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In my story Elves, Humans, and a bunch of other fantasy races live along side each other and i'm curious as to what evolutionary pressures would to a group of divergent hominids to evolve into Elves? some basic characteristics of my Elves are:

  • are on average 158.4cm (5.2ft) tall and weigh 40kg (90lb)
  • live on average between 250 and 270 years (addressed here)
  • have pointy ears
  • are as intelligent as humans
  • have an improved sense of hearing and eyesight
  • are overall weaker than humans but do have a slightly stronger grip
  • are faster and more agile
  • have slightly worse endurance
  • are more slender
  • are less fertile
  • can interbreed with humans but the resulting offspring are always infertile (similar to mules)

Note: magic does not exist in my story

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    $\begingroup$ Are they a species that diverged from humanity millions of years ago? can they interbreed with humans? $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI -Monica come Home Feb 25 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ This may get voted closed for opinion based or too broad. A better way to word the question might be to come up with your own possible scenario and ask about feasibility, or narrow down to a specific trait. I won't close vote for now to give you a chance to work on that. $\endgroup$ – TitaniumTurtle Feb 25 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ You will probably get more answers if you wait a day to accept an answer. Give our friends in Australia a shot at it. $\endgroup$ – Zwuwdz Feb 25 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ I saw a lot of question about different races, I really wish see your work with it, icewar1908. $\endgroup$ – Rodolfo Penteado Mar 12 at 19:27
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We have an example of this kind of divergence with Bonobos and Chimpanzees. They look almost identical, but have diverged enough to be considered different species. They are very similar but have different characteristics. This could be a basis of consideration when pondering how evolution would have created both species, even though we are talking about something pretty different.

So look at pressures that would create your desired characteristics.

Most of them could come from a single (and fantasy consistent) Biome. A Rain Forest. Here is how it could work. The majority of the continent they develop on is covered in dense forests. Perhaps they came over a land bridge or something a long, long time ago back when they were an Australopithicus. They had not fully advanced into the naked pink Terminators Homo sapiens ended up being. Since they entered the vast forest, the pressures are there to maybe create an elf.

A big, lumbering ape isn't going to perform quite as well moving around in trees as well as a smaller ape. A heavy body cannot climb as high, and height is where relative safety is. This gives you a shorter stature and lower mass. A stronger grip is also advantageous for climbing.

Other characteristics could also be advantageous in a dense forest. The canopy is going to lower light levels quite a bit. That, over time, gives better night vision. Other animals with good camouflage means that excellent perception means you can eat and maybe avoid being eaten. Same with hearing. If you can't hear the snake coming up behind, you don't get to reproduce. Pointy ears that can move like a cats might result, but that could be a bit of a stretch.

Endurance could be sacrificed in favor of speed and agility. In a dense forest, you are probably better off as an ambush predator, as Gustavo's answer mentions.

So a dense rain forest gives you the pressures you need. Plus, they are elves. and elves go with trees like...well, you know

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    $\begingroup$ note that if they live in dense forest they will be dark skinned ,light skin in a forest just makes you stand out like a sore thumb. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 26 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ @John actually most elves in my world are dark skinned with only a fringe group in not-Europe having light skin hell most of my Not-European Elves are dark skinned. $\endgroup$ – icewar1908 Apr 1 at 20:11
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Have them evolve from CATS!

They are ambush predators, so that checks:

  • Better vision.
  • Better hearing.
  • Agile build but strong grip.
  • Faster.

Remember cats get retractable claws since they need them sharp, vs dogs with endurance travel with exposed claws for better grip on the terrain.

Now Humans evolved to work on Endurance Hunting. While early hominids were fighting long drawn out battles, elves were brutal and short.

They get lighter bone structure and may need meat for shorter digestive tracks.

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    $\begingroup$ so like the cats of the hominid world? $\endgroup$ – icewar1908 Feb 25 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ Yup. In one side, Elves, on the other, the Neanderthal with a heavy build. Which would be really close to "Dwarf" classic build. Bonus points if you make Dwarves herbivores with herd behaviours. The whole CLAN mindset would be inline with that. $\endgroup$ – Gustavo Feb 25 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ really cause Dwarves in my story are just shorter Neanderthals. also i don't think Neanderthals had any herd mindset being ambush predators similar to us. $\endgroup$ – icewar1908 Mar 12 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ Cats would evolve to look almost exactly like humans? Why? Convergent evolution is not that powerful to account for every characteristic. $\endgroup$ – cowlinator Apr 2 at 23:01
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That mostly sounds like adaptations towards climbing.

Slenderness, better eyesight, agility, poor endurance, and a strong grip are all adaptations common to climbing animals.

pointy ears is either sexual selection or for better directional hearing, and really depends on what you mean by pointy ears. there is quite a variety of elf ear designs, some purely cosmetic some functional.

The only thing that is tricky is lifespan, generally the only solution would be slower growth to maturity combined with some increased resistance to cancer to make it possible.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps if the lowered fertility problem was insurmountable they would evolve a longer life to make up for it. $\endgroup$ – colmde Mar 13 at 9:40
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I can't speak to all the other traits, but cosmetic traits like pointy ears are usually selected for as part of courtship rituals. Basically, one elf, who had above-average desirability due to other traits also happened to have pointy ears. His mate selects him due to these other positive traits. The positive traits, as well as the pointy ears get passed on to the off-spring. Over dozens of generations, pointy ears become a proxy for the other traits. Pointy ears don't actually confer any benefit themselves, but a pattern has been noticed that elves with pointier ears tend to be better in X, Y, or Z ways. They don't need to be consciously aware of this pattern either, it can be subconscious.

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I would actually go more of a mountainous evolutionary pathway. Pale skin is believed to be a result of nutritional deficiency that favors sunlight exposure in northern climates. Good hearing and eyesight, as well as good grip, fast and agile would let a mountain hunter pursue prey (think predatory goat). Scarcity of food favors low muscle mass and sheltering small numbers of offspring. That same food scarcity and cold temperatures favors slow metabolism, possibly even some sort of hibernation or even freezing in the winter and unthawing in the spring. Low fertility supports protecting your scarce young and females in craggy mountain fortresses and compensating for climate with technology (clothes, tools, etc.) Very polite because you don't want to kill any other scarce elves. Mountain hunting and castles suggest advanced ballistic weapons (bow, crossbows).

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