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efreysson
02-04-2010, 07:58 PM
I'm writing fantasy, and I've started wondering whether I can create entire ethnic groups with skin, hair, or eye-colors that don't exist in real life except in bizarre, isolated cases.

Apparently, all blue-eyed individuals descend from a single person with an eye mutation several thousand years ago.
So, couldn't I create a group descended from one person with a unique mutation, as long as the gene is dominant? The oddity could be considered exotic and attractive, and make those with it highly sought after for marriage.

I'm currently thinking of a nation of people with pasty skin (since their ancestors came from a very sunless part of the world), black hair, and red eyes. Is there some scientific reason why a healthy human eye can't be that color?

Bing Z
02-04-2010, 08:20 PM
You're writing fantasy. Scientific reason doesn't do you much good in fantasy.

However, I think purple/violet eyes will make these pasty-skin people sexier. Red eyes always remind me of bunnies... cute but not really exotic.

efreysson
02-04-2010, 08:23 PM
You're writing fantasy. Scientific reason doesn't do you much good in fantasy.


Not when it comes to supernatural or magical elements, no. But I'm hesitant to depict a completely non-supernatural group with impossible features.

dirtsider
02-04-2010, 08:31 PM
Well, consider it a genetic mutation. If they're going to be pale skinned due to lack of sunlight on a regular basis and therefore don't need the protective pigmentation, a genetic mutation could also occur that caused the red eye coloration.

Kitty Pryde
02-04-2010, 08:51 PM
Blue eyes is a recessive trait, in fact. I don't think red eyes are a particularly realistic mutation. But I don't think anyone would mind a red-eyed ethnic group in a fantasy novel. Seriously.

PS Sometimes I ski with this kind of wacko guy who wears contact lenses that make his eyes (irises) red. It is EXTREMELY unsettling. Even if I spend the whole day around him, they still freak me out.

MAP
02-04-2010, 09:37 PM
I think some albinos have redish or purplish eyes.

efreysson
02-04-2010, 09:52 PM
I think some albinos have redish or purplish eyes.

Yes, but I'm thinking of HEALTHY, fully functional eyes that just have red pigmentation instead of blue or brown or whatever.

Dawnny Baby
02-04-2010, 10:04 PM
Did you hear about the guy who turned himself blue? He didn't have medical insurance (or didn't want to go to the doctor for some reason or other), and he started taking colloidal silver. Turned him entirely blue--he was on the Today Show about a year ago, looks like a human blueberry--and he swears he feels completely healthy! Imagine if you had both a male and female who ingested colloidal silver (or something)--maybe it would cause permanent discoloration in their reproductive gametes? You could look up what caused eye discoloration, and what might make it red. (But, like MAP, I identify pasty skin/red eyes with albinos. Don't know whether you could get average readers to make the leap and not think of that anomaly when they pictured your characters.)

Kitty Pryde
02-04-2010, 10:10 PM
Did you hear about the guy who turned himself blue? He didn't have medical insurance (or didn't want to go to the doctor for some reason or other), and he started taking colloidal silver. Turned him entirely blue--he was on the Today Show about a year ago, looks like a human blueberry--and he swears he feels completely healthy! Imagine if you had both a male and female who ingested colloidal silver (or something)--maybe it would cause permanent discoloration in their reproductive gametes? You could look up what caused eye discoloration, and what might make it red. (But, like MAP, I identify pasty skin/red eyes with albinos. Don't know whether you could get average readers to make the leap and not think of that anomaly when they pictured your characters.)

No, that's not how the silver thing works. The silver deposits itself under the skin (not sure about the eyes actually), but you have to ingest a lot of it. You can't pass it onto your kids.

But there's a different disorder that makes people blue that IS genetic, interestingly enough. The treatment is a pill containing a blue dye called methylene blue. You can't make that kind of shit up. Methemoglobinemia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methemoglobinemia).

DavidZahir
02-05-2010, 09:37 AM
Given that there are mammals with red eyes, it seems at least possible that at some point a human-like species might develop that trait.

Here's another trait you might want to consider--six fingers on each hand, but perfectly purportioned. This does happen every now and then.

Canotila
02-05-2010, 10:35 PM
If you want to base it in real life, chinchillas have a color mutation that gives them beige fur and red eyes. It is dominant. When heterozygous, their fur tends to be a medium to dark brown and their eyes a deep cranberry color as opposed to the freaky red in albino animals. Homozygous individuals have much lighter blond/brown fur, and their eyes are much brighter red. Mice also have something similar, called "ruby eye".

Eye pigment comes from two places. The choroid, which gets its color when all of the animal's body pigment migrates off the neural crest during fetal development, and retinal pigment epithelium. The second is a layer of cells under the retina, and its pigment comes from the optic cup. If I remember correctly, it's the dilution of the choroid that causes the eye to have a ruby color.

The ruby eye trait is expressed with several different coat colors that are all dilute, meaning all black pigment is suppressed and diluted into some shade of grey, brown, yellow, etc.

The same mutations are prone to happening in the same places across the board in various mammal species, and through the same glitches in DNA copying so using other mammals as a model isn't too far fetched. Chinchillas and mice both have black pigment on their retinal pigment epithelium, and human beings have brown, so I have no idea if a diluted choroid could look red on a person.

Then again, you could just say forget it all and give them red eyes. In a fantasy world you can do that. I do understand wanting it to have a basis in life though. At the very least, figuring out how it's inherited (dominant, recessive, polygenic, etc.) makes sense.