Okay, after a lot of thought, I decided that mermen wouldn't exist in my setting. Why? Because in various IRL situations, balance is necessary for proper function. If men represent land and mermaids represent the sea, the two together represent a perfect balance. (There is still human women, I didn't see any reason to remove them from the setting.) However, this comes with a price.
Due to the constraints of their environment, mermaids will be stuck at pre-medieval levels of technology, as they can't work metal, create fire...in essence, they lack the resources and quite possibly the motivation to develop anything truly advanced. ("We've been doing this for years, why would we change it?" AKA "don't mess with success.")
In other words, part of my premise is the idea that mermaids will survive with primitive technology (coral branches as improvised spears, for instance), focusing instead on the social aspects of life (relationships, altruism, cooperation). This means they'll have an intricate culture, lots of social rituals, and an emphasis on teamwork and relationships but lousy tech.
This also means that mermaids will likely put even more emphasis on increasing desirability than regular people do-firstly, they are only part human, which could very well hurt their chances with potential mates, and secondly, with their society's focus on relationships, plus the fact that their survival literally depends on this and failure threatens the whole species, it seems obvious mermaids will undergo intense sexual selection.
My question is, How Will Mermaids Be Influenced by Sexual Selection?
- I really don't want or need a ton of detail, just generalities are fine. You can even sum up by saying "this will inevitably lead to a Hollywood phenotype among mermaids," if that's accurate.
If you don't feel such a sum-up is possible, feel free to use the following list of traits and explain how natural selection will influence them:
a. Hair length/color b. Scale color/appearance c. Skin color (maybe texture?) d. Fin appearance e. Fishtail form (appearance, not function) f. General appearance
- The best answer will be realistic; I am a fictional realist, I put realism into my fiction, so input on realistic mermaid traits will be appreciated. Just know that mermaids are basically magic-born chimeras, female humans altered by an ancient cataclysmic event into the half-fish creatures they are now, so they will have both skin and scales at first, barring natural selection.
I say 'barring natural selection' because such a topic as mermaids having scales and skin or just scales is exactly what Spec #2 concerns, namely, realism. I'm all for traditional mermaid depictions, but I understand that may not be possible when natural selection is applied. Anyway, thank you and good luck!