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No, this question is not about creating a subspecies of mermaid that all happen to look and act like a certain Disney princess. Not at all, in fact. You see, mermaids in my setting are capable of extreme dwarfism. How extreme? Well, if you've ever seen a sardine, or perhaps a neon tetra, that should give you a good idea.

This is a natural result of how mermaids came to be; the merging of fish, human, and even cetacean essence. However, knowing this will happen and realistically accounting for it are two different things. My main question is simple; could they survive? To help you see where I'm coming from, here's a pro and con list:

Pros:

  • Little mermaids will need less food than their regular-sized counterparts
  • Little mermaids can hide easier than regular mermaids (and potentially evolve to utilize sea anemones for protection, or else have symbiotic relationships with other sea creatures, like gobies sharing burrows with crabs)
  • Little mermaids will likely be protected and cared for by regular-sized mermaids belonging to the school they were born into
  • Little mermaids can potentially form larger schools than regular mermaids, giving them a numeric advantage
  • Given the magic involved here, little mermaids could have enhanced strength (due to having the strength of a regular-sized mermaid packed into their tiny bodies, which don't need to "waste" muscle power to lift or otherwise support a larger body)

Cons:

  • Little mermaids will have a harder time with predators (and have more predators) than regular mermaids
  • Little mermaids will be less energy-efficient than their larger counterparts
  • The larger mermaids caring for a little mermaid can easily get distracted; little mermaids can easily be lost track off, and they'd likely be problematic to care for, so even with a mermaid's extreme altruism, they may be lost regardless
  • In order to form large schools, little mermaids will need to find each other-no mean feat
  • Little mermaids will likely rely on parthenogenesis to keep up their population

Considering the above pros and cons, could these little mermaids survive in order to become a mermaid subspecies?

Thanks for your input, I appreciate it!

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    $\begingroup$ If they are as small as sardines and have the same diet as the sardines and the same social behavior as sardines, they'll probably have a reproduction rate as high as the sardines. If they don't, they are doomed. DOOMED, I tell yea! $\endgroup$ Nov 17 '21 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ Quite how they maintain body-temperature might be something to look-at. Fat sardines, hairy sardines, sardines in puffy overcoats? $\endgroup$ Nov 17 '21 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. don't you dare body-shame the little mermaids calling them "fat sardines"! :D $\endgroup$ Nov 17 '21 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ Another alternative is to make them slightly more fish than human - perhaps a fish body with a human head, and their behavior more fish-like $\endgroup$ Nov 17 '21 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know enough about fish in general to make this an official answer. However, I thought I'd share some thoughts that could help you form an answer... Why would their survival have to be different than any other little fish? Especially if these little mermaids have big mermaids looking after them. Chances are that lots of them will die. However, if they reproduce fast enough, there should be enough of them surviving to help the whole species survive. $\endgroup$
    – user613
    Nov 17 '21 at 10:24
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Sure, why not? If they're of human intelligence, they have a huge advantage in the ocean automatically. Assuming that we just grant them that, the biggest drawback would be heat loss, but if they're in tropical water (or have cold blood), then once again, they're fine.

The biggest pros are the implicit ones from your list. An intelligent, social, potentially weapon-wielding tiny species sounds like it'd turn out like ants or humans, wildly successful.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! It looks like I need to figure out the heat loss problem, but all in all, this should work pretty well. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Nov 17 '21 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ IMO they should leverage their intellect as much as possible consistent with your preferred vision. E.g. no hiding in random anemones; they've bred extra venomous anemones or at least planted them every few centimetres. But it all depends on your vision; if you want them to be the classic romantic mermaid archetype, maybe some reference to their distaste for strategy/violence/hard work might explain why and how they are archetypal mermaids? All the best. PS Human perverts will lust after them if encountered. $\endgroup$ Nov 18 '21 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean by the classic romantic mermaid archetype? As for your PS, I will keep that in mind, I believe their enhanced strength will help with that. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Nov 18 '21 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ I mean the Hans Christian Anderson view of the mermaids as innocent and unworldly and girlish. I think you've referred to them being extreme altruists already. $\endgroup$ Nov 20 '21 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that does clarify things, thank you! Having read the Little Mermaid, I think I'd say he viewed them as naive, foolish, and even soulless, but I do see evidence of your viewpoint as well. Equally valid, I'd say. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Nov 20 '21 at 19:31

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