Somewhat related to this. I've already decided that both orcs and humans are subspecies of homo sapiens (homo sapiens praepotens and homo sapiens perpessio, respectively, because both species are abundant and it would be rude to call one of them the "real" homo sapiens). I have fauns/satyr type beings instead of elves, though, because I dislike the idea of an immortal species.

Unlike fauns and satyrs of myth, these guys have about the same hair distribution as humans (i.e., no goat legs). I'd also like to give them antlers instead of horns – that is, they'd be cast off annually, able to be cut off without bleeding to death. Their stance is digitigrade, with solid hooves, as in a horse.

Obviously, having hooves, they're not as closely related as humans and orcs are, and are almost definitely not in the "homo" category. Where might a species like this plausibly fit on a taxonomic tree? And, on a similar note, can I plausibly give my satyrs "horns"?

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    $\begingroup$ Well.... It's your tree and these are mythological creatures. You can put them anywhere you want. It's not like our taxanomic system is or has been set in stone. It changes all the time. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 28 '15 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a particular taxonomy you want to see? For example, the modern taxonmy tends to be associated with genetic evolution, so the answer would depend on what genetic relations there are between your fauns/satyrs and other species. If they were spawned by some diety, they may not be in our tree of life at all! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 28 '15 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon My deities are waaaay too busy to have life come about by any way other than evolution (though they do influence it occasionally, when they're bored). What I'm actually looking for is the closest I can plausibly associate them with homo sapiens without breaking too much suspension of disbelief. A plot point is that they can't procreate with the other species without a complex modern magical procedure. $\endgroup$ – Midwinter Sun Nov 28 '15 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ I mean, granted, it's fantasy, and no one but me probably cares how the species are related, but I want to be able to write this down in my notes without breaking my own suspension of disbelief. $\endgroup$ – Midwinter Sun Nov 29 '15 at 0:56

This is perhaps not exactly the answer you are looking for, but I would suggest you consider the possibility of having the satyrs coevolve with your homids, but start from some other species. Humans evolved from apes; why can't your satyrs start from hooved animals instead? You already mention horses in your question; is there some specific reason why your satyrs can't have evolved from horses?

Consider giraffes, which evolved really long necks to reach high into the trees (where there was little competition for the food). Your satyrs could take a different evolutionary path and evolve the ability to stand reasonably stable on their hind legs to do much the same thing. Like long necks, this would also give them the advantage of a better view of the terrain, which helps spot predators early. It also has the benefit that it doesn't require, say, a comparatively much stronger heart to pump the blood all the way up to the head, because the head is much closer in terms of height: less work needed to fight gravity.

Your satyrs, then, would fit into the taxonomy with horses in much the same way humans in our world fit into the taxonomy with apes.

Give it enough time and a good enough selection pressure, and one could even argue that it could at least semi-plausibly actually have happened that way!

  • $\begingroup$ Convergent evolution plus good ol' fantasy handwaviness. I like it. $\endgroup$ – Midwinter Sun Nov 29 '15 at 18:16

Just for fun, put them at the top of the tree, right next to homo sapiens. I would love to see the geneticist's faces when they compare blood samples from the fawns, satyrs and humans, and find no significant differences.

Your world has magic! Not all change has to be explained scientifically.


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