I don't know if I've written this up before - I searched but didn't find - but I'm bored, so:
Goa'uld biology and what it implies for the structure of System Lord civilisation.
Was prompted to the topic by a comment Melannen made in her thoughts about siblings and sustainable populations
: "If only 1/1000 people are queen mothers, they each have to have 1000 children."
What we know about goa'uld reproduction seems to mostly be in the episode about Hathor?
Where we see her in a single 'birth' make a hot tub full of goa'uld symbiotes.
So how rare are
goa'uld Queens?( Read more... )
There is something wonky in the reproductive cycle of the goa'uld
and in the Watsonian way it must be driving their civilisation.
The way I figure it is that Queens are super rare.
System Lords are so competitive because they're competing for Queens
and their method is 'hey baby, check out the size of my host pool'.
But Ra imprisoned Queens, Hathor in a host and Isis just in a jar.
So some of the oldest and most powerful System Lords also try and control the Queens, perhaps bestowing or withholding to control their subjects, and some of those Queens are having none of it but mostly failing in their attempts at independence.
Apophis & Amaunet, Baal and Nirrti were all trying innovative approaches to the host problem, not just increasing the pool but making it more species specific, better able to host, and more useful. They had varied results and failed for reasons as much social as scientific, specifically that SG1 kicked their arses.
None of them seemed much fussed by killing symbiotes in Jaffa or out, which might bork my theory, but might just indicate that as a species they've never much cared until an individual was a potential reproductive partner. And maybe there aren't many of those. Much more competition than co-operation, then.
The host pool is also crucial for their extended lifespan, since without a sarc they need multiple hosts (see Tok'ra) and even with one they might need an escape pod (see Lo'taur). Controlling the availability of hosts seems ridiculous, given how many humans there are, but we see how wrapped in ceremony a new implantation is and how many hosts have to be rejected. Going among the humans, who have no biological ties to the symbiotes, is high risk. And they still have to sort them for suitability. Sending Jaffa out for a first sort and making sure the potential hosts are outnumbered by Jaffa lowers the risk. And enables the System Lord to better control their subjects by knowing when they implant and controlling when and where they can try it.
All of this developed in reaction to an original environment where their host species tried to eat them on the regular. They would remember from their earliest hosts what it was like to eat their own species. And they would kind of expect relationships with new species to be antagonistic. And bitey.
The genetic memory would freeze a lot of reactions and the sarc freezes individuals, so it takes many many
host generations for a goa'uld to change. But change they must have.
The System Lords as a society and the goa'uld and Tok'ra as biology are reorganising in reaction to their version of First Contact, the meeting with a new species, and the new technologies and ideas that came out of that.
... or they could be, if they weren't mostly just being evil because evil, and then wiped out.