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CocoaNutCakery's avatar

MLP: Pony Genetics

So there have been many attempts to explain pony genetics, but all of them fall short when considering what we've seen in the show and, quite frankly, how genetics work.

So I went ahead and took a shot at it.

Let me know what you think.

Oh, and as far as the unicorn horn and pegasus wings go, those are part of what is blocked. If Fluttershy had inherited all the genes she did except for the ones that determine pony type and got EE for those, she wouldn't have survived. Growing the horn and wings would take considerably more strain on the fetus than growing just one of them with the Earth Pony magical abilities.

Edit: I didn't explain this in the big... thing... up there, but a lot of Fluttershy's character traits (shyness, possible instability, etc) could theoretically be traced to her body putting less energy into them and instead directing the energy towards increasing her tolerance for magic and growing wings instead of directing energy towards certain parts of her brain development (such as hormone receptors).

Edit2: Please keep in mind that Mr. Cake is not a geneticist. He should not be considered an expert on such things. Remember: Just because a character says something does not make it canon. There are such things as misinformation, lies, and mistakes.

Edit3: Just so there's less of a chance of me getting asked this again: The Cake twins are UU (Pegasus) and PP (Unicorn).
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LyricAura's avatar

I know this is an old post but I find your idea on Pony Genetics fascinating.

TrinPlays16's avatar
What would the genes be for an Alicorn?
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
EonOrteaShadowmaster's avatar
I'm impressed! Excellent work on this!
galacticpink's avatar
Question as a result of the Season 3 finale!

The implied to be unheard of ascension (I get the feeling at least Celestia has a specialized knowledge of this and knew of Twilight's potential to do, likely from her uncontrolled magic surge during her entrance exam) of a Unicorn to an Alicorn via the magic of friendship. Is there a genetic explanation for this, or is it just one of those things that can be passed off as the miracle of magic/friendship?
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
Well, I kind of have a theory about the origin of Alicorns, but it would kind of be a spoiler for Rise of the Legend.
Let's just say that Twilight is the only pony to have changed into an Alicorn without... outside influences.
As for how it worked, the spell just altered her genetic makeup, but--as is strongly hinted in the season 3 finale--it required the power of the EoH and could only work on the wielder of Magic.
Uxileaf's avatar
... If you aren't figuratively speaking, Princess Candace was a pegasus that learned the true sense of love, and was granted the Alicorn status.
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
According to the comics, yes. I'm working within the show's canon.
BerryPunchrules's avatar
I don't like the part about fluttershys rare genes. I really don't see how a unicorn and earth pony can produce an entirely different race, and based on the season three finale, maybe alicorns have to be created? Id like to see a gene explainer with mane and coat color.
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
Well, mane and coat color would just be regular genetics. There's nothing particularly interesting about them specifically.

As for the producing an entirely different race, think of it like this: You have a device that emits three lights out the front, along with two bars that hook onto the device that each have two shades.

So you've got it like this:


And with one of the shades in front:


With the other shade:


Now, if you take one random shade from each one, you could end up with the shade that blocks the yellow from the first and the shade that blocks the red from the second, ending up with:


An entirely different light.

As for the season finale, if you'll recall, that spell was one that Starswirl couldn't finish. In other words, the spell to turn a unicorn into an Alicorn not only required the unicorn to wield the element of magic (remember that the spell worked through the Elements of Harmony), but it also didn't exist for Celestia, Luna, or Cadence.

What don't you like about Fluttershy's rare genes?
BerryPunchrules's avatar
i don't like how it classifies her as different. i mean, it's just her personality.
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
Except that it's been established, through Word of Faust, that empathy with plants and animals is Earth pony magic.
Ganondox's avatar
I think a better explanation is that there doesn't need to be any special gene, UU's are Pegasi and PP's are unicorn, but EE's are unviable. Or something.
TheManeCobra's avatar
Ok, I just found this and I'm not sure if I have the right answers, so here are my questions.

1) My OC, Fallow Heart, is the offspring of two Alicons. He is an Earth Pony with a special ability that allows him to control or levitate some objects with ease, depending on his state of mind. He also has an earth pony sister, a unicorn brother, and a Pegasus brother. Is this possible?

2) Also, if my OC and Fluttershy were to have children, there would be possible earth pony offspring, right?
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
1) Not by this explanation. Not in the slightest. There are other explanations that allow that (I can't point you to any right now), but not this one.
2) Well, if he was a standard Earth pony, being UP, and Fluttershy is UU, that would give a 1/2 chance of UU (unviable or rarely a pegasus with Earth pony traits, like Fluttershy) and a 1/2 chance of UP, which would be a standard Earth pony.
TheManeCobra's avatar
I kind of sensed that the first question made little sense, and yet I asked it. Hehe, weirdness at its best. Anyways, thanks for the response.:D Might get back to you in a bit.
WoefulWriters's avatar
Are the genetics on my pony family tree correct? or should I fix it? [link]
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
If you want to follow this explanation of pony genetics, it's extremely unlikely that Otis and Lily (BOTH being Earth ponies) would have had two Pegasi and two Unicorns (any other combination of partners, such as E/U, and that combination of children would be just as likely as any other combination). Additionally, they would most likely display some traits inherent in Earth ponies (think Fluttershy's fear of heights and talent with animals) as well as some... negatives as a result of growth energy being placed elsewhere (think Fluttershy's fears, her social anxiety, her occasional rage issues, etc).

But that's assuming that you want to use these genetics and you're not okay with such a low probability. It's not like this is official or canon and even if it was, there's no requirement to stick with it (there are a number of fan-made creations that contradict canon, either subtly or overtly).

All this is is a hypothesis about how genetics in the MLP:FiM universe work based on how genetics in our universe work and the information given in the show. You're free to create your own hypothesis or even dismiss the issue entirely if you so desire.

By the way, the person that does Slice of Pony Life had his (her?) own explanation of how pony genetics work, using an explanation involving polyploids (the explanation isn't... complete, but it might be something into which you'd like to look) and taking Mr. Cake's explanation as canon: [link] I did some digging into polyploids, and it's a... REASONABLE explanation, but I do take some issue with that explanation. That said, if you want to use an already existing explanation for two Earth ponies producing two Unicorns and two Pegasi, then that's an option there.
WoefulWriters's avatar
Thank you for the feedback. :D I'll check out the tumblr,and I will keep your theory in mind the next time I make a oc family.
phantomxV1's avatar
anything to help my story, OK the character was born from unicorns, she was born with no magic, but has the traits of an earth pony and still has a unicorns horn. explain, please and thank you
CocoaNutCakery's avatar
Well, taking this, she would have magic. First, she'd have Earth Pony magic, but she'd also have Unicorn magic. Though perhaps her body does not prioritize some aspect that's important to Unicorn magic (actually, I have a theory about how magic works in MLP:FiM, but it'll have to wait until I'm back on schedule... though I guess I could explain it by saying that Twilight was VERY strong in magic to be that powerful without m/any friends) or something along those lines. Maybe she has trouble understanding how spells work or maybe her body deals with the excess magic by getting rid of it instead of being able to utilize it in a controlled way.
TheNegaverser's avatar
Fascinating! I'm always interested when people take a scientific look at the world of ponies. Twilight would be proud!
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