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Avatar biology nerdery

More Avatar, sorries, I'll put it behind the cut, a couple of things about the biology that kinda stuck:

Biology Bad: I bet no one else had this problem, but one thing I've always been told about rain forests (and the Pandora ecosystem seemed to be this funny "rain-forest-without-the-rain because we haven't figured out the rain CGI effect yet") - there aren't really any big predators. Or, big animals of any kind. Think about seeing nature documentaries filmed in the Amazon rain forest. They have monkeys, and sloths, but that's kinda it, other than snakes and bugs and stuff. There's supposed to be a reasonable explanation for this too, which I'm too stupid to remember. But, you wouldn't expect the big old rhino thingies or all the other huge stuff.

Biology Good: Double forelegs on everything!! Yes, THAT'S how you evolve winged critters who have BOTH wings AND arms!!! Though, I think what they actually did was go ahead and give the winged guys two sets of wings. But, anyway, cool.



( 5 cousins babbled — babble away! )
Dec. 21st, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
Daniel was immensely bothered that the Na'Vi were the only Pandoran creatures that DIDN'T have double forelimbs, and also only had one mind-melding tentacle (whereas all the beasts they mounted had one on each side). I'm hoping that the official book touches on this... Daniel had some ideas, and I'm curious as to how accurate they are.

I'm reading Barlowe's Expedition right now, and there's a mention of how the lower gravity on [the planet they're exploring] has led to megafauna. I wonder if that's the deal with Pandora as well? It was mentioned that there's lower gravity on Pandora, and the Na'Vi are pretty huge.

I was under the impression that the Amazon does have its share of biggish predators (leopards, I think?). And then you have temperate rainforests like you get in the West Coast (I'm pretty sure the Kermode spirit bear lives in the woods; not sure what large herbivores actually live IN the woods as opposed to near the woods, and I suspect that Disney's Bambi is not a legitimate source for such science facts.)

I can't remember how big Amazonian tapirs and capybara get but maybe the bigger critters on Pandora would work if all the fauna of Pandora were scaled up proportionate to Earth critters, the way the Na'Vi were much bigger than humans?

Oh! It's also possible that Pandora's ecology is not a direct analogue to the Amazonian Rainforest due to differences in their structure. I remember that Amazonian Rainforests have different strata with different creatures adapted to each "level", and the bottom level (where the foragers and stuff would be) gets very little light. I don't think the forest in Pandora quite had that structure, so that might also affect what creatures were able to live there.

Argh I hope the book lives up to my expectations.
Dec. 21st, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only person who wastes brain cells on this!

I wonder if the low gravity is supposed to be the explanation? The wolf/panther beasties that he kills early on didn't bother me so much. The rhino thingies were they animals that really stuck out as having no business in a jungle - where would they even run if they didn't have a nice glowy grassland to graze on? Attention, film maker people (particularly George Lucas): it IS possible that a planet have MORE THAN ONE ECOSYSTEM, ya know.

I am glad that they apparently put some **thought** into the biology, and I like that the creatures had similarities in their phenotypes, like the creepy jaws and double arms.

The other thing that kinda grated, though only mostly as a "fridge door" think - I thought about it later, but not too much during the film - was the nattering about alien "DNA." Movies love to do this, but, you know, why would aliens necessarily store their genome in DNA? (We were just watching the horrible Keanu The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it was the same thing there.)
Dec. 21st, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
There were other ecosystems, though! Remember the montage, where Jake went and rallied the Plainspeople and the Cliffdwellers and the Island people?

We just didn't get to see the other habitats, because there wasn't any *twitch* Unobtainium there. Or at least, the Big Evil Megacorporation wasn't yet mining for *twitch* Unobtainium there.

Of course, I don't think they showed any rhino-thingies in the plains habitat. It appeared to be direhorses and that was about it.

I am actually not aware of why aliens might not store their genome in DNA. (My husband and his IRC friends did try to convince a buddy that squids have no DNA, and possess only RNA...) Can you please enlighten me, or is this too complicated for an LJ discussion?
Dec. 21st, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, no, it's not super-complicated. As you know, DNA is just an abbreviation for the chemical, deoxyribonucleic acid, that is used to store our information. It's a REALLY COOL chemical, but there's not really any reason you couldn't have organisms that have genes - or some kind of information like that - but don't happen to use DNA. You know, kinda like putting your files on DVDs or on a thumb drive.

I mean, all things considered, it's a lot less "Huh - wha?" than the usual science fiction trope, that Captain Kirk goes to some random planet and has sex with the alien women (given that it's physically possible) and then you get mixed alien/human babies.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 22nd, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
I would really have liked to have seen the other clans featured a bit more.

Maybe another thing we lost 'cause Cameron didn't have 10 kazillion extra dollars to do his trilogy.
( 5 cousins babbled — babble away! )


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