Designed to test theories on how societies form and adapt, the Lursine Iterators are an engineered life form with many similarities to several now-extinct spacefaring sentient species.
The Lursine Iterators are a subluminal civilization in the Test Tube Territories, created specifically to test theories about subluminal societies. A dense and complex web of genetic code gives them unusual biological adaptiveness, but it's gated and structured specifically to leave the Lursine locked into their society.
The "iterator" of their name is in reference to this. The Lursine cannot meaningfully exist outside of an accepted social norm, and their complex, switchable biology means they can take on quite a few extraordinary social roles which would be outside the realm of possibility for naturally-evolving species.
For example, a Lursine bound within a social code can become capable of meditating on a mountain for decades, or handling the flow of millions of terabytes of data, or working nonstop in a mine, or bearing thousands of children. Their genetics "switch" to shape them into something ideal for their role.
There is some argument over whether the Lursine Iterators can be considered sapient, since they appear to be unable to imagine things outside of their social rules. Even calling them "subluminal" is arguable, since it inherently assumes they can achieve subluminal space travel... but the Lursine Iterators cannot conceive of space travel.
However, they are healthy and adaptive and live on a lush world, so their population has been steadily growing. It is estimated there are nineteen billion Lursine Iterators on their homeworld, an extraordinary number for a species that has never discovered computers.
Unlike the LC CNO-4b of the Transition Protectorate, their adaptive biology does not give them capabilities comparable to technology: they live a pre-industrial lifestyle.
Lursine Iterators are biologically tied to their society, and in turn their societies are tied to their biologies. Although the rules are tied to complex biological stimuli, it appears their societies max out at around 15,000 individuals.
When a society nears that limit, it will inevitably fracture into two societies, with the expectations and rules of the new societies descended from the original. There are always changes to the rules, but it's unknown how those changes are chosen. They appear to be random, or perhaps somehow biologically driven.
Therefore, the iterators have nearly two million distinct societies on their home planet, each speaking a distinct language and with distinct rules. Even if they live in the same "city", they don't mix in the way most civilizations would.
Many of these societies fail when a rule turns out to be a bad idea. There doesn't appear to be any "learning" from these mistakes, but the surviving Lursine are absorbed into other societies after the collapse, and it appears their genetic code gets slightly longer.
In the past few thousand years Lursine societies have been changing and refining, and are some of the most interesting and unusual social patterns in the galaxy. However, the extraordinary genetics of the Lursine make it impossible to apply anything learned here to other societies: the Lursine are evolving societies only suited to their own bizarre biology.
They are evolving them incredibly fast. The Lursine have started evolving societies so rapidly that they may hop from society to society a dozen times in their life. The stress of changing their bodies each time this happens is causing strange mutations, and it appears some societies are actually being created around those mutations...
Attempts to observe the Lursine up close are frequently met with the unusual response that the Lursine treat the observers as simply another small Lursine society. For good or bad, it appears they don't understand the concept of non-Lursine. Several scholars attempted to join Lursine societies, and while they were accepted, they were unable to perform the roles required due to their limited biology.
The most notable example of this was Geodan Marke, an interstellar anthropologist with unusual ties to the Lursine.
The Test Tube Territories are a hotbed of strange subluminal civilizations, and due to their nature anthropologists are not quite as restricted in their studies as they might otherwise be. However, there is also a danger that any of these civilizations may eventually try to conquer or destroy their neighbors. Please report any developments of this sort of to the council.