Metatalktail Hour: Alter Ego May 6, 2017 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday Night, MetaFilter! Tonight's MetaTalkTail topic comes from DrDr ChuraChura, who just finished her Ph.D.: If you were a plant or animal, what would you be and why? Remember, they're conversation starters, not limiters, so feel free to discuss anything you want!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 6:46 PM (153 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I always say I would be a large cat, because they're awesome and I think we share many personality traits (elegance combined with goofiness, precision combined with laziness, good hair). My cat snuggling on my lap right now has me reconsidering whether I'd actually want to be one of my housecats. Raptor would also be pretty cool, though I don't really seem to understand how they communicate, the way I do with any-sized cats.

Redwood would also be pretty neat, as long as no one cut me down.
posted by lazuli at 6:56 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Also, my dinner of tuna steak braised with radicchio and chickpeas was awesome, and I could see that being equally awesome for a large cat or a raptor, so that's not a data point that helps and mainly I wanted to brag about my dinner.
posted by lazuli at 6:58 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Plant: mint
Animal: mongoose
posted by Fizz at 7:06 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


A beaver. First because of natural engineering talent but second, in the words of Mitch Hedberg "cause they have some kick-ass houses. That shit is on the lake. Lakeside my ass, lake on!"
posted by Mitheral at 7:15 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Though ilsa had a pretty good answer here.
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I would be an otter, even though I'm mostly afraid of water, because they always look like they're having so much fun. Also they snuggle a lot.

We went to Free Comic Book Day today at our local store with the kids. We went kinda late (because SOME people in this house say things like "I'm going to run a quick errand, I'll just be ten minutes" and then take three hours) so it was picked over but my kids were super-excited anyway and got their free comics and we bought some other ones, and they spent all afternoon reading their new comics and graphic novels. Every year I go I am pleased by FCBD at my local store, as it is one of the most diverse, representative crowds I ever see in my town, and there are so many little kids from so many different backgrounds who feel comfortable and welcome there. Comics are not my thing at all but the local scene seems so affirming.

Nano McGee is getting tooth #3 and she is pretty freakin' pissed off about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:21 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


I can't a be slime mold? I like the idea of being occasionally multicellular.

If I have to stick to the rules:
Plant: aspen. big groves communing via my roots with several tons of myself.
Animal: Nudibranch. They're stunning, previously, with many more pictures linked within. Also their diets are usually incredibly restrictive, so each nudibranch eats pretty much only one thing. No omnivore's dilemma, and also not good for keeping in captivity. I like those attributes.
posted by nat at 7:25 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I went to a wine-club pick-up party this afternoon, and it was lovely. There was a singer/guitar-player, who looked like he was 15, which means he was probably 30, and he sang everything from Johnny Cash to Elvis to Jimmy Buffett to Sublime to Meghan Trainor, and it was very nice. I sometimes feel weird about going to those things alone, but I was in introvert-overload mode and needed not to interact in any meaningful ways with people, and sitting on the porch, listening to music, and drinking wine was just perfect.

Also I got to meet a goldendoodle named Lyric, so that was good.
posted by lazuli at 7:29 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


A thistle - but, a thistle with a sense of humor.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:29 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Plant: fern
Animal: harbour seal
posted by janepanic at 7:33 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm essentially a harbor seal now. A sentient solar panel.

If I could choose, though - I'd be a songbird, like a finch. Not someone who has to work as hard as a hummingbird, but colorful, migratory. If I were a tree... there are so many good trees. Maybe a bristlecone pine. Architectural, introverted, lives only where the views are superb and the air is crisp.
posted by janell at 7:37 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Plant: rosemary
Animal: black or tortie floofy street cat turned into rescued lazy indoor kitty, pissy yet lovable.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:38 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I wonder, do animals besides humans get migraines? Do we have any way of knowing that? Because I've had a migraine every day for the past two weeks, and I'd like to be an animal that doesn't get migraines.

Other than that, I think I want to be a big dumb friendly dog.

If I were a plant I'd be kudzu, because then I'd be unstoppable.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:40 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


I think I'd have to be some sort of majestic, high-flying bird. Maybe a red tailed hawk or a California Condor. Ever since I was a kid flight has fascinated me. I would stand outside in my yard and stare up at airplanes as they flew over my house. I took flying lessons when I was in my 30s and one day I realized I was flying over that very same house and I freaked out and my instructor let me do a couple of circles over it and basically fulfilled a lifelong dream. When I fly commercially I always get a window seat and will spend the entire flight looking out the window at all the miniature towns and roads. I also love any kind of model or miniature scene like a model railroad layout, probably because it gives me that same feeling of looking down from above.

So yeah, I want to be a hawk or a condor and fly nice and high and fast and catch thermals and basically look down at everything like I own it.

As far as plant? I don't know. Maybe an orchid because they're kind of stunning looking and I've always wanted to be stunning looking. Or perhaps a birch tree because peeling off my bark would give me that same feeling of peeling sunburned skin or dried elmer's glue off my hands which is one of those things that is probably gross but I freaking love. Maybe a big-ass oak or redwood or walnut tree just because.
posted by bondcliff at 7:43 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


A cat, specifically one of my cats.
posted by lalex at 7:49 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Cat, because a tail so graceful and expressive would be a wonderful and useful thing to have.

Rose, because gorgeous to behold and delicious to smell.
posted by valetta at 7:50 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Perhaps a mushroom, because they are huge and mysterious, lurking beneath the earth, even if not technically plants or animals.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:51 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Plant: weeeeeed
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:57 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


Animal: tardigrade
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:57 PM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Plant: I would be some kind of vegetable, because I think it's just amazing how food grows out of the dirt.

Animal: A horse--an expensive, gorgeous, ridiculously pampered jumper. I would make it my life's work to try to convince the hoomins that it's easier just to go around the fences.
posted by scratch at 7:59 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Dermestid beetles seem well-cared for and content.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:00 PM on May 6


I would like to be a raccoon - North America's answer to primates. Clever, kind of destructive, flexible, tenacious, dextrous, adorable, adaptable, whiskered, sneaky, endearing, a little dangerous... excellent. And, they're sturdy, stubborn, a little rotund... all good things and characteristics that I either already have or aspire to.

On the plant front, I would like to be moss.

And yes - the PhD is done! Still edits to turn in, but I'm all defended and my advisor called me Doctor, so it must be true. I am so thankful for this community and those of you who have encouraged me and been excited for me, or at least begrudgingly read Yet Another Story About Monkeys! I head back to the rain forest on Wednesday to be unemployed but surrounded by monkeys and forest!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:00 PM on May 6 [48 favorites]


Wikipedia on tardigrades: "also known as water bears, space bears, pudgy wudgies, or moss piglets"

Joseph Gurl, that is easily the best thing I've learned in the past, oh, five years or so.
posted by scratch at 8:00 PM on May 6


Two priests died at the same time and met Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter said, "I'd like to get you guys in now, but our
computer is down. You'll have to go back to Earth for about a week, but you can't go back as priests. So what else would you like to be?"
The first priest says, "I've always wanted to be an eagle, soaring above the Rocky Mountains."
"So be it," says St. Peter, and off flies the first priest.

The second priest mulls this over for a moment and asks, "Will any of this week 'count', St. Peter?"
"No, I told you the computer's down. There's no way we can keep track of what you're doing."
"In that case," says the second priest, "I've always wanted to be a stud."
"So be it" says St. Peter, and the second priest disappears.

A week goes by, the computer is fixed, and the Lord tells St. Peter to recall the two priests. "Will you have any trouble locating them?" He asks.
"The first one should be easy," says St. Peter. "He's somewhere over the Rockies, flying with the eagles. But the second one could prove to be more difficult."
"Why?" asketh the Lord.
"He's on a snow tire, somewhere in North Dakota."
posted by jazon at 8:01 PM on May 6 [14 favorites]


If you're a housefly that only lives 2-4 weeks, do you think you'd experience time differently than people do? Maybe in those weeks you could live a swashbuckling life of adventure, and it would be as richly fulfilling as 80 years of humanity. You'd fly around, exploring new lands and new food sources, getting out of dangerous scrapes with toads and rolled up magazines. After a while, you'd get tired of roaming around, and maybe you'd decide to settle down and lay a family. Maybe you'd think about the friends you left behind at your old stomping grounds, the flies who never moved out of the garbage can, the flies who never had the ambition you had to see new places. You'd get old and remember the flies you'd lost, the ones who never made it out of spiderwebs and bowls of soup. Eventually you'd simply run out of steam and die peacefully on someone's windowsill or in their attic, your final moments being the warmth of the sun filling everything around you with pure light as you slip into nothingness.

What I'm saying is, nobody ever says they want to be a housefly, but maybe we've never considered that it's our loss. Deep, man.

I'm not changing my choice from "big dumb dog," though, because what could be better than pure joy at the sight of your person coming home? God knows you'd never have to struggle through Pierre Bourdieu readings.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:01 PM on May 6 [12 favorites]


And yes - the PhD is done!

Congratulations, Dr. ChuraChura!
posted by bondcliff at 8:05 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Plant: English oak tree
Animal: Vegetarian werewolf

Nothing of great interest here this week. Went on some walks, streamlined my teapot collection to five, neighbor arrested for buying milk in the nude or something, read a grossly exaggerated local newspaper story about "vandals" setting fire to a river bank and eyerolled, saw several swans attack a police car, got shot at, ate a really good chocolate cake, annoying badger trying to fight local cats loudly at night, voted, ate some splendid cheese from the deli. That's about it.
posted by Wordshore at 8:05 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


(sidenote: how come when people talk about their "spirit animals" they're always like eagles or coyotes? Surely some of us must be leeches, tapeworms, or ticks, right?)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:05 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Surely some of us must be leeches, tapeworms, or ticks, right

republicancongressmen.jpg
posted by bondcliff at 8:08 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Wordshore, I'll just say it for you: meh.
posted by scratch at 8:09 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


If you're a housefly that only lives 2-4 weeks, do you think you'd experience time differently than people do? Maybe in those weeks you could live a swashbuckling life of adventure, and it would be as richly fulfilling as 80 years of humanity.

A friend and I talked about "hummingbird time," where you must feel like you're going at normal speed but everyone else seems veeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyy slooooooooooowwww. (I can't remember why I brought it up, but he compared it to being on coke.) So I could see that.
posted by lazuli at 8:09 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I spend an unhealthy amount of time watching hummingbirds every summer and that life doesn't look all that great. They have to beat their wings really hard and fast and their metabolisms are so crazy that they have to come and feed every few seconds. And rather than nice yummy sunflower seeds people feed them nothing but sugar water. Doesn't look like a very fun life.
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 PM on May 6


A cat.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:14 PM on May 6


Doesn't look like a very fun life.

Don't impose your colonialist species-ist bullshit, maaaaaaaaaaaan. ;)
posted by lazuli at 8:16 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Oh, also making preparations as this week is of course Eurovision week. This time next week should be getting home from a hopefully good viewing party.
posted by Wordshore at 8:16 PM on May 6


Narwhal. They live for 80 years, that tusk is some kind of sensory organ that our brains can't comprehend, and Iceland is gorgeous.

Definitely some kind of tree. A Redwood or a magnificent old oak. Because they also live a long time, and they define the landscape in which they live, they directly support thousands of other living things, and they probably communicate with their neighbor trees.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:17 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Don't impose your colonialist species-ist bullshit

I knew I should have just sent you some of my world-famous sugar water.
posted by bondcliff at 8:19 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


If I was gonna be a sea creature I think I'd be one of those big-ass turtles, the hippies of the ocean.
posted by bondcliff at 8:21 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Crows seem to have a lot going for them -- smart, lots of free time, gregarious natures. Plus, I think I might enjoy being a Harbinger of Doom once in a while, like as a side job.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:22 PM on May 6 [14 favorites]


Oh, and super-congrats, DrDr ChuraChura!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:24 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I guess if I were a plant I'd be Big Bluestem, so I could enjoy the prairie all day, and also create the best topsoil in the whole world with my 8-foot-deep roots, and also live in Illinois.

I am bingeing "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" on Netflix which I think is maybe the most hilarious show every produced and you should binge it with me!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:25 PM on May 6 [5 favorites]


I like being a person. I've thought about this and man I feel lucky to be human. I love so many animals and love my interactions with them, but I've rarely envied one, especially these days, and when I do it's really site-specific. And I'm super good with plants and have gardened my whole life. But next to all the other organisms, we've got it good. Clearly too good.

But if I were a non-human one, dogs would be in the running. Such joy, such love, big hearts and this super-amazing snout that smells emotions and can travel back in time. And on lazy days I envy cats, especially their attitude. The cetaceans seem to be on to something. I'd like to see what that's about. I too like meat and have a fondness for families both biological and created. And a few of the apes might provide a comfortable home. Not today, but maybe fifty years ago I would have loved to been an orangutang or bonobo. Male bonobo, if you were wondering. Chimps and gorillas, I don't know. A little high strung for me.

As for plants, I think I'd like to try plankton. Maybe one of those sparkly ones. I'm kind of a homebody but being a plant and having time slow and being so permanently placed, I feel like I'd have trouble with that. So passive. But plankton gets to travel, and I like the Buddhist impermanence of it. Just floating out there on my back, looking up at the stars with multitudes of my kind floating out there with me... Seems nice. No real consciousness just a collective consciousness, firing our glowing elements in ripples of light on the surface, luminescent murmurations of solace and community. Like that Buddhist lake of fire, they talk about in the afterlife. No thoughts of our own just reactions to our neighbors and family, and the sister stars above us.

But yeah, fuck that. I like being a person just fine.
posted by Stanczyk at 8:26 PM on May 6 [13 favorites]


Stanczyk, that answer made me think of one of my students earlier this semester. Their extra-credit question was "What is your favorite primate and why?" and this person wrote, "If dogs were primates, they would be my favorite."
posted by ChuraChura at 8:29 PM on May 6 [10 favorites]


I would be an umbrella crested cockatoo like Harley! Super smart, awesome headgear, lots of pals, can fly, pliers on face, and mad flexible feet.

If I were to be a plant, I would be a coast redwood tree because they are giant and beautiful, long-lived on the order of 1200+ years. Birds would hang out in my branches, and I would be near frogs.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:30 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


If I were to be a plant, I would be a coast redwood tree because they are giant and beautiful, long-lived on the order of 1200+ years. Birds would hang out in my branches, and I would be near frogs.

And salamanders! And rattlesnakes! And Western Fence Lizards! I hiked among redwoods last weekend and saw all of those in abundance (well, I heard report of one rattlesnake). The salamanders were supercool.
posted by lazuli at 8:32 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I'd be a wolverine. I'd be fearless, strong, curious, happy, energetic and smart and I'd live somewhere wild and beautiful.
posted by Redstart at 8:39 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


yeahlikethat says Venus flytrap or indoor cat, though her boyfriend says she's already the latter. He would be a giraffe.

I would probably also be a ketseleh or fox or something.
posted by limeonaire at 8:52 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


A friend and I talked about "hummingbird time," where you must feel like you're going at normal speed but everyone else seems veeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyy slooooooooooowwww. (I can't remember why I brought it up, but he compared it to being on coke.) So I could see that.

I was walking the other day, enjoying the first sun in a while, and found myself thinking about how blurry and frantic human activity would look from the perspective of a tree. It would take some kind of special slowed-down tree camera for them to even be able to clearly see what we were doing as we flitted around at stump-level.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:55 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


George "The Animal" Steele
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:58 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Raven -- very smart birds that just seem to have so much fun flying around and doing barrel rolls and dives. That or a cat in a lesbian household.

I also join the Mefi redwood grove. If you haven't read Wild Trees already, fellow redwoods, read it!

We went for a long walk today both to get outside and take a walk and for me to catch a bunch of pokemon. I'm traveling all the rest of the month and so I'm taking advantage of the weekend to just hang out with rtha and do laundry and so on.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:03 PM on May 6 [7 favorites]


bondcliff ... that same feeling of peeling sunburned skin or dried elmer's glue off my hands which is one of those things that is probably gross but I freaking love.

This would explain my deep attraction to the paperbark tree, Melaleuca-something, except I would never peel one. I just want to touch, those layers so fine, so soft! Not so much bark as ... skin.

The internet tells me that while they are native to my part of the world they are an invasive species in the US.
posted by valetta at 9:12 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I would definitely be a goat. Wily, headstrong, can climb trees really really well. What more could one want?
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:15 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


aquatic plant: tupelo
land plant: dandelion
sky plant: those ferns that grow on trees

sky animal: godwit
land animal: non-biting ant
sea animal: something undiscovered, of the deep seas
posted by aniola at 9:31 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


As for animal...I'd be either (a) a typical supremely aloof cat, or (b) that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheep.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:31 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


the bellwether?
posted by aniola at 9:33 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I would definitely be a goat. Wily, headstrong, can climb trees really really well. What more could one want?


Sometimes representing a satanic symbol? Check.
posted by scratch at 9:40 PM on May 6


Oh, and as a plant, I'd like to be a male ginkgo or a katsura tree.
posted by limeonaire at 9:42 PM on May 6


If I was gonna be a sea creature I think I'd be one of those big-ass turtles, the hippies of the ocean.

They do always seem blissfully happy for no reason, don't they?
posted by lazuli at 9:44 PM on May 6


What do you mean no reason? They get to swim all day, they have some-ass sweet armor, and most of their children get eaten by birds before they make it back into the water.
posted by bondcliff at 9:48 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


If I were sea creature, I think being a sperm whale would probably be cool. All that diving to extreme depths and fighting giant squids and eating guys' legs.

Unrelated, but I'm currently working out a budget for a trip to remote West Texas this summer, and I am SO EXCITED because I've never been. I'm not even totally sure what to expect beyond what I know from Jimmie Rodgers songs: "He put me off in Texas, a state I dearly love. The wide open spaces all around me, the moon and stars up above."
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:48 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


What do you mean no reason? They get to swim all day, they have some-ass sweet armor, and most of their children get eaten by birds before they make it back into the water.

Huh! Yeah, that sounds pretty awesome. Now I want to figure out how to be a sea turtle but still have cats.
posted by lazuli at 9:51 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I wish I could say I'd like to be a horse or cat because they're elegant but no...I'ma go with octopus. (At least, my aspirations surpass my username).

And lichen just because they live for sooooo long and take their tiiiime growing and are a combination of fungi and algae. What a life.
posted by The Toad at 9:54 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I just realized I said "ass sweet" armor instead of "sweet-ass" armor but I'm not really sure which one would be better.
posted by bondcliff at 9:59 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I'd LOVE to be a dolphin. But something aquatic, for sure*. I'd be perfectly happy never touching dry land ever again.

If I had to be a plant I'd either be a soaring Sequoia or whatever Snoop is smoking right now.

*For ironic cursed monkey paw purposes, not a flounder or other flatfish please.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:04 PM on May 6


I meant redwood. I should stick to the pot.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:08 PM on May 6


A raven, I remember them skirting the high edges of sandstone canyons, raucous calling out in the high sun, casting shadows that follow them far below. Often theirs is the only sound in the stifling heat and silence. For the plant, I would be the maidenhair fern which grows down the faces of canyon seeps.
posted by Oyéah at 10:22 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


As a furry, I always feel awkward with the knowledge that I have invested a lot more thought into this question over my life than would be reasonably expected.
posted by solarion at 10:36 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


I think I'd be an amoeba? They don't have hearts right? and thus naturally cannot ever become heartbroken? Also I'd be much dumber then and, I imagine, much happier overall.

Plant wise, some kind of fungus.. They're all awesome, really.
posted by some loser at 10:41 PM on May 6


I'd be a Penis Flytrap cause there are way too many dicks flying around. Hopefully I'd find that palatable.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:08 PM on May 6


Plant: a Japanese maple. With green foliage, not red, and with the larger leaves, not the shredded leaves.
Animal: I would want to be a Labrador. Or a mutt. Although I think I'm probably more like a cat.
posted by gt2 at 11:24 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Being a cuttlefish seems fun? But they do have predators so I’m not totally convinced.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:50 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Plant: Moss or a fern. Something very green, that likes the shade and quiet of the forest. Something a little unique.

Animal: Gosh, as an animal fan this is really hard! Something arboreal, perhaps a squirrel?

My family completed our first camping trip this weekend. tbh it wasn't the greatest time, I froze my arse off due to overestimating the warmth of my (broken!) sleeping bag. However, watching the memories getting etched into my daughter's brain, and basking in her exuberance at the adventure, was more than worth it.

It did make me wonder if the camping trips I took as a kid - totally awesome to me - were in fact received differently by the adults...
posted by smoke at 12:15 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


So I guess a cuttlefish with some kind laster weapon to go along with the camouflage and a longer lifespan.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:15 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Plant would be sambac jasmine. Animal would have to be a T-Rex because that's how my sisters tease me about my proximity to the steering wheel when driving.

Jasmine scented T-Rex. Yup. That sounds about right.
posted by romakimmy at 12:18 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Animal(s): slow loris, sloth, koala bear. Because all I ever want to do is move slowly until I can finally be inert, and then SLEEP for 16 - 22 hours in one stretch. For now, I get to remain go-go-go during the days (logged 30 hours of heavy residential/commercial cleaning this past week), and up all night at my third shift elder care job seven days a week. Bleary, narrowed eyes are IN for spring! You heard it here, first. :D

Plant: purple (bearded) irises are my absolute favorite flower, so I would choose to be one with the bright yellow on the falls. My daughters know that my only request is to have huge arrangements of purple irises at my wake, before I am cremated. Even if they're not in season!
posted by Amor Bellator at 12:24 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Quite a lot of cats here. Miaow'all. Sun's nearly down now, autumn chill, time to pull the curtains, light the fire and think about dinner. In deference to the sea creatures of the thread, it will not be tuna.
posted by valetta at 12:25 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I remember a time when I trained holding Lego blocks with my toes, part of a training program to ultimately become as nimble as a gibbon. The project failed early (and un-spectacularly) and left me with an insight of not having the stamina to see through the really worthwhile things in life.

In terms of (initial) self-delusion and a (permanent) lack of nimbleness, I'm rather quite like Baloo, and the plant I would be is likely the tree that Baloo uses to scratch himself against.
posted by Namlit at 12:44 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Dragonfly.

Sometimes I like to imagine living a whole dragonfly life.

Born an aquatic nymph. An insatiable underwater hunter growing larger and more powerful after every molt.

One day you are climbing a plant stalk to catch a snail, and the snail makes it through the surface of the water. The edge of your world.

But this time you keep going, you break the surface and find yourself looking at a world a million times bigger and more varied than anything you've ever imagined.

You can barely get any oxygen out of the air. If you don't go back underwater soon you are going to die.

But what is there to go back to. You've outgrown the worms and the leeches and the tadpoles. You can kill all but the largest fish.

And there is so much to see and feel out here. So you stay, and you slowly dry out and become quiet and stiff.

This is death and you are fine with it.

And then you wake up and it wasn't death after all and OMG I AM GOING TO SPEND THE REST MY LIFE FLYING AND FUCKING AND HUNTING LIKE A FIGHTER JET? There is a God and we've been good.
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:41 AM on May 7 [36 favorites]


I wish I was Maude but I think I'm Harold, as far as flowers go.

As for animals, I'd like to be a wombat because I could be large and hairy and sleep a lot, plus my poo would be shaped like a cube, and who wouldn't want that?
posted by h00py at 2:22 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


One of Handel's famous arias is the lovely "Ombra mai fu" (from Serse) where the protagonist literally sings an ode to a tree. I've never seen the opera but admittedly, I wouldn't mind being that specific tree so I (selfishly) could listen to that fantastic music.

Italian-to-English translation via Wikipedia:

(recitative -- unfortunately most recordings leave this out)
Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree,
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning, and storms
never disturb your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.
(aria)
Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet.
The piece is nearly 300 years old (the opera flopped and was basically ignored for about 200 years before gaining new interest) and to me it transcends time and space.

A few favorite versions (out of many) on YT: Lucia Popp / Fritz Wunderlich / Joyce DiDonato.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:32 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Oh, and the animal: I've always thought it'd be cool to fly, so I'd be a bird. I hope I'd be a good chickadee, in honor of prior comments by barchan and Eyebrows McGee. Being curious and aware and learning to adapt and survive all sound good. It'd be great to sing and talk with other chickadees, too.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:47 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Plant: Moss, or lichen. Maybe mushrooms.
Animal: Blue whale. Or an elephant.
posted by glitter at 3:11 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I prefer dogs, but I would be a cat, as I am lazy, love comfort, and am not always in the mood for people. I had a related discussion recently with a friend who'd recently finished His Dark Materials: we were discussing what our daemons would be. Mine would definitely be one of those white cats with the squashed faces who always look disgusted.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:57 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


...saw several swans attack a police car, got shot at, ate a really good chocolate cake, annoying badger trying to fight local cats loudly at night, voted...

Wordshore, trusting your punctuation is consistent, either the badger voted... or you got shot at. Ok, I'll bite:

?????
posted by daisyace at 4:45 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


A bear. An Asiatic black bear named Morris.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:59 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I would be a walrus. In college, we were flipping around the five channels we had, and on PBS, there was a show about walrusessus. It showed how they managed to use the whole herd to protect the young and confuse a polar bear. They explained that walrusi sometimes gorge themselves for 24 hours straight, just eating non-stop (and it's a good thing for them. Later, the show sent an underwater robotic camera to record the walri in the ocean. The last thing it recorded was the rolled back eye of an enraged walrus, and when they recovered it, there was a giant hole through the machine.

Walrusiates are living sofas. They are amazing. When I grow up, I intend to be a walrus.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:06 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


That, or a very well loved house cat.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:07 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I suppose I should reveal the truth. I am actually three cats in a trench coat. Which I feel answers the question. It has taken awhile but we generally work together on the typing to avoid the more obvious signs, such as qstcgfctbkjnkuhjjjjijjjjj etc.
posted by halcyonday at 6:19 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I would be a toad. But only one very particular toad.
posted by drlith at 6:25 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


An orange swan. Obvs.
posted by orange swan at 6:43 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I was just thinking it might be nice to be a pot plant. Not just any pot plant, but one grown by a small scale closet cultivator who's really into the science behind it. An anxiety prone nerd with perhaps a touch of OCD. A sweet, shy, chubby guy with glasses who pampers me and feeds me nothing but the best. Who grew me from a cutting off my mom, who dipped my severed stem in a rooting hormone and made it all feel better, then bandaged it in the warm and slightly moist soil of a six pack seedling starter. Then he placed me and five clone siblings under a bright full spectrum LED lamp where we soaked in the healing and comfort-filled light. We took root and in this perfect environment, and were lovingly groomed and tended to, and flourished under his care. After a few months, we were moved to another room and it took a bit of time to adjust to this new reality of half days when the sun used to shine down on us all the time. It's not that it was cold in there, just different. And we started noticing changes in our bodies. We were still big and strong, but we started growing flowers in the most embarrassing places. At first, we were ashamed of this blatant display of our sexuality, but soon we embraced it. And he changed our diet. It was still delicious but not all that junk food of our youth. This was a grown-up palate. And I don't know if it was the food or the clear clean ph balanced water, but we just blossomed. We were beautiful. The six of us competed over our flowering, each pressing the limits of our floral blooming, sending all our concentration and will into those blossoms. Preparing to compete for the love of a male we would never meet.

And he would continue to pamper us, and love us, often visiting several times a day to groom, and feed, and bring us comfort. It wasn't perfect. We missed the bees and other insects, but we were also protected from the mites, and flies, and various bugs and animals who would do us harm. We never saw clouds, or the real sun, though ours was more consistent and predictable, and always so very bright. And I would have liked to felt rain on my leaves, and the wind through my stems, though we got a fan so it wasn't stagnant, just no variety or playful pushing and shoving.

And when we hit our most beautiful, most gorgeous selves, perfect specimens of cannabal femininity, like plant versions of a Leni Riefenstahl scene featuring parades of nude women marching in unified bodily perfection, then, just before the first tinglings of senescence might start to set into our roots and as our calyxes began to turn brown, he came into our room, and hummed softly as he gently cut our stems at the base, and laid us down in dark quiet room as we dried and fell asleep.

Yeah, I could probably do that. No one lives forever. Why not be loved and doted on the entire time and then call it quits when you're at the top of your game. That might work.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:50 AM on May 7 [14 favorites]


Definitely a tortoiseshell cat, brining the tortitude. The world needs more of that. If I had to be a plant, I'd try to score an incarnation as one of the tulips at Keukenhof. That place is like a shrine to the beauty of tulips (which deserve a shrine as they are indeed very beautiful -- the world needs more of that too).
posted by jazzbaby at 7:30 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


> I head back to the rain forest on Wednesday to be unemployed but surrounded by monkeys and forest!

Wonderful! And congratulations! I know that we all look forward to more stories of following monkeys in the forest and trying to not step on cleverly disguised (as invisible!) vipers.

For an animal, I would either be a cat (in a lesbian household), or a raven.
posted by rtha at 7:56 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I would like to be a fennec fox. Who wouldn't want ears and a tail like that? And the African desert can be stunningly beautiful.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:28 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I saw some pelicans this morning! If I can't be a dolphin then some kind of flying seabird would be my second choice. Otter or sea lion third.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:29 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Congratulations, DrDr ChuraChura!

Gills. I have always wanted gills, or obviously at least to be an aquatic creature. Possibilities:

darter Pro: gills; get to live in well-oxygenated shallow streams, i.e., the best places in the world
Con: don't get to travel much or see much besides cobble; probably get eaten

salmon Pro: gills; awesome swimmer; get to go from the headwaters to the ocean and back over the course of my life
Con: that's a lot of swimming and a lot of struggling and the likelihood of actually making it the whole journey is pretty small

green frog Pro: gills as a kid; still swimming as an adult, but also get to explore the land; pretty chill life throughout
Con: again, probably going to get eaten pretty early in life and not get to experience all that life has to offer

snapping turtle Pro: get to hang out in the water throughout life and be a total bad ass; survival likelihood to old age pretty good
Con: don't get to have gills; still have to come up for air

dragonfly Sad that Dr. Curare already called this one, it's definitely a good one, too, for all the reason that they enumerated
posted by hydropsyche at 8:52 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I remembered this story recently when one of my adult kids asked me why do I always eat raw carrots and I remembered it's because when I was around four, I decided to become Bugs Bunny. I would walk around with a raw carrot in my hand -- SO much better if it had a green tail -- and think, "What's up, doc?" to myself and that was a THING that made me happy because I was Bugs Bunny and it was my secret.

But Bugs came after Popeye. When I was three, I insisted that everyone call me Popeye because I decided that I was Popeye the Sailor. I wanted to eat all the spinach. My mom refused to do this and I definitely remember how she laughed at my silly idea. I squashed that idea.

About a year later I decided to become Bugs and I didn't ever tell her and I still eat raw carrots all the time and if pressed, I will tell you that I don't really like my mom.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 9:14 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Despite not being a question I've ever considered before, the answer is immediate: a long-lived, solitary bird that hangs out in the mountains. The Andean Condor would be a fine example, among many. 'cause what more could anyone want in life than to spend all day flying in the mountains and not having to pal around with other birds. (Though, I can see the argument for a sea creature. Whales and otters seem to be having a good time, and being an octopus sounds like fun, except for all the things that want to eat you.)

If we're allowed to keep some aspects of our own minds when we turn into an animal, I'd be down for dragonfly too. But, I wonder whether actual dragonflies have the ability to reflect on their neat existence, or for that matter if they're able to have fun. I'm pretty sure birds experience something indistinguishable from what I call fun, which makes it seem a safer choice. Of course, it also depends on how animals perceive time. If time perception scales with lifetime, that might change things considerably.

Plants are much harder to choose between. Is lichen close enough to a colloquial "plant" to count? 'cause they're pretty neat, and live in just about every attractive vacation spot on the planet, and they more or less live forever. And at least you've got yourself to talk to, even if you can't go anywhere or see anything.
posted by eotvos at 9:34 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


My twitter bio says I'm a "human cat" and who am I to argue with myself:
  • My ideal state is just sleeping and eating and being petted.
  • I love tuna and treats.
  • I can't catch for shit.
  • I think I'm more graceful than I am and if I trip, I try to play it off like I meant to do it.
  • Sometimes I'm scared of my own shadow but if I decide you're one of 'my humans', I'm fiercely loyal and in love with you, even if I sometimes I have a horrible time showing it.
  • Though I try to pretend otherwise, I thrive on attention but it has to be on my terms.
That maybe got a little too real right there, but I'm standing by it.

Speaking of animals, yesterday was DASH 9, the 9th incarnation of "(Different Area, Same Hunt) ...a fun, interactive event where teams of players race to find and solve creative puzzles hidden in different locations in cities all over the world" and the Chicago hunt was held in and around Lincoln Park Zoo, so I spent my Saturday solving puzzles AND seeing cool animals, and I woke up this morning super excited about both having happened. This was my third year doing it (the first where it wasn't raining!) and is's one of my favorite days of the year, and since my puzzle crew are all people who met through MetaFilter, it seems very appropriate to mention it here.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:50 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Yeah, as awesome as cats are, I have to go with some kind of bird for this. Probably a smart bird. Maybe a crow or raven? Then again, considering I'm sort of a smart-ass, probably a parrot.

Plant: I have a false memory of a plant that can survive dehydrated in the desert for tens of years, but blooms when there's rain. I'm pretty sure I'm conflating tartigrades (not a plant) with the desert slug that was featured on mefi a few months ago (also not a plant) though. I suspect I'd make a pretty lousy plant. But, hell, redwoods are awesome. I'm going to go with redwoods.
posted by Alterscape at 10:25 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying is, nobody ever says they want to be a housefly, but maybe we've never considered that it's our loss. Deep, man.

You should read Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask. It's about a guy who can turn into a fly. It's good.
posted by Orlop at 10:39 AM on May 7


I have always wanted to be a plump and pampered house cat, but it's spring here and I think I might like being one of the turtles that live in the rivers and come out to bask in the sunshine on fallen logs.

I cannot for the life of me think what plant I'd like to be. And this is really bothering me.
posted by Orlop at 10:47 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I'd be a daffodil; cheap cheerful blooms early in the year when it's really needed; resilient in cold (even though I hate cold); sunny yellow disposition; takes no effort to grow; survives on neglect.

If not that, then our native scuppernong grape vine; another green thing that survives on it's own, yet gives bounty freely.

Picking a critter is nearly impossible. Maybe a Carolina Bluebird darting across the sky in an improbable glint of blue sunshine; no singing voice but a delightful family reared in the handy houses provided by the nearby attentive humans.
posted by mightshould at 11:37 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Since I discovered that Neanderthals had existed and a little about them -- maybe as late as the 3rd grade, when I learned to read -- I've identified with them.

A couple of different school systems had labeled me mentally retarded by then, which I accepted, really, and wasn't as bothered by as you might think, but after I found out about Neanderthals, I somehow translated this ontogenetic appellation into phylogeny, and thought of myself as a throwback -- the Throwback. I knew this was a kind of personal myth rather than a fact, but that didn't keep it from explaining a lot about me, from physiognomy to intellect to temperament, I thought.

So I would like to be a Neanderthal roaming around Europe ~100,000 years ago, well before the Inheritors (to borrow Golding's resonant phrase) showed up to kill us all and wreck our world.
posted by jamjam at 12:58 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I'd go for being a buzzard, hanging out in the sky, riding thermals, checking for dinner. Magnificent flyer, so lovely aloft but off-putting at close range.

As a plant I'd be a wisteria. Persistent, invasive, but so beautiful and having heart-stopping, delicious-scented blossoms. O magnum mysterium, o wagnum wisterium!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:02 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Animal: black or tortie floofy street cat turned into rescued lazy indoor kitty, pissy yet lovable.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:38 PM on May 6 [+] [!]

And that would make you Janie (1996-2016), who hated about everyone in the world, but was devoted to me. The thought of Jane as a mefite in cat form makes me miss her even more.
posted by she's not there at 1:13 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


To my regret I'm a terrible singer. And I love many musical genres. So, a mockingbird.

Plant? A redwood tree, because wow.
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:17 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I bet being a woodpecker outside Sean Spicer's bedroom window would be fun.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:51 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I don't know what kind of animal I'd be, but I'd like to be a pet. Someone could take for walks and people would give me treats and tell me I'm cute, then let me loose to run around in the park. Sounds like a good life.
posted by jonmc at 3:39 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


A yellow-bellied marmot. They live in high altitudes and sleep eight months out of the year but perk up in summer sunshine. When it's too hot, they find marvelous places to nap near cool rock overhangs. They're playful and a little cranky and they make weird cluck-snorgle noises. They eat flowers and are smart enough to use their charm and beg for cookies and chips when tourists drive by. When I used to work on top of Pikes Peak, we'd often see this one marmot stretched out in the middle of the highway where he could get the best angle of the morning sun. We'd have to stop the van and wait for him to plod himself out of the road.

Fun fact: Thousands of years ago, marmots would burrow for gold for the Persians. They had a knack for finding a layer of the planet rich with gold.

So, yeah. I feel like I could be a marmot. A contented little thing, mostly lazy but sometimes very useful.
posted by mochapickle at 4:07 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Do I have to be a terrestrial animal? Because, if not, I want to be whatever lives in Europa.
posted by BrashTech at 4:11 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I'm the hallucinogenic wildflowers that ETs planted in your backyard that you should be microdosing at work on.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:07 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Plant: I'm lonely and I'd really love connection with others, so I wish to be part of a colony of quaking aspen.

Animal: Someone years ago described me as a cheetah with sore paws. It's me. I should be incredibly swift, I'm unusually human-friendly and sometimes unpredictable. Always tear-stained.
posted by vers at 5:21 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I'd be a human being, I'd like to see what that's like.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 5:45 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I am a plant or animal! No idea as to why, though.
posted by aubilenon at 6:27 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


RANDOM TAXONOMY QUESTION: If we discover life on Mars or Europa, do they get put into already-existing Domains like Archaea or do we create a whole new taxonomic tree for extraterrestrial life?
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:42 PM on May 7


They would have to check out the entities DNA if they have it, and see if any their are any matches, then we can shove them into our way of listing things, or listing toward whatever serves the most powerful of us. If we find life on Europa, we should not ever set foot there.
posted by Oyéah at 7:58 PM on May 7


Who the hell waters their roses in the nude at (looks at clock) 6:36am?
posted by Wordshore at 10:36 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


He's singing, to the Monty Python lumberjack song tune, "I'm a naturist and I'm okay, in the buff all night and the nude all day".
posted by Wordshore at 11:00 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


She has just shouted out "Is your hosepipe extension long enough, dear?" There are SO MANY possible responses to that going through my head now.
posted by Wordshore at 11:03 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Wordshore needs to set up a MefiBnB so we can all experience random cheese heists and nude rosebush tending.
posted by mochapickle at 11:50 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


I wanna do a cheese heist!
posted by aubilenon at 11:57 PM on May 7


I think it's safe to say we all do...
posted by mochapickle at 12:00 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


Maybe the song is an explanation for the neighbors? Although I feel like the person tending their rose bushes in the nude doesn't need to explain to their neighbors that they're a naturist. It seems pretty self-evident.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:26 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, ChuraChura!

If I could be an animal - I think I might want to be a crow. They're intelligent, social animals that can problem solve and use tools, they enjoy play, and every once in a while they get to chow down on a tasty hamburger or shit on someone.

I wouldn't really want to be a plant...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:27 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Animal: Raven
Plant: Moss

The ravens that hang around the quad in front of my office are so smart. They select their prey carefully and time their arrivals perfectly to maximize the amount and quality of lunch they can steal from students.

Moss, because why not? Looks good. Feels good. Grows good. I have a little moss transplant in a bowl at work from my dad's moss garden in the family home that the folks moved out of a couple years ago. Makes me feel good to look at it.
posted by Gotanda at 7:12 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Logically, if I were a plant or animal, I could only answer the question, "what plant or animal would I be, and why?" if I was: (a) a plant or animal that had chosen such existence; and (b) was able to communicate the answer thereto to the person who has asked such question.

However, I do not believe that any plant or animal actually chooses the nature of its own existence (in terms of belonging to a kingdom, or species thereof). Only a god could choose such form it takes, and we have diverse accounts in various mythologies of gods manifesting as various creatures. Thus I would obviously be a god, but also (according to the limitations of the question) either a plant or animal. But we cannot converse with plants nor animals save human beings; thus I would of necessity be a human being - and simultaneously a god.

I understand that the Christian legendarium suggest that there is only only being who was both god and person. Therefore logic demands that I am the new Jesus, and that all must worship me as their messiah ... or nail me to a tree.

So please either pray #1 quidnunc kid, or crucify #1 quidnunc kid, as is your wont. QED.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:00 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Seagull for sure:

- hang out at the beach all of the time
- ride waves
- flight
- access to human food
- tactical pooping
posted by saladin at 8:02 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Congrats to DrDrChuraChura!

As a plant, I think I'd like to be something like a daffodil or hyacinth: some variety of flower bulb, so folks are always glad to see me every new spring.

As an animal, definitely house cat, your basic tabby probably. Maine coon would be nice, too.


I leave tomorrow to go visit my new sister --- finding out at my age that I have a never-even-suspected older half-sister has been a bit of a shock, but at least so far (phone calls, emails, texts etc.) all is going well; everyone on both sides seems to be very accepting. But I'm very nervous about meeting her: its sort of like that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you're going for a job interview you doubt you have any real chance of acing, crossed with feeling like we're in some sort of movie-of-the-week about the child who was the result of a one-night-stand finally connecting with her birth father's family. Sure hope she likes me.....
posted by easily confused at 8:21 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


Wordshore needs to set up a MefiBnB so we can all experience random cheese heists and nude rosebush tending.
posted by mochapickle at 11:50 PM on May 7

...and squirrels sent into the afterlife via Viking funeral pyres.
posted by she's not there at 9:46 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


obvs there will be theme weekends
posted by mochapickle at 9:56 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


However, I do not believe that any plant or animal actually chooses the nature of its own existence

I remember my first beer
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:57 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


plant: spinifex. Any of the more than 23 species that are actually - or mistaken for - the spiny grass.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:00 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I AM GOING TO SPEND THE REST MY LIFE FLYING AND FUCKING AND HUNTING LIKE A FIGHTER JET

So you've seen my tattoo.
posted by bongo_x at 5:07 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]


Man, you guys who want to be dolphins and octopi and such are brave. Haven't you seen all the nightmare creatures that live in the ocean?
posted by gueneverey at 6:35 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Man, you guys who want to be dolphins and octopi and such are brave. Haven't you seen all the nightmare creatures that live in the ocean?

I think technically octopuses qualify as nightmare creatures.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:12 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


salmon Pro: gills; awesome swimmer; get to go from the headwaters to the ocean and back over the course of my life
Con: that's a lot of swimming and a lot of struggling and the likelihood of actually making it the whole journey is pretty small


It would be tough to be a salmon. You are a food source for everyone from the time you are an egg through to when you are a carcass, and you start rotting while you are still alive. Being a salmon would be like being a $100 bill flying in the air above a crowd, with a million hands waving in the air trying to grab you.

If you are going to be an anadromous fish, maybe go for a bull trout. That way you would at least get a complex life cycle with a lot of upstream and downstream travel, and a place one step higher on the food chain.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:38 PM on May 8


I'd like to be an orca, home is where the pod is. And also, as an apex predator I'd get to bite anything I wanted.

Or a strangler fig.
posted by jamaro at 11:21 PM on May 8


I guess I'd be some damn stripe cat and find some damn sucker human to take care of me and make over me and make with the tuna and flea drops. Or else.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:49 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


And so today I learned the word anadromous (living in the sea but spawning in fresh water) and its opposite, catadromous. Also I learned eels spawn in the sea. Thanks Dip Flash (and wikipedia).
posted by nat at 1:04 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


And so today I learned the word anadromous (living in the sea but spawning in fresh water) and its opposite, catadromous

Oh nice! *googles* That (-dromous) is a fun suffix! "Running or moving in a specified manner". Hmm. So, now we can have ... cycledromous (running around in circles)! Palindromous (running backwards)! And ... endysdromous (running into difficulties)!

OK - youse smart people would have already known the first two but ... well this comment is endysdromous, I'd best stop cycledroming and exit ... palindromously.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:53 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I would have to be one of the kinds of birds that is great at imitating sounds. I kinda reflexively talk back to animals, so at least as the right bird I could be really good at it.

I recently went to the International Crane Foundation near our state park. There was a sign that warned us not to imitate the cranes as they made their sounds. Of course I imitated the cranes without thinking. And so the cranes all started stalking towards me, pissed that some weird human-looking crane was competing for territory that was rightfully theirs.

Anyway, if I properly spoke bird I could have defused the tension of the situation with the right joke.
posted by Jpfed at 8:13 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I have been thinking about this all weekend and I have no idea what sort of animal I would be. Something with fur. Sand cat? Golden mole? Solenodon, venomous and nocturnal?

Plant is easy: moss! I am part moss already.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:01 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


RANDOM TAXONOMY QUESTION: If we discover life on Mars or Europa, do they get put into already-existing Domains like Archaea or do we create a whole new taxonomic tree for extraterrestrial life?

It depends on if it has a common ancestor. There's a possibility that extremophiles (archaea) have been distributed through the Solar System by impactors. If you hit a planet with a large meteoroid, it can blast some of the surface rocks entirely off the planet, and they can wander through the solar system to other planets. (We have several meteorites from Mars. You may have heard of ALH84001.) They could bring hitchhikers. The insides of these rocks are, surprisingly enough, not heavily modified either by their ejection from their home planet or their trip through Earth's atmosphere. (Landing on an airless world, e.g. Europa, might be a bit rougher, however.)

There's even a somewhat farfetched possibility that bacterial spores could travel through interstellar space, pushed by solar winds. (Hard to image it surviving all the radiation, but, let's not let that quash our dreams.) Or, maybe intelligent aliens have traveled through the Galaxy in spaceships, intentionally or unintentionally leaving behind lifeforms when they landed on different planets. This idea that life can spread from planet to planet or star to star is called panspermia, to the delight of all people with childish senses of humor.

If, for example, Earth archaea made its way to another planet, or the same archaea were left on Earth and Europa, its descendants could rightfully be called archaea, though as they evolved independently from Earth life it would probably be convenient and worthwhile to give it its own domain name. If Earth-derived life evolved from single-celled archaea into multicellular forms on another planet, it's unlikely that they would become "animals" in the sense of terrestrial animals. They would in all likelihood be very, very different on every microscopic level (chromosomal makeup, cellular structure, metabolism, etc.) even if parallel evolution lead to similar animal-like macroscopic structures like limbs and eyes and fins and beaks and shells. So, I think, they'd need to have their own whole new taxonomic tree with differently-named domains.
posted by BrashTech at 5:44 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


A meticulously tended bonsai tree that is placed near a window. It stares outside hour after hour, day after day. Then one day, it feels something. A quivering in its roots. A quickening. Summoning all its strength it feels a tiny movement in its roots. A pebble shifts on the surface of the soil. Today it will be free. A tiny ent, majestic across the yard.

Animal? Maybe a hedgehog.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:11 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Objection: I was unaware we could choose to be ents.

Yes yes, 420 blaze it toke toke toke, I think we can all see the obvious joke here
posted by Going To Maine at 7:56 PM on May 10


Centaur. I like being a human animal from the waist up., but it would be nice to run and jump like a horse. Also, it would be nice to have something else like a horse. A long, swishy tail. I would give little kids rides.

But if I were a plant, I would want to be a tall pine on a mountain ridge. I would stand with my fellow trees and enjoy the sun and rain and fog, and we would share tree secrets through our root systems and fungi.
posted by pracowity at 4:09 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Seabird rider: Yesterday I saw a seagull eviscerate a pigeon, and another person, also watching in horror, showed me the pile of feathers where the attack occurred, a few feet away. I do not want to be a seagull anymore. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:44 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Plant: Thin Mints
Animal: Swedish Fish.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:10 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]


I also would not mind being a cow. You get 5 stomachs, when you throw up it is socially acceptable to keep chewing it and swallow it again... and there's one hell of an awesome amusement park ride these guys on horseback are steering us towards... look its starting - ooh look a moving sidewalk!
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:03 AM on May 11


Animal: a Labrador
Plant: a sequoia, as the view would be AMAZING
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:19 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Plant: Thin Mints

I'm so sorry, but I think I just smoked you.

posted by Room 641-A at 11:37 AM on May 11


A howler monkey, because, I mean, goddamn.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:20 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


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