Requested by @keeganwj
Bewear the Ides of March!
Julius Caesar was stabbed by the Roman Senators, not hugged. Yet, if the ancient senators were actually Bewears, hugging Caesar would have been equally effective as a method of assassination. According to the Pokédex, Bewear has a habit of hugging its trainers…to death. So today, let’s figure out how this might happen.
The human spine, also known as the vertebral column, is a vital part of our skeleton and nervous system. It is made up of 33 different bones called vertebrae, separated from each other with intervertebral discs. The first seven (colored in red) are called cervical vertebrae and are located in your neck. The middle twelve bones in your back (in blue) are called the thoracic vertebrae. The lower back (in yellow) consists of the lumbar vertebrae. The last 9 vertebrae (5 in green / 4 in pink) are fused together and form the sacrum and the coccyx, or your tailbone.
It’s not easy to break a spine; the discs between each vertebrae are made of squishy cartilage that is specifically designed to absorb shock and prevent your back from breaking. The segmented nature of the vertebrae allows the back to bend in several directions, also to avoid breaking by being flexible. Not to mention the walls of muscle that surround it.
For death to occur, the individual vertebrae need to shift dramatically so they damage the nerve that runs through the middle of them. Typically, spinal-injury deaths are related to the phrenic nerve, which connects your brain to your lungs and allows breathing to happen. Several arteries also run through the vertebral column, and if they are pinched or crushed it can result in a stroke.
Of course, how much force needed to break a spine depends on whose spine you are crushing: children have more delicate spines than adults, and so on. However, it also depends on where on the spine you are crushing. The neck (cervical spine), for example, requires a force of 3,000 Newtons (roughly 700 pounds) to fracture. But Bewear doesn’t strangle its victims, it hugs them – so Bewear is attacking the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Various studies find the absolute limit for lumbar vertebrae to be about 1600 Newtons (360 pounds) of force.
This is surprisingly reasonable. Boxers and professional martial artists’ punches have been documented over 4,000 Newtons (900 pounds), and kicks can exceed 9,000 Newtons (2,000 pounds). Squeezing is a little different, since it is pure muscle work instead of a forward thrust, and human grip strength at its strongest is about 150 pounds. So you might not be able to crush a spine with your bare hands, but can Bewear crush a spine with its bear hands?
Probably. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but most animals are stronger than humans in terms of muscle exertion. Some chimpanzees have been shown to be eight times stronger than humans. This is mostly because of the way we use our muscles: humans have developed a lot of control. We can finely tune our muscles, precisely control our finger movements, only using certain muscle fibers at one time. This saves us energy in many ways: you don’t have to use your entire bicep to lift up a pencil, like you might when you’re lifting weights. Other animals don’t have this control: It’s all or nothing for them. Physically, the way their muscles activate prevents them from having the fine control that we have. In other words, Bewear is incapable of giving a small hug. It can only give big, spine crushing squeezes.