What would cause a short fantasy race, like dwarves, hobbits and/or goblins, to maintain their smaller size outside of the environment that produced it? I know that the exact height of these races fluctuates between different examples, but what would cause the average height in a setting to stay roughly the same, or not change at all, if, say, a population of dwarves moved out from their underground home and emigrated somewhere else? How could you justify them remaining small without the environmental factors that provoked that development or any real genetic exchange with the dwarves that remained?

  • $\begingroup$ Why would their average height change to a significant degree? How long time spans are we dealing with? (Better count in terms of generations. Is this over a few generations, a few dozen generations, over tens of thousands of generations, or what?) $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jan 23, 2018 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Will they are very related, but I think the focus of the previous question was why short humanoids would evolve that way, while this one is about why they wouldn't evolve to no longer be short. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Jan 23, 2018 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ Pigmies actually exist. They don't live underground. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 23, 2018 at 21:59

2 Answers 2


If you don't need them to evolve short, just stay short, then they only need an advanced enough society that they rarely die for lack of stature. The only way evolution is going to make them taller is if tall folk are breeding faster. This can happen if tall folk are seen as more attractive, or short folk die too young to have kids.

Assuming that short is seen as perfectly sexy, and short folk aren't getting killed while hunting or in battle, you should be fine.


Me Da was a tall one for a dwarf. Poor guy took din get married till he was 632. And me Ma was even older. Romance is hard for a tall dwarf. No one wants a skinny mate. They want a spouse whose nice and squat and wide too. Not like you humans with your long limbs, so skinny and breakable.

Never underestimate the power of sexual selection for an example read about the Irish Elk.

  • $\begingroup$ Aye I can confirm this as ye fellow dwarf, my clan has been cursed with height fer generations, often being called the derogative "Slimlegs" by fellow Dwarves of shorter height. I meself am in my prime, just turned 137 last month but the window for finding a good strong wife is dwindling. And the family problem isn't disappearing soon since only other tall dwarves are willing to marry us, and the family name was put in further disgrace when me Aunt married a bloody Human! If me clan can't drop our heights soon it will be the end of us $\endgroup$
    – ArcWraith
    Jun 24, 2018 at 21:19

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