In the 3.5e campaign I'm running, a very real concern has arisen that the player characters might actually fail to save the world from the horrific fate that the villian has planned for it. If this occurs, the world would be reduced to a wasteland in which the the player characters are the only remaining living things. My players, being the forward-thinking types that they are, have started brainstorming contingency plans for repopulation.
One possibility that was suggested was to cut locks of hair from the elven party members and to use Polymorph Any Object spells to turn them into elves. This seems like a perfectly reasonable use of the spell, and the potential for narratives to emerge from the premise has me salavating.
Unfortunately, the spell description isn't clear on how much accumulated knowledge a lock of hair polymorphed into an elf would have. My first instinct was to assume that such an elf would have as much accumulated knowledge and skill as a newborn, which is to say, practically none.
However, when I thought about it, I realised that other shape-changing spells (including polymorph) don't specify any particular penalties associated with getting used to a new body, which suggests that some minimum understanding of how to use the new form must be magically imparted along with the shape change. I would assume that this understanding would be whatever is required to use the physical form with some prowess (that is, enough to walk around and not take a massive penalty to AC), but not enough to perform tasks that depend on cultural or taught knowledge, such as speaking elven or building a boat.
In the hopes of finding more information on the subject, I turned to my second edition Player's Handbook. Unfortunately, the spell description there made the question even more complicated: It referenced the Polymorph Other spell, the wording of which seems to suggest that after a period of time a creature subject to a Polymorph Other spell comes to possess the mindset of the race it was transformed into as if it had been a member of that race its entire life - which suggests to me that an elf created from a lock of hair would probably possess the mind of an adult, be fully capable of speaking elven, and perhaps even have some useful skills.
The interpretation I pick could have dramatic consequences for the campaign, but none of the three options I've mentioned have much evidence supporting it. I could just make an arbitary ruling, but that's not my style. So I have to ask: Are there any extant adventures, sourcebooks or other material from any edition that clarifies how much a creature created by polymorphing should know?
EDIT: Ah, one thing I should have mentioned was that part of the polymorph plan is that the created hair-elves would not be related, genetically speaking, to the hair donor(s), to avoid inbreeding from becoming a problem later on. This seems reasonable enough to me - after all, the spell can turn a lion into a lizard. Changing from one bloodline of a species to another seems trivial in comparison.