In the previous article we discussed in detail the concept of hybridization. This article will also cover hybridization but specifically relative to the Deep Ones. In The Shadow of Innsmouth HPL was very clear that the Deep Ones could mate with humans to give rise to hybrids. These hybrids were different than both humans and Deep Ones in that they started out looking human and eventually turned into Deep Ones (see below).
From S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters: A Field Observer’s Handbook of Preternatural Entities (figure is called the Four Stages of Degeneration [for a Deep One]).
What is interesting about the hybridized Deep Ones is that they are not a mix or “blending” of the two species as most hybrids are (e.g. crossing the horse with the donkey, producing the mule). Instead, the hybridization is a form of “metamorphosis”, where the “larval” stage is human and the mature “adult” stage is the Deep One.
A similar hybridized offspring transmutation was on display in David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly (1986). In that movie, Seth Brundle invents a transporter device and tries it on himself. Unknown to him a fly gets into the same “telepod”. While the transporter was successful, it integrated his genome (entire set of an organism’s genes) with that of the fly’s. The net result was his transporter became a “gene-splicing machine”. Initially, Seth looks fine but slowly begins to go through a metamorphosis to eventually become a human-fly hybrid (a Brundle-fly was the term used in the movie). The stages of this metamorphosis are shown below.
Metamorphosis from human to human-fly hybrid from David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly from 1986 (source: the BlogSpot Voz En Off-7)
Another example of the “integration” of two sets of genomes from district species is seen in the Alien movies. While the human / alien (xenomorph) interaction may first appear to be a simple host / parasitoid or prey / predator relationship, the genetic relationships are far more complex.
Alien Xenomorph (from David Fincher’s Alien 3)
The facehugger implants an embryo into the human, which then hatches and kills the host. However, it has been noted in all of the Alien and AVP movies (including Prometheus) that the xenomorph does inherit some of the genetic material of its host. This is why the xenomorph in Alien 3 ran on all fours (since it’s host was an ox or dog depending on what version of the movie you watch) as opposed to the bipedal forms that arise from humans. So are Deep Ones the product of true hybridization or is there some type of “parasitic” usage of the human genome like the xenomorph?
To achieve such dramatic but gradual metamorphosis, say from a tadpole to a frog, a complex array of genes must be switched “on and off” at keys times and in a specific sequence. Any disruption (e.g. pollution) in this sequence can result in mutations. This is one of the reasons why amphibians, frogs in particular, are such effective environmental indicators. Similar genetic mechanisms must be in effect with hybridized Deep Ones.
With everything that is known about the Deep Ones, there are still a lot of unanswered questions from a biological perspective. For example, can hybridized Deep Ones reproduce? Can they reproduce in both their “larval” (human) and adult (Deep One) stages? If they are fertile, can they only reproduce with other hybrids or can the hybrids also reproduce with humans as well as “pure” Deep Ones. In addition, is there a distinction (either in phenotype or genotype) between hybrid Deep Ones and pure Deep Ones? Next time, we will discuss genetic variability in both the human and Deep One genomes and how they interact. Thank you – Fred
Innsmouth Troublemaker by Matt Dixon (from The Art of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos; edited by Pat Harrigan and Brian Wood)