The Lurking Fear by Graf Gunther (www.deviantart.com)
Martense descendants all shared the phenotypic trait of having one eye blue and the other brown. This uncommon genetic trait was also documented in the creatures that were found on Tempest Mountain at the end of Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear.” Obviously, this shared trait indicates that Martense family and the carnivorous, burrowing creatures of Tempest Mountain are somehow genetically related and this will be discussed in a future article. For now, we are reviewing this specific trait of having two distinctly colored eyes, which is called heterochromia iridis or more specifically complete heterochromia iridis.
Essentially, heterochromia is the due to an excess or lack of the pigment melanin in the iris and can be inherited, cause by other associated genetic processes, the result of a disease or even be the result of an injury. In the case of the great David Bowie, his distinctly different colored eyes were due to a condition called anisocoria, while is due to an unequal size in a person’s pupils. In David Bowie’s condition, his left pupil was permanently dilated (www.independent.co.uk). This conditions gives the appearance of the eyes being different colors when in fact it is because his left pupil does not respond to changes in light while his right pupil does. Essentially his left pupil is permanently dilated, giving it its darker appearance. Anecdotally, the cause of his anisocoria was due to fight he had with a friend back in 1962 (www.independent.co.uk). Thus, it is extremely unlikely that David Bowie was somehow related to the Martense family.
The great David Bowie – in spite of having two distinctly different colored eyes is not related to the Martense family (www.independent.co.uk)
As previously mentioned complete heterochromia can be inherited and is typically associated with inbreeding. Specially, this is due to a mutation in the genes that determine the amount of melanin each eye should receive. We had an English bulldog named Dax who had complete heterochromia (one eye was black and the other was blue) and she came from a family of show dogs that had a high degree of inbreeding. Associated with that she had a lot of health problems. Our current English bulldog (Zoey) is actually an Old English Bulldog and does not come from a high inbreed family – consequently she does not have different colored eyes and does not have the health problems of our first bulldog. Thus, complete heterochromia is a phenotypic trait that is known to occur in a number of mammals, including humans, and is indicative of inbreeding.
Unlike our first bulldog, Zoey (pictured above) did not exhibit complete heterochromia iridis, although she does have a “cherry eye.”
In the case of the Martense family, their seclusion and self-induced isolation on Tempest Mountain in the Catskills of New York as a small colony separated from the rest of society, resulted in the development of close relationships among closely related individuals, producing offspring where traits associated with inbreeding were manifested. In general, the overall fitness (can be thought of as the “health” of the individual but there is more to it than that such as ability to produce viable, healthy offspring), is lower in inbreed individual. However, this depressed fitness can also be manifested in small, isolated communities and is not necessarily limited to breeding among members of the same family.
The bottom line is the more closely related you or the limited size of your community, higher the probability for mutations and/or homozygous traits to appear, which can lower the fitness of the offspring. Thus, even though the Martense “colony” may have included some servants that may have eventually formed relationships and had offspring with members of the family, the limited size of the available genetic pool of that isolated community meant traits associated with inbreeding, such as complete heterochromia, appeared in the population. More than likely other genetic diseases, as well as a decline in overall fitness and reproductive viability, began to appear in the Martense colony, which may have eventually lead to the Tempest Mountain Demons and that is the topic for the next article. Thank you – Fred.
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear by Mike Lyddon (www.deviantart.com)