Nature of Middle Earth - gestation lenghts' problems for Mithrellas' children

Odola

Active Member
Mithrellas was a full-elf who married the Numenorean Imrazôr. As Imrazôr lived for 126 years (TA 1950- TA 2076), and they had two children (Galador and Gilmith) together, even if those were to have been twins (which is not suggested to have been the case) an full elvish pregnancy of 108 years would last for the full lenght of Imrazôr's adult live, making him only able to claim his children at their birth at his deathbed. So it is not only Meaglin, whose gestation time is problematic.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
She wasn't giving birth to an elf child - I doubt the same time frame would apply. Arwen pregnancies don't last that long, and I don't think Luthien's did either.
 

Odola

Active Member
She wasn't giving birth to an elf child - I doubt the same time frame would apply. Arwen pregnancies don't last that long, and I don't think Luthien's did either.
12 years that Tolien settled on later is more manageable in this case.
Arwen was mixed-blooded herself, and that was after she accepted mortality (which imho acctually would not matter much in this case, but some people think this relevant).

But Mithrellas was an full elf herself - nothing mortal about her at all, so how could her body support such a "fast-forward" pregnacy like only nine human months? If her pregnancies were shortened from the 12 years Tolkien settled on, e.g. like 6-4 years, this would be workable and also fit the time-frame for her human husband. But even the full elvish 12 years could work here, but not the initial 108.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Is the length of gestation determined by the mother or the child? I think the length of time of an elf's pregnancy is what is needed for an elf child to develop, and exists in valian years. But an elf woman married to a mortal and bearing a mortal child is pregnant in sun years. A mortal child needs only nine sun months to develop, so that would be how long the pregnacy takes.
 

Odola

Active Member
Is the length of gestation determined by the mother or the child? I think the length of time of an elf's pregnancy is what is needed for an elf child to develop, and exists in valian years. But an elf woman married to a mortal and bearing a mortal child is pregnant in sun years. A mortal child needs only nine sun months to develop, so that would be how long the pregnacy takes.
Actually, no. A human child is "born preterm". There are two problems whiy human gestation cannot be longer. The head size getting too big, making a child impossible to be born. And the placenta getting "old". It is the placenta that sends out the signal to start labour.
An elvish mixed blood child (and mixed blood they were as Legolas was able to spot the Elvish blood's influence after many generations in Imrahil) would inherit the cell structure - and with it the epigenetics - and the mitrochondria solely form its mother - so those were Elvish. As epigenetics influences cell divisions and mithrochrondia the cell energy levels there is not reason to assume a child which has both purely Elvish will develop at a purely human pace. Also there not reason to think the Elvish metabolism of the mother would support such a fast development as a human body would. A human mother invest more bodily but less spiritual resources in the development of her fetus, also she herself has a much shorter live span, as such she can afford for her pregnancy to be more rapid, as the damage she sustained by it is limited by her own shorter live - so that she simply will not live long enough to feel most of the adverse effects of it.

The genetics inherited from the father is only half of the nucleus DNA - which influences some physical traits, but the initial cell with al its structures and metabolism is inherited solely from the mother. So a child of an Elvish mother has to have a slower development rates than a purely human child. No way around it. Arwen and Luthien are another matter, being mixed blood (with Ainur mixed in) they could have the potential to switch over and support any form of pregnancy. The Ainur being angelic beings the influence of their descent might give the flexibility needed to adjust to any form of reproduction required in an actual case. Mithrellas simply does not have that.

Edit: I do not know also of any proof yet that Luthien has not carried Dior for 12 years. She actually could have. (I haven't read "Nature of Middle Earth" through yet, so my info might not be complete on the subject, I do admit.)

Edit 2: There are hints, that the placenta of the baby is very heavily influnced by the genes inherited from the baby's father (more those than the baby itself) on multiple levels, still as it is a shared organ with the mother - it make no sense to expect it to override the mother's metabolism completly. So I would expect the placeta of a mixed baby to be considerably shorter-lived than a normal elvish one (thus limiting the duration of gestation or risking placental failure), but still no as short-lived as a wholly human one.
 
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WillChan

New Member
She wasn't giving birth to an elf child - I doubt the same time frame would apply. Arwen pregnancies don't last that long, and I don't think Luthien's did either.
While Mithrellas was not giving birth to an elf-child, like Idril and Tuor, Mithrellas and Imrazôr were bring forth a half-elven? Is the gestational period of half-elven different from that of a full elf even though half-elven retains elven longevity until he/she choose to be mortal (cf. Arwen). I do not believe Arwen and Luthien apply in the case because when they give birth to their child, they already chosen to be mortal.
 

Odola

Active Member
I doubt it works in terms of modern genetics..
According to one Tolkien quote from his letters at least it should. He was by no means of the opinion a child is its fathers alone. Luthien's bloodline is her bloodline. And a mother is not just a container for the child, neither genetically, socially or mytholgically (see Miriel) - a child is still more a creation of the mother (even if judically it counts as its father's in ME).
Prengnacy is a complex interaction between the organisms of the mother and the developing child, I am of the opinion Mithrellas would simply be not able to support such a fast but superficial pregnancy like a human one is. And risk this twice. It would damage her psycologically and spiritually too much. I think her body would completelly confused how to even start such a process.
So I do think 4-6 years is the lowest we can go for her two children.

@WillChan
I do not think choosing mortallty changes the biology of a given person. If it would, then Luthien and Arwen should start aging at a human rate the moment they change over, with sickness and decay included, and as far we know that does not happen. That would mean also getting menopausal, and as both of them were several thousands of years old at the moment, they would be not able to bear any children at all if their bodies simply would change instantly into a mortal woman's one (actually they both should die the very instant such a change would happen) or what - would they simple get an mortal life period of ca. 80-90 years added to their elvish part of life (if so, this should actually include new human gestation, childhood and puberty for their bodies to be and act wholly human, and that for sure does NOT happen)? This also would not work for Arwen, as she has outlived Aragorn and he reigned for 120 years. Aso elwish women seem not to have cicles, as they conceive their children at will, so has Arwen started menstruating the moment she "became human"? How so, on which basis - when would her body have the time to learn that (a human girls' body prepares for this several years long of trial and error of puberty)?- not believable.
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
There's a fascinating chapter in The Nature of Middle-earth where Tolkien is trying to figure out ages to make Aragorn and Arwen's relationship work. He tries several formulas for elven aging, and also resorts to a kind of Numenorean time/aging process. He says that when Arwen married Aragorn, she entered his time and aged along with him.

As for menstruating, it's true that marriages in Middle-earth normally don't seem to have happened until women were well past puberty, but for much of human history it is probable that mating/marriage began soon after puberty. Later marriages are a kind of luxury of civilization, but it's not so long ago that many women married in their late teens - I grew up in the 1950's, and it was not unusual. So years of "trial and error" (I'm not sure what that means in this context) were not always there.

Do elf-women menstruate during the years of child-bearing and child-rearing? It's possible. Tolkien talks of the age at which they reach maturity, which certainly could mean puberty.
 

Odola

Active Member
. He says that when Arwen married Aragorn, she entered his time and aged along with him.
So what was her starting (human) age at that moment?

As for menstruating, it's true that marriages in Middle-earth normally don't seem to have happened until women were well past puberty, but for much of human history it is probable that mating/marriage began soon after puberty. Later marriages are a kind of luxury of civilization, but it's not so long ago that many women married in their late teens - I grew up in the 1950's, and it was not unusual. So years of "trial and error" (I'm not sure what that means in this context) were not always there.
Yes in former times girls married often early and had their puberty late. But nobody expected them to get pregnant instantly at their marriage. My grand father was an obstertician shortly after WWII and when confronted with a married 16-years old patient complaining she cannot get pregnant, he told her not to expect her body to be able to get pregnant for 2-3 years more years. Most cycles at the beginning of puberty are un-ovulatory "trials" with an occiasionallly succesfull one in between. Nowaday puberty starts earlier and more successfull due to us being overfed, this in not the case in societies were development is delayed by childhood stress and malnutrition.

As for menstruating, it's true that marriages in Middle-earth normally don't seem to have happened until women were well past puberty, but for much of human history it is probable that mating/marriage began soon after puberty. Later marriages are a kind of luxury of civilization, but it's not so long ago that many women married in their late teens - I grew up in the 1950's, and it was not unusual. So years of "trial and error" (I'm not sure what that means in this context) were not always there.
Elven women cannot have puberty as a certain fixed time otherwise Galadriel would not have been able to have Celebrian in 300 SA as Galadriel has been born in 1362 Years of the Trees making her 13 311 years old at Celebrian's birth, so she would be long past child bearing age if there were any for ellith.

And cycles are specifically necessary to make the body able to get pregnant completely independant of the mother's will, in a female which gets pregnant at will they make no sense at all. Why should an elleth deliberatelly choose to loose blood and precious bodily resources for no good reason at all?
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Tolkien is trying out different ways to measure elven years in relation to sun-years. Tolkien posits Arwen's age in life years (as opposed to age in sun years) as somewhere in her early 20's when she marries Aragorn. Elves are able to postpone child-bearing to their 60's or even 90's (in life years) in times of war or journeys or other world stresses. So you can't measure Galadriel's age in life years by sun years. Many thousands of sun years may have passed by the times an elf woman bears her first child.
 

Odola

Active Member
Tolkien is trying out different ways to measure elven years in relation to sun-years. Tolkien posits Arwen's age in life years (as opposed to age in sun years) as somewhere in her early 20's when she marries Aragorn. Elves are able to postpone child-bearing to their 60's or even 90's (in life years) in times of war or journeys or other world stresses. So you can't measure Galadriel's age in life years by sun years. Many thousands of sun years may have passed by the times an elf woman bears her first child.
There were no stresses in Galadriel's youth nor actually during her years in Doriath - she just has not has been married back then yet. Were she already in her childsbearing years she would have had no valid reason to stop the clock from running. I understand her clock starting at her marriage, but this would imply is has not automatically started running at her equvalent of our 21 - so no, no "puberty" before "maturity", or puberty is totally meaningless, as fertility is switched off at the very moment it starts, to be switched back only whenever needed.
And yes, Celebrian would have been born around Galadriel's human 90's.

So Arwen would be around 24-26 at her marriage? Dunendain life span being around x 3 that of a normal mortal human, as Aragorn died at 210 after 120 years long rule, which would make him around corrected 70 at his death, and real 90 (corrected to 30) years at his wedding.

Lets count Arwen at 25 at her wedding.

120:3=40 corrected years of rule.

So she would be around corrected 65 at Aragorn death and below 66 at her own death.
Understanable now why she found that way too early.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
According to one Tolkien quote from his letters at least it should. He was by no means of the opinion a child is its fathers alone. Luthien's bloodline is her bloodline. And a mother is not just a container for the child, neither genetically, socially or mytholgically (see Miriel) - a child is still more a creation of the mother (even if judically it counts as its father's in ME).
Prengnacy is a complex interaction between the organisms of the mother and the developing child, I am of the opinion Mithrellas would simply be not able to support such a fast but superficial pregnancy like a human one is. And risk this twice. It would damage her psycologically and spiritually too much. I think her body would completelly confused how to even start such a process.
So I do think 4-6 years is the lowest we can go for her two children.

@WillChan
I do not think choosing mortallty changes the biology of a given person. If it would, then Luthien and Arwen should start aging at a human rate the moment they change over, with sickness and decay included, and as far we know that does not happen. That would mean also getting menopausal, and as both of them were several thousands of years old at the moment, they would be not able to bear any children at all if their bodies simply would change instantly into a mortal woman's one (actually they both should die the very instant such a change would happen) or what - would they simple get an mortal life period of ca. 80-90 years added to their elvish part of life (if so, this should actually include new human gestation, childhood and puberty for their bodies to be and act wholly human, and that for sure does NOT happen)? This also would not work for Arwen, as she has outlived Aragorn and he reigned for 120 years. Aso elwish women seem not to have cicles, as they conceive their children at will, so has Arwen started menstruating the moment she "became human"? How so, on which basis - when would her body have the time to learn that (a human girls' body prepares for this several years long of trial and error of puberty)?- not believable.
That is not what i mean at all. The example of Arwen in NoME is perfect...
when she starts her relationship with Aragorn her aging and time experience starts to adapt, she changes.So it is not simple hereditary genetics, it is sociology, her actual life and surroundings changing her biology and psychology.
 

Odola

Active Member
That is not what i mean at all. The example of Arwen in NoME is perfect...
when she starts her relationship with Aragorn her aging and time experience starts to adapt, she changes.So it is not simple hereditary genetics, it is sociology, her actual life and surroundings changing her biology and psychology.
Still this is not the cause with Mithrellas. She is a pure-blood elf and stays this way. She leaves and goes back to her own way of life. She has no way to adapt to any human way of fuctioning, so no way for her to have a wholly human pregnancy.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I am not entirely sure if we know that.She is an elf, gives birth to two human children and then returns to her people to live as an elf.Why should she have been pregnant for 108 years instead of 12 months i do not understand, her children are human after all, they grow like humans that included within her mothers body.
 

Odola

Active Member
I am not entirely sure if we know that.She is an elf, gives birth to two human children and then returns to her people to live as an elf.Why should she have been pregnant for 108 years instead of 12 months i do not understand, her children are human after all, they grow like humans that included within her mothers body.
She cannot give birth to "two human children". She is not a surrogate!
Her children, if they are hers, cannot be human! Not possible. They can be hybrids that are legally considered human due to their father's being one.
The only way for her to gestate human children would be interspecies embryo transfer.
But then there would not be any "elvishess" about Imrahil to be observed by Legolas.

And even in a surrogacy the constitution of the carying female influences the duration of an "interspecific" pregnancy, if is too "asychronous," it will fail:

"The incompatibility of maternal-fetal genotype is
another reason of the failure in interspecific pregnancy.
The genotypes of both maternal recipient and fetus affect
the development and function of recipient uterine endo-
metrum. The genotype of recipient makes a great influ-
ence on the fetal growth
. MacLarcen et al.[10] reported that
the maternal-fetal abnormal interaction led to the failure
of goat embryos in sheep or their chimera uterus. Fetal
abortion rate was regarded to be relative to the genotype
of embryos. The incompatibility of maternal-fetal geno-
type may cause their asynchronous development..."

(PDF) Advances in interspecific pregnancy (researchgate.net)

So to make it very plain - even if you inplant a fully human embryo into an elleth, the gestation ratio will be influenced by said carrying elleth's genotype. But Mithrelllas' children were her own - and this makes them automatically hybrids - as such the gestation period would be lengthend also by their own slowered growth ratios in addition to being carried by their elvish mother.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Again i do not see how this works. Her giving birth to two human children is obvious.I can't see how you just can deny it.

And again i just do not care about realistic biology in this case when the story (which is a fantasy story) seemingly does not work that way at all.
 

Odola

Active Member
Again i do not see how this works. Her giving birth to two human children is obvious.I can't see how you just can deny it.

And again i just do not care about realistic biology in this case when the story (which is a fantasy story) seemingly does not work that way at all.
If the biology is biolog in the rest of the story it cannot be otherwise in this case otherwise orcs babies could simply fall from the sky. If there are no rules then all is random and there is nothing to talk about. An elvish woman cannot give birth to purely human children the way a squirrel cannot give birth to a mouse. Then Tolkien's thinking out elvish gestation was just a huge waste of time as babies could just materialise out of thin air. And Legolas could not have seen any elvish descent in Imrahil as there would not be any to see. Then Tuor being counted among the elves is no suprise as the "race" of the parent would have no effect on his/her children at all. And so Mithrellas could have given birth to an elephant or a chair or just laid an egg like Leda (which is as such "mythologically sound").

If an elleth impregnated by a man bears a fully human child then there are NO half-elves ever, only humans - as all the cases we know are just such cases (Luthien being a half Ainur-elleth, but this should not matter).

But even if you refuce Mithrellas to having been just an incubator, even then an incubator's settings have an effect on the gestation's duration of the new life within.
 
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Odola

Active Member
I honestly have to admit i do not understand anything of this.
Have you not claimed the Elven-lady Mithrellas bore human children after being impregnated by the Gondorian Numenorean Imrazôr?
This is treating her like an incubator and not like a mother.

And even if it were so, the gestation period would then still be longer than the human 9 months as a pregnancy is an interaction of (at least) two (usually related) organisms and not a purely parasitic relationship.
 
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