Elven Hair and Eye Color

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Silver shows up among the Telerin royalty, and perhaps there are other silver-haired Teleri. Every once in a while you get a blond (although Thranduil wasn't any particular kind of elf when The Hobbit was written, and the blond guy in Lothlrien in LotR could be part Noldorin.). But in Quendi and Eldar Tolkien said most Teleri are dark, like the Noldor.



If Galdor is 0 or 1 and Hareth is 8, then Huor can be 3-6. You'd think he's blond, but Tolkien didn't say, AFAIK. Rian is nondescript dark. I presumed Hareth to be no lighter than 8 because the Folk of Haleth are described as dark hair, with no mention of blond ones. And the related Dunlendings call Rohirrim "strawheads" so presumably they are not normally blond. 7s and lower increase the chances some Folk of Haleth will be blond.

Unsurprisingly, Tuor is less likely the darker his parents are. 9x6 makes a blond kid impossible; 9x5 and 8x6 make him very unlikely. If Huor is 3-6, Tuor has at most a 0.4% chance to be 0.

In all this, I've been assuming Earendil needs to be at least 3, to justify Elrond having hair so dark. But if Melian's black hair is a magical simple dominant, Earendil could be any blond shade.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Not all Sindar/Teleri are silver-haired, though silver hair is more prevalent in that group.

Eöl is technically Avari, because we had him storm out of the Debate before they even decided to go to Valinor. So his attitude to the other Sindar is something along the lines of 'why haven't you left yet?' Whether he was originally with the group that became Noldor or the group that became Sindar is also probably a bit open-ended.

There was a suggestion to make him related to Míriel's family (who become Avari), so that some of the family-related taunting from the Sons of Fëanor would be a bit more pointed. But I don't think that was an official decision or anything.

Regardless, when it comes to hair color, he needs to have dark hair and pale skin to fit his persona.

For the sake of everyone being on the same page, I've converted the charts to JPEG and uploaded them here:
Faelivrin's chart 6-0.jpg

Faelivrin's chart 10-7.jpg

I want to take a look at Lúthien's line, and address the sticking points.

Lúthien, as we know, is dark haired. Her mother Melian is also dark haired, and her father Thingol has silver grey hair. His brother Olwë has white hair. Knowing this, we should be able to put some constraints on what Lúthien's genotype can be.

Let's say Melian is a 9-10. She's all about darkness - not dusk or gloaming because we haven't gotten that far yet. And let's say Olwë is a 0-1, because 'white' doesn't sound like there's any pigment there at all. Depending on their parentage, Thingol could easily be a 3, but if we need to make him darker, we'll have to choose his parents more carefully.

So, starting point. IF Melian were a 10 and Thingol were a 3 (with the dominant silver masking the color), then what pigment can Lúthien have? 5-8 IF we wanted Lúthien to be at least a 9, what can Thingol be? 4 or higher. I am fine with black-haired elves (even 'raven' black) having hair that is only at the 9 level. Elves would rarely have pure black hair, I would think. But letting Lúthien be lighter than that seems wrong.

So, for Thingol and Olwë's parents (also Elmo's parents, but he'll never be on screen, so we aren't worried about him), what crosses work? If Olwë is constrained to be a 0, then the darkest Thingol can reasonably be is a 5. Their parents would either be 3x2 or 5x0, leaving an equally slim chance that they'd have kids at the 0 and 5 parts of the spectrum (3%). If we allow Olwë to be a 1, with the Silver trait depigmenting him down to white, then Thingol could be darker -- possibly a 6. They each have a 5% chance of that phenotype with parents in the 5x2 or 4x3 categories.

Dragging Thingol into the 5-6 range gives us a very reasonable chance at Lúthien being a 9.
Melian - 10
Thingol - 5
Lúthien - 9 (15% chance)

Lúthien then marries the mortal Beren, who has some variation of dark brown hair. 7-9 range. That would leave Dior in the 6-10 range. So far, so good.

Dior marries Nimloth. She (potentially) has white hair, so like Olwë, is a 0 or a 1 with Silver. We know they have some dark-haired grandkids, so the goal is to load up Elwing with some pigment here. Let's make Nimloth 1 with Silver (rather than 0). And let's make Dior an 8 (like Fingolfin), just for starters. The children would then be 3-6. So, is a 6 for Elwing going to be dark enough? Probably not. Bump Dior up to a 9 (like Lúthien). Elwing can now be 4-6, but that isn't helping (just doubles her chances of being 6). With 4 recessive alleles from mom, there isn't going to be a way to be more than 6. So, will that be dark enough? Let's see....

Taking your assumption that Earendil is a 3, if Elwing is a 6, their children's chances are in the 2-7 range. That's not bad. Elrond and Elros could be 7, and they'd have a 5% chance with these parents.

So, now the question is...how hard is it to justify a 3 for Earendil? Because if we can, I think Lúthien's family (to this point) works without 'magic black.' (Obviously, there's more to work out still.)
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
A 3 is golden blond in this scheme, actually. Indis is a 3, and her hair is described as 'golden' twice.

Indis' son Finarfin is a 4 in our scheme. So while I posted a wig color with 'ash blond,' it would be more like 'deep gold'. And Earwen, who has silver hair 'like starlight' needs to be a bit darker than the 0-1 white haired people, but not by much. So, she's likely a 2 (with silver).

That leaves Galadriel to be anywhere in the 0-6 range, which should be helpful. Since Galadriel's hair looks like the mingled light of the Trees, she likely has the same 3 golden blond as Indis, with some silver/white strands mixed in.

So, if Galadriel is a 3....

Now we have to choose Celeborn's shade of silver. So far, we allowed Thingol to be a silver grey at 5, and we have Earwen as a starlight silver at 2. Celeborn is no doubt...somewhere in between. Perhaps he is also a 3 (but with Silver).

Celebrían could then be anywhere in the 1-5 range quite reasonably, allowing us to choose the shade of silver we'd like to give her. I'm going to go with...5.

So, if Celebrían is a 5 and Elrond is a 7, what can Arwen be? Keeping in mind that Arwen is the spitting image of Lúthien, who was a 9. And...look at that. 3% chance. Not bad. We'll let the twins have lighter hair (maybe 7) to keep it reasonable.

So, assuming Earendil works, I think we're good without making Melian magic. Well, she is magic, of course, but...no magic hair.
 
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Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Eöl is technically Avari, because we had him storm out of the Debate before they even decided to go to Valinor. So his attitude to the other Sindar is something along the lines of 'why haven't you left yet?' Whether he was originally with the group that became Noldor or the group that became Sindar is also probably a bit open-ended

There was a suggestion to make him related to Míriel's family (who become Avari), so that some of the family-related taunting from the Sons of Fëanor would be a bit more pointed. But I don't think that was an official decision or anything.

Regardless, when it comes to hair color, he needs to have dark hair and pale skin to fit his persona.
Tatya or Nelya/Teler, he'd most likely be dark.

For the sake of everyone being on the same page, I've converted the charts to JPEG and uploaded them here:
Thanks!!

Let's say Melian is a 9-10. She's all about darkness - not dusk or gloaming because we haven't gotten that far yet. And let's say Olwë is a 0-1, because 'white' doesn't sound like there's any pigment there at all. Depending on their parentage, Thingol could easily be a 3, but if we need to make him darker, we'll have to choose his parents more carefully.

So, starting point. IF Melian were a 10 and Thingol were a 3 (with the dominant silver masking the color), then what pigment can Lúthien have? 5-8 IF we wanted Lúthien to be at least a 9, what can Thingol be? 4 or higher. I am fine with black-haired elves (even 'raven' black) having hair that is only at the 9 level. Elves would rarely have pure black hair, I would think. But letting Lúthien be lighter than that seems wrong.
I really strongly think Luthien has to be a 10. The darkness of her hair is part of her legend, and it's so dark and night-ly that she turns it into a cloak that puts people to sleep. Whatever silver gene(s) she inherited from Thingol can't override that (just like with Feanor, but more so.) So let Thingol be 5-6. That's justifiable with "grey."

So, for Thingol and Olwë's parents (also Elmo's parents, but he'll never be on screen, so we aren't worried about him), what crosses work?
Let's simplify and say they had no parents. Makes everything easier! Also makes it more plausible for Celeborn to be born at Kuivienen if he's 2nd generation instead of 3rd generation. (Hence my suggestion to eliminate Elmo entirely, instead of renaming him.)

Lúthien then marries the mortal Beren, who has some variation of dark brown hair. 7-9 range.
Beren is specifically light golden brown, = 5. I can't remember what text said this, but it was specific.

So, now the question is...how hard is it to justify a 3 for Earendil? Because if we can, I think Lúthien's family (to this point) works without 'magic black.' (Obviously, there's more to work out still.)
I'm not so sure. Elrond is "dark as the shadows of twilight", at least 9, and more likely 10. So in my model...

Melian, 10
Thingol, 5-6
Luthien can be 10 without "magic black" (I'm unconcerned with the probability here, as long as it's nonzero. Luthien is unusual in many ways.)
Beren, 5
Dior can be 10 without "magic black"
Nimloth -- if she's 4, Elwing can be 9. If she's 5, Elwing can be 10.
OK, so far, so good.

But even if Elwing is 10, if Earendil is 4 that only gives 9 at the darkest, without "magic black". Is 9 really dark enough for Elrond? My feeling is that he and his children, and Elros, should all be 10. I feel like that dark night-black is the hallmark of the early generations of the Children of Luthien.

(Since we're doing this, we have to decide whether to model Elros and Elrond as identical or fraternal twins. But which they are might depend on why Eru decided to make twins common in the Half-elves, and whether Dior's sons are twins or not. Yes, I'm assuming Eru had a plan for this, and it wasn't just chance.)
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Source for Beren’s golden-brown hair is the Peoples of Middle Earth, which is a bit out of place considering the people of Beor are typically dark-haired.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Thanks!
At least he isn't blond. I believe somewhere (Of Dwarves and Men?) it says that a small number of Beorians were actually blond, and a small number of Hadorians were dark-haired. Rian and Morwen both had blond mothers.

Earendil at 4 is plausible so far, yes.

Dior's sons/twins/not-twins:
  1. The first time their birth-dates are recorded is the late 1950s Edain genealogy, where they are not twins.
  2. But later, in the last Tale of Years (D2), and in the Wanderings of Hurin, they are twins.
  3. Then there's The Problem of ros, which ... has problems. It says one was older and one was younger which usually means separate birthdays, not one being older by 2 minutes. But it also says that their deaths were the "last and most abominable act" caused by the Oath of Feanor, which... is like Tolkien either forgot the Third Kinslaying happened, or was planning some radical rewrite to get rid of it, somehow. I have no idea. And that isn't the only difficulty with that text.
And if they aren't twins, then what were their birthdays? Neither birthday from the genealogy (492 and 495) matches the twin birthday (500) in the Tale of Years, both are earlier than their parents married (497), and the Tale of Years and Wanderings of Hurin were the last sources of late First Age dates written. This affects how old they were when they died. If you keep them 3 years apart, with one born in 500, then the other is either Elwing's fraternal twin (503) or born in the year of marriage (497) which raises questions because Eldar consider marriage and sex the same thing, and also have 12-month gestations. And you can't push Elwing's birth forwards much because Dior died in 506. So I think, if they aren't twins, they must be born in 498 and 500.

So we've parted ways on how we want to represent silver, and Earendil and Elwing's extended family(ies). These are my current thoughts (still treating silver as simple recessive, although your models of it would probably fit just as well. Humans never have the silver gene, hence ++) :

Fingolfin: +?, 8 dark brown
Anairë: ??, 5-10 dark?
Aredhel: +?, 8-10 dark
Eöl: ??, 8-10 dark
Maeglin: +?, 10 deep black
Turgon: ??, 5-9 dark
Elenwë: ??, 0-4 gold
Idril: +?, 0-4 gold
Galdor: ++, 0-1 light blond
Hareth
: ++, 8 dark brown
Huor
: ++, 3-6 blond?
Rian
: ++, 5-9 dark
Tuor: ++, 0-4 blond
Eärendil: +?, 4 gold
Thingol: ss, 5-6 grey-silver
Melian: +?, 10 deep black
Lúthien: +s, 10 deep black
Beren: ++, 5 golden brown
Dior: +?, 10 deep black (or magic black)
Nimloth: ??, 4-6 silverish
Elwing: ??, 10 deep black (or magic black)
Eluréd: ??, 10 deep black (or magic black)
Elurín: ??, 10 deep black (or magic black)
Elros: ??, 9 black (or magic black)
Elrond: +?, 9 black (or magic black)
Elladan & Elrohir: +?, 9-10 dark (black) (or magic black)
Arwen: +?, 9-10 dark (black) (or magic black)
Celebrían: ?s, 1-6 silverish
Celeborn: ss, 4-5 silver
Galadriel: +s, 3-4 gold-silver
Eärwen: ss, 4 silver
Finarfin: +?, 4 dark gold
Olwë: ss, 0-3 white
Ol’s wife: ?s, 0-9 dark?
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
As you know, the entire story is a murky mess in that time period. At this juncture, I do not hazard a guess which direction we're going with all of that in this project. Probably twins, just because twins are popular? I always figured that Dior's sons rather prefigured Elrond and Elros, who *have* to be twins, since their daddy is never home. But, there's this fun fan theory that says ents were wandering around Doriath for some reason and found the two boys, and that's why the Fëanoreans couldn't find them. So they totally didn't starve to death cold and alone in the woods.... So seriously, who knows?


I did not realize we were trying to make 10 hair color a feature of the descendants of Lúthien. I can see why you would need 'magic black' to achieve that at all realistically, as they keep marrying a lot of pale-haired people. Frustrating!

I am fine with giving Melian the 10, and 9 to the rest of them. But, I also recognize we want to emphasize the 'mixed race' thing with Lúthien, so giving her hair that is different from (almost) all other elves that she inherits from her mother isn't a bad idea. But trying to get that passed down to Arwen.... I'll....see what I can do. *sigh*
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Oh when it comes to Children of Luthien, I stop caring about the probabilities at all. Elwing can have a 0.01% chance of being a 10, and I'll still call her a 10. Half-Elves get to be special, and special things happen to them. It's only when Elrond and Elros have a 0% chance of being 10 (because of Earendil) that I'm inclined to reach for a magic marker.

Even with Elrond at 9, his children can be 10's, if Celebrian is 5 or 6. (In your 7x5 version, 10 is still possible at 0.4%.)

I agree that Dior's sons were a "prefiguring" of their nephews. The existence of Luthien and the Half-Elves were all part of Eru's plan to get elven blood into humanity before the fading of the Firstborn (perhaps Aegnor messed up by not marrying Andreth). That Elrond and Elros were inclined to Choose opposite fates, and then Elrond's daughter was fated to love a mortal, are (as he said) for the enrichment of humanity, at his expense.

If Elwing's brothers had lived to adulthood, they might have had kids of their own. They would have had a chance to make a Choice themselves, after their sister reached Valinor. But they probably died, so... Eru ensured there'd be another pair? Were Elured and Elurin fated to be inclined to make the same Choices that Elros and Elrond actually did make? Are Elrond's twin sons fated to do the same? (I know there's fanfic in which they do part.) What does any of that fate have to do with them being twins? Just the fact that Elrond and Elros are brothers could be taken to symbolize that Elves and Men are "sibling" races, despite their differences. But there's surely more to it than that.

I'd prefer Dior's sons to be twins, myself. Oh, and I think it's entirely possible that Maedhros failed to find them because they ran away from him or hid in terror.


Back to silver. You're allowing S (or ss) to dilute 3 to a silver color. Can you explain more how you envision that working? A 3 mostly has yellow coloration, right? So as I understand things diluting it would either produce white, or platinum blond. Or is blond hair more about washed out/diluted brown eumelanin, rather than a yellow pigment? But if diluting brown yields blond, how do Humans go grey before their hairs turn fully white? Are there grey hairs that aren't white, or is "grey" really just an advanced case of salt-and-pepper, with individual hairs being either dark or silver?

... could the "roan" that happened in Galadriel's hair also be responsible for Thingol's "grey"? Could he have an even mixture of black (or brown) and white hairs? I'm liking the hue of some of the "blue roan" horses on Google images.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Okay, so, you're not going to like this....

That 5 gene incomplete dominance for additive eumelanin pigmentation we've got set up?

That's brown eumelanin, mostly. At least, the fade to brown and blond at lighter pigmentation says so. So, yes - blond is lighter brown pigmentation, not a separate yellow pigment.
Guess what other kind of eumelanin there is? Black. And guess what happens to that when you have less and less of it in the hair? Silver.

So. It's possible we can set up Melian as having the most absolutely dark SILVER hair you can imagine...and it looks raven black, because she's at a 10 for it, essentially. But if you dilute it down...you get all of the silver shades, down to white. I don't think we need any of Lúthien's descendants to have brown hair or blond hair, so we can make this black/silver trait capable of masking whatever brown/blond hair trait you would inherit - that just won't be expressed if you have this one. Ready to revive your M for melanin terminology?

So...three genes. Each incomplete dominant. The more pigment you have, the darker the hair.
6 - MMNNOO = jet/raven black (hair has that bluish sheen to it) = Melian
5 - MMNNOo = black
4 - MMNNoo = dark grey silver
3 - MMNnoo = silver grey
2 - MMnnoo = starlight silver
1 - Mmnnoo = white
0 = mmnnoo = "off" - whatever hair color the brown eumelanin and red pheomelanin genes turn on for you.

Normal elvish genome is mmnnoo; gene not expressed...for all colors except silver/white/pitch black

First thing I have to do is kill this dominant color off in Míriel's family.
Like so....
Míriel is silver, so MmNnOo
Finwë is 'normal' black, so he's mmnnoo
Fëanor is mmnnoo. (50% chance, if Míriel is heterozygous for all genes)
Done - silver is gone from this bloodline.

Next thing I have to do is kill it off in Finarfin's family.
So, Finarfin is mmnnoo.
Earwen (=white hair) is Mmnnoo.
All of their children are mmnnoo. (50% chance either way)

So, Melian is MMNNOO = 6
Thingol is MmNnOo = 3
Lúthien is MMNNOO = 6
(so far so good....)
Beren is mmnnoo
Dior is (perforce) MmNnOo = 3
Nimloth, who is white-haired, would be Mmnnoo.
So, their children can range from mmnnoo ('normal' elf hair colors expressed) to MMNnOo = 4 dark grey
Earendil is (naturally) mmnnoo.
*screeeeeeching halt*

Okay. So, there's no way to get a dark-haired (5) Elrond out of this. With Earendil not having the trait at all, the most their kids could have is a 3 (no matter what Elwing is). Speculatively eyes Idril...any chance she could be silver? No, I know she's explicitly stated to have golden hair that she gets from her Vanyarin mother. *sigh* We can't give humans weird elvish hair color genes. Half-elven humans, sure, but not Tuor.

Parts of this can be ignored, of course. I'm ignoring the passage that says Lúthien had blond hair and blue eyes, for obvious reasons! But I can't ignore the published Silmarillion. Or even worse, The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. We absolutely cannot give Elrond silver hair. And I doubt Marielle would forgive me if I started messing with Idril's hair color. Because she's another one where the 'celeb' in her name is obviously *not* about her hair!


I will have to give the Roan idea a try. If silver is 'roan black' there might be a way to make this all work....but I've got to get the traits on Idril's side of the family, probably. We'll see. Depends on the inheritance pattern. I was uncomfortable separating Galadriel's trait from her obvious infusion of blood from a silver-haired mother, anyway, so tying her back to silver would be good. She can still have a weird mutation that lets her express the gold when no one else with silver hair does.
 
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Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
Impressive work! I confess I haven't read all of it, but just wondering: (You're assuming that elven genetics are similar to human genetics, but) would Maiar genetics work the same way? Melian's trait could behave in weird ways - but perhaps that is what you mean by 'magic black'? Sorry for barging in, you probably covered this somewhere and I didn't find it.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
@Haakon: It is what I mean by "magic black", I guess. She needed to make her body elf-like enough to have an elf child, but she can presumably differ (genetically) from Elves as much as Elves differ from Humans.

@MithLuin: I don't dislike the idea that much. Dark-dark grey would be better for Elrond than dark brown. What if it's 2 genes instead of 3?

Melian = MMNN = 4 (blue-black)
Thingol = MmNn = 2 (grey-silver)
Lúthien = MMNN = 4 (blue-black)
Beren = mmnn = 0
Dior = MmNn = 2 (grey-silver)
Nimloth = Mmnn = 1 (white-silver)
Elwing = MMNn = 3 (dark grey)
Earendil = mmnn = 0
Elrond = MmNn = 2 (grey-silver)

With 4 genes:

Olwe = Mmnnoopp = 1 (white)
Thingol = MmNnOoPp = 4 (grey-silver)
Melian = MMNNOOPP = 8 (blue-black)
Lúthien = MMNNOOPP = 8 (blue-black)
Beren = mmnnoopp = 0
Dior = MmNnOoPp = 4 (grey-silver)
Nimloth = MmNn?opp = 2-3 (silver)
Elwing = MMNNO?Pp = 6-7 (dark grey)
Earendil = mmnnoopp = 0
Elrond = MmNnOoPp = 4, nope still grey-silver, not dark grey. You can't get Elrond darker than Thingol this way unless Idril ... if Idril carries the roan gene (from Indis?) but is not herself roan (keeping Galadriel unique), and Elrond has half his hairs grey-silver and half of them jet black, he'd be dark grey. Then you need one of Elwing's ancestors to be a roan carrier as well (probably Thingol, or Elmo).

Then...
Earwen's mom = ?mN??o?p (white or silver or grey)
Earwen = MmNnoopp = 2 (star-like silver)
Finarfin = mmnnoopp = 0
Galadriel = Mmnnoopp = 1 (white, but with roan)
Celeborn = mmNnOopp = 2 (star-like silver)
Celebrian = MmNnOopp = 3 (silver)
her children can range from mmnnoopp (probably dark brown) to MMNNOOPp (dark grey), or a roan mixture of dark grey and either black or dark brown.


If silver is just a single gene, it can be a simple dominant and still make sense with the family trees we know, right?


My roan suggestion is just your T-t roan idea, as a gene separate from silver. Galadriel has to be roan. Thingol or Elrond might, maybe, be roan.

It goes like this: You have 4 sets of hair color genes.
  • VVWWXXYYZZ to vvwwxxyyzz = the eumelanin (I was assuming both black and brown, with more browns than blacks, or however it works in Europeans). Maybe black eumelanin is only visible in 4-10 hair, with brown visible in all 11 shades?
  • ++ to +r to rr = not-red and red color, simple recessive (as in Humans)
  • silver or not-silver: this can either be simple dominant (SS, Ss, ss) or simple recessive (++, +s, ss), and I think the inheritance patterns we've seen will still work either way. It heavily dilutes hair color, diluting red and brown pigments more than black pigment. This gives you silver or white hair if you're 0-6 (or so). But if it's recessive, it has no visible effect if you're 7-10 (or so).
  • TT to Tt to tt = not-roan and roan: this is a simple recessive allele of a regulator gene (or a complex of genes that all have to be recessive - we can imagine it as rare as we want) that randomly turns off one copy of the silver/not-silver gene in each individual hair follicle.
So if you're homozygous ++ or ss (or SS) then roan does nothing at all, but your children can inherit it.
But if you're heterozygous for silver, then half your hairs are white, and half are whatever other color your genes express.

blond roan = gold-and-silver (Galadriel) equivalent to a honey roan/palomino roan horse
brown roan = brown-and-white = lighter brown or blond (no known examples)
black roan = black-and-white = grey (maybe Thingol) the color of the lighter "blue roan" horses
red roan = the color of strawberry roan horses (no known examples) This would also be approximately the color of silver+red Elves, if silver doesn't mask red -- so no pink Elves.

The longer roan hair is, the darker it looks, I think. So Galadriel looks mostly gold, "shot with" silver. Not sure how that would make Thingol "grey silver," though...

If red and silver are alleles of the same single gene, then roan would also affect +r carriers of the red gene, giving them some red and some not-red hairs. So a blond would become strawberry-blond, and a brunet would become slightly reddish but not auburn. This probably isn't in effect with Feanor's redheads though, since the result wouldn't be red enough unless they were heterozygous sr (silver+red) (but that would make strawberry roan, still not red enough).

Since roan is likely a recessive and not possessed by Humans, Dior probably could not be grey or silver in this system, even if Thingol is "blue roan." You could perhaps justify any of Elrond's children to be dark grey - provided that either silver is recessive, or if it's dominant that Elwing is heterozygous silver from her mother.
 
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Richol Richards

Well-Known Member
Mmmmk. So, like Haakon, I confess I haven't *thoroughly* read through everything, so I apologize if anything I have to say has been thought through and covered already. But can we take Melian's unpredictable Maia genetics a step further, say....the ability to change shape coming into play in something as specific as hair colour? Let's ignore the larger ramifications juuust for now.. I'm thinking of gene receptors that would be turned off through regular genetics - preventing the release of the eumelanin - somehow being turned on when they're not supposed to. So Elrond still gets his darker hair? (I'm interpreting this in the context of additive vs. dominance). Or can we allow for de novo mutation in the context of hair colour? How do latent magical genes work, exactly? Especially in combination with non-human genomes. Just some thoughts. I'll try to go back and read a bit more in depth but I just thought I'd throw that off-the-cuff suggestion out there. My Genetics is *really* rusty at this point, so if this sounds like a bunch of gibberish feel free to discard. :)
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
You mean something that normally does nothing, but Melian has an allele that makes extra black eumelanin? That looks like my "magic black" idea for her. I don't really mean it's actually a magical gene, just that it overrides everything else related to hair color. But it looks like you're suggesting something additive, not dominant? If it's additive it can be mixed with MithLuin's MMNNOO silver/black idea above.

Galadriel's silver-and-gold hair could be a unique de novo mutation, not inherited from her parents.
 
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MithLuin

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Staff member
Seriously, kudos to anyone for even *trying* to follow this thread - this is a level of geeky I've never indulged in before, and...I have totally made Punnett squares for fantasy traits into part of my lesson plans. I look for *excuses* to teach people to draw family trees. And I've played around with identifying the flora and fauna of Tolkien's world taxonomically. So...that's saying something. All for the sake of picking out wigs *shakes head*

Current sticking points:

Dark-haired Elrond - While it is easy to account for Lúthien's unique traits getting passed down her family tree with the silver of her relatives, we hit a sticking point when Elwing marries Earendil. Because Earendil is blond, the son of a human (so no special elf genes) and a blond half-Noldo, half-Vanya. Once you achieve dark-haired Elrond, it is not difficult to get Arwen. Until we get this worked out satisfactorily, though, the easiest solution is to suggest that Melian has a 'magic black' trait that overrides the other hair colors - a gene not active in other elf inheritance patterns.

Gold-shot-with-silver Galadriel - Since her hair is so unique, it obviously has to be due to a rare trait that we don't see elsewhere. But so far, we have not managed to tie it in to the broader inheritance patterns - it's just 'magic trait for Galadriel'. We are working on it (see Faelivrin's post about 'blond roan').

Silver/white - obviously, this trait does *not* work in elves the same way it does in humans, and so we have to posit a variety of inheritance patterns and see which ones fit the known family trees. There have been a few busts, but it does work as a single simple dominant OR simple recessive, if we want to go with that. What we have not managed to do is tie black hair to silver hair, which would make sense, pigment-wise.
 

Richol Richards

Well-Known Member
Okay, this I think I roughly follow. I was thinking in terms of additive vs. dominance, though I do like the 'Magic Black'. But before I say more I'm probably going to have to set aside some time to parse through this properly and have a go at my abandoned genetics notes once more. It does look exceedingly fascinating and I'd kind of like to keep up with it better. I think you guys have been doing a *fantastic* job. Thanks for all this!
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Okay, so...what we currently have and are 100% good on:

VWXYZ = 5 incomplete dominant genes that additively account for the darkness of the brown eumelanin pigment in human or elf hair. This gives us 11 shades, from the palest blond up to black, which we've numbered 0 (white) to 10 (black). To get the 0, you have to be pure recessive for all 5 genes (vvwwxxyyzz), and to get 10 you have to be pure dominant for all 5 genes (VVWWXXYYZZ). Each copy of a pigment allele (capital letter) you get, equals 'pigment on', and each copy of a lowercase (dilution allele) causes 'pigment off.' You get one copy of each of the 5 genes from each parent, so based on the nifty charts Faelivrin made, we can determine the likelihood of a child having a particular hair color (0-10) based on the shades of their parents. This accounts for a variety of blond and brown shades of hair color.

r = a single simple recessive gene that accounts for red hair by creating pheomelanin pigment. If you have RR or Rr, you do not show the trait, but if you have rr, you will have red hair. The shade of red in your hair will be determined based on how this trait interacts with the VWXYZ traits. Those with very dark hair will not show the red at all. In elves, this trait *only* appears in Mahtan's family (as far as we know), but other elves can be carriers.

t = a single simple recessive gene that causes 'roan' hair color, in which the expected pigment is mixed with strands of white. TT or Tt gives normal hair color; tt is roan. Extremely rare; both of Galadriel's parents are carriers, though.

What we are still working on:
M - a simple dominant black hair trait, which causes enough black eumelanin to drown out all other hair pigments? If you have Mm or MM, you show the black hair. If you have mm, you show whatever other pigments you have in other genes. If we go with this, that is Melian's 'magic black'.

S/s - a simple dominant OR simple recessive inheritance pattern of this gene will cause silver hair, also drowning out any black/brown/white hair colors. Still working to tie this into the black pigment gene.

So far, an attempt to make silver a dilute black failed in the face of Earendil being Elrond's father. Next attempt will be to make silver a roan of black.
 
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Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I wasn't proposing all silver be made with roaning, but that most silver is as above.
Also I think VWXYZ can include black eumelanin as well, just in a lower proportion.

But. If the silver and "magic black" are the same single gene that converts all brown eumelanin to black, then the shades from black to white are controlled by the VWXYZ genes instead. Much like red, but dominant instead of recessive. So:

10 (deep black) + S? = deepest black
9 ("black" brown) + S? = black (or blue-black?)
7-8 (brown) + S? = dark grey
5-6 (light brown) + S? = grey-silver
4 (dark blond) + S? = silver
2-3 (blond) + S? = star-like silver
0-1 (pale blond) + S? = white (actually very, very pale silver)

Olwe = 0-1 S? = white
Thingol = 5-6 S? = grey-silver
Melian = 10 SS = deepest black
Lúthien = 10 S? = deepest black
Beren = 5 ss = light brown
Dior = 5-10 Ss = grey-silver to black
Nimloth = 4-5 S? = silver to grey-silver
Elwing = 9-10 Ss = black
Earendil = 4 ss = deep gold/dark blond
Elrond = 9 Ss = black

Earwen's mom = who knows
Earwen = 2-3 Ss = star-silver
Finarfin = 4 ss = deep gold
his sons = 0-4 ss = blond
Galadriel = 3 Ss, with unique roan coloring
Celeborn = 2-4 S? = silver
Celebrian = 2-6 Ss = star-silver to grey-silver
her children: 7-10 Ss = dark grey to deep black


That explains what the silver gene does to the darkest hair, gives Elrond a better color, lets us use 3 types of genes instead of 4 (and ignore roan except in Galadriel), and makes Olwe and Thingol more similar to each other. It might make black-haired Half-Elves less improbable. The 'downside' (if it matters) is that the same shade of ultra-black would show up in a significant proportion of the Teleri, not just Melian's line.

EDIT: Potentially:

Finwe 9 ss = "black" dark brown
Miriel 4 S? = silver
Feanor 9 Ss = "black" dark grey (raven-dark/blue-black)
Nerdanel 5 ss = light brown
Their sons may all be ss. But Celegorm could be silver (not my preference, but plausible). If Caranthir or Curufin is a 9, he/they could be black with S. I don't know what would happen to red or auburn hair if you replaced all the brown eumelanin with black. Phaeomelanin is a bit brownish, but I'm guessing that ginger -> "strawberry", copper and auburn -> greyish? brick red. Kind of ew.


The genes would be:
  • VvWwXxYyZz: The amount of eumelanin, in Elves more brown than black, especially in the lighter colors. Additive blond, brown, or black hair. (This is the only one that has to work similar to European human hair color.)
  • ++, +r, rr (or RR, Rr, rr): Replaces up to half the eumelanin with phaeomelanin. Simple recessive red, auburn, or chestnut hair. (Need not resemble any human red hair genes.)
  • SS, Ss, ss (or MM, Mm, mm): Eliminates brown eumelanin, replaces about half? of it with black eumelanin. Simple dominant white, grey, or black hair. (All Humans are ss.)
EDIT 4: Chart has been color-adjusted for what should be the last time, finally. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Oblkvpp7SLvXVSBwltEy3S6z4wt9Na1G
This chart includes the combination of silver and red, if silver does not get rid of pheomelanin, as best as I could construct it using the 256 color selector in Word.
It also shows 2 versions of 4 dark blond: the ash blond on the left (for Humans) and a more golden color on the right (for Elves and Earendil).


EDIT 5: Considering that human hair color is probably very complicated, it would be more realistic to use separate genes for silver (remove all brown eumelanin) and "magic black" (simple dominant true-black). But combining them into one gene looks easier.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you for this chart, that's really helpful!

Elven Hair Color Chart.jpg

{The way I'm doing this is the 'upload a file' option - once I've selected the file from my computer, I can then choose to insert a thumbnail or full image. Text files, pdf's, jpegs, and gifs are all acceptable formats.}

I recognize the limitations of your color palate, but it's still really helpful to have a visual of what we're talking about for each color variation. Luckily none of our red-headed elves will be lighter than 3, because that gets into peachy hair color territory ;). And I agree that the silver+red combo is looking pretty ewwww for the most part. Maybe we'd want a more purple-silver look for some of those? Probably best avoided, except *possibly* in the case of the red-headed twin whose hair darkens with age (picture a red 7 shifting to the 7 of the red-silver side). Tolkien did give us a silver-haired Míriel; we might as well make use of her genetics somehow. So I do like the idea of using that to create Fëanor's raven black hair. Curufin should have the exact same hair as Fëanor, of course.



I wanted to explore the possibility of black roan silver hair for Thingol. For one thing, we know the recessive trait (though exceedingly rare) *could* run in his family, as his niece Earwen is a carrier. Obviously the main issue is with Thingol having a brother at the 0-1 end of the scale (Olwë's white hair really can't be darker than 1, even with the silver). Technically, it is possible for two brothers to be a zero and a 10...if both of their parents are heterozygous 5's. But it's a 0.1% chance for each, so that's exceedingly rare. We're better off making Olwë a 1 and Thingol a 9, but that's still very tough. Both would still be a 1/100, but it's 10x more likely in both cases. In general, I've been trying to avoid hair color choices that result in less than a 3% chance of a child being born with that shade. Because, sure, it can happen....it's pushing the limits. And so if I'm adamant that Olwë can't be darker than a 1, then Thingol can be no darker than a 7 if they are both going to be above the 3% line. (Parents would be 4x4 or 5x3).

So, what would a 7 look like if it had the roan effect? Maybe something like this wig....
'two tone grey' or
'mixed grey' for a more frosted look

And a much paler shade of roan (say, 3-4) could look like this
'silver white'

Whereas the blond roan could be more like this:

'grey mixed blonde'
I gather we'd like to flip the ratios, though; make it predominantly blonde streaked with silver grey.
More like...
'blonde mixed white' or
'honey'


But back to Thingol. Let's say he's 7 S* tt. (Dark grey mixed with white for a 'silver grey' result)
If Melian is 10 S* TT, then... (darkest black)
Lúthien is still 10 SS Tt (darkest black)
Beren 5 ss TT (light brown/golden brown)
Dior is now possibly 10 Ss Tt (more likely 9, but I understand the desire to keep the 10, and it's still above 3% chance) (darkest black)
Nimloth is 1 S* TT (white). UNLESS we wanted to roan her out too, so she has a white look with a higher pigmentation. Possibly 2-3 S* tt [Which solves my 'Olwë can't be darker than 1' problem above, too, now that I think about it...]
With a 10x1 cross, all of their children are 5-6. That is probably not dark enough for Elwing for our purposes. A 10x2 cross gives us more options: 5-7. So, Elwing could be 7 S* Tt And a 10x3 cross would get us the 5-8 range. Looking at the 7 on the grey scale, I'm not convinced that we'd want to do that with Elwing. Visually, it still might not justify her dark-haired son. But getting back to him....
Earendil is 4 ss TT (deep golden blond)
With Earendil being a 4, there is no way for Elrond to be a 10. He is at most a 9. And, realistically, we only are likely to have him be that if Elwing is also a 9 (to be above 3% chance). For Elwing to be a 9, Nimloth has to be at least a 4, as well. So, I think we have to silver and roan her for that to justify her name ('white blossom')
Elwing is now 9 S* Tt (raven black)
Elrond is also 9 Ss Tt (raven black)

Galadriel is 3 ss tt (golden blond roan)
Celeborn = 4-6 S* Tt? (grey)
Celebrían = 6 Ss Tt or tt (grey, roan an option)

Arwen: 10 S* Tt (darkest black)

So, who wound up with the 'roan' trait (tt) in this version?
Galadriel 3 (golden blond --> blond streaked with silver) is the ONLY blond roan, ever. Literally every other elf to express the gene will be some variation of silver.
Thingol 7 (dark grey --> silver grey)
Olwë 3-4 (silver --> white)
Nimloth 4 (silver --> white)
Nimloth's twins? 5-9 (black/dark grey --> silver grey)
Celebrían? 6 (grey --> lighter silver)
Earwen? 2 (silver --> white) Her 'starlight silver' hair might be a mixed silver/white roan effect. But I would prefer to make her darker than 4 if that were the case, and her all-blond children make that unlikely.
One reason I like this is because it makes Galadriel less of a genetic mutant out of nowhere. Roan is a thing that can happen; it's just rare and only shows up in families with silver hair (for whatever reason). How Indis ended up being a carrier for it is an open question, but if we *wanted* to, we could make Idril a carrier, too, through her Vanyar mother Elenwë. I'd just as soon avoid that, though, since we're not going to express it in Elrond or Elros anyway. I do want Celeborn to be a carrier, because if you've got a rare genetic trait, and you marry back into the family where that trait came from...there should be consequences ;).



So, what I've discovered about white hair:
The easiest, most straight-forward way to have white hair is to be a '0' on the pigment scale. Pure recessive vvwwxxyyzz
Nobody has this on our list :p
The secondary way to get white hair is to have the tiniest bit of pigment (1)...and then have it impacted by the silver gene to remove that tiny bit of blond, making it appear fairly white. Vvwwxxyyzz S*
The rarest way to get white hair (so, naturally, how everyone on the list now has it :p) is to have 2-4 on the pigmentation scale, which is then de-blonded by the silver gene (S) and THEN half of the strands are turned white by the rare recessive roan gene (tt)
VvWwXxYyzz S* tt = Nimloth :)

The other thing about white is, of course, the question of 'how white is white'?
Lucius Malfoy has very pale hair. But it's still recognizably blond (ie, has a yellowish tinge to it) in most of the photos. Except for this Chamber of Secrets still, where I'd say that's decidedly white enough not to be considered blond any more. So that's what a 0 looks like, but it's not pure white, either. It's not albino, no pigment whatsoever. It's just a super pale shade of blond.


You can buy a pure white wig, of course. But...it isn't going to look like natural hair, either. Especially not on a non-elderly person.
'pure white'
 
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Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Thank you for this chart, that's really helpful!
You’re welcome, and thanks!

I figured out how to upload all three charts to my media page here. The % charts have been adjusted to match the third chart in coloration.

So it looks like we agree about S being both silver and black. :)

And it looks like you’re using roan exactly the way it works in horses, with alternating hairs being stark white regardless of what the other genes say.

And I agree that the silver+red combo is looking pretty ewwww for the most part. Maybe we'd want a more purple-silver look for some of those? Probably best avoided, except *possibly* in the case of the red-headed twin whose hair darkens with age (picture a red 7 shifting to the 7 of the red-silver side). Tolkien did give us a silver-haired Míriel; we might as well make use of her genetics somehow. So I do like the idea of using that to create Fëanor's raven black hair. Curufin should have the exact same hair as Fëanor, of course.
I don’t know if Curufin needs to be identical to Fëanor, but sure why not. I’d prefer to pretend that silver+red isn’t an option, but the 3-6 range doesn’t look so ugly. It’s also possible that I didn’t make those shades brown enough to account for pheomelanin. 7 rr S may be close to the color on your avatar instead.

But noooo to purplish wine hair. Not only ew, but we risk making it look unnatural.

So Mahtan 6-7 auburn, Nerdanel 5 light/golden brown, Feanor 9 S raven-black, Maedhros 5 copper, Maglor 7-8 brown, Celegorm 5 golden brown, Caranthir 8 dark brown, Curufin 9 S raven-black, twins 7-8 copper -> dark auburn, or light auburn -> chestnut. I would accept Maglor being dark grey instead of brown.

Want any actual blonds to start out platinum and darken to golden with age, in the same way? Any blond could except Galadriel who was already visibly roaned as a child, in Season 2.

I wanted to explore the possibility of black roan silver hair for Thingol.
Although the “mixed grey” wig doesn’t look bad, I don’t think roan is actually necessary in Thingol’s case, though he can be a carrier. At 5-6 (dark enough to father Lúthien) he’ll still be grey. And that removes the need for Olwë to be roan, he can just be a 0-1 S. (I understand you want Thingol to have a higher #, so Luthien is more probable.)

And a much paler shade of roan (say, 3-4) could look like this
I like that for Nimloth. Or make her a 5 S roan.

Since roan replaces half the hairs with white, a rough estimate of the overall effect is to divide the eumelanin # in half. So Nimloth at a 5 would look 2.5, in the middle of the “star-like silver” range. If Celebrían is a 4 roan, she’d look about 2. (I tried to make a chart of the whole range or roan silvers, but it looks too ugly in Paint.) The darker shades (and possibly 6) will look like salt-and-pepper, which looks less like "I was born silver" and more like middle-age. So I'd like to avoid it even though it's perfectly plausible.

I gather we'd like to flip the ratios, though; make it predominantly blonde streaked with silver grey.
Yes, “honey” looks better for Galadriel.


So, my counterproposal, with only Galadriel, Nimloth, and maybe Celebrían as roans. This way roan only needs to run in 3 families:

Indis = R?, ss, Tt, 3 deep gold
..Finarfin = R?, ss, Tt, 4 dark gold (6.3% chance of a 4)
Olwë = R?, S?, Tt, 0-1 white
..Eärwen = R?, Ss, Tt, 2 star-silver (not 3, because "swan-maiden" might imply almost white hair. Or alternatively, she has pet swans or hangs out with wild ones.)
....Galadriel = R?, ss, tt, 3 gold roan (27.3-31.3% chance of a 3) the way you made roan work now, she can’t have silver S
Thingol = R?, Ss, T?, 5-6 grey-silver
Melian = ??, SS, TT, 10 deepest black
..Lúthien = ??, S?, T?, 10 deepest black (3.1-6.3% chance of a 10)
..Beren = R?, ss, TT, 5 golden brown
....Dior = ??, Ss, T?, 10 deepest black (3.1% chance of a 10)
Galadhon = ??, S?, Tt, ? (Thingol and Olwë’s brother in my proposal for SilmFilm)
..Celeborn = R?, S?, Tt, 2-3 star-silver
......Celebrían = R?, Ss, ?t, 4 silver (15.6-23.4% chance of a 4) can be roaned down to “2”
..Galathil = ??, S?, Tt, ?
....Nimloth = ??, S?, tt, 4-5 silver roan “2”-“2.5” (I prefer 5 so Elwing can be 10, and Nimloth’s mother can more plausibly be dark)
......Eluréd and Elurín = ??, Ss, Tt, 9-10 (raven or deepest) black
......Elwing = ??, Ss, Tt, 9-10 (raven or deepest) black (6.3-15.6% chance of a 9, 0-3.1% chance of a 10)
......Eärendil = R?, ss, TT, 4 dark gold
........Elrond = ??, Ss, T?, 9 raven black (3.1-6.3% chance of a 9)
........Elrond’s children = ??, Ss, T?, 9 raven black

Celeborn = 4-6 S* Tt? (grey)
Celebrían = 6 Ss Tt or tt (grey, roan an option)
Arwen: 10 S* Tt (darkest black)
I’m surprised you’re willing to make Celeborn so dark. Of course he could be a 6 roan if you want, but then his mom has to carry it too. To me “silver long and bright” seems more like a straight 2-3. I think we should look at the %s when both Galadhon and Galathil marry dark-haired women, and see where it’s most likely for Celeborn and Galathil to be, given Nimloth as a 4 or 5. Hmmm... Celebrian has to be at least a 5 if we want her children to be 10's.

So, who wound up with the 'roan' trait (tt) in this version?
We agree about Galadriel (obviously) and Nimloth, and Celebrían. But I want to keep Dior’s sons dark, and don’t see a need for Thingol and Olwë to be roans. Eärwen, as you said, would be odd as a roan since her children are all blond. My proposal has only female roans, which may be chance or significant.

black but if we *wanted* to, we could make Idril a carrier, too, through her Vanyar mother Elenwë. I'd just as soon avoid that, though, since we're not going to express it in Elrond or Elros anyway.
Yeah, no need for extra Vanyar with unnecessary roan genes. Besides, if they don’t express it and neither do their descendants, they’re T? and we don’t need to know what the other allele is.


The easiest, most straight-forward way to have white hair is to be a '0' on the pigment scale. Pure recessive vvwwxxyyzz
Nobody has this on our list :p
Not sure if it would be true snow-white, or platinum blond like Malfoy.

The other thing about white is, of course, the question of 'how white is white'?
I’d say make Olwë as white as we can without looking “unnatural”. If we want more we can do the same with Galadhon (he probably marries a dark-haired woman, and still has light-silver, non-roan sons).
 
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