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Thread: Important Fannish Issue: Does Eldarion have pointy ears?

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Interesting point (chuckle, chuckle) possibly, only less so than his mother, in much the same way as half Klingons have less pronounced ridges on their foreheads.
No, I do not think Eldarion had pointy ears. I do not believe the men of Middle-earth would have wanted to be ruled over by any pointy-eared freak. Paranoid Smilie Animated Wink Smilie Oops, Shocked Smilie I forgot his mommy was still around, So Angry Smilie so they wouldn't have had any choice in the matter.

Really, I expect the genes of Numenor would have over-ridden the pointy-eared trait; and if it didn't the ears would have been considered a much valued attribute serving as a reminder as to his honored maternal ancestors. Smile Smilie
But then again, Spock's only half vulcan, and he's got pointy ears, though his Mum was Human, so would the paternal gene outweigh the maternal in all cases?
Nope, in no way is it maternal or paternal(in this case anyway!). Characteristics are inheirited from both parents by way of a childs genes. The child recieves one copy of each gene from each parent(each copy is called an allele) What the child looks like is determined by which allele is dominant(as opposed to recessive) over the other. For example blue eyes are recessive to brown. (btw, this is very,very simplified!)

And then it gets complicated. Some alleles aren't dominant or recessive to each other. This can have two results:

1)co-dominance eg. a tabby cat and a white cat produce a tabby and white kitten. Both alleles are fully expressed.

2)incomplete dominance eg a red flower and a white flower produce a pink flower. Neither allele is fully expressed.

So Eldarion could have pointed ears, human ears or slightly pointed ears to some extent(option 1 is not valid in this case without some sort of mutation taking place). I go for sort-of-pointed as with the different species it would be hard to know which allele should be dominant to the other.
Further to 42's answer, if we study genetics statistically, where one allele is dominant to another, there is usually a 3:1 ratio of dominant characteristics showing to recessive. For instance, if A is a dominant allele for pointy ears, and a is the recessive allele for not pointed ears, we would get the following combinations; AA, Aa, aA, aa. Because A is dominant to a, the heterozygous combinations Aa and aA both result in pointed ears and only the aa combination does not.
Because this ratio does not exist in elven populations, we can assume that neither allele A or a are dominant to one another.
This leaves us with the situation where ear length must be determined by incomplete dominance, or more likely, a situation where more than one set of genes determines ear length. In these situations, a blend is normally created, where the offspring is an average of the parent genes.
Assuming the rules of genetics hold true in Middle-Earth (which incidently they don't, because a hybrid such as Elrond, Arwen etc would actually be sterile), 42 is correct in assuming Aldarion would have slightly pointed ears. QED.
Is that the difinitive answer or what? Big Smile Smilie
*seriously impressed.

Thank you Val and 42. And to think that when I started this thread, I was just kidding around.

To be honest, I was never really a convert to elves having pointy ears in the first place, and that humans and elves are really one and the same race. That way, Elrond is still fertile (or at least I strongly hope he is!)

I do think they look kind of cute though, in the movie. Smile Smilie - the pointy ears that is.

Just curious, I know this is off topic, but some genes are paternal/maternal arent they? I mean, what sort of things can I blame my Dad for and which on my Mum? Big Smile Smilie

[Edited on 15/5/2002 by Allyssa]
Even I could have answered your question that way, Alyssa, cos we just had that in Biology!!! Coincidence, or fate? I don't know, but it sounds too familiar to me... Big Smile Smilie
I guess they weren't teaching genetics when I was at school.
Wink Smilie Dunce Smilie
We even saw "human proceation". In detail. Boring Smilie
Rolling Eyes Smilie
Without ploughing the depths of genetics and going totally off the plot, I'll try a simple answer for you Allyssa (and leave the complicated one for 42 this time)
All humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. One half of each pair comes from the mother and the other half from the father.
On these chromosomes are the genes that determine how you are (eye colour, blood group etc) Some are dominant, some are recessive and some are neither.
For a particular trait, eg eye colour, a person may have 2 dominant genes, a dominant + a recessive, or 2 recessives. It is only in the case of the latter however that a recessive trait will actually show. These genes can come from either parent.
Normally it is not too important, but in the cases of genetical diseases it obviously is.
Most genetical diseases are recessive (if they were dominant anyone carrying the gene would die and the disease would be eradicated). Because they are recessive, someone who carries both a recessive and a dominant gene for the disease will usually not show signs of it, only the double recessives actually getting the disease. The people who carry both genes however are known as carriers because they are able to pass the disease to their children even though they do not have the disease themselves.
When you talk about paternal and maternal genes, you will recieve both dominant and recessive genes from each parent, and will thus show traits of both of your parents.
What people often refer to sex linked genes however, is the traits exhibited by the genes on our 23rd set of chromosomes, the ones known as X and Y. This is the pair that determines whether you are male (XY) or female (XX). The X chromosome is normal, but the male Y chromosome is different in that it has no genes on it. This means that if a boys mother carries a recessive gene on the X chromosome that she gives him, there will be no gene at all on the Y chromosome to counter it. In this case a recessive gene is actually dominant...... Are you still with me???
What this effectively means is, there are certain traits that are rare in women, but far more common in men. These include baldness, colour blindness and more dangerously, diseases such as hemophilia.

Hope that was of some help. It wasn't such a short answer after all, but considering there are entire tomes dedicated to the subject, maybe I didn't do too bad.
That was exactly what our biology teacher told us, Val, so congratulations. I didn't spot a mistake and it was clear to me! Big Smile Smilie But I had to study this for a test only last week, so perhaps the others won't find it so clear... Very Big Grin Smilie

The only question that remains now is: are pointy ears a recessive or a dominant characteristic. Big Smile Smilie
Well, do you see many individuals with pointy ears in this day and age, the trait must be recessive.?

(Okay, I will admit I have a teeny-weenie point near the upper, backs of my ears; however, I don't think they came from elves, because Plastic Squirrel says, "Its just a story, it isn't real." And besides that, I'd make a better dwarf than an elf.) Big Smile Smilie
The only question that remains now is: are pointy ears a recessive or a dominant characteristic.

Elves and Humans could be seperate races of the same species (possibly very far apart like Terriers and Great Danes in dogs) otherwise they couldn't breed at all, species being a taxonomic term used for individuals which are similar anough to interbreed, or have the potential to interbreed. As there were examples of interbreeding this indicates that humans and elves were part of the same species. So, as there were less elves than humans it could be assumed that elves were originally humans who were seperated from the rest of the population in an environment which caused selection for certain traits (Founders effect) such as long sight and other elven charateristics. This would differ from the rest of the population. The pointed ears phenotype could have occured as a genetic mutation within the sub-population of elves/humans fairly early on, in which case it is certainly dominant. In this case it would be unusual for the rest of the population to show this trait unless it was paired with an extremely favorable characteristic, eg. enhanced hearing. A more likely scenario is that the pointed ears phenotype is an extremely rare occurance in the general population, but the original individuals which were seperated from the rest had an unusual ratio of the recessive (pointed ears) characteristic. Over time, the dominant alelle (curved ears) could have been entirely removed from the gene pool. At the same time the pointed ears/recessive trait could become less and less frequent in both genotype and phenotype in the general population until it was also elliminated. This would mean that Eldarion would not have pointed ears, but if he mated with another half-elf or an elf there would be a fair chance of his offspring having pointed ears. There's also a fair chance that everything that I have just said being completely wrong btw.....I'm too tired to check the genetics in it, I'll read through it again tomorrow....Big Smile Smilie

And you can't prove that it's just a story! It could be true!
I don't believe that Tolkien's elves had pointy ears. Nor did they have butterfly wings!
Well, I think you're half right: sprites and fairies are the ones with butterfly wings; however, elves aren't elves without pointy ears, even I know that stereotype has a basis. Big Smile Smilie
I can prove it's not true, JRR Tolkien admits he made it up, and you can find it in the Fiction section, so that's pretty much it evidence wise, what more do you need?
But you are so wrong, Plastic. Ozzy Osbourne saw Fairies with boots, dancing with the dwarves. They must be real.Paranoid Smilie
The boots prove it......

Elf Smilie
Yeah, but he was Paranoid at the time *chortle chortle*
I agree with Eryan. I don't believe Tolkien's elves had pointy ears... I don't want them to either! Smile Smilie
Thank you Iago!
I even somehow feel that Tolkien would be disgusted by elves with pointy ears...
I believe that Tolkiens elves had pointed ears....Elves were stereotyped as having pointed ears before LotR was written, if he had intended them to have some other shaped ears, I think he would have stated so, or called them something else. Elves aren't elves without the ears!

Elf Smilie
Right in there with you 42! Elves have pointed ears, or I'm an elf! Very Big Grin Smilie
Well, first of all, was his mother truly Elvish? Elrond, Arwen's father, was said to be only a half-elf, while her mother, Celebrian, was a purebred, so to speak, elf. Aragorn was a man. So if Arwen was only half-elf, and Aragorn was'nt an elf, then why would Eldarion have pointed ears?
While we're talking about Eldarion, what book does he come into, or does he? Big Laugh Smilie
Eldarion, the son of Aragorn and Arwen is mentioned on the last three pages of ROTK, Appendix A, Part I (v) entitled 'Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen'. Smile Smilie If you don't read any other of the appendicies, you should read Appendix A and at least skim through Appendix B to get an idea of the breadth of the history that Tolkien created as background for his epic tale of Middle-earth. Read Smilie
It would be nicer if he had one of each.

I think it would be far more interesting if we humans had co-dominant alleles like cats & dogs. I would have liked to walk around with with my dad's dark brown skin as a base, and a random distribution of my mom's fairer hue...leopard-like splotches on me woulda been cool. And one fairly pointy ear from my dad, and another rounded tip from my mom...and so on..

*boasts* I can wiggle my left ear. Ha!
You truly are a freak Golly, but in a nice way...
Gee Golly, Aren't you afraid people would stare? Not that I would, of course! Angel Smilie
lol, thanks Plastic. Wink Smilie

Well Red, I'm assuming that we'd all be walking around with exotic prints on our skins, so it'll be normal. I wouldn't mind something like that....something Mutant-X-ish. That'll be totally awesome... Cool Smilie
Yess!!!!! I finally did it! I finally got my sig. up!

After all these years! He he!

*runs off to celebrate*
If you mean your signature, it's a very nice one too... Tongue Smilie

Oh and Golly: I must say you keep amazing me. But in a nice way. Big Laugh Smilie
Awww, that'h tho thweet, Tommy. *blushes*
Your welcome, Golly! You just have to do sth about the thrange accent now. Big Laugh Smilie
What acthent? Very Big Grin Smilie
ROFLMAO!!! Very Big Grin Smilie

[Edited on 17/9/2002 by TomBombadillo]
Reanimation continues....

Don't ask me to provide a cite, but, much as I dislike pointey-eared Quendi, I seem to recall reading somewhere that there was a slight point to their ears, and was reminded of the quote in another thread (I'm thinking LT1, but dunno; I wanna say it came up in association with Tuor in Gondolin, but if so I missed it last weekend.)

Meanwhile, lost in all this discussion was what I think the most insightful observation: Elrond was half-Elven himself. This of course brings up his heritage, and reminds us that ELROS was half-Elven, too (and thus the blood of the Eldar already ran in Aragorns viens.) Lacking any other indicators, I would tend to treat it as a recessive gene that has about a one in four chance of manifesting in Eldarion. Put another way, try this mind-bender on for size:

It's at least possible that Arwen DIDN'T have pointed ears, Eldarion did, and maybe Aragorn did, too. Has the question become sufficiently murky yet?
Two of the more popular passages concerning Elvish ears come from Letters and Etymologies... especially the latter, but as of today there is no description of Quendian ears that dates from the time The Lord of the Rings was published, or any post Lord of the Rings texts (including post Lord of the Rings 'unpublished' texts).
Now however we have something post-Lord of the Rings. Here its real interest is arguably in comparison to the early Etymologies statement (Etymologies was abandoned, but one of the LAS entries read -- slightly edited by me here):

LAS1- *lasse leaf: Q lasse, N lhass; Q lasselanta leaf-fall, autumn (...) Lhasgalen Greenleaf (Gnome name of Laurelin). (Some think this is related to the next and *lassÍ ear. The Quendian ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than Human).'

OK that's the early example that has been posted all over the web since the publication of The History of Middle-Earth series. A somewhat comparable 'new' (and much later) passage reads:

Q lasse 'leaf (S las); pl. lassi (S lais). It is only applied to certain kinds of leaves, especially those of trees, and would not e.g. be used of leaf of a hyacinth (linque). It is thus possibly related to LAS 'listen', and S-LAS stem of Elvish words for 'ear'; Q hlas, dual hlaru. Sindarin dual lhaw, singular lhewig.

lasse 'leaf'.

From Words, Phrases and Passages Parma Eldalamberon 17

Hmmm. Tolkien does again mention words for 'listen' and 'ear', but of course 'missing' from this is the statement describing the Quendian ears as compared to humans.
Funny that all Elves after Tolkien were given pointy ears just because of one early passage...

In Germanic/Norse mythology from which Tolkien borrowed a lot (Gandalf, for instance, was an Elven king in Norse mythology), Snorri Sturluson's Light Elves, on which Tolkien based his Elves, had the same appearance of humans, only more fair.
I seem to remember that Santa's elves in the 1940's having pointy ears. Might be a good topic to investigate: When did Santa's elves start being illustrated in books or advertisments, with specific bearing to the shape of their ears?

The Keebler Elves have pointy ears as I think did the Green Giant's buddies.
Good question! I would be interested in the history of depictions of the fair folk. And, just to date the 'popular evidence' here:

Tolkien's American publishers seem to have asked him to supply drawings of Hobbits, and part of his reply reads: 'I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown). The feet...'

So that was written in 1938 (however one interprets it), but not made known to the general public however until The Letters of JRR Tolkien, published in 1981

According to Christopher Tolkien the Etymologies ' ...were not spread over a long period, but were contemporary with QS; and that some of the additions and corrections can be securely dated to the end of 1937 and the beginning of 1938.' And '... that while my father did for two or three years make rather desultory entries in the Etymologies as new names emerged in The Lord of the Rings, he gave up even this as the new work proceeded.'

So again we are in the 1930s (or at most early 1940s) with Etymologies, and a passage which was not made known to Readers before 1987 (at least in America).

Of course The Fellowship of the Ring was not published until 1954, more than a decade later, and this 'new' note from PE17 was written afterwards (a more detailed attempt at dating various texts occurs in PE17 itself). And obviously this new passage has been made public in 2007

The two popular quotes have always been in question in any case, considering the dates and knowing that Tolkien was not against revision. Anyway, I wonder if JRRT had published only the later note from Words, Phrases and Passages, and no one had ever seen the earlier note from Etymologies, how strong would be the contention (of some) that his Elves had more pointed ears than humans? Hypothetical yes, but interesting maybe.

Hammond and Scull are working on a book about Pauline Baynes. I wonder too if Tolkien had 'instructed' her about this, or made a passing comment perhaps. Although I'm not sure she is necessarily being interviewed in general for the book.