Hello and Happy New Year! This is the first part of a discussion on hybridization and the Deep Ones. This article will focus on the concept of hybridization while the subsequent article will focus more on the hybridization of Deep Ones and humans.
In addition to metamorphosis, hybridization is another important biological concept in discussions on the Deep Ones. Hybridization is simply defined as the breeding of individuals from different species (Tijs Goldschmidt’s Darwin’s Dreampond). However, the classical definition of a species is a population of individuals that can freely interbreed with each other but not with others from another population (thus another species). Therefore, hybridization does not seem possible but it does occur both artificially and in nature and is a testament to the fact that the concept of “species” is not clear-cut and clearly defined. Instead, species is more of a dynamic, fluid term used to aid in taxonomically classifying various groups of organisms. As will be described later, this fact is an important concept to keep in mind when discussing the Deep Ones.
A resident of Innsmouth, The Deep One by the talented artist Greg P. Onychuk
An example of hybridization that most of us are familiar with is crossing a female horse (Equus caballus) and a male donkey (Equus asinus) resulting in a hybrid – the mule (Equus asinus x Equus caballus). Horse and donkeys are not in the same genus so it is not surprising that the mule is sterile.
A mule (from www.wikipedia.org)
In my line of work as an enviromnetal consultant / limnologist, we frequently conduct fish surveys to determine how best to manage the fish community of lakes and ponds. An important component of this includes developing a fish stocking program. We will commonly stock hybrid striped bass (Morone saxatilis x Morone chrysops), to improve recreational fishing and enhance the water quality of lakes and reservoirs. Since the hybrid striped bass is a cross between striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and white bass (Morone chrysops), they are also sterile and thus their populations can be easily controlled.
Hybrid striped bass being stocked in a reservoir in northern New Jersey
Both the mule and the hybrid striped bass exemplify an important point relative to hybridization. The closer two populations are, spatially, physiologically and genetically, the greater the chance they can produce offspring. In addition, two closely related species can not only produce offspring but they may also produce offspring that can reproduce on their own. An example of this are the cichlid fishes in Lake Tangqanyika or Lake Victoria in Africa. The high level of diverse aquatic habitat, coupled with the high rates of reproduction of cichlid fishes, has resulted in a proliferation of these species (a conversation on how the introduction of the Nile Perch has negatively impacts these species will not be covered here).
A variety of African Cichlids (from www.indianapublicmedia.org)
These cichlid species frequently undergo inter-species fertilization, resulting in a variety of hybrids. If the hybrid offspring do not re-breed with their parental species and only breed among their fellow hybrids, a new species could potentially emerge (Tijs Goldschmidt’s Darwin’s Dreampond).
To summarize, hybridization has the potential to generate sterile or fertile individuals. In turn, fertile individuals have the potential to produce an entirely new species. Is this occurring when Deep Ones and humans breed? This concept will be discussed in detail in the next article. Thank you.
Amazing piece of art – “View of Innsmouth” by Alberto Vasquez