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In our world, humans evolved and spread to pretty much every place in the world they could reach. Would that still be the case if there were, say, a dozen different humanoid species? Would they all fan out into every place that suited them, or would they tend to stick to their own areas and avoid the others?

When I say "humanoid" I mean any species that walks upright, makes tools, and speaks words of some kind. Neanderthals, elves, vampires, lizard men with chameleon skin - whatever. (I'm guessing the specifics of any given species would affect things, but I'm looking more for general rules.)

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    $\begingroup$ this really depends on how different they are, if they are really specialized and such. there were several hominid species around at one time. but one species had a brain that built much better tolls and lived in large groups which was more than any of the other groups could compete with. $\endgroup$ – John May 23 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @John actually Sapiens had smaller brains than other hominids, and Neanderthals had better tools and primitive knowledge of chemistry... Sapiens just had bigger populations, because having smaller brains means births are less likely to be fathal for the mother or the child. Eventually sapiens had almost 3 times larger population than the other humans. Which eventually meant that due to hybridization the smaller groups of humans faded into our DNA leaving only insignificant traces od their ancenstry. Which means that every single human in the world today is an hybrid.. $\endgroup$ – Kyu May 23 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ But just like lion and tiger hybrids, after another generation of hybridization you transform ligers into liligons then liligers and so on until the species with the most numbers slowly starts taking more DNA space $\endgroup$ – Kyu May 23 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyu only neanderthals had larger brains, but it was also a less complex brain. the difference in tools ins inescapable. and humans had larger social groups much larger social groups, ease of birth had nothing to do with it, it has to do with how many individuals the brain can keep track of. occasionally interbreeding does not change the fact we drove them extinct. $\endgroup$ – John May 23 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ @John yes the difference in tools in inescapable, but Neanderthals had better tools. Plus ease of birth has everything to do with natural selection, a species where 1/3 females die during birth is gonna reproduce slower than a species which has females that die only 1/5 of times they give birth. Hybridization was not occasional as literally every single human on earth has Neanderthal blood as well as other hominid DNA. If it was occurring occasionally then you'd find those hybrid ancestry only in europeans, but they are shared across every continent and every remote isle. $\endgroup$ – Kyu May 23 at 14:48
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They Must Live Entirely Separated or Have a Different Niche

The Principle of Competitive Exclusion puts the kibosh on any humanoids living in harmony together if they share the same niche. Homo Sapiens drove Neanderthals and Desinovians to extinction within a relatively short time period after we first encountered them, and this is because competitive exclusion ensures that the species in a niche with even the most minor of advantages is going to outcompete the other to the point of extinction.

If the humanoids are in separate geographic areas without contact until they are both advanced enough that they can create intellectual and technical solutions to resource competition (so not even modern humans lmao) than they can survive.

If the humanoids somehow occupy a different ecological niche, say by being exclusive consumers of plant material indigestible to humans than it’s also ecologically feasible

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    $\begingroup$ They don't need to have an entirely separate niche, but they need to have enough of one that there are some areas of non-overlap. You see this with a lot of faunas today. Indeed, there are several cases of coexisting hominin with somewhat separated niches in the Pliocene and Pleistocene $\endgroup$ – user2352714 May 23 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @user2352714 You are correct, if resources are abundant enough it doesn’t apply as we see on the African Savannah with the dozens of large ungulate species $\endgroup$ – NixonCranium May 23 at 19:11
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Niche environments and more migration:

Based on how migrations of humans have happened, I would say the prime real estate would undergo a lot of shifting as different species and sub-species vied for control of territory. On Earth, most parts of the World have seen many ethnicities push each other around or absorb the other groups after conquering them. This can involve the disappearance of the Y chromosome specific to the displaced group - in other words, all the men are killed and all the children are descended from the invaders.

In a world where the invaded is a completely different species that is likely not compatible, it means species will often face extinction or migration. There will be lots of pressure on species to fight to the death or find new places to live, which often means displacing yet another species from territory THEY are in.

Species that thrive in less desirable niche environments where there is less competition will have refuges they can withdraw to and survive until in a position to reclaim territory. Elves and dwarves might want farm land, but if times are hard, they pull back to the mountains or the forests and kill everyone who sets foot there. This may allow them to stabilize their migration pattern and assert periodic control and expansion into the neighboring lands.

Other species will need to be more nomadic or come up with better strategies to stabilize their control. Orcs might be able to interbreed with everything and still give birth to orcs. Humans might be good castle builders and diplomats. Vampires may be able to infiltrate other species and adapt to whatever conqueror comes along.

  • At a guess, species would tend to spread out and control preferred environments, leading to dispersed races (possibly with quite distinct ethnicities) while more generalist species will spread widely as they are moved along by constant shifting migrations of other aggressive generalists.
  • Lots of changing factors like disease, technology, symbiotic relationships, and new magical abilities or even the vagaries of the gods will alter this. Imagine a god tied to a certain region - invaders would be hard-pressed to invade the trollish land of Moloch worshippers, but a conversion of the hobgoblins to worshipping Moloch could leave the locals in real trouble. Dwarves friendly with humans might let humans migrate to lands cut off from others by mountain ranges. Elves in forests completely surrounding a large swamp might undergo speciation into swamp-elves after the fire-newts burn the woods to the ground. Rice production might mean lizard men thrive and dominate, until humans start growing rice and invading wetter areas for agriculture. The possibilities are endless.
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Well, we already know the disastrous end the Neanderthals met here on Earth. Sapiens moved in and either shagged or outcompeted them into extinction. I think it would be fair to say that, at the very least, if Sapiens is involved in your world, they'll just do the same.

I think if the creation a/o evolutionary tracks of the various kindreds are a little better spaced out, then you might find a situation where certain kinds of people who are well suited to a niche (like swamps or forests or mountain halls) could thrive.

If you left Sapiens out of the picture entirely, or make them a minority, you might wind up with a better balance into the future.

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  • $\begingroup$ There's no evidence of Neanderthal being outcompeted by homo sapiens for various reasons but the most important ones being that Neanderthals were more adapted to their environment and had different diets while also having better weapons. Animals who have different diets dont compete. They both ate food, but different kind of foods.. Different meats and different plants and some Neanderthals were plain out vegetetarian, giving them no reason tro compete with sapiens at all. $\endgroup$ – Kyu May 23 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyu - Competition isn't just for food. In any event, they are no more, except as a percentage of some Sapiens' DNA. Just another form of competition. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas May 23 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @kyu, neanderthal diet was not that different, it was not identical but that is not the same at all. they show similar dietary variation to homo sapiens. $\endgroup$ – John May 23 at 15:35
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In Earthly ecologies, ecological niches are fiercely contested. In areas where wolves have been re introduced, the wolves have driven off the coyotes who had occupied the vacant niche. Similar things can be seen with the introduction of invasive species, if the "new" species has some competitive advantage over the existing species, they will overrun the ecological niche. This even happens with vegetation, such as the Kudzu vine.

In our own history, the Ancestors displaced the Neanderthals and Denisovians, and possibly other hominid species, most likely because the Ancestors moved in larger groups and were wired to cooperate more successfully than their cousins. This allowed them to exploit the resources of the land more fully, and living in larger clans and tribes the Ancestors had larger pools of skills and genetics - tiny groups of Neanderthals might fail if their one healer or tool maker died and could not be replaced in time, or diseases caused by inbreeding crippled the overall viability of the group. One might wonder if Neanderthal and Denisovian clans welcomed the Ancestors because they created a larger pool of potential mates (We know the Ancestors seemed partial to redheads, since the ancestral gene comes from the Neanderthals).

So multiple hominid species will eventually be reduced down to one. The only way multiple intelligent species could co exist (which seems implied with the question) is if they existed in entirely different and non overlapping niches, somewhat like humans and orcas. In that case, the interaction would be much different - if they were at similar levels of development then at the interface between the niches there would be stories of the strange and magical creatures of "the other place" who seem to be able to talk, and might be enticed to exchange gifts.

The situation where multiple Hominid species co exist only lasts for a short time, ecologically speaking. In the case of the Ancestors, they coexisted with the Neanderthals for several tens of thousands of years (likely because the Ice Ages limited the mobility of the various species), but once conditions had changed to the point the Ancestors began their expansion (eventually walking around the world), they rapidly displaced their cousins. If this was possible with primitive stone and wooden tools available to everyone, then the situation would be even more extreme if any species had more advanced cultures or technologies.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree that multiple humanoids seems unlikely, but in a fantasy world it gives the character of the environment. Fantasy worlds also seem to have an extremely high rate of speciation and subterranean niches are much more favorable than in the real world. Maybe there's bleed between parallel worlds allowing intra-universe migration - but that would be a whole different question. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus May 23 at 15:07

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