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Jeff is a human. He has two arms, two legs, a head, a heart, and all the normal stuff of a human. This includes a penis.

Zhsdfgl is not a human. Zhsdfgl is roughly her species' equivalent of female. She has five radial tentacles, a slug-like foot, no head, and no recognizable internal organs. She has an ovipositer and a weird appendage designed to siphon off her species' males' seed.

Jeff is among the first to arrive at Zhsdfgl's home world. By some miracle, our cultures are similar enough for communication to be established quickly. Jeff and Zhsdfgl are both sexual deviants in their culture and do some, ahem, experimenting. They are initially shunned, but then to everyone's surprise Zhsdfgl lays an egg containing Jeff's offspring.


My question is what, likely, biological reasons might their be for Jeff and Zhsdfgl's offspring to be a fully functioning viable individual?

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closed as too broad by StephenG, Cadence, Aric, Frostfyre, kingledion Aug 20 '18 at 13:09

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ There's basically no way this can possibly happen. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Aug 19 '18 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ I corrected some spelling. But I can't correct the implausibility of this. It is tough enough to explain how different humanoids can produce viable offspring (e.g., human + vulcan) - this is a bit beyond absurd. $\endgroup$ – manassehkatz Aug 19 '18 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ @manassehkatz Human Vulcan interbreeding would have involved advanced reproductive technology. Everybody didn't believe it was necessary to mention this. For it to happen though natural sex is absurd. The OP is trying to find a way to make it plausible. Nothing like a question to push us out of our comfort zones. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 19 '18 at 5:24
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    $\begingroup$ "By some miracle, our cultures are similar enough for communication to be established quickly." By some miracle... the two species can also interbreed. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 19 '18 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ Dropping your second two questions should allow this to be reopened. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 20 '18 at 14:22
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So, I feel like I should raise a concern about the hard-science tag, because if we're staying within the realm of REAL hard science, there is no real answer. Viable offspring require genetic similarity that's at odds with the conditions of your post. If horses and donkeys can't have viable offspring, even though they're almost the same animal, there's just absolutely no way the scenario you're describing is possible.

That said.

The simplest way to create this condition is for both Jeff and Zhsdfgl to somehow descend from the same genetic code base. There's quite a bit of science fiction out there based on the Panspermia Theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia), which would, with sufficient hand-wavium, make it at least conceivable that there could be a viable offspring.

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    $\begingroup$ While panspermia might explain why two planets share enough biochemistry to be able to eat each others food, it sure as heck wouldn't explain two species from different planets being able to breed unless more closely related species could breed, i.e. two species from the same planet. $\endgroup$ – ltmauve Aug 19 '18 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ No argument. The REAL response to the question asked is: They can't. No Way. No How. Full Godddamn Stop. But I was trying to be charitable and at least give OP SOMETHING useful. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 19 '18 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ Well yeah, but I always hate the kind of response that's essentially "You asked the question wrong, so I'm not going to give you an answer". In this case I also added what I thought the answer would be if the OP had asked a non-wrong question. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 19 '18 at 14:41
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Zhsdfgl is from a DNA-scavenging species.

This is an ancient way of mixing up the genome. It is still happening today among bacteria - antibiotic resistance genes, for example, can be swapped between unrelated bacterial lines. Hemoglobin is full on an animal gene but somehow the nitrogen mixing symbiotic bacteria in legumes copped a copy from something and now use hemoglobin for their own purposes.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929363-100-dna-grabbing-bacteria-hint-at-early-phase-of-evolution/

PARTS of us may never die – not quite, anyway. Lab tests involving microbes and a mammoth bone have shown that bacteria can passively soak up the genetic remains of long-dead organisms from the environment and add them to their own genomes.

This ability is a previously ignored mechanism of evolution, says Søren Overballe-Petersen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. It joins sex, where two organisms combine their genes by mating; random DNA mutation; and the active transfer of genes between live microbes.

By absorbing snippets of DNA that float in the environment, bacteria can access a junk shop of genetic material – some of which may no longer be in circulation in living things. What’s more, the mechanism requires hardly any cellular machinery, suggesting it may be left over from the earliest forms of life. Long before the advent of sex, the first cells may have randomly scavenged stray bits of DNA to survive and evolve.

Z's species does it this way, scavenging DNA from each other and anything else then incorporating found genes into the next generation. Z gladly does that with Jeff's genes. The Z body plan (with no recognizable organs) is more of a framework which is amenable to DNA and body plan aspects from very different types of organisms. In the area visited by humans these aliens are fairly similar one to the next but in other regions of the planet they may be unrecognizably different. The DNA of humans and this alien species follows the same general rules and so the DNA handling apparatus can handle human DNA.

I suspect Z's offspring will be genetically more related to Z than to Jeff - not a 50/50 mix like a human mating but a Z type alien with a liberal dose of human genes.

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  • $\begingroup$ this would not work, it is incredibly unlikely they would have compatible DNA, their codons would likely be different, Jeff's DNA would be gobbledygook to Z's cellular machinery. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 20 '18 at 14:21
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Parthenogenenis with of sprinkling a human DNA, via a retro-virus

OK, not a hard-science answer -- but I am pretty sure a hard-science answer is impossible for this question as it is hard to point to research into something that cannot have been studied since we have no contact with aliens.

Although the DNA of the two species is not remotely compatible, as few rare events could combine to be close enough to meet the inter-species breeding challenge.

An human egg will occasionally have an extra chromosome because the mitosis did not go as planned. I posit that Zhsdfgl has a failure mode where the germ cell essentially gets two copies of each most or all chromosomes -- thus making what is mostly a clone.

The sperm although not compatible happens to trigger the fertilization reactions when it penetrates the ovum due to chemical similarities. Although genetically incompatible, there is enough DNA transfer to the egg DNA because Jeff has a cold (a retro-virus), that due to chemistry within the eggs, causes some of Jeff's DNA as well as the cold virus DNA to transfer to the egg DNA.

The offspring will be mostly alien, etc. but science has discovered before that small differences in DNA can result in large somatic differences. Perhaps the offspring could have human hair, and maybe a few other recognizable humans traits that do not interfere with viability.

Having Jeff donate sperm is hardly a stretch, men have been known to attempt sex with many different things.

Probably a good idea to invoke panspermia as well, so the base genetic components (the 20 amino acids) are the same.

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It is possible but only with technology.

There is only one way to do with real science. Highly advanced medical/fertility technology able to create entirely synthetic gametes and genomes based on measured physical characteristics of one or both parents. It is simply impossibly using normal biology for their genes to be compatible, Even if by some miracle Z uses DNA they would not use the same codons. Extensive technological intervention is the only way. A machine creates an artificial genome compatible with the female biology based on AI analysis of the male parent. No actual genetic material from the father is transferred just a computers translation of the fathers qualities written into an artificial genome. It cannot be an accidental pregnancy only artificial insemination, although it might be accidental artificial insemination, but only if such practices are already common.

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    $\begingroup$ OO, this is a good answer. I didn't think of this. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 19 '18 at 4:29
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Zhsdfgl and jeff are Lying

Biologically speaking this just isn't possible. Not even slightly. But.... Maybe the two deviants are trying to get attention and/or money by claiming they did it as a hoax. There was an edutainment style documentary about a supposed human/chimpanzee hybrid which also isn't even remotely genetically possible despite our two species sharing over 95% genetic information and having descended from a common ancestor fairly recently (evolutionarily speaking.) The owners managed to gain quite a few free trips, hotel and resort comps, perks, and notoriety by claiming their pet chimpanzee is in fact half human. Genetic tests and examinations conducted by real experts showed that he was simply a regular chimpanzee with some morphological traits that humans might interpret as looking somewhat more human (albeit only slightly more so than any great ape could be construed to appear somewhat humanlike.) Ultimately his morphological flukes and genetic info showed he was simply a funny looking chimp, not a hybrid.

enter image description here

But... This really doesn't dissuade the pseudo scientific "I want to believe!" types from insisting that this chimp was in fact a human/ape hybrid. I'm going to assume since you mentioned these two cultures are somewhat similar and that due to the obvious fact they managed to directly contact each-other they posses mass media. There will ALWAYS be a fringe group of uneducated people who want to believe something strange. If its sensational enough its going to sell, so they just claim they had a baby, make up some faked pics, and social/mass media does the rest. Even with direct proof that it isn't possible and was faked there will always be at least some people who insist that this is actually a cover up and devise vast conspiracy theories about how it was actually true. Human-slugman hybrid sightings/claims/stories become the new Bigfoot equivalent.

I know its not really answering a viable way to naturally conceive viable offspring between two totally unrelated species but honestly its really the most likely answer. Your question is essentially "How can this impossible thing be possible?." By definition it can't, people can only be deceived into believing that it did.

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The child is a mosiac.

Zhsdfgl's species' reproductive system involves making a cellular mosiac. The female's reproductive system takes cells from male's body by some unknown method and creates an embryo by adding the female's cells to the sampled cells. Zhsdfgl therefore took cells from Jeff's body and managed to find stem cells or other reproducing cells and combined them with her own. This allows Zhsdfgl and Jeff to both have radically different biochemistry's and still make fertile offspring. The offspring would likely have to consume both human and alien food and would need to be a female of the alien species to be viable.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had to add this because I came up with this idea over night and nobody else seems to be willing to come up with answers. $\endgroup$ – tox123 Aug 19 '18 at 16:06

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