From further investigations I see that someone came with an idea that gives support to my theory that elves don't have body fat.

Their idea was that Elves store their energy as ethanol in their blood. This idea implies that Elves basically walk around with anti-freeze blood that can protect against infections better than normal blood while also making it so that Elves can't get drunk.

But another problem arises, people with low body fat tend to look like road maps,cause even if there are small muscles below the skin, if there is 0 fat to cover it then even the smallest muscles are perfectly visible. enter image description here

So, How can Elves have 0% body fat and not look like some freaky walking road map?

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    $\begingroup$ Simple, they have scar tissue underneath the skin as filling instead. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Nov 1 '18 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Probably worth looking into the functions of fat in the human body, not just outer fat but visceral fat, etc. Things like temperature regulation would be drastically different for an elf without body fat $\endgroup$ – Vmf Nov 1 '18 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ since a creature that has that much alcohol in in tissue will have radically different biochemistry you can handwave any solution you want. Your elves can't even be vertebrates, they would instantly die of dehydration. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 1 '18 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ Also note those humans do not have zero body fat, they have around 10-15% body fat. they have very low subcutaneous fat which is different. At zero percent body fat your joints and organs stop functioning properly, and not due to metabolic reasons. Also keep in mind the brain is mostly fat. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 1 '18 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ if there's an elf with alcoholic blood, somewhere there's a human who thinks, "here's a way to corner the market on alcohol" $\endgroup$ – nzaman Nov 2 '18 at 6:53

Elves have thicker skin. Literally.

One of the purposes of fat in the body is kinetic: it serves as a cushion to absorb and distribute the force of impacts - not just in the sense of punches or falling rocks, but also things like the ground impacting your foot as you walk around on it.

Since your elves don't have fat, it follows that some other part of the body has to be cushioning it. The dermis - the middle layer of skin - already provides some cushioning effects, so it makes sense to me that in your elves, it would take on this role, becoming thicker, denser, and stiffer than in humans. Therefore, it would be less inclined to mold itself to the contours of the body beneath. (It would also be less able to expand and contract, which would be a problem in a human since our bodies change shape as we gain and lose fat - but conveniently, elves don't do that.)

The outer layer of skin would be relatively unaffected, so it shouldn't feel any different to the touch. I would expect that facial muscles might have a harder time flexing the thicker skin, hence why elves are often known for their stoicism - their faces are literally less expressive than humans'.

I welcome people who actually know things about anatomy to pick holes in this idea.

  • $\begingroup$ this makes the skin less flexible and prone to tearing especially around the joints. to get the skin that taunt they probably won't even be able to sit down. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 1 '18 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ @John What aboout rhinos? $\endgroup$ – user56803 Nov 2 '18 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Eries What about it? its thick but also inflexible, the skin is not so much taunt as too stiff to flex. They even have special fold to thin the skin around limb joints so the can walk. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '18 at 13:23

Type 1 Muscle Tissue

As a species your elves have a predisposition to Type 1 muscle tissue, which is 'slow twitch'. A normal seditary man or a woman is believed to have 45% Type 2 muscle mass and 55% Type 1. However long distance runners have higher percentages of Type 1 muscle mass.

In this picture you can actually see that Type 1 muscle users have less definition in their exposed areas. muscle fibre types

This would also help explain why your elves can perform endurance tasks well, which is a common elvish trope.

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    $\begingroup$ this doesn't actually answer the question.muscle type has nothing to do with changing the physical appearance of zero body fat. the pictured people still have healthy levels of body fat. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '18 at 0:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah most marathon runners have around 11% bodyfat. Which means an athlete weighing 70 kilograms carries 7.7 kilograms of fat underneath the skin. $\endgroup$ – user56803 Nov 2 '18 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ @John With zero fat, muscle is the main thing affecting the physical appearance of the surface. It's nonsensical to say that differences in muscle types have nothing to do with this. $\endgroup$ – Misha R Nov 2 '18 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @MishaR it really doesn't, those muscle types differ in microstructure not anything visible to the eye. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '18 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ The only visible differences I can think of is that fast twitch muscle fibers grow 25% bigger compared to slow twitch ones. But the shape is exactly the same. $\endgroup$ – user56803 Nov 2 '18 at 19:38

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