Dr. Matz discusses science fiction and reality in the biology of AVATAR

Uploaded by utaustintexas on 19.04.2011

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And now, let's go on to Science Study Break, a UT program where we evaluate presentations
of science in popular culture. We've had past programs such as these you see here. We started
back in 2006 with Dr. Dave Hillis doing a program on "CSI" and we've gone through Spiderman,
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kissing. All of these are at the YouTube.com user "utaustintexas" channel, so if you want
to view a Science Study Break from the past, feel free to go there.
Tonight's Science Study Break is on the popular movie "Avatar" and our presenter is Dr. Misha
Matz, who has a B.S. and M.S. from Moscow State University and earned his PhD from the
Institute of Biorganic Chemistry in 1999. His research interest's main focus is "Coral
Evolution in Response to Climate Change," and he addresses this problem through methods
of quanitative genetics, gene expression analysis and population genomics. To facilitate the
application of these methods to non-model organizations such as corals, they work to
develop original transcriptome and genome analysis protocols based on next generation
sequencing technologies with the goal of obtaining evidence on ongoing coral adaptation and gaining
insight into its populations and molecular mechanisms, and to evaluate the rates and
spacial patterns of adaptation, which is of prime importance for strategic planning of
reef conservation.
Dr. Matz recently received a faculty early career development award from the National
Science Foundation. This $674,000 project will be the first address the genetics of
coral adapation in nature, which will clarify some of the most fundamental mechanisms of
evolution in the oceans. You can, perhaps, work with Dr. Matz. However, first, you will
have to pass a small test. But, once you're past that hurdle, then you'll be able to apply
to Dr. Matz for work in his lab.
We're going to try a little experiment tonight by doing a poll. You're, of course, perfectly
welcome to raise your hands and ask questions, but, also, if you would like to text a question
to Dr. Matz, this is where you would text it to.
And now, Misha Matz.
Ah, yeah, it's very believable, it seems believable to you, you want to live in this world. So
you might keep watching it over and over again, secretly dreaming how you could be the N'avi,
part of the Omaticaya people. So, why is this world so believable? Let's just play a little
game here...let's assume that Pandora really exists and James Cameron and Weta Workshop
and all the filmmakers went there, and, basically, studied this properly, and presented it to
us. However, they needed to change a few things to make the characters and the animals and
the whole thing appear more sexy, more appealing to the human observer. So, our goal will be
to figure out what they showed without changes, and what did they have to change to make it
kind of neater?
So, we're operating on the premise that Pandora exists and we'll try to understand what was
changed. So let's see, at the very beginning, what kind of planet it is.
(Film clip)
Okay, an Earth-like planet orbiting a gas giant. Believable? Yes. Why? It has to be
close enough to a sun. Are gas giants ever so close to sun? Yes. Recently there was a
gas giant found quite close to the sun. So it's kind of believable. You will have this
sort of planet where the water stays very liquid. Close enough to the sun orbiting a
gas giant. One interesting question which I'm not going to address, but I invite you
to ponder about: what kind of seasonalities on this planet? Right? This gets tricky when
day and night will be tricky to comprehend. Alright. So, generally, it's a believable
planet. Probably, the planets orbiting gas giants can be kept warm because they're close
to the sun, or because they're tugged away different ways by the gravitational fields
of all those other specks in the space and main planet just by heating them from within.
So, my hypothesis here is that Pandora is gravitationally pulled which releases massive
amounts of carbon dioxide from its interior which creates massive greenhouse effect on
it. Even if it's not too close to the sun, it will still be able to be nice and green
and warm, and the plants will grow like crazy. And that's why, despite everything is green,
and it should be nice and oxygen containing atmosphere, that's why you cannot breathe
without the mask, because there's too much carbon dioxide. You just get poisoned. It's
not explained in the movie, but it's just my working hypothesis. That's how this planet
could have worked.
(Film clip)
Let's take a bit of a closer look.
(Film clip)
Can we have a little less light?
I'm stopping this. Just take a look at this. Okay. The trees are enormous here. Realistic?
What limits the growth of the trees on this planet? Yeah, basically gravity. Not because
they are toppling over, but because they need to suck the water out of the earth against
the gravity into the leaves. And they evaporate in the leaves, and the water gets sucked up
from the ground. It's been shown that the tallest trees like sequoias, they are at the
limit of where it actually works, and they can only support a few little green things
on top of them.
So the thing about this planet Pandora is it's a small planet that has very low gravity.
So it's quite possible that the trees could be quite big, much bigger than on Earth. Maybe
not as big as these monsters, but it would be totally cool. And again, if there is enough
carbon dioxide then there will be no limitation - and light - there will be no limitation
to the growth of these things.
(Film clip)
Very beautiful planet with lots of water in it.
And here is your jungle.
(Film clip)
Just look at the greenery. Basically...can I have a nicer shot of the jungle, please?
About time.
(Film clip)
Okay, let's stop here. I just wonder if we could have maybe a little less light in the
audience because we could be able to see the movie, really. There are lots of dark moments
in it.
Oh, that's worse. Switch off the whole audience. No? Well, if somebody finds a switch.... That's
better. So, anyway. If it's difficult, just leave it there. Oh, that's better. Yay!
So, uh, the jungle looks like, to me, looks like a typical rainforest jungle where there
is lots of vegetation, and you don't see anything, really. You're not seeing animals. You're
not seeing - well, maybe you see an occasional bird. But you don't see stuff jumping around,
and hanging from the trees. No, animals stay hidden. Even the insects. So this original
shot of the Pandora jungle is probably the correct one. Further on, James Cameron gets
himself carried away and shows the jungle actually filled up with jumping animals, but
this is the right way to look at the jungle. Even though there is a huge diversity of animals,
everything stays hidden. Why? Because if you're not hidden, you're getting eaten.
So, let's talk about animals themselves a little bit. And this is one of the things
which makes this movie, I think, really believable as the realistic world. Because they refer
to your subconscious that you understand how animals should make sense. They live together
on the same world. All the animals, large mammal analogs of the Pandora world, are organized
on the same general principal, the morphological principal. Well, let's look at one of them,
a rather dramatic one. The rhinocerous analog.
(Film clip)
Okay, what do you see? How many legs? Six legs. Two pairs of fore limbs. All animals
on Pandora have six pairs of fore limbs. They have these display crests which are for territorial
display and for threat display. The rhino now tries to.... Pissed off, yes.
(Film clip)
Somebody can comment on that? I'm not a behavioral ecologist. Was that good advice?
That's what I was told for grizzlies when I went to Alaska...hold your ground.
So will you do that, what he will do? Wait, wait a second. Okay, a little more about morphology.
This guy has two pairs of eyes, but let's not concentrate on this. It's just for fun.
I think that second pair of eyes is added. He has this long appendage on his head which
is an Eywa connector. We will talk about this. This is to connect to Eywa which is a idea
of the Pandora super brain. We'll talk about this later. This is a shady story. (Laughter)
But, well, I don't think it's unbelievable, but it just presents certain evolutionary
problems how these things could evolve. So, another thing I would like you to notice is
that he has spiracles for breathing, right here. The pair of holes...actually the two
pairs of holes above his collarbone which is used for breathing. Many animals on Pandora
also have the same morphological adaptation. Is that believable? Totally.
Is he too big to breath by diffusion? Does he need some kind of lungs? I mean, don't
spiracles mostly go with diffusion breathing, like...?
No. The question is, are spiracles used for diffusion breathing? No, no, well, insects
have spiracles, and you've seen cockroaches breathing, I hope. Yeah, so they do lots of
breathing motion. So it's quite believable that you would have adaptations for, like,
increased intake of the oxygen from the environment...especially if you're a large animal, if there is not
so very much – probably there is lots of oxygen there. But, anyway, nice adaptation.
But I would like to point out, as you will see, that most animals on Pandora have that.
Except one notable animal. Which I will get to.
(Film clip)
Yeah, hold your ground, Jake! No, really, what about grizzlies? How do you have to do
Well, no, I'm not sure. I don't know enough about the behavior of large mammals. Maybe
David can comment.
Oh, okay. So...well.
Yeah, alright, so let's assume, at least, this part was believable and correct. And
let's look at the other animals. So, we remember two pairs of fore limbs, spiracles, Eywa connectors
as a pair. Let's see what the wolf on this planet looks like.
(Film clip)
Okay, four, fore limbs, two Eywa connectors. Yeah, fingers. Count fingers. How many fingers?
Four fingers on each arm. This is very – at least on this planet, on Earth - it's a very
conserved character. Like we have five digits, and most of the land vertebrates have the
same number of digits, five digits. So you would expect, if Pandora works in any way
like our planet, which apparently it does, lots of things are very similar. So, all the
animals would have the same number of digits, four.
(Film clip)
Okay. The wolf is really nice. Nice point. Okay, so moving on, a primate, which is probably
the not-so-very-distant relative of our native N'avi population...let's look at him.
(Film clip)
What do you see? Okay, let's say he does have something like four arms, he does have Eywa
connectors on the back, and, if you look really closely, he does have spiracles, also, just
like the rhino, just like other creatures. Assuming that this guy is shown correctly,
because he makes sense, he matches the rest of the fauna. The people, the N'avi, unfortunately,
are not matching the same pattern. They don't have four arms, and they don't have spiracles.
So, I'm forced to assume that on Pandora, in fact, they do. So, your real N'avi would
have four arms, and spracles for breathing, just like animal on Pandora. And it's quite
clear to me why James Cameron decided not to follow up and do this, because this will
not look sexy.
Right? If your girlfriend looks like this, it's not.... A question?
It kind of seems like they're suggesting an intermediate form here, like a pro-simian
kind of. Because it kind of seems to have nostrils, and its arms are emerging for whatever
Or fusing back...into....
Into two forearms?
Yeah, it's...so the suggestion was maybe, we're sort of on the way to fusing back into
one pair of forearms. However, this explanation, although it's likely, I deem it less likely
an explanation than James Cameron changed the reality, because it's kind of more difficult,
less parsimonious, let's say. Yeah, there is a possibility - we should consider that,
if we really.... Well, I would say let's go an check how many arms on the N'avi, actually
there. And then, if they have two, really, then we should try to see, explaining it in
your framework, indeed. So, however, not very many people noticed that N'avi - at least
James Cameron left them one thing - of the commonality with the common body plan.
(Film clip)
Count the fingers. Four. So, okay. So at least that's correct. So the N'avi have four fingers.
And Jake Sullivan has five fingers on his hands. So he must look really, really creepy
to all these guys.
So all the N'avi have four fingers. So that's kind of good, but they need to have four arms
as well. Also, I'd like to show you a couple of things where inventing these creatures
which are not sort of from the realm of the mammal-like, how the film crew followed certain
Earth examples just to illustrate that things that are found on Earth are sometimes not
less surprising and amazing than the Pandora things. Here is a famous scene which we've
seen a little bit. Yeah?
Since they have four fingers on each hand do they use a base-8 numbering system?
Good one. I don't know. There is no counting as far as I know in the...
But they must...
They must. Yeah. Base-8 numbering system. So it's like bytes, right? Like one byte,
it's eight bits.
That's where we got that, maybe?
(Film clip)
Alright. These wonderful creatures which Jake encounters in the rainforest on his first
visit. And I really admire this guy. He's up to playing with whatever crazy stuff he's
coming across. My goodness; what is that? Will it eat me if I touch it? And he goes
and touches it.
What are they? What are they doing here?
(Film clip)
Alright, so this animal has...and we've seen that, alright. This animal has a very well-defined
This is a Christmas Tree Worm.
(Film clip)
The image was taken underwater. This is actually a single animal. It has two of these spiralling
appendages. It's small. It's that big. But, it's actually a little bit more sophisticated
than the creature that is shown. It has the two spiralling appendages and the little lid,
which also gets out of there. So when he retracts it, it "boom" plugs the tube back. It's a
very pretty one. And another animal which I really like how James Cameron incorporated
this into the movie is - where is my DVD? - is a little bioluminescent creature. I seem
to have lost the bookmark.
Well, let's go with what there is. See those little creatures flying around? They don't
just fly around, they only fly around when you poke them. Normally, it's inconspicuous-it
was on that clip that I lost-normally crawls on the vegetation, and when you poke them,
it suddenly bursts, jumps up and starts spiralling like this, with a big bioluminescent ring.
What's the biological function of this response? Ideas?
Yes, it's a burglar alarm, basically. Intruder! Intruder! Somebody's touching me. Somebody
come eat him.
Something is happening in my vicinity. Somebody please do something. This response is borrowed
by James Cameron. He knows a lot about deep sea biology. He's been in the deep sea a lot,
and seen lots of real bioluminescence. That's why bioluminescence features so prominently
in this movie, I think. Let's see the actual animal from which this spiralling bioluminescence
was modeled.
(Film clip)
This is Atolla wyvillei, a little jellyfish. It seems like it sparkles, but it's not, it's
just the light of the submersible reflecting from it. It's a deep-sea Scyphozoan jellyfish,
colored deep red to hide the things that they eat, because otherwise it will be flashing
around and exposing it. If you touch it, that's what happens. It's extremely bright swirls
of bioluminescence going around this jellyfish. That's what happens if you try to eat this
thing. So you don't really want that because then the whole ocean will know that you're
here trying to eat this jellyfish and they will come check you out. This response, therefore,
is generally believable, however, the whole story, the rest of the bioluminescence - let
me just show you this, where it starts - that the bioluminescence exists and just glows
without any stimulation, that's, according to the rules of our planet, at least, is completely
(Film clip)
Why would all these things glow like that?
So, bioluminescence in the deep ocean only happens if you start poking things around. Yes, Craig.
It's entirely possible here, if the point is to attract insects, and the predators,
the other things that could eat you have all gone to sleep?
Yeah, well, maybe, maybe. But, at least what I'm trying to say is it's not completely like
it's happening on this planet. Yeah?
I was going to say that maybe it's to attract pollenators.
Usually pollenators at night are attracted by the smell...on this planet, right? So,
on our planet, bioluminescence-which the most bioluminescent ecosystem on this planet is
in the deep ocean - and the trick is that it's absolutely dark, and it stays dark unless
something is happening. So animals are trained to hide from each other by keeping absolutely
still, transparent or black, and invisible as much as possible. Only if something starts
happening do they start flashing madly. Because that's revealing your position. Imagine you
need to hide in an environment where there is nothing to hide behind. You just have to
be invisible somehow. So everyone relies on being invisible. So the pressure of natural
selection, if there is any incentive for animals or any organisms to avoid predation, you would
rather not stand out of the background. David?
There's at one good exception to that on Earth, it's the (unintelligible) bacteria that bioluminesce
in order to be attractive to fish and then they get eaten and they actually use as a
food source the fish's gut. So maybe that's what's going on here.
Yeah, so, okay that's an interesting idea, indeed. That's correct; some of the bacteria
when they reach a big concentration around some food particle which they've been rotting
away, start glowing so the fish come and eat it up and then swim away and thereby disperse
the bacteria to the new food source. In this case, I would understand if, say , fruits
would glow. "Come eat me up, disperse my seed." But, like, everything glows. It's probably
too much. Probably too much.
(Unintelligble question)
Yes, fireflies glow for sexual display, yes. We will get to the sexual display...let me
I have a plan. Ah, yeah, it's actually coming up. We're talking about the coloration fairly
soon. Yes?
I can cite one really good reason for all of them to glow, and that's since this area
is mostly occupied by the N'avi who are presumably the counterpart of human beings, and so considering
from Darwinian selection, natural selection point of view, if they glow, that probably
produces some aesthetic attraction to the N'avi who promote their spreading, you know,
artificially cultivate them and that increases their population.
So those are not agricultural plants. I don't buy this.
Just for an aesthetic sense. They might propagate.
So, why these plants, and how do the other organisms benefit from the presence of the
N'avi in the forest? It's not quite clear. But, I agree; all sorts of sideways explanations
are possible.
I was just going to say that it could be something like (unintelligible), maybe it's just a by-product
of something we don't understand.
Null hypothesis came up. This is cool.
Yeah, what if it does not have any biological reason, it just happens because of some biochemistry
going on in their leaves. I'll buy that. Just because it's a null hypothesis. Like, there
is nothing interesting going on at all, it just looks interesting to you.
Seriously, that's good science here for you.
The possibility, however, with the effect eliciting such a strong visual effect, would
be rather unlikely. Natural selection would start working on it at once. Bioluminescence
here is cool, but not very believable. Let's talk a little bit about the general communication
between the animals. The coloration and the bioluminescence of the animals themselves.
Well, the coloration first. We've already seen how this rhinocerous analog has this
crest which pops up and it's very nice and colorful. We may even see that again.
(Film clip)
See, it's very impressive. I mean, if it is a territorial display, and threat display,
it's scary. Yeah, it's very effcient.
"Don't shoot...you'll piss him off."
Yeah, right, you'll piss him off. Yeah, I know. Okay, let's look at the other animal,
which apparently does the same thing. Okay, it's a deer. Why does it do it? It's definitely not a threat, not a territorial
display. Why does it do this thing?
Yes, it's probably to scare, it's probably a threat like displaying big eyes. Right?
Like butterflies. Maybe that's just a sign that I see you. Many predators will actually
refrain from attacking if they know that the prey sees them already and is ready to run.
So they don't spend the energy to chase the prey that's aware of their presence. Another
interesting possibility. Clearly all of these animals are extremely visual, so they have
good color vision because of their colorful displays, so bioluminescence woud certainly
be biologically relevant. These are like threat displays. What about camouflage? Is anybody
camouflaged in this movie with camouflaging coloration? Well, the N'avi, of course. For
the first they are blue with dark stripes which probably works really well against the
bioluminescence background, so they're probably nocturnal, right?
Another interesting animal which at some point inexplicably, but then you will see why, has
this camouflage coloration is this flying creature called Ikran, the things which they
(Film clip)
You see, these guys are – at once when I've seen them in the movie, I said, "Not seriously,
they are camouflaged from above. What's going on here?" And then, if you think about this
a little bit, you should be concerned at once. If they're camouflaged from above, then there
must be something which tries to hunt them from above. And, indeed, it's coming up. And
attack is aerial like a normal raptor with the talons first. And he really tries to catch them. Here is
where it stops being believable. No predator would continue an attack at risk of damage
to himself.
39:10 It's just extremely costly, but it looks nice
in a Hollywood movie.
So, this animal is called Toruk, the Last Shadow. He is another flying creature of the
planet and I'd like to draw your attention to his coloration. I mean, he is clearly not
hunted by anyone. Why is he colored like this? So, he's not camouflaged, he's just a very,
extremely colorful creature. Why do we get extremely colorful creatures? Precisely...chicks
dig it.
He came out of the sun.
So you think it's a camouflage, too? So he likes to project a nice shadow on this, confuse
your prey? Well, anyway, so this is an example of coloration that is clearly for sexual attraction
purposes. Lots of animals would do extremely elaborate displays of color or anything if
only they were not at risk of being also nicely seen by the predators. So only the top predators
would allow themselves unlimited coloration, especially since the prey is not looking up
and trying to figure out where they are. So they don't have to be camouflaged. Another
interesting thing about the Toruk is that – well, first of all, it has four pairs
of limbs, too...I mean three pairs, six limbs, too. And it has these nicr retractable teeth,
which kind of make sense in the raptor, because you don't want to sink your teeth irretrievably
into something which suddenly starts falling. Right? You want to be able to release it.
So, it kind of makes sense. Speaking of the sexually related coloration, let's look at...oh.
The other think I would like to draw your attention to that's a very common Hollywood
trick, which unfortunately does not fly with real biology, is that the predator would follow
its prey even at high risk of damaging himself, and try to attack it anyway. The moment the
Ikran would fly under the canopy, the Toruk would go away, in a normal world. Any risk,
any scratch, I don't want this. If the first attack, the surprise attack did not work,
'Yeah, I'll try something else. I mean, there's lots of these banshees flying around.'
Another situation where the animal attacks, inexplicably at the high risk of damage to
itself is the earlier situation with this panther-like creature.
(Film clip)
I mean, that's ridiculous. No predator would ever do that.
(Film clip)
Now, who's pissed off? Predators are never pissed off when they hunt, right?
(Film clip)
And even that didn't turn him away.
(Film clip)
Four fingers!
(Film clip)
He has also these things, right? Four fingers!
This, unfortunately, they are very visual, but it never happens. So this was imagined.
Probably Jake was maybe jumped by a panther once, but, like, sidestepped it. In the ocean,
for example, for an animal, it's enough to swim away a meter, if you're talking about
interactions between rather smallish creatures in the mid-water. Right, you swim away a meter
and then you just hang around there. And nobody will ever find you again.
And nobody would really care. But, the most interesting situation with coloration, and
bioluminescence, as well – bioluminescence can be there for the sexual purposes, as well,
in fireflies for example. It's for attracting the mates. And that's why all these interesting
patterns of glowing spots are on the faces and the bodies of the N'avi. Now, one interesting
thing to contemplate here is that, what's most attractive, what sort of patterns are
most attractive in the mate? The symmetry, the more symmetrical the pattern is, the more
it will be attractive, studies show. Even just the way the faces work. And the patterns
as well. So, we'd like to try to gauge who is most attractive of all the N'avi, and if
Jake Sullivan is in any way attractive in this regard. Just to give you an impression,
I've found really one extremely awesome – apparently, by N'avi standards - face, and it's mother
of Neytiri.
(Film clip)
Look at her face, what sort of patterns she has.
(Film clip)
See that? Unfortunately, she's not...that's a very complex, very interesting, extremely
symmetrical face. I mean, she must be the top beautiful person among the Omaticaya people.
Let's look at Jake Sullivan.
(Film clip) (Laughter)
Eh. I mean, no.
What about Neytiri?
(Film clip)
Ah. I don't see that.
(Film clip)
Okay. Well, unfortunately, eh, she is more symmetrical and more complex but quite as
her mother. Probably, this sort of thing improves with age by counteracting the effects of the
aging body, instead you have nice paint on your face, right? That seems like a nice thing
to have. Alright, finally, are there any questions, comments so far?
I have only one thing to talk about is the Eywa connectors and this whole idea of how
you can jack up the universal network of the planet, and be one with everything. There
used to be, or rather is, a theory of Gaia which is popular with some people about this
planet which holds, maintains that this planet is being maintained as a habitable world by
the life itself. So there is an interaction between the life as a whole, and planet such
that it maintains the ability to support life. And it's like one step away from the global
connection that everything can talk to everything. The trick is, let's just look at some examples
of this bond thing, and also take a look at the morphology of these animals again.
(Film clip)
Nice nectar drink. See the Eywa connectors, two of them? Probably they're some sort of
feelers, right? It is a female, yes?
(Film clip)
Four limbs.
(Film clip)
Okay. So I cannot really explain how such a thing could've evolved.
What is the biological advantage of these animals having these connectors for the benefit
of, apparently, only the N'avi? And another thing about N'avi, they should have two of
these, right, not just one ponytail? Although, conceivably, it's braided two of the ponytails.
So why do you think they would ever benefit from having such connectors, how they would
evolve? What's the benefit for the horse or the rhino? Or the Ikran flying creatures?
It's not easy to see. Maybe it's some sort of sensory system, which allows you to sense
the environment, the sort of sense which we don't have, and they managed to develop based
on the, some sort of electrical, electrochemical interaction with the surroundings. If you
imagine that this could happen, then you can have electrochemical connection at the synaptic
level. But, then again, why would you need this if you're a horse? This seems like it's
not a completely wrong thing but I can just not find a good evolutionary explanation for
it so far.
I'm a neophyte - I only saw the movie once - but, don't the N'avi wind up plugging into
the planet?
So, who's to say the horse can't plug into the planet, too?
Why would she need to plug into the planet?
But that's not...
What's the benefit for the horse?
Potentially, there's more going on between the N'avi and the animals. That's all I want
to suggest.
Ah, well, yes. These whole connections are basically for the benefit of the N'avi, and
the movie does not show how animals benefit from this connection. So - just a sec - so,
probably, yes, if it works for N'avi, then it will work for a horse. A horse can be plugged
into the planet network, but would the horse do with the planet network? How is that benefitting
the horse? That's what I don't understand.
Well, how does it benefit the N'avi to plug into the planet?
They are ancestors. They are spiritual life, and eventually they actually kick the ass
of the bad guys because they plugged into the planet and maintained the balance.
So, who's to say that all organisms, or all the animals of this planet can't enjoy that
benefit? And it just so happens also there's cross-compatibility between.... I'm only saying...
Yeah, you're right, you're right. So this is a theory of how the community of animals,
as a community, benefits from this connection. This is like a group selection situation which
is extremely, which comes up, the idea comes up in different context in evolutionary science
with respect to this planet and turns out to be extremely difficult to model or experimentally
I think all I'm (unintelligible) is that, that it's a shared character, that it's a
character that's shared among all animals that was present in the ancestor of all these
animals that have it, they have some advantage that's common across all those animals. And
it's not necessarily, I'm not sure it's a group selection trait.
So, I'm not sure still how to, I'm not sure what exactly the reproductive benefit...benefit
in terms of being able to leave more offspring. Right? Otherwise...that's how natural selection
works. David has an idea.
I assume this was part of the sexual system for, common to all the animals until, like,
this horse-like creature, when they mate, they're actually using this bond...
A very good idea.
What we saw right here is beastiality.
(Unintelligble) sexual interconnection that's shared among all these animals who actually
have this neurological connection that they've figured out how to (unintelligible).
Wouldn't sexual evolution favor (unintelligible)
I'm not sure I'm reading this. Let me first answer David's comment. I mean, indeed, in
this movie we, at least in the, they cut it out of the theatrical version, but to the
extent that you can see how mating actually involves the connection of these things. So
it is working as a sexual connection stuff.
Yeah, earlier on in the movie, I think when Jake is first discovering it the chief scientist
says something like, "Don't play with that or you'll go blind," so...
Yeah, exactly, there is a phrase like that. And, so, it is a possibility that it's like
a sexual adaptation adopted for broader use in which all these connections to the horses
and other animals look kind of suspicious from our moral point of view. But, hey, it
works. Who cares?
And, I think that's basically it. The only thing I'd like to point out is that this Pandora
flora, I didn't even touch on that, as well as fauna, was built upon the animals that
exist right here on this planet. Animals and plants, and the ecosystems and the interconnections
between them. And even little known things, actually, if you just a little bit blow them
out, just a bit out of proportion, turns out to be absolutely fascinating. Lots of things
on this planet are just like this. Pandora is just a little bit of an over-cranked-up
version of Earth.
So, we are living on this planet right now and I guess one of the main messages that
James Cameron wanted to say is that the battle for Pandora is ongoing right now. And we cannot
ignore anymore that somebody's fighting for nature, as it is. We need to take sides. So,
are you with the N'avi, or with the sky people? Ask yourself.