The Anthropology of Game of Thrones

The Anthropology of Game of Thrones

the world in which the Song of Ice and Fire book in Game of Thrones HBO TV series is set in has perhaps become one of the most beloved and well-known in the fantasy genre from the wall of the north to the pyramids of murine the world George our Martin has created and fleshed out is an incredibly complex diverse and mysterious one with magic mythical creatures and a lot of sex I'm a massive fan of both the books and the show and the series has definitely captured a lot of my imagination and because it seems like everybody is making a game of Thrones themed video in the wake of the premiere of the final season I kind of went why not put my scientific and biology knowledge could use I'm having a bit of a thought exercise one of the things I personally have found interesting about the series is the mysterious past of the world and the creatures that inhabit it George RR Martin's series is filled with animals both familiar to us both extinct and extent like mammoths lions Oryx giant squids and dire wolves but he also has filled it with mythical creatures like dragons fireworms unicorns Giants and of course the White Walkers the latter sort to many makes it seem like science and biology and evolution does not belong in a game of Thrones it's fantasy they say don't overthink it but curiously Martin has expressly said the opposite for instance in interviews he has said that he wants his dragons to be realistic these are not quite accurate for my dragons these reviews are not my dragons because my very hands only have two legs they don't have front legs other dragons buy fantasy writers have four legs and wings I just have two legs and wings why why because it's more scientifically accurate there's no animal on earth that has four legs plus wings nobody has that sort of thing so we know it's fantasy I tried to watch my science fiction guy I want to make it accurate here in interviews Martin has this curious concern for scientific accuracy for his what people genuinely think is a fantasy world george RR martin is fascinating me because it seems that the book and show series isn't fully magical or fantasy it's a realistic and science fiction esque take on fantasy and great detail has been put into making things that happen and exist in our story scientifically plausible and possible george has taken the time to think these things out now have the fans to speculate things scientifically their lease partly and as a person who is obsessed with anthropology biology paleontology and evolution I want to ask hypothetically what would a westerosi paleontologist or biologist conclude about their world's prehistory and fossils I essentially want to act like a medieval scientist a Meister of sorts and take a detailed examination of the creatures that exist in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series I will in this video primarily be tackling the humanoid races of the world and construct a speculative phylogenetic evolutionary tree and a pre history behind the races knowing what we know now about evolution in biology and based solely using the information given in the books and show I will primarily be referencing the main book series a game of Thrones to the release sample chapters of a winds of winter and the standalone books like a world of Ice and Fire my name is maester Trainmen and let us begin the paleontology and anthropology of Game of Thrones planet os– as fans will likely know the vast majority of Game of Thrones takes place in the continent of Westeros but there are several different continents that exist in the currently known world to the east of Westeros we have the large continent of Essos and south of Essos we have the probably extremely large continent of South oreos george RR martin has stated that his world is around and it seems like the planet that the series is set on which I'll just call planets host for brevity is very analogous to our own earth Westeros beat akin to Europe s Ospina came to Asia and Sethe oreos Punic into Africa because Westeros is currently stuck in a several thousand year long period of technological stagnation akin to Europe's Middle Ages the current map of the world is incomplete and much of what we know is limited to the Westerosi perspective martin has stated that things said about the more distant regions might be inaccurate as the transmission of information across locations in Planet OSA is very limited like our own world as it was known in the Middle Ages there very well might be other continents as of yet unexplored and undiscovered on planet owes to further the similarities to our own world we know that planet au s– is very old and is not a young earth many maesters the game of thrones equivalents to medieval naturalist scientists and physicians believe planet owes to be at the very least several hundred thousand years old it seems they based this number on historical records such as the reigns of ancient kings but Samwell Tarly notes that like many of the ancient histories of our own world these histories don't make much sense as kings in them live for hundreds of years and historical nekron isms are everywhere in these stories and therefore we should take what they say with a grain of salt they can very well be inaccurate with this statement George R Martin seems to be having an intentional dig at the biblical and religious histories put forth in the Bible as the texts are filled with patriarchs that live for hundreds of years – even thousands of years and have things like camels being domesticated and used at a time when such animals hadn't been domesticated yet in our story we have first-hand information that confirms that planet osa is at the very least over a million years old the children of the forest and elf lakes species that actually lives for hundreds of years claims their species has been living in Westeros for at the very least a million years additionally the geology of many places tells us that planet OSes likely billions of years old as stones like granite and limestone take a very long time to form by natural processes on our earth from all this information it seems likely that planet osa is in fact closer in age with our earth unlike humans of our own middle ages it seems that Westeros you just haven't figured this out yet this information though sounding somewhat inconsequential is actually important when we will examine the biology of creatures of planet toast as this old age of the planet allows for enough time for evolution by natural selection to occur in the game of thrones world now there are the very least six known races of humanoids that have been confirmed to exist in planet os– meaning they've been encountered directly by point-of-view characters and we know they're not just myths these races are seemingly traditional humans which I'll call for convenience Homo sapiens the children of the force the Giants the even ease the Brynn and the others or for show Watchers the White Walkers first up the Homo sapiens that inhabit planet os– the quote-unquote normal humans of planet os– seem to be the most widely dispersed of the other humanoids and have migrated to every known continent and have adapted to many of these diverse environmental conditions in doing so they've evolved into races much like Earth humans with dark-skinned humans light-skinned humans humans with almond shaped eyes humans with tall bodies humans with short bodies and so on seemingly accordance to many of the same biological evolutionary processes found on earth such as Alan and Bergman's rules for instance some are Islanders which appear to be geographically closer to the equator have darker skins than the Andals Westeros which originate from a more geographically northern latitude and consequently have more fair-skinned skin color and human seemingly occurs on a gradient moving away from the equator and planet os– with lighter skin frequencies moving more north in the reverse moving towards the equator summer Islanders – ghiscari – grown are to Andals again much like how it is on earth with humans on earth this physical characteristic of humans is likely due to UV light radiation levels increasing towards the equator despite these physical differences unlike the other humanoids it seems that all these races of humans belong to the same species Homo sapiens as some are Islanders seemingly can interbreed with Andals and Valerians can interbreed with Dothraki and so on this means that everyone from the people of UT who resemble East Asians to the Ironborn who resemble Scandinavian Vikings belonged to the same species Homo sapiens we know from histories that Homo sapiens do not originate from Westeros as the continent was colonized by a series of homo sapien migrations from Essos first by the first men crossing a no longer existing land bridge called the arm of Dorne 12,000 years ago then later by the Andal 6,000 years ago by boat and after them the Rhoyne are 1,000 years ago also by boat it seems likely that Homo sapiens originated in Essos possibly in the Dothraki sea region as a location in this region is curiously called by humans of the womb of the world and mitts are associated with this region being the birthplace of mankind however it is also possible Homo sapiens originated from further east beyond the bone mountains may be a shy we just don't know Homo sapiens is the most populous of the six races we know of with perhaps an estimated 250 million people in the known world 40 million in westeros alone which is roughly what the world population was for people on earth in the first century AD which is surprisingly small considering Westeros is currently in the Middle Ages but this could be a gross underestimate and the world population could in truth be significantly larger we just don't know all of our point of view characters are Homo sapiens in our story from Arya to err on damp hair to Tyrion Lannister the imminence the second of the humanoids that inhabit planet toasts are the ebon e's these people have sloping foreheads heavy brows lots of hair broad shoulders in our squat and shortened stature they originate from an isolated island to the far north of esos call tube from a world of Ice and Fire we know that these urban knees can only interbreed with other Ebony's as if they try to interbreed with Homo sapiens these pregnancies result in still births malformed children or children that are sterile there is some evidence that might suggest that this might not be the case with all Homo sapiens even knees might be able to mate with a select few Homo sapiens specifically some of the descendants of the first men such as Coco see which makes sense do these peoples original clothes geographic proximity to it it seems likely that the Ebony's are either a distinct species from Homo sapiens or are in the gradual process of becoming a new species as there appears to be a building genetic barrier preventing gene flow between the two populations and over time this barrier will likely completely prevent interbreeding Aurea daenerys catalan and many others have encountered the Ebony's throughout our story and they are a relatively more common sight in Planet host than the other races they are famous for whaling and fishing they seemingly can learn homo sapien language and their island of is very isolated and has very little contact with the outside world and thus we have not too much information about them the Giants and the children of the forest were westeros 'as original inhabitants prior to the migration of Homo sapiens to the continent the Giants and children of the books are noticeably more animal-like than they are in the show Giants are 10 to 14 feet tall and look more like huge sasquatches with shaggy hair covering their entire bodies they're proportionately smaller heads and craniums and larger hind limbs and four limbs giants seemed to have limited tool usage preferring tree trunks instead of Spears or swords they additionally appeared not be as intelligent as two other races the children are a small humanoid race with dappled deer-like skin large ears and large cat-like slitted eyes and hands with four fingers that end in claws they are smaller around the size of children the children seem to be subterranean living in dark tunnels underneath Westeros they are pretty intelligent with significant tool usage creating Spears and stone tools we know they have longer lifespans than humans probably in the 200 years to 300 years as of a 300 AC present day of our story both creatures are seemingly on the brink of extinction with very small populations of Giants and children remaining that we know of the relationship between Homo sapiens Giants and children is unclear the children claim a certain type of kinship with the Giants which might suggest they were at some point close relatives unlike with the Ebony's and brindled men it is not especially well recorded if Homo sapiens children and Giants can interbreed there are rumors of hybrids between the children and humans chronic men and Giants and the humans Hodor but there's little evidence to support this like the venes giants and children can speak the language of Homo sapiens such as the old tongue though the children are also capable of speaking a language impossible for Homo sapiens to speak physically called the true tongue additionally myths and legends about creatures very similar to the Giants and children can be found in Essos so it's unclear if the Giants and children originated in Essos and migrated into Westeros like homo sapiens or if they originated in Westeros and migrated into esos giant bones have been discovered throughout esos including on the Isle of EEB and it appears that these two species were once incredibly widely spread across the known world many commonly believed these creatures to be extinct but living giants have been encountered directly by John and living children have been encountered directly by brand in the cave of the three-eyed crow both seems it only exists currently north of the wall but the children might live underground and in hiding further south the brindled men or the safari are the native inhabitants of South oreos probably the continent we know the least about they have only been encountered three times and very briefly by POV characters Daenerys Barristan and Victorian Theon's uncle they are very ape-like with strong long arms large square teeth heavy jaws sloping foreheads and flat snout noses that give them a hogleg appearance their skins are brindled thus their names some brindle men can learn hopeless Appian languages such as the trade chalk but otherwise they're considered not the brightest and savage and very primitive like the Ebony's the brindled men cannot interbreed with Homo sapiens with pregnancies always resulting in deformed stillbirths this again suggests the Brundle men belonged to separate species from Homo sapiens possibly more so than the Ebony's as they cannot even give birth to live hybrid young and of course lastly we have the others or white walkers the I don't even know what to call them that we know the least about we know essentially nothing about the white walkers in the books they are the main villains of the series but have only appeared directly wait for it a grand total of two times and all of the books in the prologue of a Game of Thrones and in sam'l 1 in a Storm of Swords nowhere else though we are supposed to see more of them in the winds of winter if it ever comes out we don't even really know what the White Walkers in the books really look like they are tall gaunt and graceful and supposedly beautiful their skins are white as milk and their eyes are bright blue like stars the mummified appearance of the show White Walkers might not be the case White Walkers have pale blue blood and shiny milk glass like bones they walk on snow rather than sink in and leave no footprints they enjoy cold temperatures and avoid sunlight and warmth they speak a strange tongue that sounds like cracking ice they seemingly originated from the lands of always winter the furthest point north in the known world and where very few humans go the others possess camouflaging Armour similar to the predator which makes them appear invisible and the razor thin swords they use can cut through essentially any metal and seemed to glow blue which makes me think of lightsabers they have the ability to resurrect the dead as whites and it seems possible that they achieve this in a manner similar to skin changing or warding simply using corpses instead of wolves or Eagles something George R Martin has shown in previous work in the books it appears they can animate dead flesh itself as a brand's wolf summer tries to eat a white bear and tears it apart though the meat still moves even as he ingests it unlike with the show we do not know if the others have a leader or a goal exactly they seem to enjoy killing organic life as they laugh when fighting nights watch Rangers in the prologue there are many legends about others and humans mating but is unclear if these have any truth to them or not additionally unlike with the show it is unclear how the White Walkers are created or born sure the wildling Craster sacrifices his homo sapien sons to the others and his wives believe them to be transformed into others through some unknown method but some seem to forget that Craster also sacrificed his sheep to the others when he does not have sons to give and others seemingly take these sacrifices as well it could very well be that the creation of others involves organic life and not necessarily human life but again things are very unclear as far as the books go we know from the show that human babies are transformed into others through magic and that the others were originally created by the children in the forest through magic it is unclear if this is the case in the books a personal theory of mine is that the others might be the remnants of a technologically advanced civilization that is simply being misinterpreted by medieval humans as magic and mystical there's some evidence to back this up much of Martin's previous work involves the debunking of magic for more natural explanations and much of his work involves societies misinterpreting one another martin is notorious for serving as the antithesis of Toki and as shown a dislike for having wholly evil villains which makes me think that the others are simply misunderstood rather than fully evil additionally something rather interesting discuss in the show's behind the scenes has to do with the armor design for the show's White Walkers Michelle Clapton created many of the costumes for the others in the show under the assumption that the armor was actually scavenged bits of art and architecture from some long-forgotten culture of the far north because this is a hypothetical biological and scientific analysis I will be removing magic from the equation when trying to fit the others into my evolutionary tree instead of the others being transformed humans there with their own separate species don't yell at me that's just how I'm gonna do it now that we have addressed all the major known humanoids of plenty tous I'd like to note that interestingly many of these races correlate to ones that once existed on our own earth the thing is that earth was once a lot like the fantasy worlds in Lord the Rings in A Song of Ice and Fire with their once being many different types of humans living in different geographical region at the same time rather than just Homo sapiens as it is today the ebony is very much resembled the Neanderthals only entered halls of Eurasia during the Ice Age the children the forest resembled the hobbits or homo florensis of the island of Flores and lastly the brindled men seem to resemble either Homo erectus or australopithecines particularly the lineage of the robust australopithecines and it seems George our Martin used the 8 men that once existed on prehistoric earth as an inspiration for Planet tous but unlike on earth where these other species of humans became extinct during the last ice age before the advent of civilization planet tous is almost like an alternate history to earth where instead of Neanderthals and Homo erectus and so on becoming extinct these human offshoots persisted close to the modern day something that very much could have happened here if things turned out a little differently this is interesting because it seems to be something of a trend in the world of Ice and Fire many species that are extinct by the Middle Ages of our world are still lingering around in westeros mammoths or ox European lions megalo serous and unicorns Oly rhinos are rare and on the decline but present in Westeros why is this perhaps plant owes had a more gradual transition from its last glacial maximum or ice age and to modern day rather than the more extreme one of our own earth and this allowed for a less severe mass extinction for many many Ice Age species to survive longer perhaps the long night and the others have something to do with this getting back to the humanoids of Planet tous it seems possible that all these species save the white walkers our close relatives and share a common up white walking ape-like Australopithecus like ancestor and I suggest they might just be separate species belonging to the same genus which I'll dub for convenience homo i suggest that there were at the very least three distinct splits in lineage of planet OSes homo based on the distribution of the races across the world and their similarities to earth humans it seems likely that the common ancestor of humans the ebony z' giants children and brindle men originated from South Oreos or at least Eastern Essos the common ancestor to these races analogies on earth originated in Africa and because the thaw ríos is very clearly planted to us as Africa the nology seems to fit the first major split that occurred between the genus Homo occurred when the ancestors of humans the children Giants and Ebony's separated from the ancestors of the brindled men as they migrated out of South oreos possibly across some unknown or no longer existing land bridge possibly by UFOs again in a manner probably similar to how the ancestors with Neanderthals Homo erectus and other archaic humans left Africa by the way of the Sinai Peninsula in the Horn of Africa this split occurs probably very early on probably at the very least a few million years ago Wow one lineage remained in sooth oreos the other migrated into esos this would explain the brindled mends more primitive and ape-like appearance as well as their inability to interbreed with the other races as they are the furthest removed and most distantly related from here it appears the second split occurred between the ancestors of the lineage that became the Giants and the children and the ancestors of the lineage that became Homo sapiens and the innies because of scant information this split is the least clear to me as the Giants and children have a very murky fossil record and their ability to interbreed with other races is poorly defined one possible theory is that the common ancestors of children and Giants migrated to Westeros across the arm of Dorne and then evolved into two distinct species from there with a second migration back to Essos alternatively children and Giants might have evolved in Essos first and then migrated together into Westeros either way it appears both Giants and childrens ended up in Westeros at least 1 million years ago the third and last split between the species Homo sapiens in the Ebony's is perhaps the clearest to find and the one that we have the most evidence for it seems that after leaving Sethe oreos and migrating westward and splitting from the Giants and children some humans remained in the Dothraki sea region while others migrated further west and north to Angelo's norvos a nib which might have been connected to the mainland at this time from myths and histories we know that an ancient and now extinct race known as the hairy man once existed in Western esos and these men seem to have resembled the Ebony's but were taller this race might have served as a transitional species between the Ebony's and the more Bassel or primitive humans that were more similar to homo sapiens we also know that the Ebony's possessed a much wider range than they do in the modern day I suggest that these more Southern and Eastern Dothraki see humans became Homo sapiens that eventually would migrate outward and colonize the world all the other humans that migrated west to North became the Ebony's in Harryman after their expansion out of the Dothraki sea history tells us that these Homo sapiens Ward out computed and then replaced the hairy man in Impa knees in eastern and northern Essos until the Ebony's only existed on the island of ab which was spared from this event due to its isolation it is also possible that during this event the ebon YZ and the hairy man intermixed somewhat with some early Homo sapiens and contributed some DNA to the lineage of the first men this would again complete the Neanderthal Homo Sapien comparison as this is quite similar to what happened between these two species in our world Homo sapiens were placed and somewhat absorbed Neanderthals during their migration Out of Africa with Neanderthals contributing a small amount to modern European Asian populations as a result of this event from here Homo sapiens used their sophisticated technology and ingenuity to migrate to other parts of the world the first men crossing into Westeros much like our Native Americans migrated into America through the Bering Strait the ancestors of the et linky and a shy traveling over the bowed mountains eastward and the ancestors of the southern islanders crossing the southern sea these migrations had to have occurred relatively more recently and quickly than the previous Ibanez migrations as there has to be a more constant gene flow between these populations to ensure they remained part of the same species and not distinct species during these homo sapien migrations many of the other homo species became extinct or near extinct such as the Giants and children by about ten thousand years odds are most Homo sapiens on planet au s– had arrived in their modern-day distributions which gives enough time for these peoples to evolve their respective skin colors body types and other adaptations the qartheen and valerian Homo sapiens seem to reflect a more recent migration into their modern regions because of this these races have light skins but probably should have evolved dark skins if they remained in their respective regions for thousands of years and yeah that's about where we are as far as the evolution and migration of humans in G ot or Song of Ice and Fire the final evolutionary phylogeny I proposed looks a bit like this the brindled men the Giants and children deniz and the humans with some ibanez admixture but what about the others or White Walkers where do they fit on this tree well excluding magic magic has no place in the world being created by the Citadel if I wear a biologist in Westeros and I were to stumble upon a white Walker I'd classified as something wholly unrelated to any other organism on planet os– Barnes description of the others and their equipment in the books to me simply sounds like advanced technology and I'm a supporter of that eeeh that these are extraterrestrials or an advanced culture that medieval people simply think are magic Martin has been quoted as saying that the others are a different sort of life in human which demean Vokes the extraterrestrial beings of Lovecraft their entire Anatomy seems alien and appearance and everything from their blue blood to their crystalline skeleton screams in organic life having an entirely separate evolution from biological or organic life I suggest the others evolved from silicon based or some other kind of substance based life-forms and at an independent evolution based on crystalline life rather than biological life you heard it from me the others are aliens odds are I'm an idiot and I'm looking too deeply into things but who knows Martin loves sci-fi and loves Lovecraft which that's right up his alley like something my favorite game of Thrones theorist YouTube channel says I'm probably wrong about half of this and yeah that's my scientific examination of A Song of Ice and Fire or a game of Thrones hope you enjoyed this video has been rather cool to create as at the end of the day odds are there is no clear right or wrong answer an exact prehistoric organisms are the humans of planet os– or main a mystery this is the theory I put forth based on the given information I couldn't help feel like Darwin or something having to think for myself and piece things together like a detective I don't know it's just a lot of fun and I hope you thought the same I might revisit Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire series in the future because I really love the series but until then thanks for watching and I hope you enjoy the last season of Game of Thrones and winds of winter if it comes out alright bye tenten tenten and turn and didn't turn it turn it turn it Danton thinking in imminent in an Internet dish

40 thoughts to “The Anthropology of Game of Thrones”

  1. This was a nice reminder of that one Star Trek episode where The Enterprise reaches a planet where silicon-based life exists.

  2. The Valyrians evolved albinos/very fair skinned because they lived in a land with so many volcanoes.
    The sky would be very often clouded and they evolved a fair skin to compensate the lack of sunlight.
    Similar to the Scots and British because the place is so often clouded.

  3. yeah fantasy is great and all, and it has its perks, but a truly great story this is, it would not be if it were not inspired from reality.
    forget whatever you think you know from the (mainstream) scientific community. here's how it really went down.

  4. There are also the people of the Isle of Toads and the Thousand Islands who are either different races of humans or a hybrids created with blood magic (maybe in Gogossos), and semi-legendary humanoids like the winged men and bloodless men.

  5. Malazan Book of the Fallen series would blow this series away on screen as both an intellectual philosophical genre and high fantasy. Way to complex and expensive due to all the CGI required but we said that for LOTR once so a book fan can dream.

  6. Love your video. I wish there were references to mazemakers, tall men, people with webbed hands and feet near sothoryos, and green people of the thousand isles. But I guess there is just not enough info on those

  7. There are "dinosaurs" in sothoryos, Gerge argument of "more realistic dragons" makes no sense, its just him cherrypicking.

  8. Correction he doesn't have any dragons he only has wyverns (dragons with no front legs that use their wings instead)

  9. I'd probably make the judgement that the White Walkers are bipedal mollusks of possible cephalopod relation. That explains the blue blood (hemocyanin) and crystalline skeleton (internalized and modified shell).

  10. I finally figured out. Game of Thrones is a post-apocalyptic world and the white walkers are the surviving robo-anthropo-droid-AIs of current civilization.

  11. I'm just hoping that the ending we got in the TV show is not the ending grrm has in mind for the books, such a shit ending for a great series.

  12. 'technological stagnation" .. are you sure you know your medieval history? convinced americans are taught the wrong history because i was taught the medieval times had ever developing technology , constant changing and attitudes , , for example knight .. conatant change of armour, weapons ..warfare , biological warfare,! the development of towns ,cities , fasion
    , read a book..

  13. Those dragons can breathe, apparently, unlimited fire, but he quibbles at them having front legs? Oh well, they’re his creation.

  14. Hey, ever consider doing a video on Pachycephalosaurus growth cycle. I been hearing a rumor that it's not really accepted among paleontologists. If you can't can or someone else point me to reliable sources.

  15. I mean, I love his dedication for ethnography and biological accuracy, but the geology and geography look like they are not real. If your gonna make a fictional world, make it with plate tectonics in mind

  16. Actually, it's more likely that humans evolved from the dothraki sea as it is a huge plain,more like the African savanna,unlike the untraversable jungle of Sothorios, or from other place yet to be discovered by the westerosi
    Also there's a lake in the dothraki sea called "the womb of the world " which could be spoken memory of the beginning of the genus around that area

  17. Basically whatever Georgie dreams up is what is what! Also, how can Homo sapiens evolve identically on Planetos to those that evolved on Earth?!?

  18. cool cool cool project/video man. GRRMs ethos is a big part of the books, and feel of the story. He is scifi as

  19. the others are aliens …
    the place of always winter exist in our world too
    it is called Antarctica 
    i do belive that are aliens burried under the ice .

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