The Voth were an ancient Saurian Delta Quadrant species. They were originally native to Earth, with the dinosaur genus hadrosaurs fingered as a likely ancestor. A significantly advanced species, the Voth were cold-blooded creatures, had a superior sense of smell, and skin pigmentation which altered according to moods. (VOY: "Distant Origin")
Although this was not corroborated with archeological evidence, genetic evidence strongly suggested that the Voth originated on Earth – a concept later referred to as "Distant Origin Theory". It was speculated by The Doctor that they evolved from the hadrosaur genus, which might have survived the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous 65 million years ago. The surviving dinosaurs continued to develop, likely on a secluded, or a destroyed landmass and became an interstellar species, possibly the first in the galaxy, when they left Earth. According to Human Commander Chakotay, because "Earth has been devastated by countless natural disasters over the course of its history: asteroids, volcanoes, earthquakes. All evidence of your race could be at the bottom of the ocean or under kilometers of rock."
The species ultimately ended up in the Delta Quadrant, where they claimed a domain, laid the foundation of what became the great Voth culture, and forgot their origins. The recorded history and identity of the Voth began about 20 million years ago, at which point they already considered themselves a race indigenous to the Delta Quadrant. (VOY: "Friendship One") By the 24th century, they had in fact believed for millions of years to be the first intelligent race to evolve in their region of space. By this period, Earth and Humanity were beyond their known space.
Throughout a significant portion of Voth history, technological and cultural progression has been stunted, and even stagnant at times. The Ancient Doctrine, which forms the basis of Voth societal structure, predicted that such advanced technologies as transwarp would cause terrible disasters if it were even attempted, resulting in their civilization to be held back for millennia. However, eventually someone took a chance and Voth society entered a new chapter of exploration, with Doctrine being altered accordingly to better suit the new cultural paradigm in their society.
During the 24th century, the Distant Origin Theory started gaining traction among the Circles of Science and Philosophy, as well as among common Voth citizens in noticeable amounts. However, the Ministry of Elders viewed the theory as a threat to established Doctrine, and by extension the authority granted to them by it. Forra Gegen found conclusive evidence in 2373, causing the Ministry of Elders to raise charges against him for Heresy Against Doctrine, as well as impound the Voyager starship with all its crew aboard, who were meant to serve as Gegen's most significant evidence in favor of his theory. Scientists were brought in, sometimes under significant political pressure, to offer the alternative analysis that although Gegen's data was generally sound, his conclusions were wrong. Odala, as a representative of the Elders, was reluctant to punish Gegen as such, but were more concerned about getting him to retract his claims.
Odala went as far as to declare that if she accepted this theory, she would be admitting her race had fled in terror from Earth, scratching and clawing their way to the part of space where the Voth now lived on a city ship, that her race had no birthright, no legacy – the concept appalled and disgusted her. Chakotay attempted to persuade her that surviving among some of the fiercest creatures in Earth's history, creating a culture, language and technology, leaving Earth when it faced peril and going into space, and journeying to the Delta Quadrant to start a new life was the definition of the Voth ancestors, the struggle that made the race who they were – was their heritage, and to dismiss the sacrifice their ancestors made to save themselves and future generations would be to dishonor them.
It was not enough; the Ministry of Elders convicted Gegen of heresy, and threatened to imprison him and the crew of the Voyager on a prison colony. Unwilling to allow such a sentence to weigh on his conscience, Gegen chose to retract his claims and absolved the crew of any involvement in his theory. (VOY: "Distant Origin")
Adult Voth were slightly taller than adult Humans and had three clawed, manipulatory digits on each hand. Their eyes were protected by heavy, bony brow ridges, which had a central crest rising to a conical protrusion on the back of the skull. They breathed. Their coloration varied from green to brown to a brownish orange, even between close relatives. Infatuation might be indicated by a change in the tint of the scales. Their language appeared click-like.
The Voth were capable of entering into hibernative states to protect themselves from harm. Their superior sense of smell was achieved through the dilitus lobe, which allowed them to enjoy the sulfur lagoons of Hokath. The Voth were also able to fire spines, from an area on the lower arm, which had a paralytic effect. (VOY: "Distant Origin")
Society and philosophy
The Voth were governed by a Ministry of Elders. They lived in family structures, which might be bound to always mate with another family by tradition. Scientists and philosophers were organized in academic circles, which were entered into in a process which involved the giving out of honors. They had very poor relations with non-saurian races, and mammals, in particular, were considered to be lower life forms.
At the heart of their society lay their Doctrine, their guiding principles. Despite intuition and passion being valued, doctrine loomed heavily. They specified that the Voth had been the first intelligent beings to evolve in their region of space, and had an "ancient and rightful claim" over it. In addition, it declared that non-indigenous beings had no rights. Interrogation surgeons might be employed against them. Heresy against Doctrine was an arrestable and serious offense. Detention colonies were also employed by the Voth government.
An expression in their language talked about someone's "true scales" being shown.
As a society many millions of years old, the Voth were technologically advanced, possessed transwarp capabilities, as well as an even more advanced space travel technology called spatial displacement, which functionally doubled as a highly advanced cloaking device as it moved their starships or even individuals slightly out of phase with the space-time continuum. Their personal spatial displacement system could be disrupted by altering a phaser to a dispersion frequency of approximately 1.85 GHz.
They were able to scan from a distance of over ninety light years with significant accuracy, even down to the individual lifeform readings. The Voth were also able to take command of a ship's computer, shut the majority of systems down, and take primary power offline. What appeared to be a dampening field was capable of rendering tricorders, communicators, and phasers useless.
The Voth city ship was massive and extremely powerful in comparison with Starfleet spacecraft. They could beam a mass as big as 700,000 metric tons into a large internal chamber big enough for many starships. A ship might be transported in this way even if their shields were raised. (VOY: "Distant Origin")
The Voth resemble, both conceptually and visually, the Silurian race from Doctor Who, in which the Silurians, like the Voth, are an advanced reptile species who have evolved on Earth before Humanity and have subsequently disappeared. In addition, both Doctor Who and the Silurians and "Distant Origin" use a small, hand-held globe of prehistoric Earth as a plot point. There is also a strong physical resemblance between the costumes and make-up used for the two alien races.
The idea of a humanoid evolving from a dinosaur has occasionally been discussed in scientific circles from the seventies onward, most famously with Dale Russell's dinosauroid. Carl Sagan also speculated on the possibility. See the external links below for more info.
Of interest is whether the Voth are cold-blooded due to evolutionary changes after leaving Earth or if their being cold-blooded is merely an error in the scripting research as dinosaurs, while reptile-like, were not cold-blooded.
The Voth made a brief appearance in the short story "Brief Candle" in the Distant Shores anthology, as well as mentioned in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds novels as a possible candidate to combat the Borg by the Q.
A similar storyline was found in the First Frontier novel, which has a race known as Clan Ru, who are evolved from Troodons.
The Voth appear in two novels of the Star Trek: Voyager relaunch series by Pocket Books: Protectors and Acts of Contrition. In those stories, they ally themselves with the Devore, Turei, and Vaadwaur. They are opposed to the Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant, a Delta Quadrant counterpart to the Federation.
The Voth appear in the Star Trek Online video game as an antagonistic faction, fighting for control of a Dyson sphere located in the Delta Quadrant, and against the allied forces of the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Republic. The Voth are attempting to obtain Omega particles, which the sphere produces, as a weapon against the Borg, whom they are battling in their home space. The allied forces, who entered the sphere via an Iconian gateway near Jouret IV, are attempting to enforce the Omega Directive and prevent the Voth from making off with Omega and potentially threatening spacefaring civilizations in the Delta Quadrant and beyond. The Voth who appear in the game are part of an aggressive, militaristic circle of Voth society, and use city ships in their combat fleets. Mechanized combat exosuits and bio-engineered dinosaurs also make up part of their ground forces. In STO's 2014 Delta Rising expansion, the Voth are allies of the Turei and fight to defend them against a Vaadwaur invasion in the mission "Revelations", allying with the player in a ground battle. However, they remain aloof from subsequently joining the Delta Alliance.
- Voth at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Speculations of anthropomorphic sapient dinosaurs at Wikipedia
- a short overview of the history of hypothetical humanoid dinosaurs in science