Thread: Important Fannish Issue: Does Eldarion have pointy ears?
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.
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.
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.
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. - 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?
[Edited on 15/5/2002 by Allyssa]
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.
The only question that remains now is: are pointy ears a recessive or a dominant characteristic.
(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.)
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....
And you can't prove that it's just a story! It could be true!
I even somehow feel that Tolkien would be disgusted by elves with pointy ears...
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!
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...
After all these years! He he!
*runs off to celebrate*
Oh and Golly: I must say you keep amazing me. But in a nice way.
[Edited on 17/9/2002 by TomBombadillo]
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?
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 *lassê 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.
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.
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.
The Keebler Elves have pointy ears as I think did the Green Giant's buddies.
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.