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In looking at this question it brings to mind, in-universe (all of JRT writings) did he ever say why Eru created multiple species that can communicate? Elves, Hobbits, Dwarfs? Was it just to make the story interesting? Consider in Dune we have but a single species (Sandworms excluded)

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    Even in Dune, they have Mentats, Guildsmen, and Face Dancers, and that's just from what I've read so far. The humans in Dune are so diverse they might as well be considered different species. – DaaaahWhoosh Dec 9 '15 at 17:58
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    As we all know, on planet Earth there is one species, Homo sapiens, which everyone considers to be semi intelligent or even fully intelligent. However, research in the intelligence of other species indicates that it is possible that many others MIGHT be semi intelligent or even fully intelligent: at lest four simian species, three proboscidian species, and over eighty cetacean species, and a number of now extinct species in prehistoric eras. So a better question from the modern viewpoint might be why Eru created so few species of people. – M. A. Golding Dec 9 '15 at 18:02
  • I was trying really hard to avoid the 'intelligence' issue so a focused on communication. I personally think it's a device to simplify the plot. Can't prove it yet. Love your comment tho. – Athena Widget Dec 9 '15 at 23:19
  • The Dwarves were created by Aule the Smith, but it was Eru who gave them life. – maguirenumber6 Dec 10 '15 at 7:12
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    Athena Wright - Don't forget Koko, the gorilla taught sign language. It is possible that in the future Homo Sapiens, like Elves, may "wake up" - or teach to communicate - several other species. I believe that current theory is that Homo sapiens developed language and the ability to think in words halfway though its existence as a species, so some species now on Earth might be equally capable of learning language and advanced abstract thought. – M. A. Golding Dec 10 '15 at 19:15
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Eru himself only really created three sentient races1: Elves, Men, and the Ainur (the Valar and Maiar); Elves and Men are called the Children of Iluvatar (and considered rather special) for exactly that reason. Why he felt the need to do this is unknown, but I for one am rather glad that he did.

The other sentient creatures came about for other reasons:

  • Hobbits are a subspecies of men:

    It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of [Men]: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. Of old they spoke the languages of Men, after their own fashion, and liked and disliked much the same things as Men did. But what exactly our relationship is can no longer be discovered.

    Fellowship of the Ring Prologue I: "Concerning Hobbits"

    Presumably they evolved naturally, but as Tolkien says in the Prologue it's not exactly known.

  • Dwarves were created by the Vala Aulë because he was anxious for the Children to arrive, and wanted to hasten the process

  • Ents were created by the Vala Yavanna, to protect the plants which otherwise can't defend themselves from harm:

    Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!

    The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 2: "Of Aulë and Yavanna"

  • Eagles were created by the Vala Manwë, for reasons unknown:

    [B]efore the Children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind the Eagles of the Lords of the West.

    The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 2: "Of Aulë and Yavanna"

    The Eagles act principally as Manwë's eyes in Middle-earth (similar to Odin's ravens from Norse mythology), so it's possible that was his only impetus for creating them. But we don't know for sure.

  • Orcs were created...somehow, but probably not intentionally by Eru

  • Dragons were created by Morgoth, somehow

  • Ditto with Trolls (of various types)

  • The Giant Spiders (such as Shelob and the spiders Bilbo encounters in Mrkwood) are descendants of Ungoliant, whose origin is similarly unclear

  • Tom Bombadil sprung fully-formed from the collective frustrations of a million Tolkien fans trying to fit every creature into neat little boxes

The closest thing to a motivation we get from The Man himself comes from Ainulindalë, when he introduces the Music of the Ainur (emphasis mine):

Then Ilúvatar said to them: 'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.'

The Silmarillion I Ainulindalë


1 Elves and Men are the same species, from a biological perspective, and the differences between them are primarily spiritual

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    @AthenaWidget See the link on that line item. That's one theory, but far from the only one – Jason Baker Dec 9 '15 at 15:50
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    Weren't the Ents created specifically in response to the creation of the Dwarves? I seem to recall Yavanna crying "they have no respect for nature, and they'll cut down all my forests!" and then getting special dispensation to make a "guardian of the forests" to make sure that didn't happen. – Nerrolken Dec 9 '15 at 18:46
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    What about Dragons, Stone Giants, and Trolls? – Bergi Dec 9 '15 at 18:58
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    @Bergi Most of the evil races are vaguely mentioned as having been made (or twisted) by Morgoth, but without many details about what they were based on, etc. – Nerrolken Dec 9 '15 at 19:28
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    @Bergi I added lines for the dragons and trolls, for all we know about them; didn't add the stone-giants, because they're...odd – Jason Baker Dec 9 '15 at 21:54
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Orcs were not created by Morgoth, for Morgoth is not capable of creating life. Orcs are diminished and distorted elves. These were Dark Elves that Morgoth captured in the first age, tormented, and debased. It is probably that Trolls were diminished Ents, deformed by Morgoth. Dragons were formed by Morgoth from animals.

Shelob was a Maia who followed Morgoth, and the intelligent spiders are her offspring.

Sauron's creation of the winged beasts who bore the Nazgul was apparently an imitation of Morgoth's creation of the dragons.

Saruman's interbreeding of men and orcs to form the uruk-hai was probably an imitation of the process by which Morgoth originally form the Orcs.

Creatures formed by Morgoth were created before the sun and the moon, and cannot stand light. This is why sunlight turns trolls to stone, and the orcs do not dare come out during the day. That limitation was why Saruman's uruk-hai were so much more of a threat, even though less numerous than the orcs of Mordor.

All of this can be found in the Silmarillion or the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.

  • Shelob never followed Morgoth she was Ungoliants greatest spawn born in Bereland after Ungoliant almost destroyed Morgoth at Lamoth – turinsbane Dec 15 '15 at 6:22
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Ungoliant must have been a Valar as well because in his schemes in The Silmarillion even Melkor has to deal with and work out a partnership of sorts instead of just telling her what to do and Tolkien says she's from "before the world."

The two blue wizards, Ungoliant, the female Ents, Queen Berúthiel's cats, etc are just in my opinion added for mysterious depth just as Bombadil was left intentionally mysteriously.

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    Can you provide sources for your answer? The Valar are quite clearly named on multiple occasions. and are the definitive 13 listed in The Silmarillion. – Edlothiad Apr 29 '17 at 6:34
  • Valar? No; those are a well-defined set of 14 particular Ainur. Ungoliant might be an Ainu, but it's equally (if not more so) likely that she is another ("undocumented") kind of spirit, also created by Eru, aside from the Ainur. – chepner Sep 16 at 14:23

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