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In which Human Aliens are literally Human Aliens. Human Subspecies are variants of regular humans, in which humanity has been changed due to evolution or genetic modification. As a result, a new variant of Homo sapiens develops, or a completely new species of genus Homo - or even a new genus altogether! - descended from us. Unlike Human Aliens, Human Subspecies do not have to look like humans, and may not even be recognized as human at first.

There are generally three types of Subspecies:

  1. Those modified through genetic or technological engineering. This tends to be the most common.
  2. Those as a result of regular evolution (or at least as far as the author understands it).
  3. Those related to us via a common evolutionary ancestor.

It should not be confused with regular genetic engineered humans or Transhuman Aliens. To be considered a subspecies, they need to have some biological difference from baseline humanity.

Examples of Human Subspecies include:


Anime Edit

  • Crest of the Stars: The Abh, who were genetically engineered to work and live in space. In addition to youthful long life and an added sensory organ, they also have blue hair.
  • It is hypothesized in Gundam that Newtypes are the next step in evolution. However, considering how vague Newtype abilities are, and how people become one, its difficult to say if its a result of a genetic adaptation.
    • Crossbone Gundam and Gundam X present a counter-hypothesis: Newtypes are simply people whose bodies have adapted to live in space rather than on Earth. Nothing inherently superior about them. In fact, Crossbone's Newtype protagonist points out the difficulty he has living on Earth, where the extreme gravity (from his perspective) makes him incapable of something as mundane as walking a mile without getting utterly exhausted.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Innovators.
  • Subverted in Gundam Seed. Patrick Zala believes that the genetically modified Coordinators are a superior new species. In reality, Coordinators are simply Homo sapiens with better genes. His rival Sigel Clyne points out the error: "We never evolved".
  • Vandread: Taraks and Majerans.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angels MAY be considered this; they are stated to be humans that rejected human form. Some fans consider Rei as this. Fanfic writers fulfill the "different biology" part by giving her a miniature S2 organ, usually as a womb replacement since it's canonical that she doesn't mensturate. Not to mention the fact that she has Type IV Immortality via cloning and soul transplantation which is definitely not possible for normal humans.
  • Subverted in the Macross series; human, Zentraedi and indeed most sentient races shown in the series are a subspecies/descendants of the Protoculture. Humans and Zentraedi are so genetically similar that they're treated more like different races then a distinct subspecies.
  • Elfen Lied gives us Homo diclonius, the result of mutant ovaries. They have neko ear-like bone horns, pink/purple hair, unpigmented (red) irises like albinos; besides that, they're basically a cross between humans (most of what they are), social insects (their internal variety), viruses (how they reproduce, for the most part) and gods (the vectors).
  • Saint Seiya: Lemurians from the continent of Mu. They look like humans except for strange eyebrows and have telekinesis. They are famous for their alchemy.
  • Gosick: The Gray Wolves. Petite, have long blonde hair, green eyes, Super Intelligence. As they're cross-fertile with baselines but not completely hidden from the outside world, the women really shouldn't wander off. Not that Cordelia Gallo had a choice.

Comics Edit

  • Marvel Comics: The Mutants, Eternals, Deviants, and Inhumans
  • Buck Godot: The Hoffmanites, of which the title character is one, the Silverrunners, who are centaurs, and the Psmith Hive Mind. Among many, many others.
  • In the Legion Of Superheroes, several alien races (like the Carggites and Bismollians) that looked suspiciously identical to humans (but with superpowers) were handwaved as people given superpowers, forming colonies on new planets in case Earth should ever need help from an alien invasion.

Film Edit

  • The creatures from The Descent were suggested to be these.

Literature Edit

  • In The Hobbit we learn that Hobbits are most definitively our close relatives, it seems unknown whether or not they could crossbreed, but may still lead to Huge Guy, Tiny Girl (or the reverse) anyways. Possibly Truth in Television; see Real Life below.
  • Dune: Genetic engineering is commonplace, and modified humans take many shapes and fill many roles, some of them rather disturbing.
  • Stephen Baxter invokes the trope in his Xeelee Sequence, especially in '"Flux: Humans have been modified to microscopic lifeforms to live within a Neutron Star.
  • Known Space: The Pak, who are actually our ancestors Homo habilis. They eat a special root to become Protectors, superhumans that look over the rest of their bloodline. Humanity sprung from a Pak colony went awry. Humans can also become Protectors, with the added advantage of being more intelligent and able to work with other (human) Protectors. They hate us because we don't smell right due to having mutated so much - the special root didn't grow right on Earth, so we mutated far too much without any Protectors to keep us in line.
    • Human Protectors' ability to work together is probably a consequence of another of their quirks: a significantly heightened tendency to adopt the entire species as their bloodline (it seems to come naturally to human Protectors, whereas for Pak Protectors it is a rare reaction to the already rare situation of losing one's entire bloodline but somehow still surviving). It tends to be easier to work together if you have the same goals.
  • Ring World is inhabited by an unknown - but, given the size of the place, probably staggeringly large - number of hominid species, all descended from Pak breeders.
  • On Discworld, dwarves are probably this (unless, of course, humans are a taller dwarf subspecies). The oldest lifeform is trolls, but they're biologically nothing like humans or dwarves, so meh.
  • Robert Heinlein's Friday. "Living artifacts" (kobold dwarfs, men with four arms) are this trope, while "artificial persons" are genetically engineered humans.
  • In The Hollows, vampires and werewolves are humans that have been mutated by a virus. Elves are an inversion: they were once a completely different species (probably even belonging to a different order), but used magic to become capable of breeding with humans, eventually thinning the line between them. Then a virus came along that affected only humans.
  • Last and First Men: the Trope Maker, which follows millions of years of human development, and dozens of human offshoots.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Cycle: Humanity and all sapient lifeforms are all descended from colonists of Hain.
  • Cordwainer Smith's The Instrumentality of Mankind: To survive on alien worlds, some humans have been so modified that they look more alien than human. Inverted with the Underpeople, who are animals modified to act and look human.
  • Stationery Voyagers has Felts, Ooze Pens, Whiteouts, Highlighters, Up-Pens, Down-Pens, Gel Pens, Metallic Gel Pens, Thick/Thin Alcohol-Scented/Non-Alcohol-Scented Markers, Eraser-Man, Pencils, the artificially-created robot species of Librions (Mechanical Pencils,) Mosquatlons, Grimplites, Aviatets, and Drismabons. Instead of evolution, they're descended from mankind by reason of a divine curse that has Minimal Ontological Inertia.
  • Star Trek: A series of books by David Mack reveals origins of the Borg to be humans crossed with a superpowered Grey who had transformed her body into catoms (programmable matter which is real), the Grey loses her body then her mind and possesses the humans in an attempt to save herself...what little of herself is left. Did I mention she and the humans had been tossed thousands of years into the past and across space?
  • The Vorkosigan Saga has the quaddies, humans genetically engineered to live in a zero gee environment. Most noticeably, they have a second pair of arms where their legs should be, to allow them to climb instead of walk around the spaceships. Their bones are altered to prevent deterioration, and their pelvic arches have been modified for ease of giving birth in freefall. Scientifically, they're a separate species in the Homo genus, but socially they're treated as a subspecies of normal humans. Also the Betan hermaphrodites are humans, but different enough genetically that they cannot reproduce with either "normal" humans or Quaddies without the help of a laboratory.
  • The Partials from Jeff VanderMeer's Finch consider themselves to be this. Whether they actually are, or if they're just cyborgs with fungus instead of machinery is debatable.
  • Dougal Dixon's Man After Man is all about this trope.
  • Alastair Reynolds:
    • Revelation Space universe presents us with several "species" of humanity created through genetic engineering and Nanotechnology. They range from the virtually-unmodified Skyjacks to the neural-implanted Demarchists, to the wildly-altered Ultras and Conjoiners.
    • House of Suns goes even further, with the galaxy pretty much completely colonized over millions of years by a human diaspora, evolved and adapted in countless ways including squid/whale-looking aquatic forms, collossal vaccuum-dwellers, and sentient weather patterns. The central characters are still reasonably recognizable as human only because they've spent so much of the intervening time flitting around at relativistic speeds, and thus have had a much shorter subjective experience of the intervening eons.
  • The Ousters in Hyperion were originally a small group of humans who decided to modify their own bodies to suit foreign environments instead of the other way around. Fast forward several thousand years, and some people don't even consider them human anymore.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has a great many "near-humans", descendants of far-flung colonies sent out in the days before hyperspace travel was possible. Many of them physically look like baseline humans with only cultural differences, but there are some, like Chiss and Zeltrons, who have striking external differences as well.
    • The Neimodians are a Duros subspecies.
  • In the Shannara series, the Trolls, Dwarves, and Gnomes are humans mutated by the consequences of nuclear war. Elves are commonly believed to be the same, but are actually descended from real faeries.
  • In the Honor Harrington universe, there are a wide variety of distinctly different groups of humans (though all still identifiably human), generally due to genetic engineering. These include Super Soldiers and their descendants, slaves engineered for particular traits, Heavy Worlders of varying degrees, an entire planet populated by albinos (an unintended trait due to their other genetic tweaks), and other, more subtle differences. The central protagonist of the series is herself genetically tweaked to be a sort of mild Heavyworlder and could also be considered a Super Soldier because of it.
  • The Valerians from the Lensman series were a Heavyworlder subspecies, making them, by default, badasses. Similarly, the Family D'Alembert, of the eponymous but less-well-known E. E. "Doc" Smith series, were also heavy worlders, albeit of a slightly different physical type - Stout Strength, as compared to the Valerians' tallness.
  • Pretty much all the Human Aliens native to the Milky Way Galaxy in Perry Rhodan can trace their ancestry to Lemuria (Earth until ca. 50,000 BC), its colonies, and their colonies in turn. And then there are the descendants of colonists who started out from 'present-day' Terra and developed in a fairly diverse variety of ways. Some are more suited to interbreeding than others; Terran/Arkonide pairs can canonically have children despite one parent having an internal chest plate in place of ribs and a somewhat different brain structure, but somebody from Siga, whose ancestors ended up shrinking to only a few inches tall over a number of generations due to an anomaly in their sun's 5-D spectrum, would obviously make a poor match to anybody more 'normal-sized'.
  • Storm Constantine's Wraeththu books feature the titular species as yet another "next step" in human evolution, the first Wraeththu being either born from, or converted from human males.
  • Some stories in George R. R. Martin's Thousand Worlds setting mention genetically altered humans on the planet Prometheus. As long as they can still interbreed with regular Homo sapiens, they are considered to be still human.
  • The Nartec from Animorphs.
  • Spin by Robert Charles Wilson introduces the Martians who are descended from colonists who continued to evolve for thousands of years while Earth remained in slow-time. All of this time had forced them to adapt to a partially terraformed Mars, making them much shorter, very wrinkly, and relatively longer-lived (though that one is partly because of their advanced chemistry and nanotechnology).
  • H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls" contained a reference to "human pigs" who were bred underground by medieval cultists as food stock. He also wrote at least one story about cave-dwelling humans who degenerated into savage monsters.
  • Harry Harrison's short story "Final Encounter" had a team with members of two Human Subspecies looking for nonhuman intelligence. At the end, the very promising new species, which can't even breathe the same air we do, turns out to be of Earth descent too -- one group was expanding and searching clockwise around the galaxy, the other counter-clockwise.

 "We are alone," Hautamaki said, looking at the massed trillions of stars. "We have closed the circle and found only ourselves. The galaxy is ours, but we are alone."

  • Robert Reed's Great Ship universe has the Remoras, which are humans twisted by the hard radiation on the exterior hull of the Great Ship. Remoras are horrifically mutated from the radiation (One character has light sensitive hairs instead of eyes), yet they cherish it, and actively cultivate the mutations.

Live Action TV Edit

  • Andromeda:
    • The Nietzscheans (Homo sapiens invictus), who have been modified enough to be considered a subspecies. Along with being taller, faster, and smarter, they can breathe chlorine and have bone blade growing from their arms.
    • The Inari, modified to inhabit low-light volcanic worlds.
    • The Castalians (modified to survive underwater).
      • Interesting, on their planet there is plenty of Fantastic Racism... diverted at "air-breathers", i.e. normal humans.
  • Doctor Who: Several including:
    • New Humans from the year 5 billion, who were originally created as lab rats on New Earth
    • In the series 3 finale the Toclafane are the last remnants of humanity, who strike a Faustian bargain to maintain their life.
    • It's also implied that the Futurekind are an offshoot of humanity.
  • Farscape: Sebaceans turn out to be genetically modified humans.
  • Sliders: Kromags are a example of a Human Subspecies in sharing a common ancestor with humanity.
  • Stargate SG-1: The Jaffa, modified to be incubators of Goa'uld larvae. Additionally, much of the galaxy is inhabited by ordinary, vanilla humans, who haven't evolved or changed at all since being plucked off Earth exty thousand years ago.
    • Possibly the Ancients, who humanity evolved from (or influenced human evolution).
  • Star Trek: Despite the Federation banning genetic engineering on humans, they did allow a group of scientists to design their idea of Homo superior. With a very active immune system, psychic powers, and looking like young adults when they're only children, they're the ideal evolutionary step.
    • For an Alien Subspecies example, look no further than the Romulans, who have split off from the Vulcans 2000 years ago and have traveled for centuries on sublight to their new home on Romulus. It's also implied that several other encountered "Vulcanoid" (such as the Mintakans) races may be descendants of the exiles who have settled on other worlds.
      • There are also the Aenar, a white-skinned, blind, psychic subspecies of the Andorians.
  • The Time Machine: The Morlocks and Eloi.
  • The Tomorrow People are Homo superior, the next step in human evolution.
  • Prey, a late-nineties sci-fi show, focused on a brewing war between Homo sapiens and Homo dominus, a newly evolved human species.
    • One of the ways the "domini" are different from regular humans is their complete lack of emotion. Their senses and reflexes are also much more animalistic than those of humans, and their intelligence is much greater.
  • The Centauri in Babylon 5 were the first alien race to (publicly) encounter humanity. They attempted to persuade humanity that they were an offshoot of the Centauri Republic and should thus come under their control. Presumably someone noticed the obvious physical differences and laughed off their claims. The Centauri claimed it was a clerical error pesumably to save face.

Tabletop Games Edit

  • Cthulhu Tech: The Nazzadi, fake Human Aliens created by the Mi-go as an advance force.
  • Exalted: Several sub-species of humans with environmental adaptation, like the winged Air People, were created during the First Age.
  • Warhammer 40000: Space Marines start out as regular humans, but they are given so many genetic modifications they become a separate species. The Squats, Ratlings, Orgyns, and Beastmen are humans who adapted to their various environments.
  • Traveller: Due to the Ancients seeding humans across the galaxy thousands of years ago there are many subspecies of "Humaniti" such as golden-skinned elfin Darrians and high-gravity adapted Bye-Ren. Though of the three major human races only the psionic Zhodani show any significant physiological differences, the Solomani (earth humans) and Vilani have interbred to such an extent as to be nearly indistinguishable (though Vilani originally were slightly taller and longer-lived).
  • Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Edition features several Human subraces in various supplements, including Azurins, Illumians, and Neanderthals.
  • in Shadowrun, metahumans (elves, dwarves, orks, and trolls) are classified as subspecies of humanity. Each of them, in turn, has several subspecies of their own, as detailed in The Shadowrun Companion.
  • In the Starfleet Universe, it has been explicitly established that several planets were 'seeded' with early humans (and other planets with other species). These include:
    • The Alpha Centauri: A matriarchical culture that is as close to 'pure' human and still have an altered game mechanic.
    • The Rigellians: Life on a UV-heavy world resulted in dark blue skin, but still can have children with the others.
    • The Deians: Pale blue people with blonde hair and the hat of covermodels.
    • And maybe the Cygnans, who are pretty close to human, and are known to not be native to their own world.
    • And dozens of minor worlds, such as several seen in TOS.
  • One early edition of Gamma World made so-called Pure Strain Humans too inherently tough to be plausible as Badass Normal, so a Dragon article suggested that they were actually a Human Subspecies that had benefited from pre-war genetic engineering. Those humans who weren't Designer Babies became the setting's mutants instead, some strains of which bred true enough to also constitute Human Subspecies.
  • In Rifts, there are too many to count. The Coalition States have the Janissary project to create the next step of human evolution. In addition, Psi-X Aliens are actually humans mutated by Desmond Bradford. True Atlanteans are human, but have innate supernatural powers. Amazons are human related but have innate supernatural powers. Most psychics are also implied to be human subspecies, especially Psi-Stalkers and Mind Bleeders who actually have somewhat distinct non-human physical traits.

Video Games Edit

  • Two types in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, once the required technology and facilities are developed:
    • Homo Superior: Equal parts technology and biology, it uses the best of both worlds.
    • Genejacks: Genetically engineered to be the perfect worker, with strong body and little brain.
  • The Helghast in Killzone. Who adapted to the harsh environment of a Death World they were exiled to.
  • Hinted at in the Star Ocean series; at least some of the Human Aliens are actually descendants of human Ancient Astronauts from the lost continent of Mu.
  • Vega Strike has several in game and flavour materials, each has a faction consisting primarily of them.
    • Homo Sapiens Sapiens (duh). Purists.
    • Homo Sapiens Cyberis, cyborgs. Mechanists.
    • Homo Sapiens Pluralis, networked brain-to-brain even before birth. Andolian.
    • Homo Sapiens Suprahomo, genetically polished and cherry-picked, but not quite supermen. Lightbearers. Extinct, after the discovery of Spaceborn (see below) by Andolian (see above).
    • Homo Sapiens Superioris, humans visibly modified a lot, in a weirdly artistic way. Shapers.
    • Homo Sapiens Cosmonatalis, or Spaceborn. Made by Lightbearers (see above) as space station slaves.
  • The Fallout series has Super-Mutants, "perfect" humans created by the introduction of Forced Evolutionary Virus. Nearly ten feet tall, Made of Iron, immune to radiation and most disease. However, the FEV sees the half-chromosomes of reproductive cells as damaged and "repairs" them, meaning the Super Mutants are sterile. Also, radiation damage before infection makes them pathetically stupid.
    • Fallout also has Ghouls, zombie-like former humans with radical biological changes. Ghouls have no skin and little soft tissue, but their exposed flesh has hardened. They are less susceptible to drugs, healed by radiation, and functionally immortal. While not explicitly addressed, it is implied that they are too physically damaged (remember, no soft tissue) to reproduce.
    • The Enclave considers all humans outside their base and the Vaults to be mutants, which is probably right in that everyone has some mutations and the Wasteland is highly radioactive. But they don't really have any major differences from normal humans.
  • Imperium Galactica 2 reveals during the Solarian campaign that the various races you meet and fight with for dominance have all evolved from lost Solarian colonies, even those who look nothing like humans. The Kra'Hen are decidedly alien, as they are stated to have come from another galaxy.

Web Comics Edit

  • Alien Dice: The Rishan are humans abducted by aliens who have had superficial genetic modifications made to them. Sometimes, true humans will be born to Rishan parents.
  • The Purps from Schlock Mercenary - a lab-grown, photosynthetic Human Subspecies, with, as the name might suggest, purple skin.
  • The future of Quantum Vibe features innumerable different types of humans stemming from advances in cybernetics and genetics. Nicole specifically reads a piece about the Belt-Apes, large stocky humans genetically altered for optimum labor efficiency in the Asteroid Belt.

Web Original Edit

  • Orions Arm: Something like 80% of life is descended from humanity, but intentional modifications have caused so much divergence that two human descended terragens can be less alike than a human and a tree.

Western Animation Edit

Real Life Edit

  • A number of now-discredited racial theories from the late 19th/early 20th century posited that the different "races" (white, black, Indian, etc.) were actually different species or subspecies of humanity. In case you haven't guessed, there's a pretty good reason why nobody (save for the lunatic fringe) believes those theories anymore.
    • Less likely now due to globalization and racial mixing, but another 500,000 years and there could be speciation. Especially if genetic engineering is employed.
  • It's still being debated over whether Neanderthals were capable of interbreeding with Homo sapiens sapiens or not. The sequencing of the Neanderthal Genome in May 2010 effectively settles this debate. Yes they could and there was a little interbreeding, however the populations generally remained separate.
  • Homo sapiens idaltu or "Elder human" was an actual human subspecies that lived in Eastern Africa between 160 and 150 thousand BC.
  • Possibly Homo floresiensis (sometimes called "Hobbit Man"). The jury is still out on whether they were a separate species, or if the specimens discovered were merely microcephalic humans.
    • Though if Floresiensis is legitimate it's still to be seen wether it's a subspecies of homo sapiens or a completely different species from another branch of the family. Neanderthals (and Denisovan humans, to a degree, at least they left DNA) on the other hand have left more remains to go on, they were pretty closely related to us and there is (some) evidence for small ammounts of interbreeding.