Yahoo Answers is shutting down on May 4th, 2021 (Eastern Time) and beginning April 20th, 2021 (Eastern Time) the Yahoo Answers website will be in read-only mode. There will be no changes to other Yahoo properties or services, or your Yahoo account. You can find more information about the Yahoo Answers shutdown and how to download your data on this help page.

If I were to write a Sci-Fi novel about people stranded on an alien planet...?

Sorry... My question wouldn't fit. Just hope I caught the attention of someone who can answer this as plainly as possible, please.

Earth finally decides to send a colony to another planet. They somehow manage the technology and a first attempt is made.

In the ship, they get lost, equipment begins to fail. They find a closer planet that computers tell them are habitable, they land there. Earth loses sight of them and they're assumed dead.

What I want to do is write their history over the generations:

So my question is this: How many colonists should be on the ship for it to be plausible that they repropduce and form a viable population in the long term without too much genetic problems from interbreeding?

Thank you for reading all the way if you're still with me.


The ship can be as large as it needs to be.

It's a novel. I'm allowed to fudge the physics.

I'm interested in other aspects.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    You could probably get away with as few as 12 couples (24 people) as long as they were from diverse genetic backgrounds to start with. And let's not forget, that since this would take place in the future then the diversity of their genes might not be a problem anyway. For instance, if they have already come up with a way to "turn off" the bad genes in a person DNA, then a little inbreeding wouldn't produce genetic defects anyway. But I would suggest 12 couples at least. You could even throw in a lesbian couple who bring along frozen sperm. Actually, you could colonize the entire planet faster by eliminating males on board and only sending women and frozen sperm. But that would make the story kind of boring I guess.

  • 9 years ago

    I remember hearing that a successful genetic pool (of mammals) would need to have at least 50 individuals. I'm assuming 25 male, 25 female. Of course, if there was already another species on the planet that could successfully breed with the arriving populace, that would help (then you could drag the whole 'Ancient Aliens' hypothesis in and say that after they genetically mutated some primate species on earth by breeding with them, some 'moved on' to another planet and did the same there...and for that reason, humans were able to breed with the creatures on this new planet)

  • 9 years ago

    The thing about interbreeding and genetic problems could be an interesting factor to explore in the story and may be an interesting obstacle even . But it could pose a risk of making readers not taking it seriously if not told well.

    One other thing is that I don't know the size of the ship. Why not play it safe and say 100-150..

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.