the-apex-predator

I’ve seen a lot of videos going around of urban-dwelling critters coming to humans for help with various problems, ranging from boxes stuck on their heads to young trapped down a storm drain, and it’s gotten me to thinking:

On the one hand, it’s kind of fascinating that they know to do that.

On the other hand, setting any questions of how this sort of behaviour must have arisen aside for the nonce, does it ever strike you how weird it is that we’ve got a whole collection of prey species whose basic problem-solving script ends with the step “if all else fails, go bother one of the local apex predators and maybe they’ll fix the problem for no reason”?

Yeah, I see a lot of shark positivity posts on my dash these days and I really appreciate that. But I think something is being left out of the message so I’m just gonna say that:

  • YES, Sharks are not bloodthirsty monsters. They only do what they do because they are instinctively driven to do so.
  • NO, sharks are not your friends. They are not sea-puppies, gentle babies, or whatever BS anthropomorphic “cute” term you want to use to describe them.
  • YES, you are more likely to be killed by falling coconuts and any number of improbable circumstances than you are to be killed by a shark attack,
  • NO, sharks are not “harmless”. They are apex predators of their habitats and deserve to be treated with the same respect that you would give to a wild lion, bear, or wolf. JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT LIKELY TO ATTACK YOU DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY WON’T. ACCIDENTS CAN ALWAYS HAPPEN, AND A SHARK’S PATIENCE IS NOT LIMITLESS.
  • YES, you should take every precaution to prevent a shark from “test-biting” you.
  • NO, a test-bite is not just a harmless consequence of shark curiosity. A TEST-BITE CAN KILL YOU. Just because sharks generally release people after the first nip and don’t make any effort to eat them does not mean that the bite is somehow any less deadly. You will bleed out in the water if the wound is bad enough.
  • YES, sharks are endangered and unfairly demonised and worthy of our support.
  • NO, that does not mean that anthropomorphising them and spreading false information is okay. 

Please support sharks, but please, for the love of god, give them the respect they deserve when you do so. YOU ARE NOT HELPING THEM BY ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO SWIM RIGHT INTO THEIR JAWS.

Somebody said Humans would be the Mad Scientist species to aliens- like, aliens watch Back To The Future, and they see Doc Brown, and they think yes this is a human scientist, they’re all that crazy, these humans do such insane things with science.

I would like to offer an alternative.

Humans are tough. We can shrug off plenty of injuries, and we recover pretty fast from most others. Hell, we find minor injuries amusing (Don’t tell me you’ve never laughed at someone getting hit in the balls).

Humans have a skewed sense of danger. We think baby anything is cute- tigers, lions, alligators, whatever, no matter how scary they grow up to be- and even then there’s people that would happily cuddle up to a grizzly. Even less adventurous humans keep vermin as pets, or snakes, or dogs, that apex predator sub-species we made.

We are fascinated by morbid and scary stuff. We have a whole genre designed to terrify people. Tons of fantasy revolves around deadly monsters, plenty of which involve romance with said monsters. Lots of grim dystopias in sci-fi. Even children’s stories involve grandmothers getting eaten or witches getting cooked in their own oven.

And if you’re on this site, you know all the jokes we make about depression or social anxiety, or joking about wanting to die.

We aren’t the Doc Brown species.

We’re the Addams Family Species.

Throwing My Hat into the “Humans Are Weird” Thing

So what if all the other alien species evolved from Prey Species? Like, humans show up on the galactic scene and everyone is weirded out by the appearance of this species with eyes on the front of their heads and binocular vision, and crazy good senses of hearing and smell compared to everyone else.

And then it hits them.

They just made first contact with a race of sapient, intelligent Apex Predators. Eventually, after the panic dies down and the other races realize that humans aren’t going to eat them, they realize how good they are under pressure. They can hear and smell things before anyone else, are capable of going days without food if they have to, weeks with very little food. Or, they can pull off these insane feats of accuracy with their binocular vision. Or smell what dinner is from three rooms away, or hear a ship’s system failure before the alarm sounds.

Here is something cool about Disney’s Moana

Moana maybe the the only one from any movie or TV show to have a pretty accurate presentation and introduce the Poukai/Haast’s Eagle/Harpagornis (Aquila moorei) to a much wider audience.

For those who are not aware, the Poukai was the largest eagle to have ever lived, with a wingspan of between 2 and 3 metres, and weighing up to 13 kilograms. While the eagle was only native to New Zealand, the Poukai is still a pretty big deal in Polynesian culture. Scientists are able to recreate the plumage coloration of this remarkable bird (shown in the photo below) as the Maori describe this apex predator in their stories.

It has a strong resemblance to the giant eagle/hawk Maui transforms into. Granted a bit more stylized.

Shocked Shark by Will Clark / Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016

“This juvenile blue shark was the first to arrive at our boat after an hour of chumming. We were alerted to its presence by the bobbing of a small buoy which had fresh mackerel tied to it. I leaned over the side of the boat with my camera housing not quite fully submerged as the skipper tried to coax the shark nearer to the boat. He got the blue very close to me, and then just at the last moment he whipped the bait out of the water, which got this reaction from the shark.”