Welcome to Unwritten's February blog event! Of course, this is the month of love, so I wanted to celebrate that theme as I've done in year's past. But this year, I've decided to add a scientific spin to it. All month long, talented authors from several genres will write about some aspect of love from their books as it relates to science. It could be social, psychological, biological, or anything in between. Our blog event is sponsored by "HMC by Kate", a fabulous independent jewelry crafter. Kate's giving away one of her very beautiful necklaces that I think fits our theme perfectly. She's also offering everyone who stops in a 10% discount on any item from her Etsy store. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post and check out her lovely offerings! Without further ado, please welcome our guest author:
All in the Family: Goblins & Inbreeding
by Jaq Hawkins
Goblins are very aware of the effects of a limited gene pool. If a small community breeds only within its borders, the inbreeding will result in autosomal recessive disorders, which occur in individuals who have two copies of the same gene for a particular recessive genetic mutation.1 The alleles (versions of genes) collect a multitude of deleterious mutations which diminish fitness in the bloodlines.2 Therefore, to mix genetic lines more broadly, goblins seek out mates from other grottos. What's more, the tradition of the succubus; the female creature who visits unwary males in the night and seduces them, provides outbreeding1 for more diverse genetics when a sufficiently humanoid looking female goblin is able to conceive from such a seduction.
Love is considered a separate issue to goblins. There is no room for jealousy in a species in danger of extinction through insufficient fertility. The fact that fewer females are born within the goblin grottos is nature's way of reducing the inbreeding, but it also limits the number of females that might bring new strains into the bloodlines.
Goblins share common ancestors with humans, and therefore are able to crossbreed. Genome sequences harvested from Neanderthal bones have previously confirmed that Neanderthals (the direct ancestors of the Deep Dwellers) and modern humans mated, and that about 2% of the genomes of people who descend from Europeans, Asians and other non-Africans is Neanderthal.3,4.
In earlier times, human communities also suffered the effects of inbreeding, before transportation developed so that more humans could travel on a regular basis. The obvious solution to two communities who have become inbred was of course to trade the occasional infant so that both communities could benefit from more diverse lines. The tradition of changelings, unfortunately, had to be abandoned some time ago. The humans objected to the exchange and would torture the goblin infants and leave them exposed in the woods until their own infants were returned.
The goblins, who treasure every birth and could not understand the ability of humans to be cruel to innocent babes, ceased the practice and instead seek more direct fertilisation via the succubus, leaving the humans to deal with their inbreeding problems in their own way. Fortunately they eventually developed long distance means of travel and their communities began to diversify.
As for the goblins, they continue to seek ways to diversify. Runners, the goblins who carry information from one grotto to another, are always in demand when the females choose their mating partners at The Dance. The primal seductivity of The Dance encourages regular matings, though not always with the partner that the female loves most. Exclusive partnerships are rare, but goblins do love.
Goblins recognise emotional love as a unity between two like-minded entities who share attitudes and opinions most closely. Physical attraction may be involved as well, but the goblins recognise that pheremones5 are strongest between a male and female who are most likely to be able to breed. It is simple biology, sensed on a subtle scent level.
Dance of the Goblins