Homo sapiens (Marvel Comics)
Within the Marvel Universe, the species Homo sapiens, and its genus Homo, are far more prolific and active than in the real world. The branching of the species Homo sapiens came with the arrival of the Celestials on Earth. Space gods of genetic engineering; the origin of the Celestials as a race is shrouded in mystery. They are beings of phenomenal cosmic power and knowledge and are known to visit planets across the universe. They work to enhance the local sentient fauna and return periodically to monitor the progress of their charges.
It was a mission of such intent that led to the creation of modern man. At some point between 400,000 years ago and the second interglacial period in the Middle Pleistocene (around 250,000 years ago) the trend in cranial expansion and the elaboration of stone tool technologies developed, providing evidence for a transition from Homo erectus (meaning "upright man") to Homo sapiens (meaning "wise man"); this origin/transition is speculated by human scientists as either due to a uni-regional development that spread (which seems likely, due to the general genetic homogeneity of Homo sapiens sapiens) or multi-regional developments that merged.
This diverse group forged from the "human" template by the Celestial manipulations, Homo sapiens shows great variation and potential, possessing a total of six main groups (it is also possible that Vargas represents a new direction in Homo sapiens). All have a standard humanoid physical morphological template, although exceptions are possible within both Homo sapiens superior and Homo sapiens inhumanus, and almost inevitable within Homo sapiens deviare; additionally, Homo sapiens mermanus are typically endowed with either blue- or green-tinted skin.
Homo sapiens sapiens
This branch of humanity, known as "humans", "normals", or the derogatory "flatscans", are born without powers, and are considered the "base stock" among the descendants of the Celestial altered Homo sapiens. Despite their considerable inferiority when compared with both Eternals and Deviants as far as inherited power is concerned, it is Homo sapiens sapiens who appears to have retained the greatest genetic potential, their DNA altered to be the most receptive to benevolent mutations of all forms. With the most robust DNA sequences (and therefore greatest potential for superhuman adaptation) of any race the Celestials have altered, mainstream humanity have remained the most populous, yet have seen offshoots (in the form of Homo sapiens mermanus and Homo sapiens inhumanus) and mutations (in the form of Homo sapiens superior) leading to new subgroups, and even individual examples of stable, artificially induced mutations of the genome, such as Spider-Man, Giant-Man, or even the Incredible Hulk. These artificial benevolent mutations have been induced in a variety of ways, including direct exposure to radiation of varying types, indirect exposure to radiation, exposure to exotic particles, or exposure to a chemical agent delivered within a serum. Another way to gain superpowers is through genetics and eugenics, like in the case of Fantomex. According to the Supreme Intelligence of the Kree, all members of the human race have the potential to reach a latent evolutionary potential which includes god-like powers like "the Destiny Force", but the level and state of the present humankind makes them still too fragile and weak to survive and handle such powers.
"Humanity" in the Marvel Universe, once established as Homo sapiens sapiens, developed much as it did in the real world, generally ignorant of its genetic relatives the Eternals and Deviants, and even of the few isolated cases of mutation (with the earliest recorded being the Homo sapiens superior En Sabah Nur, known as "Apocalypse", in 3,000 B.C.) to, on the whole, develop identical cultures to those of the real world, parallel in almost every way; at least until World War II in 1939, when the appearance of superbeings became public, proliferated, and unavoidable.
Changes between human cultures in the Marvel Universe and the real world since that point have entirely reflected the greater presences of superbeings, notably Homo sapiens superior ("Mutants"), although in recent times all superhumans have been targeted by certain bodies; this can be seen in such governmental legislation as the weakly backed Mutant Registration Act, and the current, popular Super-Hero Registration Act, and traditional prejudices against mutants and certain other superbeings.
Homo sapiens superior
Actually the same as the "normal" Homo sapiens sapiens mentioned above, but due to the human genetic potential to support benevolent mutations, has spontaneously develop a gene within the newly created zygote which endows superhuman abilities and/or appearance on the individual; however, anyone born with this "X-gene" is automatically considered a member of what has been named Homo sapiens superior, individuals distinguished only by the presence of a single gene. The gifts endowed by the presence of the gene can be minimal (one mutant, Jazz, simply has blue skin), to phenomenal (such as the abilities of any well-known powerful mutant hero or villain, for example, many of the X-Men, or former members of the Brotherhood of Mutants). There are any number of theories as to what can catalyze the development of the gene within an individual, ranging from sunspot activity, to parental exposure to radiation in some form; however, ultimately, the answer is unknown.
The number of so-called "mutants" within humanity as a whole has risen dramatically, and fallen almost as dramatically, since the first recorded appearance of a known mutant, 5,000 years earlier, with the birth of En Sabah Nur, later known as Apocalypse. Apocalypse was a lone mutant, but almost 5,000 years later, by the 1970s, there were hundreds. Due to unknown causes, the mutant population exploded within the following decades, seeing perhaps 32 million worldwide by the 1990s (the evil Cassandra Nova exterminated 16 million with her Sentinel attacks, and that was theorized to be approximately half of the mutant population). Finally, in the Decimation event of 2005, Wanda Maximoff's alteration of reality removed the powers of most of the remaining 16 million, leaving perhaps a few hundred remaining mutants on the Earth.
The circumstances and opinions surrounding mutants as a political body have always been very much polarized, presumably because of a similar polarization within the attitudes of the mutant community; some strove for acceptance, whilst others declared themselves "humanity's successors" and sought to take their place by force. As a result, opinions on how to deal with the mutant community have always been similarly divided. There have been attempts to exterminate mutants (with the robotic Sentinels, or the deadly Legacy Virus, amongst other things), enslave them (using the mutate process created by the Sugar Man and employed by the Genegineer of Genosha), or indeed both (such as the Weapon Plus Program), and even appease them (such as when Magneto was given sovereign command of the country of Genosha); it has only been recently that mutants have been accepted as members of society by law, as equal to other superhumans (as evidenced by the Super-Hero Registration Act, which affects all with superhuman abilities, regardless of origin of said abilities).
However, as a side note, given the events of the series Son of M, in which the depowered mutant Quicksilver restored the powers of other "fallen" mutants in the wake of the Decimation event, it seems likely that the mutant X-gene, the presence of which denotes a being as Homo sapiens superior rather than Homo sapiens sapiens, either leaves a "genetic shadow" within the rest of the individual's DNA, or takes its characteristics from said DNA. However, it is more likely that both assertions are correct.
This can be stated due to evidence witnessed; the traditionally Inhuman-controlled Terrigenesis (the taking of the mutagenic Terrigen Mist) was a process designed to induce benevolent mutations to maximize the genetic potential of the individual, creating unique powers. Now, given that applying Terrigenesis to a former mutant restores powers of a similar nature to their own, it can be seen that the general genetics of an individual seem to give some shape as to which powers they will manifest (the ultimate genetic fingerprint); however, since the powers are restored at far greater level than they existed before, it seems likely that the DNA sequence of a mutant, even a former mutant, contains far more inherent power than that of a human (and almost certainly more than most Inhumans).
It is not known how the genetic deviation or offshoot from Homo sapiens sapiens that is Homo mermanus came to be, given the stable level of difference.
The actual Atlantis sunk in the "Great Cataclysm" event some 20,000 years prior to the current era, with those who would become Atlanteans first remaking it as their home approximately 2,000 years later. A largely peaceable existence has been their lot since then, at least as far as confrontation with surface-dwellers was concerned, at least until the 20th century, which saw hostile interactions between surface-dwellers and Atlanteans, whether between the groups as a whole, or when the Atlanteans sided with the Allied Powers in World War II. However, the Atlanteans are currently at peace with the surface.
What is known is that these marine humans known as "Atlanteans" have now reached the extension of the land dwelling Homo sapiens similarity; the genetic distinctions are at their ultimate point, meaning that genetic disconnection between the two forms is almost complete, meaning they have become two different species. It is a misconception that pure Atlantean/human hybrids (Namor, Namora, Namorita) are infertile, and thus support evidence of complete speciation, as Namora is the only confirmed infert. In fact, Llyra and Namor are hybrids and have conceived offspring.
As a race, the average Atlantean is far more powerful than the average "human" – they stand capable of speeds of swimming up to 30 mph (48 km/h), breathe perfectly underwater (although cannot survive on the surface for more than five minutes), have a life-span of approximately 150 years, and are far more physically durable and strong than the average human, as a side effect of living in such a high-pressure environment.
Additionally, there are an offshoot of Atlanteans known as Lemurians; they are typically distinguished by their greener skin and reptilian appearance, although their powers remain identical to their Atlantean counterparts.
Homo sapiens inhumanus
These beings were created by Kree experimentation on primitive Homo sapiens sapiens after the genetic potential of terrestrial humanoid species was discovered by the vivisection of an Eternal, a follower of Uranos. The Kree created the Inhumans in an attempt to break their own genetic stagnation, and create an army of mutant soldiers.
However, the experiment was abandoned for unknown reasons, and the Inhumans created a society of their own. Powers were induced by the powerful mutagenic chemical known as the Terrigen Mist, although this exposure created lasting genetic damage, and physical aberrations, amongst the Inhumans. As a protective measure, a prohibitive eugenics program was instituted, to minimize the impact of such damage. Now, bound by strict caste structures and breeding laws, only suitable Inhumans are allowed access to the Terrigen Mist. Additionally, power level after Terrigenesis dictates one's place in society.
As suggested, the power levels and appearances of Inhumans vary greatly, from the insignificant to the awesome, much as mutants. Recently, it has been revealed that Terrigenesis is not exclusive to the Inhumans, but can be applied to former mutants, their powers removed in the Decimation event. However the former mutants powers return as twisted, uncontrollable versions of their previous powers.
Homo sapiens aeternus
This offshoot started with almost nothing compared to what they would attain; their genetic potential was great, seeded with latent genes to provide eternal life and virtual invulnerability, in addition to other powers; yet these lay dormant within their systems.
A civil war destroyed the unity of these beings, in their first generation. A difference in ideologies saw the Eternals Kronos and Uranos pit their followers against each other, with Kronos' army prevailing, driving Uranos and his followers from Earth. This is particularly relevant to the genetics of the Eternals' ancestors, since much changed after this schism.
Uranos and his exiles found a Kree supply store on Uranus, hoping to come back to Earth and retake it by force using parts to create a vessel for themselves. Several stayed behind to form their own colony, but this was ill-fated, and wiped out before the 20th Century.
Uranos and his followers were attacked by the Kree before reaching Earth, with one member taken for vivisection (the analysis revealed a terrestrial origin, which prompted the Kree to begin the experiments which would lead to the Inhumans), leaving the remaining party to limp to Saturn's moon Titan, forming a colony there.
On Earth, Kronos pursued experiments into cosmic energies; however, one of these experiments would have results quite different than expected. Exploding in his face, Kronos was atomized, his energies becoming the Titan God of Time, whilst all other Earth Eternals were doused in fallout radiation; these radiations altered the genetics of all Eternals they touched, activating their latent abilities, and ensuring that all born to the Earth Eternals would have similarly activated genes and levels of power.
It was this which created the second schism of the Eternals; in the first Uni-Mind, it was decided that Kronos' son Zuras would succeed him. However, in order to avoid dissension, the other son, Alars, left, arriving on Titan. There, he encountered Sui-San, the last of the Titan Eternals, and the two repopulated Titan; however, the new Titan Eternals were less powerful than their Earth counterparts, since Sui-San had none of the augmented genetics possessed by all Earth Eternals.
Earth Eternals have astonishing power derived from channeling cosmic energies, capable of using this power for such varied feats as matter rearrangement, energy blasts, flight, super-strength, virtual invulnerability, and an almost infinite lifespan. Titan Eternals are, on the whole, endowed with similar powers to lesser levels, although the individual Thanos has surpassed all Eternals in power; his powers were already greater than any Eternal of Titan, and have been augmented with technology and mystic energies, not to mention a great increase in power attached to his resurrection at the hands of Mistress Death.
Homo sapiens deviare
The race known as "Deviants" were the third of those created by the Celestial machinations; they were endowed with an unusual genetic gift: their physical appearances alter dramatically within each generation, driven by mutation rather than standard bilateral genetic matching. These mutations would often confer superpowers as well as physical deformities, but the powers granted would never be the equal of those wielded by Eternals.
Ghaur, a priestlord among the Deviants on Earth, claimed they were created by a single Celestial called Tiamut, or "The Dreaming Celestial", and by doing so he did a crime among the Celestials and was punished.
The ugliness and deformities as standard within the Deviant race, coupled with the beauty of their foes, the Eternals, have led to a societal structure which abhors physical beauty, to the point of killing those deemed too beautiful.
However, the Deviants were masters of science, having perfected cloning and other genetic manipulation tools whilst mainstream humanity were still living in caves; this was demonstrated by the beast Spore, an unstoppable creature capable of assimilating the genetic codes of any creature assimilated into its mass.
Homo sapiens supreme
The only known representative of the species is the mutant Mr. Immortal who is believed to be the "ultimate human", having evolved past death itself. He has been said to be the one true immortal in the Marvel Universe, although some sources list him as simply being an omega level mutant.
"True" Homo superior (?)
The supervillain Vargas was born with superpowers yet lacks an X-gene. He claims to be a representative of an entirely new species, the "true" Homo superior. His claim may be authentic given the principle of genetic drift. Similarly, Daisy Johnson was born with super-powers, but lacking an X-gene, and therefore not classifiable as a mutant.
- "Wolverine (solo series) issue #21". Marvel Comics.