StarWars wikia is somewhat unclear here. It says

Near-Human was the general term for any of the many species or subspecies in the galaxy which were very closely related biologically to baseline Humans.

Does "related biologically" mean actually having a common ancestor? If so, what's the history behind that? Is it some kind of Panspermia thing like The Chase in Star Trek? Or something ancient and unknown?

Lets ignore the bit about

It was also used for unrelated species

I am only talking about Near-human related species. What does related mean? Does it mean related by evolution or simply relatively similar (convergent evolution)?

  • IIRC, this was never explicitly explained in any canon. At least not up till NJO Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 21:20
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    Related: Why are there humans in the Star Wars Universe? - "The origin of Humans in Star Wars is unknown (though many in the galaxy believe that they originated on Coruscant)."
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 0:20
  • @Izkata I'm not a Star Wars aficionado, so could you clarify: does that mean that the origin of Humans is unknown even to those in the Star Wars universe, or that we as the audience have never learned the official story? If one were to ask Obi Wan where his species came from, would he actually say "no one knows"?
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 1:02
  • @AlexanderWinn I'm not a major Star Wars fan either, but the "many in the galaxy" part makes me think it is in-universe. So yeah, if Obi-Wan was being honest, he'd say something like "no one is certain".
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 1:08

3 Answers 3


It was used for both a common genetic ancestor, and beings that simply looked as though they had a common genetic ancestor. From your own link:

The term "Near-Human" was used for species and races which had evolved significant physiological differences from baseline Humanity. It was also used for unrelated species, such as the plant-descended Zelosians, with substantial external similarities to Humans.

It further references this post on the official Star Wars Blog, which includes this sentence:

These were often a strain of human being that had evolved distinct and unsettling qualities, such as the four-fingered, pupilless Arkanians, yet also encompassed species such as Zelosians, superficially identical to humans but physiologically plant-based.

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    Nice addition, but I think the question still stands: what circumstances led to multiple species having a similar genetic ancestor?
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 1:00
  • "species and races which had evolved significant physiological differences from baseline Humanity" - doesn't illuminate if baseline humanity was the ancestor of these species, or just the reference for comparison
    – zipquincy
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 15:40
  • @zipquincy No, but the second sentence's "It was also used for unrelated species" does
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 15:50
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    @Izkata I was not clear enough. I specifically am asking about the related species. Is this an evolutionary relation or simply a superficial similarity, convergent evolution, etc.?
    – zipquincy
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 16:08
  • @zipquincy Er... That's exactly what "related" means in that sentence. The Zelosians are "not related" because their similarity is superficial, while for others it's not just superficial - that is, genetically related.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 0:10

Well, this gets into a broader scientific problem. It's all anecdotal, of course. There's too much of the Star Wars universe's timeline unexplored to be certain of anything, and the evolutionary or, indeed, prehistoric past of most species - including humans - has not been explored well enough to come to a firm conclusion. If Star Wars' humanity itself had the data necessary to track its own evolution or even home planet, as we nearly do on our own world, we might have a reasonable chance to formulate a likely answer.

Instead, I'm taking a bit of a pseudo-science approach. We know we have X; We know we have Z. Logic suggests there's something Y-shaped between them. Accepting that as a foundation, the core question can probably be summed up with one of two hypotheses.

Many, possibly most, Near-humans and warm-blooded humanoids in general may be based on a common genetic ancestor, though their development is not necessarily due to evolution.


There is something inherently superior in the bipedal, front-facing sensory organ form that we think of as humanoid which has caused, through natural selection, many species that share roughly equivalent atmospheric conditions to present that specific form.

I personally am a proponent of the former, specifically the idea that most near-humans and, indeed, humanoids in general are based on the genetic information of a human ancestor.

The problem with assuming that it's raw evolution that's generated so many near-human species is that FTL travel at the speed and in the form we know of from the G-Cannon in the Star Wars universe is a relatively young thing by evolutionary standards - only about 25,000 to 10,000 years old at the time of A New Hope. This means that for Near-Human species throughout the galaxy to have evolved from a common ancestor that predates the standard modern Star Wars human is highly improbable, at least based on our current understanding of how a dominant species evolves in a given environment. Over the last 10,000 years on our planet, modern homo sapiens has, in terms of evolution, only managed to triple its average lifespan and we're just now starting to say goodbye to vestigial elements like wisdom teeth.

It's more likely that many near-human species are more likely human off-shoots created by a combination of bio-engineering and selective breeding, either performed on themselves or performed on them by more advanced super-races that have been extant at various times in Star Wars' history. We have evidence of at least one species doing just that - the Arkanians bio-engineered and selectively bred themselves to the point of incredible immunodeficiency.

There's a point in Star Wars history where humans exist and have something akin in power and range to warp drives (if I can reference that other Science Fiction franchise) which they use to travel the galaxy (space travel was not unheard of prior to the discovery of Hyperspace). It's most likely that, as humans attempted to colonize a hostile galaxy, a combination of bio-technology and/or some kind of Force wizardry were employed to accelerate adaptations to bizarre environs. Alternativey, human genetics were used as the basis upon which to accelerate other races by some higher power. Regardless, the human genome certainly seems to be the genetic basis for many species.

We have anecdotal evidence to back this up as well - though perhaps a touch uncomfortable in standard human climes, Twi'leks, Chiss, other near humans, and even Sullustans all respire and operate successfully in oxygen-saturated, nitrogen-rich atmosphere. It's even the standard by which most scientists in the Star Wars universe measure a given atmosphere for its suitability for life. Humans rarely, if ever, concern themselves with atmospheric conditions on a planet when travelling there the first time. Indeed, environmentally sealed suits are only seen in use by military professionals (to counter bio or chemical attacks), to protect severely immuno-compromised individuals (e.g. Darth Vader), or to protect the users from the various dangers of space travel.

Noting the overlap of human foodstuffs being equally valid for humanoid non-humans and even the shared phonology of most near-humans languages (meaning we have the necessary muscles and organs to produce the sounds of twi'lek or other languages), you can come to the conclusion that there appears to be some overlap.

Where that overlap comes from depends on your preference of theory. The alternative to what I've suggested is that the human form, or some variant of it, is inherently superior, leading many other races to evolve into something near enough to it so as to be recognizable by us as humanoid (as you said, convergent evolution).

The reason the theory I've presented is my personal favorite is because I think it makes the story and history of the universe more compelling and interesting. It raises more questions about how, when, who, and why, rather than just be a closed book answer.

  • " FTL travel at the speed we know of from the G-Cannon in the Star Wars universe is a relatively young thing by evolutionary standards - only about 10,000 years old at the time of A New Hope. " - does this include Celestials? It seems to be wrong, and arguable a fact that is a lynchpin of your answer. Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 20:03
  • Fair point! I was thinking primarily of ship-mounted hyperdrives as we understand them in the primary canon. Though the Celestials are an example of the ancient super races that have popped up here and there. Certainly "modern" (Galactic Empire-era) hyperdrives as understood by humanity are only about 25 to 10 tousands years old. The other piece of this is that there's no proven record of Celestials having passed on any of their technology in a purposeful way - more in having somewhat abandoned it. Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 20:17
  • I suppose it's possible that the Celestials could have seeded a human ancestor using hyperdrive technologies more than 1M Years BBY, but it would have had to be significant for the amount of drastic morphological differences between many humans and near-human humanoids. Given that it took canine and felids almost 5 million years to grow the distinction of retractable vs. non-retractable claws in terms of plains hunting vs. tree hunting, I can't really imagine what use evolution would have for having generated horns on, say, a Devaronian, or the lekku of a Twi'lek. Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 20:33
  • look at sexual selection (Dawkings has it covered pretty well). Leccu would definitely be explainable under a much more compressed timeframe under that. Same with the horns, though that's more problematic - IIRC they served as sensors Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 21:09

The New Essential Guide to Alien Species, in the Chiss article, says

Scientists also believe that the Chiss are descended from an ancient human colony founded in an age predating the Old Republic. However, they are sufficiently different from humans to be considered an independent species, as is the case with Zeltrons.

This seems to indicate that both the Chiss and the Zeltrons share a common evolutionary ancestor with humans.

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