one planet = multiple senteint species?

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This always bugged me.

In fantasy, you can have many sentient races. Dwarves, humans, elves, lizard people, cat people, whatever. No one bats an eye at the many sapient species evolving and sharing one finite world. However in Sci-fi, I have yet to see the same situation. By this I mean multiple races on one planet.

For example, lets say multiple races evolve on a single planet. They are all intelligent, all civilizations.

There seems to be an unspoken rule where:

One race -> one planet in sci-fi.

So I ask, is it possible for multiple sentient species to evolve on one planet? And is there any instance of this happening in any sci fi? I have yet to find anything.

Edit: I was kinda looking more at Humans and the cat/lizard people somehow evolving (unrelated genes) than the neanderthal connection.

EDIT edit: I went back to sapient, ad it seems sentience is more appropriate so i was right the first time around. I wish people would make up their minds.

While it certainly is possible for it to occour it is bordering on a mathematical impossibility. Very unlikely, we probably wont find it in our galaxy.

Multiple intelligent races should be technically possible although very unlikely. I think for it to occur each species would need its own continent so as to not kill each other through war early on.

Also, how different do you imagine the two species to be? Closely related like Homo Sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis/other hominids, (In which case, multiple intelligent species did exist on this planet, just not for very long, hence the need for separate continents.) or completely different like if humans and birds both created civilizations.

As far as examples in sci-fi, I am unaware of any.

There has already been this in Sci-Fi gaming. In Star Control II, there were the Zoq-Fot-Pik.

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I remember In star trek enterprise there was this one episode where two sentient races lived on this planet, and a plague was killing the more advanced one.

It was retarded though, the doctor from the enterprise actually figured out the cure for this plague and then refused to give it to the dieing race because it would be meddling with their natural evolution. Apparently the less advanced race was destined to inherit the planet or some such nonsense.

I refuse to accept that evolution is more important than a sentient creatures life. I really wish archer didnt end up agreeing and deny them their cure.

Oh and in the second season of enterpise there were the primary bad guys who wanted to destroy the earth....what were their names? They had all these different races that shared the same name and they distinguished from each others species by calling each other 'reptillian, aquatic, mammal and insectoid' there was also an extinct species that were avian from that planet.

Well there's Spore, but that sucked :/

I think it could be because the all powerful alien race that is capable of space travel wiped out the other sentient species to become the dominant race on the planet.

Just a thought.

It happened on earth, except we were able to interbreed and so bred the neanderthals out of existence.

ravenshrike:
It happened on earth, except we were able to interbreed and so bred the neanderthals out of existence.

Or became partly Neanderthal, which is looking like the new theory...they seemed superior to us in most ways, so it doesn't particularly make sense why we would survive and they wouldn't.

OT: Science fiction as a rule tends to try and predict the future from current events, or just by adding a few different things to the mix, such as a certain technology or changing an event in history. Fantasy tends to take place in an entirely different society & setting. As we only know of one species that is sentient (by our definition) on this planet, then our sci-fi tends to follow like this, or at least that's my theory.

In practice I don't see anything wrong with it happening, unless one or more of the two sentient species are aggressive & wipe each other out. And it depends on where you draw the line of sentience.

Ultratwinkie:
This always bugged me.

In fantasy, you can have many sentient races. Dwarves, humans, elves, lizard people, cat people, whatever. No one bats an eye at the many sentient species evolving and sharing one finite world. However in Sci-fi, I have yet to see the same situation. By this I mean multiple races on one planet.

For example, lets say multiple races evolve on a single planet. They all both intelligent, all civilizations.

There seems to be an unspoken rule where:

One race -> one planet in sci-fi.

So I ask, is it possible for multiple sentient species to evolve on one planet? And is there any instance of this happening in any sci fi? I have yet to find anything.

John Carter of Mars. Multiple species of martian waging war on each other.

Planet of the Apes: two sentient races of simians, human and ape.

Star Wars: Corellia is a system made up of five worlds, and they share multiple species including the Ryn and Humans.

You do know that sentience isn't a defining trait of mankind right? Virtually all sophisticated animals are sentient.

At any rate, I do understand what you're saying.

Let's look at it from this perspective. Natural selection is of course the key concept supporting evolution, survival of the fittest. But it's not as simple as if only the most superior lifeform gets to continue, if that were the case Earth would have exactly one species inhabiting the planet at any give time. Instead we've got countless different species, so many that we still don't know how many there are. My point being, dominant species do not inhibit other species from evolving.

We don't have just one species of mammal, we don't have just one reptile, just one fish, one bird, we have many of each. I don't see why it would be so impossible for there to be multiple humanoids on one planet. Most of these fantasy worlds tend to just have primates as the dominant species anyway. Humans, elves, and dwarves would all be classified as primates, they have very common ancestry. And it's not that hard to believe either, because we had multiple humanoid species here on Earth at one point.

Cavemen weren't just modern humans with little technology, they were different species than what we are. There are at least 14 confirmed species in the Homo Genus that came before we did. only many of them died out or interbred to create us, but there was an age of multiple humanoids on Earth.

Hmm, that is really interesting, I'd never noticed that difference between sci-fi and fantasy before. I would say it is extremely unlikely though. I mean, most species would probably try to wipe the other one out. Also, as already said, the mathematical improbability is just astronomical.

Hmm, that is really interesting, I'd never noticed that difference between sci-fi and fantasy before. I would say it is extremely unlikely though. I mean, most species would probably try to wipe the other one out. Also, as already said, the mathematical improbability is just astronomical.

Edit: Sorry, computer bugged out, double posted :(

We'll probably genetically engineer a new sentient race on earth in the next thousand years.

in a episode of star trek voyager, a backup of the docter is lost on a planet the enterprise came by, 2 species on 1 world. they where waging war together, they learnt to life together

the word you're looking for would be sapient not sentient...

also lots of Sci-fi has multiple sapient species on one planet... I'll give you a well known example.. in Star Wars you have the planet Dac... home to both the Mon Calamarian and the Quarren...

it's perfectly plausibly to have more than one sapient species on the same planet so long as they didn't both fill the same ecological niches (otherwise one would wipe the other out) in the same areas, if they were symbiotic, or hell just if they happened to be a lot less violent than we happen to be, you could also have a scenario where one developed first and "lifted" the other up to being sapient

even on earth scientist debate how close a few other species are to sapient... octopuses are considered very close (they can learn through observation, use tools, build shelters and even decorate them)... and in a few thousand years (provided we don't kill them all off lol) they may even achieve it without any help

In Babylon 5 the Cenaturi and another race that I forget had other sentient beings living on their planets but the other races were wiped out before the first season.

Dramatically speaking you don't want to introduce too many races too quickly, if you have one planet it's easy to get lots of them on it, if you have several planets it gets harder.

I think I know what you mean but I think a bigger problem in sci-fi is the notion of a blank-world. Water, Ice, Lava, Forest etc. The canteena in Star Wars had a bunch of aliens in it but it was in a port-city so there's that. I don't get why most popular sci-fi features/franchises try to keep one theme/dominant species per planet. It's probably something to do with keeping the narrative accessible to everyone.

Ultratwinkie:
So I ask, is it possible for multiple sentient species to evolve on one planet? And is there any instance of this happening in any sci fi? I have yet to find anything.

If you regard the Neanderthals as a different species, this kinda happened on earth. Sure they didn't make it, but we did roam the earth simultaneously for a long time. (And contrary to popular belief their extinction wasn't our fault[1].)

Considering we've had multiple related but distinct species of humanoids on our planet at the same time, I don't see where that would be impossible? Now, that are completely unrelated... that's a harder call. Really depends on your requirements for 'sentient' for one. Is it tool use? Then we have many species on Earth right now, beyond just humanity. Tool making? Still many, though the number dwindles. Tool making, social species that can learn to understand human language, and have their own? A few, though not THAT many... so far none that we can find are quite on the same intellectual level, on average or upper end, yet... but how much of that is simply...a different level of development...

Honestly, with a bit of encouragement, or simply letting things progress without hindering such, it's likely we'll be seeing such here growing anyhow. As to other worlds? Who can say. We'll have to see what we find when we get out there. We can extrapolate from what we have here though...and it suggests that IF there is sentient life...there's no reason it should be limited to one species per planet... it's even likely it won't be...however it's also likely one will be...considerably dominant, if our own model is anything to go on. But...one example isn't a very complete sample to draw from for determining all the possibilities in the universe.

We've got multiple sentient species here on earth. There's debate regarding our station as the sole sapient species as well. Anyway, to answer your question in the broadest possible way, yes it's possible, provided that the species in question are ecologically dissimilar or geographically separated.

I don't see why it wouldn't be possible...

I seem to remember the initial antagonists (Xindi, I think) of 3rd season of Star Trek Enterprise were all from the same planet, though there were 5 or 6 different species of them. Otherwise, I agree with previous posters that sci-fi writers probably think its unlikely that more than one sapient species would survive long enough on a planet to get to the point where they become space fairing.

It's generally explained as a 'one race killed everyone else' kind of thing, or something else happened to them (Plague, extinction, refusal to develop advanced technology). It's not a very common thing that crops up in Sci-fi, but it does happen - Though it's often a case of 'Two sapient species on the same world, get along like a house on fire' kind of thing.

There's also the rare case (can't bring up any examples of it, sadly) where there are multiple sapient races on a single planet that work together - in this case, they usually just refer to each other as 'Race A', and have very tied-in cultures and the like (I know I've read/seen this somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember where.)

I would guess that this actually has more to do with the various sources from which the two genres derive their inspiration. Fantasy of course looks to our past, when we didn't understand the world to the extent that we do today. Magical explanations for strange events (like dwarves or elves did it) could easily co-incide, and so Fantasy looks back to a time when one might think the world populated by many strange creatures. Science fiction on the other hand tends to take our information about the present and extrapolate it for a view of the future. Since it's drawing its inspiration from the world of today, it mirrors it in ways the authors tend not to even consider, for instance in that a planet would have only one dominant species [though certainly there are exceptions, the example that comes to my mind is from an issue of Red Lanterns, but it's hardly the first].

Well, the many people on earth are so culturally diverse that they may as well be different species.

ravenshrike:
It happened on earth, except we were able to interbreed and so bred the neanderthals out of existence.

Or INTO existence, I swear people are getting stupider every generation.

OT: It's just how the game is played, each planet has to be interesting and you don't want to throw two good ideas into one episode.

There's a difference between sentience and sapience. A dog is sentient, so yes. It's actually very improbable that only one sentient species evolves on a planet.

As for sapience, it has also been mentioned before me that neanderthals, Cro-Magnon etc. were sapient. Considering we generally see Earth as an average life-supporting planet (we kind of have to assume we're average for science and all that), I think it is improbable that only one sapient species evolves on a life-supporting planet.

As to whether those species could live together, I have no clue. It could happen, but I wouldn't count on it unless the species are isolated from each other early on (pre-agricultural era), as competition would otherwise drive all but one of the sapient species to extinction, which happened to the other members of the Homo genus.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy claims Earth had 3 sentient species, of which we (Homo Sapiens) were third in intelligence rating.

So ... yeah. :)

There were multiple sentient species on Earth before. Just look at early hominid evolution. The problem is that old species are either usually killed/die or are just out competed. Also like someone else mentioned the problem with multiple sentient species is that they would have to evolve at roughly the same time and in isolation or in all likelyhood they would destroy one another. Also I could be misinterpreting but it also happens in Doctor Who with some tree people from episode 1. Although it isn't explicitly shown, the tree people also state that they came from Earth like humans I think.

I don't get what the problem is there was at least two distinct species of human before the other went extinct so its not that far fetched

The weird bit is that when you get down to it in a lot of setting (dnd being the most famous)most of the different races are just that races because they can interbreed which means that there are very few different species in a fantasy setting

Other people have already covered the sci-fi aspect, so I'll just add that I think the main reason there are multiple races in fantasy is that they are "created" at some point by gods or elder beings (the Valar in Tolkien, for example), thus allowing the writer to side-step the issue.

EDIT: Also, I'd argue that fantasy races tend to be presented as different cultures rather than different species. As theonecookie points out, they tend to interbreed without much trouble (though this does happen in sci-fi too, especially in stuff like Star Trek).

million years or so, there were at least 2 species that reached sentinence, Neanderthals and modern day humans, with the possibility of others.
however, early man eradicated or interbred the others until there was only one specie left.

unless they operate on completely different evolutionary niches (an example being dwarves care little for the world beyond their caves, humans cant live underground) then they will establish dominance on one another until only one remains

Well there is Star Wars. Tatooine has 2 sentient races evolving on the same planet (Tusken Raiders and Hutts). I am sure there are other examples as well.

As far as the likelihood of this happening though, the chances are very slim. Somewhere (must dig through my books to find the reference) I have seen an article on the multi-intelligence theory in relation to evolutionary survival. Because evolution of different species happens at different intervals it is unlikely that multiple species would evolve hyper intelligence at the same time. This poses a problem to multiple intelligent races existing on the same planet as one of the stages toward intelligent evolution is usually a hostile stage. This would lead to one species destroying the other.

I don't think there's really that much difference. For the most part, in a fantasy setting, each of the different races originate from separate areas. For example, dwarves are stereotypically from caves/mines, elves are often from magical forests, and humans just have the regular kind of land. Obviously that won't be true for all settings, but it's common.

The key thing, is that there are generally large distances between these areas. Not so large that it's impossible, but definitely clearly defined, and not a journey a character makes on a whim.

When you compare this to a general sci-fi setting, in which most "sentient" races have space flight, if not FTL technologies, distances between areas on the one planet have just about 0 impact, so these distances are just replaced by vast swathes of deep space.

It's really just a shift in scale. In a fantasy setting, the continent alone is presented as huge by the inhabitants, in a sci-fi setting, they just have to find something a little bigger to make sure there are easy distinctions to be made.

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