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There are people in my setting who can blend in really well with the flora of their native lands, and can even do a passable job of blending in with other similar areas, a form of camouflage. Their skin is green and its texture has grooves to mimic the moss-covered trees and their hair is also green, long, fluffy and moss-like, while their ears are like ivy leaves. They can braid their hair to make it look more vine-like or even grass-like, which helps in certain hotter climes for blending in because excess sun tans their skin from green to brown and bleaches their hair to the more yellowish colour of dry grass. They may mimic plants but they are entirely mammalian.

They use their plant mimicry to hunt mostly, but it also helps against predators and against being spotted by other kinds of people in this setting. Their elusiveness combined with the rare sightings of them are the primary reason why the fairy tales of dryads and the like are a part of the human culture in the world.

Many fairy tale creatures and myths in this world also have similar origins, an exotic kind of people or animal mistaken for or believed to be something else by humans and are assigned some sort of myth to them as the sightings are spread by word of mouth.

Assuming common ancestry with humans, at what point must they have diverged in order to have a plausible timeframe for them to evolve these features?

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  • $\begingroup$ Given they need to be green and very plant like, probably earlier than the separation that created the first different ethnic groups $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2021 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ProjectApex: If by "ethnic groups" you mean phenotypically diverse populations (= "races"), those are quite recent biologically speaking. If by ethnic groups you really mean ethnic groups, those are extremely recent, and most usually short lived; off the top of my head I can think of very few ethnic groups older than 2000 years, such as the Greeks and the Hebrews -- most of the other ethnic groups of the Antiquity that we know of are gone. (For example, to see how recent they are: there is a famous ethnic groups called Americans which is less than 300 years old.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 16, 2021 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Are those people naked savages living at the beginning of the stone age? Because otherwise the adaptations are an irrelevant distractions. Ordinary modern people can easily camouflage as plants and whatnot; we have this stone age technology called "clothes". (And we can paint or skin and hair green if we want to.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 16, 2021 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Naked savages they are, the extent of their technology being a sharp stick, or primitive spear if you will. They keep warm at night by sleeping together in hug groups, the long and wild hair of the adults making the whole thing look like a big bush until you get close enough to investigate whatever oddities might stick out. $\endgroup$
    – Commoner
    Oct 16, 2021 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP I meant the former, sorry for the wording. Still I'd say it'd take quite a bit longer since they need a few drastic changes to be able to look just like plants as a form of built-in camouflage instead of other strategies like associating with algae. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2021 at 14:30

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They are homo sapiens like any other human.

amazonian

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/uncontacted-tribe-amazon-brazil-photos?loggedin=true

Our species has used tools, culture and intelligence to modify our bodies for hundreds of thousands of years. The depicted Amazonian has tattooed his body with decorations that actually are pretty good camouflage against the ground. Your people accomplish their green phenotype using their brains, hands and environment.

Skin is green because it is painted and tattooed that way. Furrows exist because of scarification. Hair is tinted green of a shade appropriate for the season. Ears are shaped like ivy leaves because they are cut that way.

You do not ask for photosynthetic humans. You ask for humans with body mods and camouflage. We can do that now.

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