On earth, the real earth, the human species is made up of many different races. In Star Trek, are Ferengis, Romulans, Andorians, Gorn, etc., composed of different races? This seems likely, though I don't recall any canon statements concerning this.

Is there any canon that identifies different races within an alien species?

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    Even the human differentiation of races is weak at best (you give importance to traits like colour of skin of "shape" of the eyes, but not to, say, the shape of the ear lobes). It is not just a "genetic" issue of "this group of people is different from this other group of people in X" but also a cultural issue "this trait is important for defining race while this other is not"
    – SJuan76
    Aug 11, 2014 at 23:14
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    I think the closest we have to an explicit recognition of such a thing is a subspecies, the Aenar
    – Izkata
    Aug 11, 2014 at 23:26
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    @SJuan76 Race is not even a genetic issue since (a) no gene or set of genes defines membership in any racial category, and (b) no gene or set of genes excludes membership in any racial category. That race is entirely a social construct is made quite plain when one realizes that racial categories themselves change from culture to culture (e.g. in the U.S. there is no cultural significance to the category "Caboclo" which is specific to Brazil).
    – Lexible
    Aug 12, 2014 at 0:46
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    What @Lexible said. "Race," as a concept, was discarded by serious academics more than 30 years ago. It is considered a joke these days. Now the concept is recognised as a relatively backwards cultural term, not a biological one. Which is not to say that the creators of Star Trek are necessarily that up-to-date on academic scholarship. Aug 12, 2014 at 1:49
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    @JamesSheridan I would say that the biologization of race is considered backward... the racialization of biology, for example, manifest in the individual and population health effects of racial discrimination, is taken quite seriously by academics (said the academic).
    – Lexible
    Aug 12, 2014 at 3:20

4 Answers 4


On Earth

  • Humanity has no races or currently active subspecies. Humanity has a single species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Any member can breed successfully and continuously with any other member of the opposite sex. Visible physiological differences are minor; coloration, hair type, hair color, epicanthic folds are all genetically encoded by environmental stimuli.

  • What separates Humanity are more regional and cultural differentiation which occurred by distances and difficulties crossing those distances in the distant past.

  • There is contention for two other intelligent humanoid species on Earth, Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis, which are a subspecies of Homo Sapiens and are now extinct, Cro-Magnon Man is considered to be an early version of Homo Sapiens and believed to have become extinct 43,000 years ago.

In Star Trek

There was a single planet that evolved more than one intelligent species at the same time which was cover in Star Trek: Enterprise, the Planet Xindus.

Xindi species (from Memory Alpha)

  • Six different intelligent species developed on Xindus; one of them, the Xindi-Avians, was believed extinct by the 2150s as the result of a brutal civil war between the six species that destroyed the planet. (ENT: "The Shipment")

  • The surviving species were united under the governance of the Xindi Council, which contained two representatives from each species. However, each of the five remaining species had their own distinct opinion about which was the dominant species, all separately favoring their own one. (ENT: "The Xindi")

  • There was therefore an enormous amount of conflict and distrust between the species. (ENT: "Exile") However, the Arboreals and Primates tended to quarrel the least, with most conflict centering around the aggressive Reptileans and Insectoids or the indecisive Aquatics.

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The separate Xindi species are: Xindi-Insectoids, Xindi-Primates, Xindi-Aquatics, Xindi-Reptilians, Xindi-Arboreals. The Xindi-Avians are extinct after a genocidal war.

  • The different Xindi species were extremely similar in their functionally-important DNA, sharing over 99.5% despite the apparent physical differences. (ENT: "The Xindi") All the Xindi species shared distinctive ridges on their cheekbones and foreheads. (ENT: "The Xindi", et al.)
  • Yes, I realize that technically there is one race, though most people (and job applications) do not understand this. I like this answer (aside from the implied paradigm).
    – user30592
    Aug 12, 2014 at 2:26
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    No. Wrong. Races do not exist as a genetic concept. But they do exist as sociological one. Your answer seems to indicate that you think races and subspecies are the same thing, and that race is some sort of biological concept. It is not. Yes, all modern humans are the same subspecies. That has nothing to do with race, because race has nothing to do with biology or genetics.
    – trlkly
    Aug 12, 2014 at 15:02
  • "There was a single planet that evolved more than one intelligent species at the same time" — What about the Trill?
    – jwodder
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:11
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    @Thaddeus You are the one who appears to be confused if you think a sociological concept used by society can be "false" or "incorrect." "Race" exists, it just has no biological significance. Your answer, unfortunately, gives it biological significance by using it interchangeably with "subspecies." They are two completely different concepts. Race is a sociological concept. Subspecies is a biological one. The two have nothing to do with each other. Also, please use the @ notation when replying.
    – trlkly
    Aug 13, 2014 at 6:16
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    @trikly: How are you classifying sub-species? Because, while I know a few biologists and anthropologists that classify modern-day humans as a sub-species of homo sapiens - known as homo sapiens sapiens, from memory, with other sub-species such as homo sapiens neanderthalis being acknowledged - that debate is far from settled. Aug 13, 2014 at 11:09

In the third season episode of the original series "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", the people of Sharon were depicted as being separated into two races or breeds if you prefer. They were distinguishable by having white skin on the left or right side of their bodies and black skin on the other.

Beyond that episode, I don't think race or breed was mentioned as a relevant attribute of a Trek species. Certainly skin colors and facial features varied across and within Trek species but few seemed to care anything about it. Seska, a Cardassian, thought humans had "weak" foreheads. B'Elanna Torres wished her forehead looked like less Klingon so she could fit in with human children.

  • They were likely two different species, such as the Hyach and Hyach-doh in Babylon 5, or Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals on Earth, rather than two different "races," or sub-species, of the same species. There was no mention of interbreeding, for example, though given the general xenophobia of both sources, it may simply have gone unmentioned. Aug 12, 2014 at 1:53
  • @JamesSheridan Races and subspecies are not the same thing. It seems unlikely that two nearly identical beings, just with different skin color patterns, would be of completely separate species. And the whole point of the episode was that they clearly were not actually all that different.
    – trlkly
    Aug 12, 2014 at 15:08
  • @trikly: There is no such thing as a "race" in the biological sense. In a sociological one, yes, but since that is not something we can really work out based on the evidence at our disposal, we have to drift into the biological territory, which is why I put quotation marks around the word 'race' in my comment. Kyle Jones' use of the word "breeds" seemed to imply belief in a sub-species, rather than what we would currently call an ethnic group. And the point of that episode was that racial hatred can lead to violence and genocide, not that they were alike, though they clearly were. Aug 13, 2014 at 10:57

There certainly appear to be a variety of races among the Vulcans, Romulans and Andorians.

Romulan races
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Vulcan races
enter image description here

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The trill also comprise two different races (described as "host species"), as you can see from these makeup test shots.

enter image description here

As @Einer has pointed out, the Trill Symbiont also appears to come in a variety of (racial?) varieties:

enter image description here

  • Trills also have two different host species. Aug 12, 2014 at 8:22
  • @JamesSheridan - Yes, albeit because Terry Farrell looked naff in the rubber forehead makeup.
    – Valorum
    Aug 12, 2014 at 8:37
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    I am aware of the Trill mess, but showing a test shot that was never used of a character that did appear on screen with the other makeup in all of her appearances and using that as a "proof" that there are two races (rather than, say, showing a photo of Jadzia and one of Odan) strikes me as questionable. Aug 12, 2014 at 10:26
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    @Richard No, but the whole concept of race is about judging by appearances. Maybe the Romulan in the picture above stayed too long in the sun - and maybe Romulans bleach out when they do, we don't know. Yet you assumed they are different races. Why not assume, that there is a "coloured-knobs-race" of symbionts?
    – Einer
    Aug 12, 2014 at 10:45
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    @Einer - I'm happy to accept that.
    – Valorum
    Aug 12, 2014 at 11:08

There is canon referring to all humanoid races been derived from one species.

The episode is The Chase in TNG

Once at the final planet, they transport to the surface to take tricorder measurements of lichen growing in an ancient seabed. Suddenly, the Romulans appear, insisting that everyone leave the premises. Covertly, the away team takes readings of the lichen, and find their tricorder reconfigured to display a holographic image of a humanoid, explaining that her civilization existed in the galaxy alone, thousands of lonely years before any of the others developed. As such, they spread their genetic material to other planets, in the hopes of creating a rich ecosystem of Humanoids who could fulfill the joys of finding and integrating with alien cultures that these first beings never had. Most parties seem disgusted at the thought of a common progenitor.

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    Humans and chimps are derived from the same species. For that matter, humans and cockroaches are derived from the same species. That doesn't make us the same species, or different 'races.' I'm really not sure what you're getting at with this answer. Aug 13, 2014 at 11:01

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