Lions, and Tigers and Giant Ants, Oh My!

November 6, 2015 § 5 Comments

The only thing more annoying than a swarm of tiny ants invading your kitchen in the winter is giant ants terrorizing your family in a New Mexican desert. But really. SciFi phenomenon movie Them! chronicles the experience of a group of well-meaning policemen fighting a terrifyingly entitled hoard of enlarged ants. And while science tells us certain animals are destined to stay small, it is still frightening to consider the other potentials. For your reading pleasure, I’ve complied a list of what I think are the top 5 animals which should not be subject to any type of modification in the foreseeable future.

  1. Ladybugs. I know that you’re thinking. But Laura, ladybugs are so cute! A younger, more idealistic me would have been forced to agree with you, but my perception of these so-called cute, red bugs changed when my dorm room got infested with them last fall. How unpleasant is it, you ask, to come home to 20+ ladybugs crawling across your window and around the box you call your college housing. Pretty bad, I’d answer, but not as bad as fending off ladybugs bigger than a large dog.
  1. Rats. Ever since viewing the nutcracker as a kid, rats haven’t really been at the top of my favorite animal list. Slimy tails and beady eyes don’t need to be magnified.
  1. Spiders (of all shapes sizes and builds). Eight creepy small legs is bad enough but eight creepy large legs is far worse. Spiders are spindly, nimble, and weave webs for their prey. Imagine finding a giant, sticky web in your backyard on a Sunday morning. Three words. No Thank You.
  1. Birds. This one’s purposefully vague but in generally the idea of something being able to fly down and swoop you up isn’t particularly appealing. Also big birds mean way loud morning wakeup calls in the springtime.
  1. I don’t think this one needs explaining.

Think I got it right? Why do you think larger than life animals are so terrifying? Is it because we’re not used to them in general, or that we’re not used to giving up the upper hand?

-Laura Davia

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§ 5 Responses to Lions, and Tigers and Giant Ants, Oh My!

  • kyleuber says:

    I enjoyed reading this blog post, as it succinctly puts an organized ranking system to the sporadic thoughts that I had while watching Them!. While watching the film, I began to question why it was that so many science fiction authors decided to pick ants as their giant insect of choice. To me, it seemed obvious that other small animals posed far scarier candidates, such as praying mantises, mosquitoes, or especially spiders. That being said, the ambiguity of the final ranking in your hierarchy makes a really great point — what may be terrifying for me, could be benign for somebody else. It seems that just like beauty, horror and disgust are also in the eye of the beholder.

    -Kyle Uber

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  • dreamer2205 says:

    Haha you’re completely right, Laura! As much as I enjoy seeing scientists push the limits of what is and what could be, I hope that they steer clear of experimenting too much with square-cube law. While reading the list of animals in your post, I could not help but think about Harry Potter. In the Chamber of Secrets, Hagrid did something similar with spiders, and it led to a lot of trouble in the wizarding world. Also, I can completely sympathize with Ron, after watching Them!

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  • jocelyntroth says:

    This made me laugh out loud, party because it’s so true! To be fair, I think I would be afraid of any animal that would be larger than it’s supposed to be… I love dogs, but seeing a Chihuahua the size of a German Shepherd would probably freak me out. I guess it’s party because we’re so used to the way that we see things, any change (especially on this level!) would be unnerving at best, terrifying at worst.

    -JR

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  • daniellecgwilliamson says:

    I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said that these things are unnerving because it means we would have to give up the upper hand. Additionally, like Josie mentioned, we’re so used to seeing things that conform to the square root law. Our perceptions of the world are biased to think that anything that conforms to it is “normal.” I think that’s why we’re more comfortable seeing outrageous looking small animals (like those crazy bugs) than outrageous looking large animals

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  • You’re exactly right, Laura. I would highly prefer that we refrain from magnifying features of insects and animals that already inspire nightmares. When it comes to critters and creepy-crawlies, there’s something comforting about the fact that humans have the power to squish them (in the case of insects) or domesticate them (in the case of most animals). And in the case of rats: they eat our food and if there’s one thing human beings do not tolerate, it’s people (or things) taking our stuff without our permission. So giving up this control is definitely terrifying and it invites all types of stress as we try to regain the upper hand and restore our dominance. However, if we ever did develop larger-than-life, genetically-engineered animals, could we learn to overcome our fears and use these potential scientific experiments for good, possibly in warfare, transportation, or labor? I think we can, since we humans have a knack for domesticating other species in order to maintain our advantage.
    -Bushra Rahman

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