species, and furry community, and the custom Grem would become the most expensive adoptable closed species design as of Apr 2022. Only nine days later, another Grem pre-made design action was put up with a starting bid of 3k, and once more kintsugi-kitsune grabbed the character for a large amount of money. kintsugi-kitsune then also attempted to bid 6k on a different species called BrowBirds, but with their reputation of bidding suspiciously large amounts of money over short periods of time the admin became suspicious of them, and had kintsugi-kitsune blocked from the species group.
The auction closed silently, comments were disabled and hidden, and DA was left in shock and awe. Some were congratulatory towards Tooth, MrGremble and the Grem team, but most were furious and bewildered, rightfully so. $20.5k is an enormous amount to spend for a custom furry, but hey, you do you. Then, the Tumblr ask accounts relating to the adopt community started flooding with hateful posts. Accusations were rampant about both the staff team and Caravan.Marshybeetle, Aug 6, 2020
When it was time for kintsugi-kitsune's custom Grem to be revealed, many in the Grem community saw it as ugly and low-quality art for the price tag that kintsugi-kitsune had paid. However, kintsugi-kitsune themself seemed fine with the design, considering that the design was created to their specifications. kintsugi-kitsune would then reveal the reason for their immense spending, which was related to their mental illness and taking too much of their medicine causing a manic episode. Due to this, they requested a partial refund or for the Grems admin to provide them with a second custom design, but was denied. kintsugi-kitsune was then banned from the Grem community and would later deactivate their account.
- Adoptables/Closed Species The Furry that sold for $20.5k, Reddit. Aug 6, 2020 (Accessed 4/3/2022)
- The Story Of The 20,000 Dollar Furry Commission, YouTube. Jan 18, 2021 (Accessed 4/3/2022)