(The content for Ask Ms. Jessica comes from real questions from real people sent to AskMsJessica@gmail.com)
Dear Ms. Jessica,
I don't think it's been asked before here, but how are mutants classified, and what are the different classifications?
I actually went into this a bit in my lecture on the basics of mutants. I suggest you read that for a brief overview. But if you’d like to dive deeper into the taxonomy of mutants, I’ll give you a rundown.
There are four common levels of mutant:
· Level 1 mutants have small changes that don’t noticeably alter their body or lifestyle. An extra finger or eye, a different hair color, a pair of fangs, all of these are level 1 mutations. Level 1 mutants are, for the most part, human, but just a little different.
· Level 2 mutations have major, noticeable changes but their lifestyle and general way of life still doesn’t change. If a mutant has six arms and many breasts, for example. They may be fairly recognizable as a mutant, and have many new abilities, but they can still, for the most part, wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, use the same stairs, and otherwise live the same life as humans do.
· Level 3 mutations have major changes to the extent that their life drastically changes as well. They tend to have either extremely altered body systems or at the very least extremely altered needs. A snake mutant that is now cold blooded would be a level 3 mutation. Some humantaurs are. Level 3 mutations are drastic and require a major adjustment to a new life, but don’t break the boundaries of science.
· Level 4 mutations do break the boundaries of science. They are extreme changes that we can’t yet fully explain or understand. Modularity is a major level 4 mutation that is being actively studied, as is some forms of elongation. Many level 4 mutants manifest abilities that people might consider magical or something out of a comic book. This is the extreme limit of mutation.
That being said, there actually is such a thing as a level 5 mutant. Level 5 mutants are mutants that have mutated so much that they are no longer recognizable as human. The way they think, act, operate, heck, even the stuff they are made of is so far outside the boundaries of science that we cannot even begin to think about what makes them tick.
To this day, there exists no level 5 mutant in public. All level 5 mutants that have ever been recorded have spent their lives in research facilities or, due to the nature of their mutation, now exist in a space that we can no longer detect or study. Level 5 mutations and the science surrounding them are heavily classified by world governments and I have never seen a picture of one let alone seen one up close.
That’s how we classify mutants themselves, but I have also talked about specific mutation classifications as well.
· Benign mutations have no function to them. So for example, if your belly button was replaced with a pair of lips, but those lips couldn’t even move, it would be a benign mutation.
· Aesthetic mutations are mutations that appear to have full function but in reality have none. If you could move your bellybutton lips and tongue yet the mouth lead nowhere, i.e. it was just a fleshy dead end inside, that mouth would be aesthetic.
· Semi-functional mutations partially function as what they appear to be. If the mouth on your bellybutton could eat, it would be semi-functional.
· Functional mutations have all the functions of a normal body part. If the mouth at your belly could eat, breathe, taste, and talk, it would be a functional mutation.
· Meta-functional mutations have functions beyond their normal analogue. If your belly mouth had a tongue tentacle, could breathe fire, or could produce eggs, it would be meta-functional
There is also one other classification of mutation, the proxy mutations. Proxy mutations are when one mutation replaces the function of another body part. Let’s say you mutated such that your head disappeared, but eyes opened up where your nipples would normally be. Those eye nipples are proxy mutations. They are standing in, acting as “proxies” for your eyes.
Mutations are also categorized by their general appearance and effect. You must excuse the naming convention here. Taxonomic scientists love their Latin
· Animalia – Mutations that mimic other living animals
· Aestheticia – Mutations that somehow aesthetically change the body, like hair or skin color
· Multicia – Growing excess or multiple body parts
· Reducia – Losing body parts (for example SWBs or three fingered hands)
· Mergo – Two or more beings becoming one being
· Magnitudo – Mutations that grow or shrink body parts or the body as a whole (i.e. elongation)
· Ordinaria – Mutations that rearrange or shift the purpose of body parts
· Genium – Mutations that grant abilities uncommon to the human species
· Separatus – Mutations that allow bodyparts to detach
· Sensus – Mutations that effect the senses
· Cognitia – Mutations that effect the mind, personality, or thought processes
· Novus – Any mutation that is new and as of yet unclassifiable
Many mutants have several of these mutations types.
Finally, we have several ways that we classify the state of your mutant gene.
· Negative – You do not have the mutant gene and cannot mutate
· Inert – You have the mutant gene, but it’s incompatible with the rest of your genetic code and thus you will not mutate.
· Dormant – You have the mutant gene and there is a possibility you will mutate, but nothing is actively causing your genetic machinery to read anything outside normal human boundaries at this time.
· Unstable – You have the mutant gene and chemical changes in your body have causes your genetic machinery to start reading junk DNA. Your body is fighting off unhelpful and unhealthy mutations, but there is a chance that it will accept one and you will mutate.
· Activated – You have the mutant gene and your cells are actively reading a new genetic code and producing new altered cells. You will mutate and soon. Help from a doctor or specialist is required.
· Developing – You are currently in the process of mutating. Care and observation is recommended.
· Stabilized – You have mutated in some fashion and your mutant gene is now inert. You will not mutate again.
· Interstitial - You have mutated, but your mutant gene is classified as dormant, unstable, or activated. You have a chance of mutating further.
Phew. That was a mouthful. If you have a hard time remembering these classifications, most modern biology textbooks include charts showing examples of each one.
Note that these are just scientific categories. You probably aren’t going to say “Hey, look at that stabilized, functional, level 2, multicia mutant.” You are probably going to say “Hey, look at the girl with extra arms.”
The language of science can be daunting at times.
Dr. Jessica Park