What would a half-Andorian, half-Vulcan child look like?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Sal'ira, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A therapsid isn't actually a lizard (and neither a lizard nor a therapsid is a reptile, for that matter).

    Technically, mammals and mammaliformes are the surviving descendants of the therapsids, on Earth. There were gradations of reptilianoid vs. mammaloid traits in our prehistory ranging from creatures practically indistinguishable from reptiles, and others nearly mammalian in appearance. If you look up the cynodont, for instance, it actually bears a fair resemblance to the Cardassian vole (though better-looking than the vole!): close to mammalian, but still a therapsid. Heck, if evolution had gone just slightly differently on our own planet, we ourselves could have been "Cardassians," possessed of both scales and hair.

    Canon has never stated for sure what the Cardassians are, but their ability to interbreed with Bajorans makes it pretty clear that whatever they are, they are NOT reptiles. Since they don't seem quite mammalian (different metabolism, and a mix of traits that when seen on Earth, was therapsid), then therapsid seems like the best conclusion based on available evidence.
     
  2. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Mmmmmm. Sorry, I accidentally edited this and removed a whole chunk. Re-creating.

    IIRC, I said that yes, I understood what a therapsid was because I looked it up, but it seemed like you were making major distinctions between mammalian humanoids and lizard-like ones. Then I asked:

    If so many ST races can interbreed, why ever can't Bajorans and Cardassians?
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  3. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Cardassian women have breasts. That should mean that they're mammalian, no? (Not that Trek has ever paid attention to such issues...)

    http://cage.p.tripod.com/images/c_lang.jpg
    http://macha.sener.free.fr/startrek/races/images/carnatimalang.jpg
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f0/STDS9Ep218.jpg/270px-STDS9Ep218.jpg

    As for Andorian mating, someone did an analysis over on the Trek Lit forum a while ago and showed that four-sexes reproduction would create huge problems - because 2 out of those 4 sexes would be far more common than the other 2. (Say, if we represent zhen as XXXX, shen as XXXY, chan as XXYY and thaan as XYYY, and then list all possible combinations, XXXY and XXYY would be more than 4 times more probable than XXXX and XXXY. Or to be precise, the ratio would be 13:3.) In that light, marriages in four for the purpose of reproduction would not make sense.
     
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Mammalian or something close. That's one advantage of the therapsid theory--some therapsids in Earth's prehistory may well have given live birth, and if they did, would have had a need to nurse their young. Even if the earlier ones didn't, or evolution didn't go quite that far on Earth, it's very easy to imagine it going just a step further while still retaining other characteristics (like the scales) that might seem a bit more reptile-like, especially if their planet's climate is making it less necessary to evolve some of the things that mammals tend to have on Earth (like having fur cover their entire bodies).

    Though one interesting observation--and I mean this in all seriousness. Cardassian armor, which is worn by both men and women, would seem to indicate that among Cardassian women, perhaps breasts don't tend to get as large as among some human women. (Either that or women bind themselves to be in uniform, which would be damn uncomfortable, but I knew someone in college who HAD to, because she was in Navy ROTC and it would have felt even worse to her not to when she ran or did other PT activities.) Notice that neither Natima Lang AND Iliana Ghemor had obnoxiously-sized breasts--very average, reasonable, and in proportion. True, we don't have a LOT of Cardassian women to compare, but I have to think that for Gul Ocett to wear the uniform she did, she couldn't have been that busty.
     
  5. StarryEyed

    StarryEyed Commodore Commodore

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    Wow Nerys Ghemor, you sure put in the research for your fanfics. My compliments.
     
  6. TiberiusMaximus

    TiberiusMaximus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    I hear ya, but it makes a bit more sense than Vissians...the gender that 'facilitates' reproduction makes up 3% of the population...growth would be incredibly slow and they'd die out pretty quick. Of course, I've retconned that in my (gasp) personal canon as a UT error...33% makes more sense. Cogenitors would still be a minority but 3% is ridiculous.
    Trek makes soooo many mistakes about biology that to accept much of anything we have to ignore a lot of factual science.
     
  7. StarryEyed

    StarryEyed Commodore Commodore

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    Regardless of gender distribution, the more complex the requirements for reproduction, the less likely it is to take place. Sexual reproduction is more complicated than asexual reproduction but the added complexity is more than made up for by the gain in genetic diversity. Would a similar gain be realized by increasing genders beyond two? Everything I've researched says no. Evolution is not going to go in that direction if there is no advantage to it.
     
  8. SpyOne

    SpyOne Commander Red Shirt

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    I'd like to see that discussion. Any clue what it was called?

    Because I can already, off the top of my head, think of a way to do 4 sexes that doesn't have that problem:
    XX XY XZ and XW. When the dna from the gametes comes together to form the zygote, there is a little competition of some kind, and each chromosome is individually adopted from one parent only. Thus, it might even be possible for an XZ child to have gotten his X from his XW parent.

    I'm not a big fan of the 4 gendered idea. It seemed a bit contrived to me.
     
  9. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    IIRC, we noticed in the previous long discussion that the Andorian zhavey (birth mother) doesn't actually contribute genetic information. However, she's the one with the lifetime bond with her offspring, while the others often drift away, so it could be hormones from her own system that affects the foetus, which had received genetic information only from the other three parents.

    I just Googled "xxxx andorian therin" and found two old threads:

    http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=99745

    http://trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=117689

    Of course, it can only happen when both partners have Inhebitians.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  10. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Using SpyOne's hypothesis, zhen would have to be XX in that equation (no genetic material specific to that sex).

    But how would that work? If the offspring gets genetic material from 3 parents, it would have trios of chromosomes, rather than pairs. Wouldn't have to be XXX or XWY or ZWY etc.?

    If the offspring gets only two pairs of chromosomes, then just two parents (or three, if zhen has to provide hormonal environment and carry the baby to term) would suffice. :confused:
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the TV series Alien Nation there were three genders, but only two provided genetic information. the third had to provided something like a "catalyst" if the married pair wanted to conceive. The third gender was not part of the family group, the couple would basically arrange a "date" with him when they were ready. The third gender was somewhat rare and usually very popular.

    In the case of the Andorians add another gender who just carries and that makes four.
     
  12. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which is a horribly unlikely turn of events, given that the zhen is disincentivized so severely. I mean, Andorians are supposed to be eusocial but seem to lack any of the hallmarks of eusociality or semi-eusociality. I mean, they:

    1)Have no sister-relatedness to the breeding group, and hence are programmed to care about a child they are not at all related to;
    2)Do not utilize an r-strategy for breeding and large numbers of sterile workers that permit maximum breeding efficiency; and
    3)Do not go through periods of transitory sterility, with windows of fertility that permit them to carry on their genetic information.

    Thus zhens are disincentivized from ever existing, because they're so maladaptive.

    So personally, I ignore that part. Four sexes are fine, eusociality--especially given everything else--is pretty bogus.

    (Less difficult, but it's also hard to square Talas' tits with the crypto-marsupial nursing mechanism.)
     
  13. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    How are zhens "disincentivized"? Seems to me that zhavey's love their role in society and play up their special connection with their offspring at every opportunity (Pava's mother in the Marvel comics; Shar's and Thriss's zhaveys in the DS9 Relaunch; Thia in "Paradigm"). Being a zhavey to a child seems to be an admirable career path.

    "As is the zhavey, so is the child." (Paradigm).

    "DS9: Unity" says that during the conception of an Andorian child, the chan adds his gametes to those of the shen, which have already been fertilized by the thaan. The zygote is then implanted into the zhen's pouch but "Avatar, Book 2" describes a zhavey as the "biologically and socially closest mother".

    Well, we don't actually know if she's a shen or a zhen. In any case, how do you explain human males with nipples, or those human males with very large breasts?
     
  14. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^Disincentivized to exist. Whatever social constructs they build on that to make it seem like being a zhavey is respectable or cool doesn't take away from the fact that the zhen (regardless of species) does not transmit information to the next generation, and hence is less likely to have ever developed.

    The other three sexes parasitize the zhen, and unlike a human female, and no matter what the zhen gets out of it psychologically and materially, she receives no payment evolutionarily speaking.

    Either the author uses the term "biological closeness" incorrectly or she is contradicting the assertion that the zhen does not transmit genetic material. A surrogate mother, even if she wound up keeping it, would not be biologically closer to the resultant child! That's effectively what zhens are--surrogate mothers. It takes as much investment to produce a surrogate mother as it does to just produce a fertile child. The benefits the surrogate mother can provide don't accrue to whoever's making it.

    Or look at it another way:

    A zhen serves about the same function as a bird's egg does--keeping the developing fetus safe and fed. Eggs come from the tissue of the mother and aren obviously not accorded recognition as an organism separate from both the mother and the child; nor do they traditionally grow legs, arms, and brains.

    While I suppose an egg with legs, arms, and brains is going to be a very effective egg, it's a hell of a tremendous investment by an organism to make such an egg that it intends to deliver to unrelated organisms who will then use that egg to gestate their offspring. Why not just develop a fertile offspring instead, who can transmit your genes instead of those of strangers? It's the exact same amount of work.

    If an Andorian quartet (trio, really) manages to get one child out of a union before one dies, and that child's a zhen, they have already reproductively failed, and might as well not have tried at all. Meanwhile, the four-sexers who are all fertile are totally outbreeding them.

    From an individual thaan/chan/shen organism's point of view, I can see the appeal of the zhen--you can offload reproductive duties onto this chick, and go find another, and another. But what would give rise to that? In a parasitic system, at least the parasitor does not actively create its own parasitee--it free rides on another. Building a zhen just to parasitize it is not free riding at all. Indeed, the thaan/chan/shens that came before them are reproductively penalized every time they give life to a zhen, and hence that trait is less and less likely to be carried forward.

    The behavior of the parasitoid wasp sums up poignantly what thaan/chan/shens are doing to the poor zhen, and what she should expect to get out of the transaction:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMG-LWyNcAs

    Warning: gross as hell--but educational!*

    The questions that bear on the existence of the three sex + walking egg system are: what happens to that species of butterfly if every caterpillar wound up like that poor dope; and what would happen to that species of wasp if they had to grow that caterpillar first before letting other wasps parasitize it?

    *If anyone's confused by the unexplained mention of the "wasp virus," like I was, this is helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polydnavirus
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2010
  15. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    ^You make some amazingly sweeping assumptions re the genetics of an alien race that have only been hinted at by the novels.

    The easiest solution to your accusations, perhaps: obviously (as mentioned in "Avatar") the zhavey does contribute genetic material, in some way after all, perhaps not at conception but definitely influencing the embryo as it grows and develops.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2010
  16. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It does somatic gene therapy in the womb (pouch, whatever)?

    More buyable to be sure. Wet nursing would likely be quite popular.
     
  17. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In Africa, the females in a pride of lions will nurse each others cubs, if the biological mother is out hunting or has been killed. The "job" of nursing the young might not fall to a single gender among Andorians.

    What Andorian biology has done is separate the ovaries from the uterus. With Humans towards the end of the pregnancy, while not exactly helpless, the ovaries and the uterus have a certain amount of problem getting around and protecting itself. With Andorians, while the uterus is pregnant, the ovaries can move around more freely to care and protect the uterus. With a Human family group the ovaries and the uterus have the direct aid of a pair of testicles, with Andorians the uterus has the aid (in the family group) of three others, not just one. Separating the ovaries from the uterus into two individuals would seem to be a enhancement to survival, not a determent.

    If the uterus is not looked after, then no ones genetic information will advance or continue. The zhen may not contribute it's own genetic heritage, but without the zhen the other three genders are effectively genetic deadends.
    ...................................

    As a separate issue Myasishchev, my avatar wants to know if she can date your avatar?

    :)
     
  18. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Myasishchev--who IS your avatar??
     
  19. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Regular old sociality is a pretty good adaptation. It's why I don't kick babies, even though they may one day grow up to take my throne. :shifty:

    It would enhance the capability of an Andorian quartet to defend itself from predators, true. On the other hand, it doubles the investment needed to be made by parents, doubles the caloric intake of the family unit and doubles (or more) the chance of death by disease or accident. A simplified description of adaptation is that of a balancing act between awesome, invulnerable monstrosity and environmental resources.

    This applies less to humans because the awesome, invulnerable monstrosity of intelligence is different in kind. The limiting function is still there (six billion at middle-class levels of existence is already too many), but it's more permeable because intelligence can manipulate so much of Earth's environment resources to service it.

    But the zhen (the abstract lower animal zhen, or more specifically the DNA or other coding mechanism of the zhen, not the socialized crypto-primate Andorian zhen) doesn't care about that. She* cares about reproducing herself.

    (That is, of course, a dangerous anthropomorphization of the "selfish gene" idea. The genes don't care. Nothing cares--except animals who have developed brains with emotional machinery capable of caring about things. But without being disseminated, genes die. The genes that express zhenitude, if they are not passed down, should not be able to survive. This is not, as Therin put it, a sweeping assumption, but as close as biology gets to a natural and universal law. The question is--and that's what you've struck on--is whether the other three who do pass forward their genetic material, are so benefited by a sterile zhen incubator that it becomes an selective advantage for them. And I think that is an iffy proposition.)

    *This is barely apropos, but does anyone else think that pronouns would be invented or borrowed and integrated into English that didn't denigrate the Andorian gender system? I like "zhe" myself for zhens, which is pretty elegant, although less so in its genitive/dative/accusative version ("zher?"). Stupid remnants of an inflected language. Word order is where it's at, baby.

    Sure, we all experimented in college, but...

    A character of mine. I switched my avatar (from Mater Nostra quae es in caelis Mothra, hallowed be her name) to her for the ST: Revenge rollout. And yes, I'm still coasting on artwork I did a year ago; I got out of practice during the school year, and those things are time destroyers. :p

    Anyway, to answer the content of your question: Swastika Kaur Shah, a near-future Indian vyomanaut (astronaut--it's seriously the official name) and Augment, flight commander of the Komagata Maru who wound up awakened in the 24th century in the early-DS9 timeframe--around about the time they started needing warm bodies for the Dominion War and stopped being picky about artificial chromosomes.
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In terms of a hypothetical "drive" to perpetuate the species, the zhen would want to prepetuate the species Andorian, but also to perpetuate the "species" zhen. Statically one quarter of all live births will result in a new zhen, maybe the facial characteristic would more resemble the others in the marriage or breeding group, but parts of that new baby are all zhen.

    :)