Monster Science

What strange creature just washed up on the shore? Why does it have only one eye? Where in blazes is its stomach? It’s all eye and mouth! Who you gonna call to figure out if this horrific critter is dangerous? (No, not them. This blobby thing isn’t a ghost.) A scientist, that’s who we need! During “Monster Mophology” at 2:30PM on Saturday in Hilton 209–210, experts from the biological sciences unraveled monster mysteries just by looking at a picture of the beasties. Moderator Ryan A. Consell began “Monster Morphology” by showing the panelists—Lucas Hernandez, D.N. Lee, Marisa Levy, and Arras Wiedorn—an onscreen picture of the first monster. To avoid preconceived ideas, let’s call it Monster A (spoiler names listed at the end of the article.)

What can our experts infer from A’s picture? The monster has four legs plus two wings, so it might be an insect, Hernandez mused, but its wings are too small for its muscular body. The wings could be for moving soil, Lee suggested. It has sharp teeth but no molars for grinding, Weidorn observed, so it’s likely a carnivore. Muscular arms…maybe for burrowing. What does it eat? Well, it’s bright red, so Lee theorized a diet of ghost peppers. Then again, the red might be a warning that the critter is venomous.

Monster B has upper limbs that looked to Wiedorn as if they might be fake. And with a body like that—two torsos—where are its lungs and stomach? Does it have two sets, possibly for different food sources? Its babies may be able to stand at birth, but could someone have put the remains of two different creatures together by accident?

Monster C is a sea creature, but it doesn’t appear to be able to handle depths, Hernandez thought. “Why no blubber?” Wiedorn asked. Those shell-like things and the flowing red stuff might be lures or camouflage.

Monster D is a huge beast with a pair of longer fingers, rather like an aye-aye. Our experts suspect it uses them to pull things out of holes. Tiny eyes, so possibly a cave dweller. Its mouth is small and doesn’t have much bone structure, so it seems weak. The creature may swallow its prey whole, Lee noted, and its skin looks as if it lives in a moist environment. Tiny eyes, huge nostrils…it may hunt by smell and touch rather than sight, Hernandez said.

Monster E looks humanoid, Levy noted, but it’s much furrier. And its eyes are looking in different directions, rather like a chameleon, so it would have a good field of view, which implies it’s probably prey. It has opposable thumbs, though, so maybe it’s a midlevel predator. The critter’s blue coloring is rare—could be tied to mating, but its fur is odd. It looks as if it lives in a cold environment. Perhaps it’s molting?

Monster F only has one eye, so it would have poor depth perception, Levy said. An almost nonexistent stomach, too, so it must be a predator, Wiedorn added. And those spindly arms and legs…Lee thinks it cannot have had to deal with gravity, so it must be an alien. Its green coloring may mean its actually a plant, chlorophyl-based, and its teeth are used to ward off predators.

The panelists visually dissected three more monsters before asking for additional theories and suppositions from the audience. The monsters described above were:

A: a red dragon

B: a centaur

C: Ariel from The Little Mermaid

D: the rancor from Star Wars

E: Cookie Monster

F: Mike, from Monsters, Inc.




Author of the article

Debbie Yutko lives near Atlanta with her husband and two cats. When she isn’t gardening, rescuing homeless kittens, or cramming math formulas into teenagers’ brains, she can be found stringing words together at her computer and dreaming of adventures in far-off lands. She is a lifelong reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy and a veteran of Dragon Con, where she enjoys attending panels and working with the talented staff of the Daily Dragon.