The magical species Zartika living on planet NB-8723D has organisms whose brains function at different speeds. All have almost the same physical body, but there lies some difference in their brains.

For example, the fastest organisms have complete brain development within one year after birth. They are in general smarter than humans. They can think fast, learn fast, etc. They can also walk fast, talk fast and so on. They die naturally in about ten years.

At the other end of the spectrum are organisms that take a century for complete brain development, and even then are incredibly slow. They take days to form even a single thought, and are also really slow at moving around. Their physical organs are almost the same though, so a hypothetical nervous system implant could allow them to move around much faster. Naturally the take about a millennium to die.

The species does not eat food or drink water, or excrete. It reproduces sexually. Brain speed is inherited but recessive traits often come in to play.

Is it possible for such a species to survive?

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    $\begingroup$ By survive, you mean evolve naturally and thrive, or just exist in controlled environment? Or something between? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 6 '17 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Molot Ideally it should be as natural as possible. You could assume a different environment on their planet though. Evolution is not required, survival is enough. $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 6 '17 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by 'magical species'? What limitations do you put on magic? If they are magical, then the answer seems to be trivially 'yes'. $\endgroup$ – Taladris Mar 6 '17 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ I think you got it backwards. The fastest-developing brain would be the slower one. Brain complexity is linked to the time it needs to mature and form its synapses. Humans take around 20 years to finish brain development, and that helps a lot to put us on the top of the food chain. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Mar 6 '17 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ Humans would not evolve an expensive feature that wasn’t needed. A being that didn’t eat or drink would end up being nothing like a human. Animals evolved brains to search for food and avoid becoming food, so without knowing how your species work, I wonder why it would have evolved any complexity at all. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 7 '17 at 8:05

Absolutely, though I rather suspect that speciation would occur for the 'quick' variant of the species.

Take humanity as a case in point. We have differing reaction speeds. Some people live longer than others. Some take more time to grasp abstract concepts than others. Some are faster at mirroring bodily movements (dancers). It can be argued that we are this species with a much smaller variance in 'speed' and a much less well defined link between speed and lifespan.

Given that speed is inherited you're going to see one heck of an evolutionary pressure towards being fast. The slow will die a lot more than the fast unless there is some reason for the fast to take care of the slow. Perhaps the slower are treated as the best social historians or religious leaders, given their long lifespans. In an early society the slow will die out pretty quickly in the same way that those unsuited for survival in mankind's early history died out.

But even if the society takes care of the slow there is still going to be an evolutionary drive towards being fast. Notably that the fast reach sexual maturity, can reproduce, have children and die multiple times before the slow finish saying good morning. Why have a slow partner when you could go out and get a fast one?

This is why I suspect you'd rapidly get different species. The fast would pair off and breed with each other, the genetic differences in multiple generations of fasts building up until they are incapable of interbreeding with their slow relations. This wouldn't be a conscious thing, it's just that fast favouring fast will lead to fast being inherited, and since you can potentially have 100 generations of fast in a single generation of slow (and they're more adaptable) you'll need some reason to maintain interbreeding.

Perhaps the slow make for good partners because their long lifespans enable them to look after multiple generations of family. Perhaps they make good partners because they're all rich after a lifetime of inheriting successful fast spouse's assets. Perhaps again it's a religious thing, and having a child with a much slower partner is seen as sacred because it's written on a temple wall somewhere.

Please note that the answer above is taking the two extremes as a binary state (fast/slow) whereas the truth would be far more complex. The speeds would be a continuous distribution with more 'middle' people than either super fast or super slow, and the exact distribution of speeds would change along with generations, fashion, societal influences and political change.

So it's possible, but unless you put some other constraints in place it's unlikely to be stable.

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    $\begingroup$ Hunger drives towards being slow. Just saying. That's why people gets slower and weaker when we have nothing to do - it's all about food needs. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 6 '17 at 7:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot: This species doesn't eat food, drink water or excrete according to the OP, so I took metabolic concerns off the table because they've clearly got some kind of space-magic going on. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 6 '17 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ They need do use some resource... But true, it's hard to take unspecified magic into account. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 6 '17 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot: Precisely. So I assumed there would be a competition for some resources (territory, mates, shiny things) and went from there. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 6 '17 at 7:50

At the difference of speed you describe, communication between the fastest and the slowest is impossible. Any interaction between the fast and the slow would therefore be without the consent of the slow, making it necessary to define, at what point a crime is taking place.

This means, any sexual intercourse between very slow and very fast members of the species basically means, that the slow one is being raped. Does the society tolerate this? If not, you will quickly end up with different species with different speed.

So the question is, what do you mean with "surviving". The species will (probably) not die out. But if it does not accept sexual intercourse without consent, it will split up into different species, each surviving on its own.

Another problem: what happens, if a comparatively slow being is pregnant with a rather fast one? Does the child pop out of it, before the mother really realizes that she is pregnant? Or does the child grow very large inside the belly, because the contractions and other stuff take so long?

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    $\begingroup$ It might sound crass, but I wouldn't put too much weight on the rape angle - it's something that sounds disgusting to us, but it's a cultural disgust. I'm pretty sure you'd find plenty of humans who don't find it disguisting, and other animals often don't care about consent all that much. If it were common, most probably wouldn't care - status quo is very powerful if you're a bit lethargic and powerless (which the slows are). The only chance for it to be villified would be if the fasts started being disgusted about it for some reason (e.g. when they figure out the slows are people too). $\endgroup$ – Luaan Mar 6 '17 at 11:20

The species does not eat food or drink water, or excrete. It reproduces sexually.

An entity which does not eat nor excrete is a closed system. Closed system are bound to increase their entropy, while life as we know it is an entropy reducing system. Therefore what you are describing is no life.

  • $\begingroup$ I meant the word 'excrete' only in a plain English sense. So it is possible, say, that the organism inhales and exhales, and survives on this alone. $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 6 '17 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ How can an organism survive eating no food? How will it harvest the energy needed to lower its entropy? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Mar 6 '17 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch: they are non-organic (in our sense) beings which are grown around a tiny powercell which is filled by (or rather, grown around the) fuel obtained once at the moment of conception during intercourse. Fuel is not taken from power cells of the 'mother' but rather it is formed by some reaction between substances provided by both (or more) individuals involved in the intercourse. Substances and resulting mixtures vary, and yield different amounts of energy produced in time, so the body must adapt and it results in differences in "speed". When fuel is depleted in their powercell, they die. $\endgroup$ – quetzalcoatl Mar 6 '17 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ @quetzalcoatl, I don't read this in the OP question. Still it makes no sense: where do they get the molecules needed to reproduce? They start with 100 fuel, they reproduce and they give 10 fuel to the offspring? Then the offspring will start with 10 and no more since it doesn't eat... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Mar 6 '17 at 10:55

In nature: both slow and fast individuals might have equal chance of survival if the species use camouflage. The slow ones cannot run away, but are really good at hiding; fast ones often break the disguise, but can try to run away.

In society: Why not? For example, the fastest ones are the leaders and inventors, the slowest ones are breeding machines, and the majority is in-between. They might have some laws (or maybe unwritten rules) to maintain the parts of the population at a certain brain speed and lifespan.


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