5 Iconic Fantasy Characters Whose Bodies Wouldn't Work
Mythological creatures aren't real -- it's right there in the name. Calling them "mythological" isn't ironic, like calling a big guy "tiny." There are fundamental aspects of their existence that simply could not work in reality. You can't turn somebody to stone with a look, lizards can't breathe fire, and Bigfoot can't dunk (that's neither here nor there; he's just really uncoordinated). However, sometimes the craziest attributes of a mythological creature -- the things that actually make it impossible -- aren't always what you think.
Minotaurs Couldn't See the Labyrinth Around Them
The minotaur was a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull that was banished to a giant labyrinth. There, it was fed criminals, wayward adventurers, teenage girls who wouldn't put out for the Goblin King -- y'know, the standard minotaur diet.
The minotaur was a monster to be feared: a brutally effective predator, nimbly stalking through his intricate maze prison.
Do uh ... do any of you folks associate those attributes with cows?
Missing the smart part of a person and the delicious part of a cow is typically seen as being the worst of both worlds.
No? Rightfully so. A cow's eyes reside on the sides of its head, which is excellent for seeing to each side. As long as your entire life took place to your immediate left and right, things are kosher. That's where the eyes of most prey animals are located, so they can watch for predators around them. Their depth perception is screwed because of it, but it's more important for them to be able to spot movement all around, than it is to focus on the distance of targets. Predators, on the other hand, tend to have forward-located eyes, to help them better focus on and stalk prey. Like a timid introvert taking a job as a used car salesman, the minotaur is a prey animal with a predator's job.
The only benefit it would have would be not being able to see how terrible the terrible movie it's starring in is.
Cows in particular have terrible vision: they often mistake shadows on the ground for holes, and can't distinguish an opening at a 90-degree angle. That second part would be especially troublesome in, say, some kind of labyrinth. Drop a minotaur into a labyrinth, and it would just stare in confusion, totally immobile. It would think every shadow was an abyss and every corner was a dead end, and even if you stumbled into the room with it, its swings would miss you by a mile.
Half blind, swinging an axe, and a head the size of a cinder block seems like a recipe for an anticlimactic suicide, dipshit.
That's OK, minotaur. We know exactly how you feel: we've all been drunk in a corn maze before.
Miniature People Would Immediately Freeze to Death
Watch stuff like The Incredible Shrinking Man, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or Innerspace, and you'll see that being shrunk down is a terrifying experience. All sorts of things that weren't a danger before are now suddenly lethal: ants are giant monsters, getting caught in the spray from a sprinkler is like being carpet bombed, and clipped toenails become flying scythes. But the biggest danger isn't bugs or size 6 Keds; the way human beings breathe, their digestive process, how their body creates and loses heat -- it's all screwed when you dramatically reduce scale. Rick Moranis pointing a shrink ray at you is basically an instant death sentence, but Honey, I Murdered the Kids just wasn't as catchy a title.
Though if anybody could still make that charming, it's Moranis.
A 1-inch human's surface area would be decreased about 5,000 times, but their mass takes a 350,000-point hit. You lose heat through your body's surface area and generate it with your mass, so that change means you're not going to be able to maintain your body temperature. Take the shrew, for example: every winter it reduces in size by damn near 20 percent. They don't just lose body fat; the shape of their skulls and internal organs actually shrink, and it has to eat constantly just to stay alive. It can't even sleep, or it will lose so much body that it will freeze to death by the time it wakes up. And that's just 20 percent! In the comics, Ant-Man doesn't have the astounding power to go from 6 feet to 5 feet 2 inches at will -- the size changes you see in fiction are much more dramatic.
"Or we can wait 10 seconds and eat your cold dead corpse."
If Honey, I Shrunk the Kids actually happened, the first 20 minutes would see the kids nearly freezing to death, then devouring each other just to stay alive. We're not saying that would be a better movie, Hollywood -- we're just saying we have a screenplay, that's all.
Werewolves Would Have Perpetual Diarrhea, at Best
There are all sorts of problems with werewolves -- the dramatic change in bone structure is impossible, the moon isn't magical, and they pee on all of your potted plants to mark their territory. Here's a problem not often mentioned: For a whole night, a werewolf has the digestive tract of a wolf, which isn't even close to that of a human.
"Split an entire elk between four guys, then we'll talk."
Wolves fill their giant stomachs with 5 to 14 pounds of food at a time, gorging themselves beyond the point of feeling full because you never know when Mother Nature's meat market will sell out of fresh rabbit ass. And the wolf likes its meal extremely fresh -- guts, bone, feces, fur, and everything else that came with the flesh. So once Teen Wolf changes back to Teen Human, its suddenly shrunken stomach will almost certainly explode.
At best, we'd suffer a nasty foodborne disease or two, like bovine tuberculosis or tularemia. And since werewolving isn't a one-time thing, we'd be routinely switching from one stomach to the other. Screw unibrows; you could tell who's a werewolf just by the constant, explosive diarrhea.
The Hippogriff Would Be Crippled on the Ground
In fantasy, the hippogriff is part-eagle, part-horse, all disappointment. It's basically made out of all the shitty spare parts they had to throw away while making a badass griffin. But at least hippogriffs could still fly ... in theory. See, bird flight is basically reliant on two things: the weight of the animal, and the total area of the wings that are attempting to create lift. There is an equation for the breaking point at which wings on a bird are useless, which is 25 kg/m^2. You may recognize that as math and may further recognize that we do not understand it. But long story short, there's a reason most giant birds don't fly. The Andean condor is not most birds. It's one of the largest flying birds alive today. Here it is terrorizing the holy shit out of a wolf:
"Go back to Winterfell, bitch!"
Look at that magnificent motherfucker. That wolf just got a permanent case of agoraphobia. If we had an Andean condor as a pet, we'd name it Danzig and feed it people that have disappointed us. That flapping metal album cover up there has a wingspan of up to 10.5 goddamn feet ... all to support a total weight of about 30 pounds. A horse weighs about 1,100 pounds on average. You would need wings the size of a basketball court to get that sucker off the ground, along with bones to support those wings, which would add more weight, and muscles to flap those wings, which would add more weight, and that added weight would require bigger wings, which ... you get the point.
"Maybe cut back on the pumpkin juice? This is hard enough without your freshman 15 in the small of my back."
But the bigger problem comes when it lands: where do those wings go? That's way too much to fold up. Even the makers of the Harry Potter movies had to fudge Buckbeak's appearance on the ground. His wings magically shrink when he's done flying, because otherwise Harry would be stepping all over them while they dragged behind Buckbeak like an oversized bathrobe. And of course, none of this is mentioning the shit. Birds have gross, watery, car-ruining shits because their digestive systems are all wired together into one nasty, albeit efficient, hole. A crap from a hippogriff wouldn't just ruin your paint job -- if you were driving a convertible, you'd drown in it. That's an awful way to go. We wouldn't wish it on anybody except maybe serial killers and people who steal the movies and then put those paper discs back in the Redbox cases.
The Hydra Would Collapse Under the Weight of Its Own Heads
The hydra is a mythical beast that, when decapitated, grows back two heads for every one severed. Because if something is worth doing, it's worth overdoing. Hercules fought a hydra once, and eventually beat it by cauterizing the neck stumps before new heads could sprout. Damn, mythology is way more hardcore than Disney tells us. But if the tale was obeying the rules of basic biology, Herc's battle with the hydra should have ended by default as soon as the beast hit the "dozens of heads" mark. The hydra can have as many heads as it wants, but it still only has one body, and it can only support so much weight. You try sprouting 20 more heads and then fighting a muscle-bound dude with a sword. Hell, we'll buy you a case of hats if you can do a single crunch. In the tale, the battle was epic, but Hercules probably pity-stomped the thing to death after it helplessly collapsed on the ground and started whimpering.
Presumably for a dozen good chiropractors.
This is the only case where the real-life equivalent of the mythological beast is actually way cooler: the closest thing to the hydra that we have in nature is the planarian worm, and it actually fixes the problems of the fantasy creature. Chop most types of planarian worms into tiny pieces, and each piece will regrow an entire body, head and all.
That's because planarian worms keep their embryonic stem cells active long after most animals, like us, chuck them into the primordial attic to be forgotten. Scientists at National University of Ireland, Galway's Regenerative Medicine Institute are now studying this process in the hopes that one day we can tweak our own DNA to similarly regenerate lost limbs. Yes, hopefully, with the blessing of science and technology, human beings will one day grow back two dongs for every one that is severed.
For more ridiculous fictional creatures, check out The 15 Most Idiotic Monsters In Dungeons & Dragons History and The 7 Most Ridiculous Ghost Stories from Around the World.
Angels are real, and they are bad frickin' news. Robert Brockway's Vicious Circuit series is a punk rock, dark fantasy full of horror and humor. Check out the first two books, and pre-order the third, Kill All Angels, available December 26th.