Ningens are an old internet legend/creepypasta.

Supposedly living in the polar regions of the globe, these creatures are described as having white-skin, a roughly humanoid structure with clear head, long arms and even hands and finally: a size range of 15-20 meters, perhaps way bigger. So basically humanoid whales? There is not much info besides that so their diets, behaviour, intelligence, etc are open.

Probably just another fake internet cryptid story. But still, I'm curious about implementing the concept in a work of mine. I would like to know:

-Are such creatures even plausible?

-Could they exist in a world similar to ours?

-What could be their evolutionary origin and what natural niches could they occupy?

illustrative image

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Whales are dogs evolved into giant mammalian fish. Do the same thing with otters, cause they have arms. $\endgroup$
    – user72862
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ I am curious why they would keep their arms, as opposed to real whales. $\endgroup$
    – Mr Glass
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 22:54

2 Answers 2


Possible, yes. Plausible no.

Whales, after all, are mammals, and during development, the same part of us that becomes our arms become the forward flippers of a whale. If you decided to go the mad scientist route towards making them, then you'd graft some human DNA on whales at just the right place to make this change. The head is a bit trickier to deal with, but seeing as we just need the shape of the head, as we can still have them breathe through a blowhole, that would also be possible.

Plausible, not a chance. Whales originally had far more human like arms. Not whales specifically, the mammal ancestor of whales which eventually became whales is believe to have more mammal like limbs, somewhat akin to a pinniped's, before evolution happened. Because evolution is a thing. And the long and short of it is that human-like arms are abysmal for swimming through the water. That's why humans put on flippers. Not to mention that head isn't aerodynamic enough for the water. Evolution works against it. Even intelligence won't evolve hands - whales and dolphins are pretty smart, yet they have evolved any kind of appendage to grasp and manipulate objects throughout their history, mostly because such an advantage of manipulating objects isn't really as present in the water as it is on land.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The head does remind me a bit of a beluga or pilot whale so it might not be too much of a problem? $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ I could see a variety of whale which has something like hands since indeed their fins have bones not dissimilar to those of mammals which have hands or paws. In the same way that humans are sometimes born with vestigial tails, maybe some whales have more pronounced hands/paws. Could a whale have a face more like those of other mammals? $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 10:34

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Nothing in nature is useless, things can become un-needed but never worthless.

Butt hair for humans? Not needed but still maintained throughout evolution.

Knee caps? Same, biological disaster, but still maintained throughout evolution.

Otters that go fully water based and lose their back legs and furr, good... But they don't need to lose their arms too, arms don't make swimming that much slower anyway because the speed comes from the torso and tail. But arms can offer a great advantage.

You just need to use your imagination, arms are not just for tool use but also for self defense, mating, massages, cuddling and if you are an otter HOLDING YOUR BABY SO IT DOES NOT GO ADRIFT WHEN SLEEPING.

But it doesn't have to be an otter, the other options are good too, it might seem stupid but physical contact is not important just for humans, almost every animal needs their good share of affection, and arms can make that need easier.

And also sexual selection tends to be always stronger than "natural selection", you are gonna see a lot of stupid animals with stupid features that might seem gross or ridicule and only exist because of sexual selection.


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