Or, rather, did Tolkien leave any specific or general notes on anatomical differences between their and Men's skeletal/muscle/organ structure? There is information on some differences such as height, beards, etc. - but I'm more curious whether their innards might disconcert a human surgeon. If there are no specific notes, a general note indicating that there are differences would also do.

PS. I think in the first of the LotR movies they come across some unusual-looking Dwarf skeletons - but I'm looking for Tolkien's word on this, rather than Peter Jackson's.

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    We do know that elves have far keener eyes and ears than humans, which implies differences in how the neural paths between their brains and their sensory organs; but that doesn't really tell us much about their innards. Feb 27, 2016 at 17:48
  • well, given that aule created dwarves before elves were there, it is possible that dwarves have many differences in their anatomical structure. but i don't think that elves and humans are that different. but that is only a guess...
    – Armin
    Feb 27, 2016 at 17:51
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Well, we also know that they're immortal - which, on a cellular level, has all sorts of implications. But we're also talking about a world that has magic in it. I'm curious about this from a hypothetical surgeon's perspective.
    – Misha R
    Feb 27, 2016 at 17:51
  • Does that skeleton have a nose?
    – Mac Cooper
    Feb 27, 2016 at 20:44
  • @MacCooper Yeah, seems to have a fully developed osseous nose instead of a nasal cavity.
    – Misha R
    Feb 27, 2016 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


In Tolkien's conception, humans and Elves are anatomically identical.

I suppose that actually the chief difficulties I have involved myself in are scientific and biological - which worry me just as much as the theological and metaphysical (though you do not seem to mind them so much). Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring - even as a rare event: there are 2 cases only in my legends of such unions, and they are merged in the descendants of Earendil.


There might be some criticisms of Tolkien's biology there, but I think we can safely say based on that statement, the answer to your question as it regards Elves is that yes, they have a pancreas, just like people.

Dwarves are trickier. There is no similar statement as far as I know. We only know that Aule created them while having the Children of Illuvatar in mind, but he was a little unclear what they actually looked like. Nevertheless, since he did make them as misshapen replicas of Elves and Men, and they have the same diet, I think the answer here is probably also "yes", other than some skeletal differences they are probably pretty much the same.

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    Is there any evidence for the difference in the dwarves' skeletal structures, other than the same proportional differences that would apply to a short stocky human? Such as the strange skull structure as imagined by Peter Jackson?
    – Misha R
    Feb 27, 2016 at 18:11
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    @MishaRosnach: "And Aulë made the Dwarves even as they still are, because the forms of the Children who were to come were unclear to his mind, and because the power of Melkor was yet over the Earth; and he wished therefore that they should be strong and unyielding." implies more to me than that they were just stocky. But that's about all I'm aware of.
    – Shamshiel
    Feb 27, 2016 at 18:15
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    @MishaRosnach: I meant that "even as they still are" and "the forms of the Children[...] were unclear to his mind" meant they looked substantively different, not just like strong, stocky humans. As additional evidence, the Elves did not even recognize them as sentient beings and hunted them for sport when they first met.
    – Shamshiel
    Feb 27, 2016 at 18:20
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    If the ability to breed makes them the same race, the Maiar are the same as elves and men. Thingol, an elf, and Melian, a Maia, had Lúthien, their daughter. Which begs the question, What is the difference between Elves and Maiar? Mar 12, 2017 at 6:52
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    @GenericGeek: One imagines that Melian incarnated herself into the body of an Elf. Melian could have also incarnated herself into a dog, or something. The difference between Melian and Thingol while she is incarnated is spiritual, not biological.
    – Shamshiel
    Mar 12, 2017 at 13:06

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