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Posts Tagged ‘small animals’

I have yet to be bored watching the 27-and-a-half-hour extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy with the kids. It is truly an awe-inspiring cinematic masterpiece.

There is, however, one persistently annoying aspect of the trilogy that I am petitioning the studio to change on the next release and for the prequels that will appear soon. What’s that one annoying thing about the Lord of the Rings? You know what it is…

Hobbits.

I know, I know, hobbits are fairly integral to the plot, and especially so for the upcoming prequels (titled “The Hobbit,” Parts 1 and 2). We’re stuck with hobbits in these stories, and so the question is how they can be fixed.

In order to fix the hobbits, though, we must diagnose what exactly it is about them that makes us wish the Ringwraiths had finished them off in a bloody spectacle in the first part of the Lord of the Rings when they were foolishly cooking on that promontory.

The problem with the hobbits is not merely that the music shifts to weepy-give-me-a-hug music whenever Frodo and Sam get within two meters of one another. The main objection to the hobbits is, instead, a biological one…

Hobbits are lame. The hobbits in the movies are given the physical prowess of a regular human four-year-old with furry feet.

And that’s the problem.

Hobbits are small, yes. But that doesn’t mean that their only way of garnering respect from the other Middle Earth races is by cooking second breakfasts or getting completely wrecked and dancing on tables.

Small animals are not merely smaller, weaker, and slower versions of their larger-animal counterparts. Instead, small animals are more energetically active, sleep more, and possess many other consequences of scaling due to their smaller size. Small animals live their lives at a faster pace – they are quick, and practically impossible for much larger creatures to catch. In addition to being quick, small animals tend to be feisty, exhibiting morphological and behavioral specializations likely to rip, tear or stab something of importance on a larger animal’s body.

Have you ever tried to catch a tiny monkey? It’s practically impossible! Even chimpanzees can only do so with great tribal effort. And pity on you if you ever do manage to catch one; you’re likely to be licking your wounds a fraction of a second later. I’ll not even get into the inclination for smaller animals to defecate on bigger animals, something very relevant when trying to catch a monkey.

To illustrate the “quick and fierce” side of the small, take a look at the following two videos, the first showing a squirrel going for a deer’s jugular, and the second showing a bear deciding against tangling with a house cat.


We see, then, that small animals tend to be quick and feisty, and – unlike hobbits – decidedly NOT lame.

Imagine how much fun it would be to watch the Lord of the Rings movies, but with fleet, ferocious and blood-thirsty little hobbits replacing the plodding, pleading, thirsty little hobbits we have gotten to know and grudgingly love. (Please forward this to Peter Jackson.)

This first appeared on March 23, 2010, as a feature at ScientificBlogging.com.

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Mark Changizi is a professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books).

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