32

Every seven years Vulcans experience the pon farr. They must mate or risk death. Romulan and Vulcans share common ancestry.

  • Did the Vulcans evolve the pon farr after the Romulans left Vulcan?

  • Did the Romulans evolve and stop having a pon farr after they left Vulcan?

  • Or do the Romulans go through pon farr as well?

  • Isn't it possible the Vulcan experience Ponn Farr because in line with their philosophy of logic and suppression of emotion, they, um, refrain from sexual congress until the Ponn Farr hits? And the Romulans, um mate whenever they please so don't have that problem? – ThePopMachine Sep 2 '15 at 15:12
  • It's possible, but with nothing to back up your hypothesis, it seems to be unsubstantiated speculation. – Meat Trademark Sep 2 '15 at 16:23
14

There is no canonical evidence the Romulans experience pon farr. Meaning, given the evidence of the televised series, the Romulans have received far less screen time than most of the races of the Alpha Quadrant so it is simply possible there has been insufficient time to include more of the personal lives of Romulans.

SPECULATION

  • The divergence between Romulans and Vulcans meant a major social, economic and psychological schism and transformation of their two groups. There is sufficient time for major transformative events to create two very different societies even given their similar species of origin.

  • The divergence of the Vulcan transition to logic, non-emotion and non-violence, as well as a refinement of their telepathic capabilities. This psychological and physiological transformation may have lead unexpectedly to the development of the pon farr.

  • The Romulans instead chose to leave the harsh environment of Vulcan and embrace their emotions, deny telepathy and embrace a warrior's lifestyle. This divergence was not just a physical transition it was also a change in lifestyle, environment, eugenics and other social engineering including the imprisonment of telepaths who later became the Remans.

  • The Federation, even as late as the Dominion War, still had limited intelligence on the lifestyles and the nature of the average Romulan. Do the Romulans engage in pon farr? No Federation documentation confirms this, nor do the Romulans admit one way or the other.

Given the span of time, completely different environments, completely different lifestyles, eugenic programs of the Romulans against their telepathic brethren as well as their own intelligence on the Vulcans may mean they have done everything possible to reduce or remove any potential for pon farr within the Romulan subspecies.

  • 3
    Side note on the 3rd bullet point, the Remans being related to the Romulans and Vulcans comes from the Vulcan's Soul novels (note here), so it's not official canon. They are otherwise just considered to be some species conquered by the Romulans. – Izkata Oct 4 '12 at 14:00
  • 2
    "Including the imprisonment of telepaths who later became the Remans." ~Do you have something to back this one up? Am interested as I always thought that the Remens were the planets original inhabitants subjugated by the arriving Romulans – user001 Sep 2 '15 at 15:19
10

We need to make a distinction between Pon Farr and koon-ut-kal-if-fee.

Pon Farr is the biological mating frenzy Vulcans experience, and koon-ut-kal-if-fee is their way of dealing with it (the term translates as 'Marriage or Challenge').

The split from romulans occurs before the 'time of awakening', and the introduction of koon-ut-kal-if-fee occurs after. Logically Romulans don't participate in koon-ut-kal-if-fee:

During the ancient, pre-Surak times, Vulcans typically killed to win their mates. After the Time of Awakening, the koon-ut-kal-if-fee was adopted, and many Vulcans became telepathically bonded at youth. (TOS: "Amok Time") ~Memory Apha

So yes, they do experience Pon Farr, though I suspect they deal with it differently than most Vulcans

7

The way I understand it Pon Farr is a "neurochemical imbalance" resulting in possible death in 8 days if it isn't dealt with. The misconception is that the Pon Farr and the madness that comes with not dealing with it (Plak Tow or "Blood Fever) are one and the same. Biologically Vulcans and Romulans are "cousins" and share an extremely similar physiological make up. While Vulcans chose to repress their emotions (which are neurochemical reactions in the brain) Romulans treat emotions in a closer manner to humans. It is possible that Romulans do experience Pon Farr but treat it as humans treat the female menstrul cycle, as a natural biological process that requires no special ceremony, mating at more regular intervals than the Vulcan's 1 every 7 years. The embracing of their emotions could negate the possibilty of an imbalince in the brain chemistry.

3

No, they don't

The Memory Beta page on Pon Farr explains that:

Despite being a Vulcan offshoot, the Romulans did not go through pon farr, having removed it from their genome with genetic engineering after the Sundering. (TOS - Rihannsu novel: The Romulan Way)

Just for a bit of context 'The Sundering' refers to the time when the Romulans left Vulcan.

Now, this isn't canon of course, but I just thought I'd add it in!

0

I was until recently quite unfamiliar with the modus-operandi of this website, so I shall try to infuse some empirical as well as hypothetical scientific lines of reasoning into my explanation:

  1. The Romulans supposedly split from the Vulcans during "The Time of Awakening", which is said to have taken place in the equivalent of Earth's 4th century AD. Taking Earth-based evolution as our (only factual) guideline, a mere 2 millennia should not be enough time for two peoples to have evolved such radically different reproductive systems. Ergo, the habits, customs and behaviours of the two peoples may be the precipitating factor rather than fundamental evolutionary change.

  2. However, even on Earth mutation rates vary wildly. According to Science Direct, the fastest and slowest per base pair per generation mutation rates are found in DNA viruses and Paramecium tetraurelia, a single-celled ciliate respectively. DNA viruses have mutation rates of as high as 0.000001 (10^-6) mutations per base per generation, and P. tetraurelia, of 0.0000000000264 (2.64*10^-11) which is 37,879 times slower than the former. The rate of mutation among all species on T'Khasi (Vulcan), or just of the two sentient Vulcanoid peoples may well be different from that of Earth and either (a) a pon farr mutation rapidly appeared in the Vulcan lineage as a phenotypical spandrel (evolutionary side-effect), or (b) the Romulans evolved the already existing mutation away.

  3. Differences in Vulcan and Romulan environmental and life-style factors may be at play. In 21st century Earth, there is an hypothesis that there is a rapid change in the onset of puberty especially in some human girls from economically developed countries. Several peer-reviewed papers including Science Daily, PLOS and BMC Public Health among others, have linked this lowering of the onset of puberty (2 years on average in the last 30-40 years) to maternal obesity, maternal hyperglycӕmia, childhood obesity and growth-promoting hormones given to cattle destined for human consumption. So (although I have never seen an obese Vulcan on screen), it is not far-fetched to hypothesise some kind of unknown life-style or environmental change that affects Vulcans but not Romulans.

That's all I've got for now, but I'm sure I've got more of these wacky ideas in the murky depths of my cerebral neural net, so I may well be back in a few of your Earth minutes.


And now the continuation:

  1. Keeping in line with what we known definitively about the Vulcan people, the pon farr may be a psychological or psycho-biological side-effect of keeping ones emotions "bottled up". In humans, stress-related psychosomatic disorders can result (according to Patient Info) in:

    a) fast breathing (Tachypnea)
    b) fast heart rate (Tachycardia)
    c) strong heart beat (palpitations)
    d) physical sickness (nausea)
    e) body shaking (tremors)
    f) profuse sweating (hyperhidrosis)
    g) dry mouth (xerostomia)
    h) chest pain
    i) headaches
    j) stomach / abdominal pain and ulcers

  2. The Romulans may have somehow genetically-engineered a hypothetical pon farr gene or group of genes out of their genome. We know that genetic engineering is frown upon / outright banned in the Federation-aligned planets, so perhaps the Romulans' different moral compass may have allowed them to manipulate their DNA without the Vulcans' meddlesome, pricking conscience.

  3. The effects of the pon farr could have been originally conferred to the Vulcan people by some sort of endogenous retro-virus (ERV). Earth-based retroviruses insert copies of their own genome into the DNA of a cell, thereby changing the cell's genome. An endogenous retrovirus changes not ordinary somatic (non-reproductive) cells, but germ-line cells (ovular and testicular gametes), leading to that trait being passed on to offspring. If the speed of evolution on Vulcan is indeed more Earth-like, ERVs may well explain the insertion of the hypothetical pon farr gene into the Vulcanoid genome. Conversely, it may well be that this happened before the cultural rift and the Romulans naturally lost or engineered away the mutation (see this article published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) journal).

-1

I always interpreted "Pon Farr" as basically the equivalent of (forgive the lewdness) being horny. It's crude, but that is essentially what it is.

The Vulcans, as a race which suppressed emotions, may also have suppressed their sexual behaviour, viewing it as uncivilised and limiting it to every 7 years, the maximum time they can realistically delay sexual activity until their biological imperative takes over. This is why they lose their emotional control during Pon Farr and behave erratically.

Romulans have not suppressed their emotions, therefore they have the drive to have sex and procreate, but like humans, do not place any limitations on it, therefore they do not go through Pon Farr because the pent up sexual tension that is Pon Farr only occurs when you deny yourself the pleasures of sex.

If humans developed a purely logical society and eschewed sex, we too would have a biological imperative to have sex, and would probably develop ritual around how this imperative is allowed to be expressed.

  • This seems like your own personal opinion. Can you offer any evidence that backs this up? – Valorum Apr 9 '17 at 16:19
  • But at least more often than every seven years :-) – Valorum Oct 14 '19 at 16:03
  • Sorry for the substantial delay. I don't often use this website. (prematurely deleted my previous comment, so sorry to make your above comment look weird). I can indeed give no objective or empirical evidence to support my view. It is very much part of my well-developed head-canon, which I use to explain (or indeed explain away) things that I perceive as inconsistencies in the show. Then again, because I like to be both geeky and silly at the same time, I can give an impromptu, off-the-top-of my head explanation, which I'll include as a new comment below. – Ste Ríkharðsson Oct 14 '19 at 16:07

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