Friday, August 20, 2010

Maybe the World IS Awesome

The Discovery Channel commercials are really great. They have that catchy song, those astounding images, and all the incredible effects of nature in the form of lightning, tropical storms and hurricanes. It would really be something if Discovery Channel itself were as awesome as its commercials. Alas, it is not so, for every time that I try to tune in to Discovery, there's always some riveting documentary on... the praying mantis. The carpenter ant. The moth on its way to becoming a butterfly. You get really interested for about a minute, then you realize that while you're watching this insect move slowly over a leaf to slow piano music while it rains, that not only are you not interested, you have another 10 minutes of this to go before the segment moves on.

But it turns out that the world really is awesome and weird. Take two examples of articles that I perused online today. Two very important discoveries were made: mind control is real, because apparently it happens to zombie ants, and mythical creatures really do share the planet with us.

The zombie ants are apparently a common case of ants being taken over by nesting parasites that infect the brain and then spread to other ants in order to ensure its survival. Apparently this nefarious form of parasitic mind control is not just for ants, but has affected all of earth's creatures at some point, including the human mind. This hasn't resulted yet in cases of zombie apocalypses with madly infected people running around cities with red eyes and eating each other. Yet.

The mind control through parasites is apparently limited, and the parasites die out without a constant flow of hosts, so it can be contained and controlled. It's not clear whether or not the ants eventually make a recovery; it's too bad that they're not around to tell us their compelling tale. But then again, that may not be them talking. It may be the parasites.

Another online article has revealed that mythical animals, such as the giant squid which drags men to their deaths in twenty thousand leagues under the sea also exist, but are so far below the sea that they don't come into contact with ships and are probably somewhat camera shy given their girth. Other true myths? Dragons that eat flesh and move fast, but don't have wings or breathe fire. Animals with horns in the centre of their heads, like whales, but no unicorns. Mermaids may easily have been manatees seen from behind, as their tails have similar traits to most mermaids, but are nowhere near as aesthically pleasing or vocally talented as the Little Mermaid.

Tigers and lions have also been known to mate on rare occasions, resulting in Ligers. Inter-species breeding has been known to serve an evolutionary purpose as well, often during times of species decline. This kind of interaction not only saves the species, but forms new ones which can adapt to new environmens. It doesn't work out so well if that other species happens to be your first cousin, though.

Why doesn't Discovery ever do documentaries on these topics? I would watch Zombie Ants: The Night of the Living Ant Hill. I can think of dozens of people who would do the same. I would watch Mythical Creatures Come to Life as a documentary or even a game show called Real or Not Real, where the different myths are shown and the contestants have to guess if they really do exist or not and if they're right, they can take one of them home with them.

You're on the right track, Discovery. The world IS awesome. You just have to go out and get more of it.

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