PDA

View Full Version : Let's go Underground



Little Anonymous Me
05-12-2013, 05:50 AM
Just for kicks and giggles, what would sort of biological adaptations would occur if a mammalian species was forced to dwell in a subterranean setting for a few thousand years? (Let's say circa 3,000.) I'm not a complete science derp, and I know that true biological evolution on a grand scale takes place over a couple million years, but that's not really what I have in mind.

I imagine the species (hummaniod) would be a bit smaller than they were before due to cramped spaces and lesser quality nutrition, as well as having superior olfaction and audition, as eyesight would be less important...but that is as far as I have gotten. I just want to have all my bases covered before I begin rolling with an idea that is scientifically ridiculous.


And if this has been asked before, I am very sorry. I checked the archives but did not find. :(

Mr. GreyMan
05-12-2013, 06:11 AM
Their pigmentation would change first.

The Morlock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morlock) is one of the more recognized fictional subterranean humanoid species. They're pretty much as you describe, humans that lived underground for a long time. Drawing on their description might be a good starting place, or seeing what issues people had with their realism. In the 2002 film they looked more or less like albino humans, but in the older versions they were hideous, hunched mole people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mole_people).


(looking at the different kinds of mole people might be a good idea too)

Little Anonymous Me
05-12-2013, 06:18 AM
Their pigmentation would change first.

The Morlock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morlock) is one of the more recognized fictional subterranean humanoid species. They're pretty much as you describe, humans that lived underground for a long time. Drawing on their description might be a good starting place, or seeing what issues people had with there realism. In the 2002 film they looked more or less like albino humans, but in the older versions they were hideous, hunched mole people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mole_people).


(looking at the different kinds of mole people might be a good idea too)



I've never managed to read The Time Machine--classic case of "not into it", so the Morlock were a great suggestion!

As for my guys, I'd already lightened their pigmentation significantly from what it used to be in the good ole sunny days. :tongue I've actually been reading a good bit about moles, so at least I'm headed in the right direction!

Dryad
05-12-2013, 10:01 AM
I bet you'd get a better response asking in the SF/F section. :)

blacbird
05-12-2013, 10:40 AM
I've never managed to read The Time Machine

Give it another go. It can be read in a couple of hours, and Wells is hardly the most difficult writer you'll ever encounter.

As I recall, he doesn't describe the Morlocks in any great physical detail, just lets the reader engage imagination. I thought the old 1960ish movie did them pretty well, even though much of the rest of it was era-cheesy.

caw

Kitty Pryde
05-12-2013, 09:52 PM
Their pigmentation would change first.


Would it? Having lots of pigmentation confers a slight evolutionary advantage to humans exposed to lots of sun (because of less risk of skin cancer). Having little pigmentation confers a slight evolutionary advantage to humans exposed to small amounts of sun (because of more synthesis of vitamin D). However, in complete absence of sunlight, neither one offers an advantage. And if the trait isn't being used, it won't vanish within a short scale. I mean, they won't have tans, but they won't be blind cave fish either.

In related news, how are they avoiding dying of rickets? Synthesizing Vitamin D in the lab? Eating lots of livers?

Mr. GreyMan
05-12-2013, 10:43 PM
However, in complete absence of sunlight, neither one offers an advantage.Except the body would not be told all that.

Without light human skin becomes paler, whether or not it helps, it's what happens. Evolution isn't the same as respec'ing a character in WoW to be the strongest for whatever level its on. That's why plants are green instead of purple, (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/biology/ligabs.html#c2) for example.

Kitty Pryde
05-12-2013, 11:13 PM
Except the body would not be told all that.

Without light human skin becomes paler, whether or not it helps, it's what happens. Evolution isn't the same as respec'ing a character in WoW to be the strongest for whatever level its on. That's why plants are green instead of purple, (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/biology/ligabs.html#c2) for example.

You're talking about change in skin pigmentation over an individual's lifespan. But babies who have genes for darker skin are born with darker skin, without any sun exposure. An individual kept in the dark will be a bit paler than they would be if they got some sun or lots of sun, but they won't all be pale. That has nothing to do with evolution. "Nobody gets a tan" does not equate to "civilization of pale mole people".

Little Anonymous Me
05-13-2013, 12:09 AM
Give it another go. It can be read in a couple of hours, and Wells is hardly the most difficult writer you'll ever encounter.

As I recall, he doesn't describe the Morlocks in any great physical detail, just lets the reader engage imagination. I thought the old 1960ish movie did them pretty well, even though much of the rest of it was era-cheesy.

caw


The only difficulty I've ever encountered with Wells' work is staying awake. ;) But it has been about 6 years, so it is indeed approaching the "take another shot" mark.



Would it? Having lots of pigmentation confers a slight evolutionary advantage to humans exposed to lots of sun (because of less risk of skin cancer). Having little pigmentation confers a slight evolutionary advantage to humans exposed to small amounts of sun (because of more synthesis of vitamin D). However, in complete absence of sunlight, neither one offers an advantage. And if the trait isn't being used, it won't vanish within a short scale. I mean, they won't have tans, but they won't be blind cave fish either.

In related news, how are they avoiding dying of rickets? Synthesizing Vitamin D in the lab? Eating lots of livers?


I have them neither especially tan nor especially pale for the precise reasons you listed. Though they are indeed paler than they were 3,000 years ago, I didn't wash them in bleach per say. :tongue Rickets is one of the things I'm fighting with, and I'm not having the best of luck. Unless a wave of brilliance hits me, I'll either say "They're not human! Screw vitamin D!" (highly unlikely) or move the idiots someplace else where they get a bit more exposure. Or I make a magical purple plant.

Mr. GreyMan
05-13-2013, 02:56 AM
I am not an expert on evolution, but just look at what happens--generally speaking--to the skin pigment of animals that have become subterranean or are deprived of light for other reasons. What are some of the first changes to occur?

I've not met any mole people personally, but I think it's safe to assume the same kinds of changes would happen with them.