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One of my favorite TNG episodes is First Contact. Not the movie, mind you, which certainly is a wonderful movie (second only to The Undiscovered Country in my book), but the television episode in Season 4, where Riker is hurt and inadvertently introduces the leaders of a planet who thought they were alone in the universe, to the vastness of the Federation.

I love this episode because it could easily play out in real live. Were there to be alien encounters with leaders on earth (like Chancellor Durken in the show), it's not unreasonable they would determine that we were "not ready" and keep the encounter a secret until we had evolved a little more. It was a mesmerizing concept to me, especially at the young age I saw it first.

My question is about sex. Riker, when attempting to escape from the hospital sleeps with a nurse named Lanel in exchange for her help to gain his short-lived freedom. This happens on Star Trek all the time, and that's fine. My question is more about biological differences. How is it possible that Kirk, Riker, and so many other Star Trek male characters have sex with so many aliens? How do they explain that sexual construction is compatible when other qualities are so vastly different?

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    Out of universe, alien species on Star Trek are a symbol for race. Many episodes of Star Trek are about racism and racial issues. Having characters do this is a statement on interracial relationships, something much more taboo in the 1960's than it is today. Remember that Spock is a "biracial" character, and this is a plot point in many stories. – Ben Miller Dec 4 '15 at 18:29
  • Ahem - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/6676/… – Valorum Dec 4 '15 at 19:19
  • Biological differences never stopped humans before. For that matter, neither did non-biological differences. {{warning: both news story links are SWP but not entirely in good taste}} – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 4 '15 at 21:50
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    I doubt it would work with a tribble. – Wad Cheber Dec 4 '15 at 23:01
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    @WadCheber: Quantum perversity principle means that, now that you're considered it, there's a webpage devoted to it. – FuzzyBoots Dec 4 '15 at 23:20
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Memory Alpha article on Preservers

The Preservers were a highly-advanced alien race who passed through the galaxy rescuing primitive cultures in danger of extinction, and seeding them on other worlds where they could be allowed to grow and thrive. Their activities accounted for the large number of humanoid species in the galaxy.

In short, many of the "alien" species encountered are different offshoots of the same race, thus bipedal and humanoid except for whatever the makeup department cobbled together.

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    That's from the original series, and we only actually saw a single example of a group of humans that had been taken to another planet, with no evidence that other humanoids were human offshoots created by the Preservers. But TNG revealed that the reason for the similarity of most humanoids was that billions of years ago a race of ancient humanoids had seeded the galaxy with early life that was somehow "programmed" to evolve towards a humanoid state (totally violating Darwinian evolution, of course). – Hypnosifl Dec 4 '15 at 18:14
  • I always thought Darwinian evolution still had an effect, in that we all would have been essentially the same species, but evolutionary pressure is what caused most differences between the species to begin with, since the ancient humanoids seeded the galaxy very early on in their development. – Mike Dec 4 '15 at 18:29

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