Genetic Variability in Humans and Deep Ones, Part 2

Lovecraft identifies a number of times in The Shadow Over Innsmouth that there is a certain amount of variability associated with the metamorphosis from human to hybrid Deep One.  In general, the metamorphosis is a slow process, starting sometime in the late teens / early 20’s.  As the hybrids age, the “Innsmouth” traits become more pronounced:

“…deep creases in the sides of his neck made him seem older when one did not study his dull, expressionless face.  He had a narrow head, bulging, watery-blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly undeveloped ears.  His long thick lip and coarse-pored, greyish cheeks seemed almost beardless except for some sparse yellow hairs that straggled and curled in irregular patches…” HPL The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Joe Sargent, “Innsmouth Bus Driver” by Casey Love (from

However, while the Innsmouth traits become more pronounced with age, even the hybrid children can look a little strange; Lovecraft described them as “dirty, simian-visage children.”

As mentioned, in addition to the general metamorphosis, a considerable amount of individual variability was described among the Innsmouth population.  Some, such as the Marsh daughters were described more reptilian-looking, while others were more frog-like or batchacian in appearance.   A number of times HPL referred to “other” things or creatures populating the town.  Were these “others” genetic variants of human – Deep One hybrids?  Examples of such variations were beautifully shown, in a somewhat understated fashion, in Stuart Gordon’s movie Dagon (please see subsequent set of photos).

Scene from Stuart Gordon’s Dagon – an Innsmouth resident showing the pronounced bulging eyes.

Scene from Stuart Gordon’s Dagon – another Innsmouth resident; note the absence of the bulging eyes but the lack of ears and large rows of teeth.  Is this a varying stage of the metamorphosis or is this genetic variation within the hybrid population?

Scene from Stuart Gordon’s Dagon – manager of the Gilman House; while the eyes are not markedly bulging, this individual did not blink in the scene.  Also, while the hybrids can look older than they actually are, this individual appears to be one who exhibits a partial change but does not go through the complete metamorphosis.  Again, such variation in the population was noted in HPL’s story. 

Scene from Stuart Gordon’s Dagon – this individual shows a minimal amount of the Innsmouth traits, however…..

…in this case, the Deep One genes are phenotypically manifested in an octopod trait and not reptilian or batrachian.  (Again, from Stuart Gordon’s great movie Dagon).  Thus, is this individual one of the “other” residents referred to in The Shadow Over Innsmouth?

In addition to the phenotypic variability shown in the hybrids, is there a degree of variability in the hybridization relative to mating with humans?  Why do many individuals go through the complete metamorphosis while others do not?  Are some groups or populations of humans more easily hybridized with Deep Ones than others?  For example, Polynesian and New England populations appear to easily hybridize with Deep Ones.  Would the relative success of hybridization be the same with other groups such as populations of humans from Africa, central Asia and South America?  It is an intriguing question and at this point in time very open to debate and investigation.

Deep One by Steve Maschuck

Next time, a series of hypotheses on the actual origin of the Deep Ones will be presented and I explain why I favor some over others.  Thank you – Fred