…the origin of Homo Mermanus?

Homo Mermanus

It is known that Homo Mermanus appeared around 10,000 years ago, however, their origins have never been definitively told.  We know their oral history begins around 6000BC when their tribal leader, remembered as Kamuu, discovered the throne and sword of his royal Atlantean namesake and settled his people in the ruins of the sunken capital city from which his own race would therefore take their name.  Legend tells of this nomadic barbarian leader Kamuu receiving a vision from the fallen Atlantean king, after which the new Atlanteans adopted many of the trappings and traditions of their sunken home.

The first of the mysteries about Namor then is the mystery of the origin of his people.  My best guess for the origin of Homo Mermanus would be the Deviants: a slave race bred from humans to harvest geothermal energy from volcanic rifts around their subterranean Lemurian Kingdom to serve their ever-greater energy needs, and then set adrift when the Second Host of Celestials destroyed it.  They were not savages so much as refugees.

The Antarctic waters became their semi-ancestral shelter, since escaping the hell of what was Lemuria, Antarctica was actually one of the closest destinations. And the hunting was plentiful. They were also attracted to the suboceanic heat sources from the Savage land.

As they prospered, the obvious places for Homo Mermanus to expand to were the floor-spread areas and their undersea vents. Hence Atlantis. Some decided to go back to the Lemurian area, which was viewed with horror by the rest, which lead to a schism.

But as for physiology and all that, in keeping with my Deviant idea, the Atlanteans are, in fact, humans with stuff added on – not a cross. They are interfertile – although an Atlantean male impregnating a surface woman would not work.  Rather than divergent evolution, Mermen are humans with numerous genetic add-ons. This would also explain the mutant readings: Subby’s genome would not read like a different species, but as modified human – especially reinforced by his father’s genes. He is, though, a hybrid and not a mutation.

This also explains how Atlanteans can gain pink skin and the ability to breathe air simply by breathing a gas. This was built in to the slave race as a useful feature: they could come out of the water, but only under specific chemical stimulation and only for a short time: they are actually amphibious but their ability was blocked to prevent rebellion. Namor’s parentage broke the block.

But the best way to design an entire race with certain strictly-defined characteristics would be, rather than shoving things into the chromosomes, would be to create separate organelles, like mitochondria or chloroplasts in plants.  Mitochondrial inheritance is constant, going on asexually through the female line.  It would keep it safe from the reshuffling that goes with sexual reproduction, making sure that no strange cross inactivates the security precautions. Thus chromosomally the Atlanteans would be completely human, the extra organelles would be supplied by an Atlantean egg. Namor (or Krang or Attuma) could impregnate a surface female, but the child would be a surface human.

It also fits in with the legends of the selkies and other mermaid legends. This way, female Atlanteans are the ones to be exogamous, breeding with surface humans and always having mer-babies. It also gives the Fen-McKenzie romance not only a tradition but a biological nudge behind it.

Pigmentation, moreover, is usually caused by cellular organelles, whether melanin bodies or chloroplasts. The blue skin is therefore not a sign of ability to breathe water but inability to breathe air.

And as for the time gap between the Great Cataclysm and their emergence as a tribe of kelp farmers, they spent many thousands of years as a tiny population mainly in the Antarctic water, sieving krill and losing their memories. 9000BC may just be the first evidences of wandering Atlantean tribes on the continental shelves.

Postscript: I’d further reveal that when the Deviants were selecting candidates for this slave race, they realised that only people with very particular psychopatholgies, perpetrators and/or victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, were suitable to stand the claustrophobic, almost lightless deep-sea environment without going crazy.