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Author Topic: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015  (Read 37496 times)

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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #150 on: 13 Mar 2015, 13:48 »

The world is loaded,
It's lit to pop and nobody is gonna stop.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #151 on: 13 Mar 2015, 13:55 »

Well, there goes the Fried Terror Bird Franchise.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #152 on: 13 Mar 2015, 14:00 »

Alice was certainly aware of Ardent leaving the house.

Note: the 'dogs' also turned their heads at Alice's command.
Of course this could simply be because they were startled by the unexpected noise.

Is it just me that thinks Alice looks a bit odd in the last panel? I think it's her arms.
I think it's the fact that she manages to have her hair dramatically blown to the side in what should theoretically be a wind-sheltered cave.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #153 on: 14 Mar 2015, 00:49 »

The birds were obviously jealous.

The human could fly and they couldn't.

No justice in this world I tells ya.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #154 on: 14 Mar 2015, 20:21 »

I've just joined up and read through a lot of past MCDT posts, and I haven't seen any speculation in the following direction.  Now that Iain M Banks has passed away, I'm looking for a replacement for The Culture to follow.  I think right-wing techno tales (which I enjoy) form a lot of current science fiction output, but I welcome exploration of dilemmas for those who have vastly greater capabilities than people who could be in their charge in a post-scarcity society.  I'm seeing hints that Jeph might be working in this direction, and I applaud him if he is.  The twist of the AIs in QC is the closest thing I've seen to the Culture ship AIs, and he is the only other writer I've seen who is optimistic about human AI relations.  The problem is that I reckon IRL humans will be assholes to the AIs and shoot ourselves in the feet rather than presenting anything valuable to future neighbours.  I'm savouring the slow roll out of his comic - but I'm glad I get a QC fix every weekday.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #155 on: 14 Mar 2015, 21:44 »

Well, there goes the Fried Terror Bird Franchise.
http://f8d.org/?c=10
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #156 on: 16 Mar 2015, 14:09 »

I just thought of this: The weird dogs/Gastornis/Chocobos look to me more like weird horses, or more exactly Horseclaws, in particular Kui and Kai off of Nausicaa.

So after the Momonoke's Nightwalker I see more Ghibli inspired art.

Didn't Jeph spend a day at a Ghibli art gallery in Paris?
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #157 on: 18 Mar 2015, 04:43 »

No new comic this week?
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #158 on: 18 Mar 2015, 04:47 »

Jeph has been talking about doing  them Thursday and Friday this week. However, given the incident on his way back from Canada, I wouldn't blame him if he decided to only do a strip Friday this week.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #159 on: 18 Mar 2015, 06:02 »

Ah, I'm not on twitter so hadn't realised what had happened. Fair enough, he's excused!
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #160 on: 18 Mar 2015, 06:15 »

Jeph has been talking about doing  them Thursday and Friday this week. However, given the incident on his way back from Canada, I wouldn't blame him if he decided to only do a strip Friday this week.

He originally said Wed-Fri and then had the driving incident, so he decided Thu-Fri. Of course, he might only do Friday this week, but that'd have to do with a different problem.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #161 on: 18 Mar 2015, 11:12 »

Strange.  I couldn't see the last two comics in Firefox or Seamonkey.  I had to switch to Opera to see them.
Workin' fine for me on Firefox
Ah, that explains it.  Note at bottom of web site:
"Also, if you are having trouble viewing the comics, it is most likely due to a bug in the “https everywhere” plugin for Firefox. I am working on a solution."
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #162 on: 18 Mar 2015, 12:21 »

New Comic really early!

So, no great spoiler, the birds are Struthio Ridiculensis, the Ridiculous Ostrich. According to Alice they are vegetarian and mostly harmless. As Gavia has found out 'mostly' doesn't prevent 'ick'.

Alice clearly knows her local fauna! Also, given the way the male lets her manhandle him, she is obviously known to them.

It's all part of teaching the Vicissitude kids that this is a living ecosystem with dangers and complexities that they are ill-equipped to handle. If they want to do stuff, they either have to commit themselves to learn what is or is not safe or just wait until Alice feels like helping them do it. Knowing Ardent, he'll try the latter at least once more before giving in.
« Last Edit: 18 Mar 2015, 12:31 by BenRG »
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #163 on: 18 Mar 2015, 12:36 »

"Mostly" harmless.

Like Earth, then  :wink:
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #164 on: 18 Mar 2015, 13:13 »

awwww. Gavia made a friend. :)
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #165 on: 18 Mar 2015, 14:26 »

No Gavia, you cannot keep her.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #166 on: 18 Mar 2015, 14:38 »

I think it wants to keep Gavia.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #167 on: 18 Mar 2015, 14:42 »

No Gavia, you cannot keep her.

I think that Gavia is more worried about keeping the bird-germs.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #168 on: 18 Mar 2015, 14:53 »

With her Nanotech? 

Admittedly, she's not Borg, but she does have that kind of protection surely.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #169 on: 18 Mar 2015, 15:50 »

She might not, and stop calling her Shirley.  :claireface:
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #170 on: 18 Mar 2015, 17:32 »

Just one more panel please, Jeph ... Ridiculous Ostrich unexpectedly snipping off Gavia's head.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #171 on: 18 Mar 2015, 20:47 »

She might not, and stop calling her Shirley.  :claireface:

I was just flying on Otto Pilot.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #172 on: 18 Mar 2015, 21:36 »

I appreciate the attempt at science, but it doesn't seem to add up to me. Creatures don't grow that big for no reason (defense, needing to be large to feed from high areas, etc), for one, but more importantly it's (to my knowledge) nigh impossible for a creature of that size to survive on nuts and berries.
Why are they so huge, is the question. They have no natural predators, they don't seem to need their size to hunt or gather food... it just doesn't add up. Is there an actual anthropologist here who can plausibly explain this, or is it as nonsense as it looks?
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #173 on: 18 Mar 2015, 22:15 »

I appreciate the attempt at science, but it doesn't seem to add up to me. Creatures don't grow that big for no reason (defense, needing to be large to feed from high areas, etc), for one, but more importantly it's (to my knowledge) nigh impossible for a creature of that size to survive on nuts and berries.
Why are they so huge, is the question. They have no natural predators, they don't seem to need their size to hunt or gather food... it just doesn't add up. Is there an actual anthropologist here who can plausibly explain this, or is it as nonsense as it looks?

They killed all the natural predators, and you should see the big hairy nuts they eat!
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #174 on: 18 Mar 2015, 23:07 »

That's Struthio ridiculencis. Species names should not be capitalized.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #175 on: 18 Mar 2015, 23:58 »

That's Struthio ridiculencis. Species names should not be capitalized.

I work in a science building of the University of Oxford; they got that wrong in the murals in the stairwell, and I've been grinding my teeth as I pass them for seven years now.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #176 on: 19 Mar 2015, 00:28 »

Why are they so huge, is the question. They have no natural predators, they don't seem to need their size to hunt or gather food... it just doesn't add up.

Size allows them to reach higher branches and gives them the height to see potential threats at a greater distance Muscular necks give them the strength to tear roots out of the ground. As herbivores, they probably are roamers; they'd need strong legs to travel miles to find food. They probably have more endurance than sudden bursts of speed and strength.

Form follows function though. I'm pretty sure that Jeph designed them to be ridden.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #177 on: 19 Mar 2015, 01:57 »

Also, have you seen some of the flora? There are probably nuts and berries as nutritious as pure protein somewhere.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #178 on: 19 Mar 2015, 02:32 »

As adults they have no natural predators, likely still have to protect their chicks from predators.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #179 on: 19 Mar 2015, 03:53 »

I appreciate the attempt at science, but it doesn't seem to add up to me. Creatures don't grow that big for no reason (defense, needing to be large to feed from high areas, etc), for one, but more importantly it's (to my knowledge) nigh impossible for a creature of that size to survive on nuts and berries.
Why are they so huge, is the question. They have no natural predators, they don't seem to need their size to hunt or gather food... it just doesn't add up. Is there an actual anthropologist here who can plausibly explain this, or is it as nonsense as it looks?

I'm not ruling out the possibility that those birds didn't occurred through the science of natural selection and evolution, but the science of genetic engineering because some idiot scientist thought: "Hey, wouldn't it be funny to have some big friendly herbivorous birds?" Some of my theories for Alice's world include it having a history of idiot scientists which so traumatised the people of history they now have Alices to keep it and people in perfectly balanced harmony, or that Alice is cleaning up the mess made by said idiot scientists, or Alice works for those idiot scientists who don't want their world to get out of harmony.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #180 on: 19 Mar 2015, 04:25 »

I'm not ruling out the possibility that those birds didn't occurred through the science of natural selection and evolution, but the science of genetic engineering because some idiot scientist thought: "Hey, wouldn't it be funny to have some big friendly herbivorous birds?" Some of my theories for Alice's world include it having a history of idiot scientists which so traumatised the people of history they now have Alices to keep it and people in perfectly balanced harmony, or that Alice is cleaning up the mess made by said idiot scientists, or Alice works for those idiot scientists who don't want their world to get out of harmony.

You really don't like scientists, do you?  :mrgreen:
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The skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metal stretching upwards, everything washed in a thin orange haze
I said: "Kiss me, you're beautiful - these are truly the last days"
You grabbed my hand and we fell into it, like a daydream or a fever

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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #181 on: 19 Mar 2015, 06:23 »

Not fictional ones. I've studied Literature, I've read many books, I've watched many movies, I've watched much TV and I've played a lot of games. Scientists are the cause of a hell of a lot of problems for fictional characters, either because they are evil, mad, or the sort who would say: "Gee I wonder what would happen if I did this?" or "I'm sure nothing wrong will happen if I do this." Fictional Scientists like Grand Viziers. If characters just killed them as soon as they met them, they'd probably live very peaceful, untroubled lives.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #182 on: 19 Mar 2015, 06:35 »

I am so not inviting you to any of my genetic engineering parties.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #183 on: 19 Mar 2015, 06:38 »

I am so not inviting you to any of my genetic engineering parties.

Which is really unfortunate because next time we're going for laser eyes!
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #184 on: 19 Mar 2015, 06:42 »

Nah, that's the unnecessary surgery party. I still haven't quite figured out where to stuff the lasers' power supply, though.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #185 on: 19 Mar 2015, 07:09 »

I still haven't quite figured out where to stuff the lasers' power supply, though.

Meh; there's lots of room in the skull if you remove all the gooey bits most people don't use! :evil:
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #186 on: 19 Mar 2015, 07:13 »

I certainly don't use it.

I'd remove the logic part of my brain for laser eyes. Though, I do think that's a prerequesite towards getting laser eyes in the first place.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #187 on: 19 Mar 2015, 07:16 »

Scientists are the cause of a hell of a lot of problems for fictional characters, either because they are evil, mad, or the sort who would say: "Gee I wonder what would happen if I did this?" or "I'm sure nothing wrong will happen if I do this." Fictional Scientists like Grand Viziers. If characters just killed them as soon as they met them, they'd probably live very peaceful, untroubled lives.
May I put this into the signature on a roleplaying forum I frequent, and if so, how would you like to be attributed?
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #188 on: 19 Mar 2015, 12:41 »

Size allows them to reach higher branches and gives them the height to see potential threats at a greater distance.
They evolved from birds... Birds which, presumably, could get to higher areas easily. And again, they have no natural predators once they're mature, why do they need to see danger at such a long distance?

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As herbivores, they probably are roamers; they'd need strong legs to travel miles to find food. They probably have more endurance than sudden bursts of speed and strength.
In a dense forest? They don't live in barren, wide-open areas where food-bearing plants would be few and far between. Plus, they live in a cave, so they clearly live in a settled area. I don't see them roaming. (Especially when they have chicks.)

As adults they have no natural predators, likely still have to protect their chicks from predators.

There are two problems with that idea:
One, it implies that there is a predator which specifically hunts chick Struthio ridiculencis, but doesn't hunt the fully grown ones because they're too dangerous... Even though the fully grown ones would be defending the chicks. If the predator is sneaking into the nest to kill the chicks while the adults are out gathering food, then the Struthio wouldn't need to be large enough to defend their nests, because they would never get a chance to fight the predator.

Two, the comic says that they have NO natural predators. But if they have no natural predators, then they wouldn't need to grow to be so huge, because they never have to fight of predators... Which would make them smaller over time, turning them into better targets for hunters. Natural selection usually finds a happy medium, where the prey is just large enough to fend off or run away from predators without being so small or frail that they're totally helpless and without being so large that it's a waste of energy.

The only exceptions that I am aware of in real life (That is, large animals without predators,) are perhaps the Elephant, Rhino, and Hippo... All three of which do occasionally deal with predators (Usually being attacked in groups,) tend to respond aggressively in the wild, and most importantly are MAMMALS, which create huge physiology differences. The largest bird is the Ostrich, which stands around 7 feet tall and weighs, at most, around 300 Lbs. (346 Lbs. is the highest recorded weight, according to Wikipedia, but 230 Lbs. is the average.)

I'm not ruling out the possibility that those birds didn't occurred through the science of natural selection and evolution, but the science of genetic engineering because some idiot scientist... (Cont.)

I'd buy that for a dollar. It makes a little sense, especially with the rest of the universe we've seen.


I wouldn't mind so much as the silly alien physiology, if Jeph hadn't tried to explain why things were the way they were. Just say 'They're passive creatures,' okay, cool. If you try and explain it thoroughly though, then the explanation has to make sense. (To me, at least.)

(I should mention that I'm a hopeful-but-not-yet-published fantasy and sci-fi writer, and I spend a lot of time thinking about explanations for fantastical concepts and ideas like these, making sure that concepts make sense and aren't just included for the Rule of Cool. Speaker For the Dead is one of my favorite books. This is something I focus on because it's important to me personally, not something I expect everyone to care about.)
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #189 on: 19 Mar 2015, 12:50 »

Size allows them to reach higher branches and gives them the height to see potential threats at a greater distance.
They evolved from birds... Birds which, presumably, could get to higher areas easily. And again, they have no natural predators once they're mature, why do they need to see danger at such a long distance?

Firstly, because they are ground-dwelling and can't fly at all; one development would demand the other. Secondly, because it would still be nice to see a stampede or an on-rushing flash-flood before it arrives.

Muscular necks give them the strength to tear roots out of the ground.
That's what their claws are for.

Bzzt. Wrong. There is a difference between digging up and tearing loose. Birds can't chew and crushing beaks make it unlikely they could cut it up using their beaks like scissors, so they'd have to rip the food into small bits before swallowing.

As herbivores, they probably are roamers; they'd need strong legs to travel miles to find food. They probably have more endurance than sudden bursts of speed and strength.
In a dense forest? They don't live in barren, wide-open areas where food-bearing plants would be few and far between. Plus, they live in a cave, so they clearly live in a settled area. I don't see them roaming. (Especially when they have chicks.)

Yes, even in a forest. Fruits, nuts and other plant materials are relatively energy-poor. They'll use up all the food in any given area very, very quickly so they have to keep moving.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #190 on: 19 Mar 2015, 12:55 »

My wild-ass guess for the week: that "shadow" was actually Alice. She apparently has some nanotech tricks up her own overall-covered sleeves.

And I do think we're in a world that was FUBAR'ed by scientists - like, say, a guy who owns his own space station.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #191 on: 19 Mar 2015, 13:14 »

Firstly, because they are ground-dwelling and can't fly at all; one development would demand the other.
So did they become huge birds and then stop flying, or did they stop flying and then start to grow huge? Either way, the evolutionary line is confusing.

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Secondly, because it would still be nice to see a stampede or an on-rushing flash-flood before it arrives.
A stampede in the forest that we've seen? The thick, dense forest that you can't see very far through except on the path to town? Wouldn't good hearing be more useful in an environment where your visibility is naturally limited?

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Bzzt. Wrong. There is a difference between digging up and tearing loose. Birds can't chew and crushing beaks make it unlikely they could cut it up using their beaks like scissors, so they'd have to rip the food into small bits before swallowing.
Okay, then why do they have crushing beaks? It actively makes it difficult for them to eat some of their food. The anthropology on this bird would have to be split down the middle: They are half developed to eat roots and tubers, but half developed to eat seeds and nuts. Those are opposite directions of evolution. It'd be like a predator developing a lot of strength and bite power to hunt down big, slow prey, but also developing extreme speed to hunt down small, quick prey at the same time. It doesn't work, because those two things don't go together.

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Yes, even in a forest. Fruits, nuts and other plant materials are relatively energy-poor. They'll use up all the food in any given area very, very quickly so they have to keep moving.
Again, this creates a contradiction: If they live on energy-poor foods, then how can they be so huge? The extra energy it would take up to travel across miles to get food would be hugely problematic once you consider how much they must weight and how much energy they'd have to put into that travel. It's like a fully loaded Boeing 747 in LA flying to New York to get fuel, then flying home to LA, then having to go back to New York to get fuel because you burned it all flying back to LA. If it is evolved to cover a lot of ground to gather food, then the rest of its body should be stripped down to keep from burning too much excess energy in that travel.


The different evolutionary paths on this creature just don't line up, because they all contradict each other in one way or another.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #192 on: 19 Mar 2015, 13:27 »

They're not big boned! They're just fluffy!

fluffy fluffy fluffy
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #193 on: 19 Mar 2015, 13:30 »

The different evolutionary paths on this creature just don't line up, because they all contradict each other in one way or another.

Which is why the "genetically modified" argument holds up. It's the simplest explanation.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #194 on: 19 Mar 2015, 13:31 »

Firstly, because they are ground-dwelling and can't fly at all; one development would demand the other.

So did they become huge birds and then stop flying, or did they stop flying and then start to grow huge? Either way, the evolutionary line is confusing.

The size and long necks were likely a food-driven adaptation - to reach high-hanging nuts, shoots and fruits. The loss of flight was consequential BUT the long neck and large size counter-balanced it, giving them a survival advantage.

Secondly, because it would still be nice to see a stampede or an on-rushing flash-flood before it arrives.
A stampede in the forest that we've seen? The thick, dense forest that you can't see very far through except on the path to town? Wouldn't good hearing be more useful in an environment where your visibility is naturally limited?

This is assuming that their habitat is exclusively jungle. Remember that there are also open plains and hilly grasslands near the town. In any case height (and thus the ability to see over undergrowth at nearby and more distant hazards remains an advantage, even in the forest.

Bzzt. Wrong. There is a difference between digging up and tearing loose. Birds can't chew and crushing beaks make it unlikely they could cut it up using their beaks like scissors, so they'd have to rip the food into small bits before swallowing.
Okay, then why do they have crushing beaks? It actively makes it difficult for them to eat some of their food. The anthropology on this bird would have to be split down the middle: They are half developed to eat roots and tubers, but half developed to eat seeds and nuts. Those are opposite directions of evolution. It'd be like a predator developing a lot of strength and bite power to hunt down big, slow prey, but also developing extreme speed to hunt down small, quick prey at the same time. It doesn't work, because those two things don't go together.

Wrong again. This adaptation increases the birds' survival chances as they are no longer specialised to a certain type of food and thus can handle environmental changes. In the real world, specialists (like the panda) always do poorly compared to generalists (like the raccoon).

Yes, even in a forest. Fruits, nuts and other plant materials are relatively energy-poor. They'll use up all the food in any given area very, very quickly so they have to keep moving.
Again, this creates a contradiction: If they live on energy-poor foods, then how can they be so huge?

How can an Elephant be so huge? How can a Rhino be so huge? How can an Ultrasaurus be the single largest life-form ever to walk the Earth all despite being pure herbivores?

If these guys are anything like Therapods and modern birds (including pure herbivores), then their likely development is a quick burst to mid-upper size whils still relatively non-mobile and then a very slow development to full adult size.

The different evolutionary paths on this creature just don't line up, because they all contradict each other in one way or another.

Real life biological adaptations don't 'line up' either. Real world biology is always messier and less prone to human linear logic than theoreticians would like.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #195 on: 19 Mar 2015, 14:09 »

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The size and long necks were likely a food-driven adaptation - to reach high-hanging nuts, shoots and fruits. The loss of flight was consequential BUT the long neck and large size counter-balanced it, giving them a survival advantage.
So, a bird which could fly, grew larger in order to reach food that it couldn't reach? Even though it could fly, it needed long legs to reach nuts that were in trees. Right. And then it lost the ability to fly, because it had to grow larger to reach things which were in the air... Right.

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This is assuming that their habitat is exclusively jungle. Remember that there are also open plains and hilly grasslands near the town. In any case height (and thus the ability to see over undergrowth at nearby and more distant hazards remains an advantage, even in the forest.
Height is an advantage, but size isn't. The larger you are, the more you need to eat. Even if they travel out into the plains or grasslands, they live in the forest/a cave, both places where the height advantage would be minimal next to the huge increase in food consumption that they would need.

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Wrong again. This adaptation increases the birds' survival chances as they are no longer specialised to a certain type of food and thus can handle environmental changes. In the real world, specialists (like the panda) always do poorly compared to generalists (like the raccoon).
Ignoring your 'Always' to describe an extremely large set of examples, (Pretty much nothing with thousands of variables is 'Always' one way or another,) the problem isn't that they developed a way to eat multiple food sources, but that the developments both hinder each other. One evolution actively detracts from the other, based off of the order that it would have had to adapt in.

How can an Elephant be so huge? How can a Rhino be so huge? How can an Ultrasaurus be the single largest life-form ever to walk the Earth all despite being pure herbivores?

I already brought up Elephants and Rhinos briefly, but I'll talk more about them 'cause why not? First off, they are huge because they actually need to fight off predators. Predators which they actually have, unlike this bird. They grow large enough to fight off predators, they don't grow so large that they are never, ever hunted. They also don't settle down in a single area which they would have to return to every night after roaming for food. Not to mention, their natural environments are one where their size actually does give them a large advantage at seeing threats. Another important note: They have babies infrequently, and not in large quantities. Alice clearly says 'Nesting season' and 'Chicks'. This means that 1, they nest and mate annually and 2, they have more than one chick at a time. Unless most or all of their chicks die every year and they only get a survivor occasionally, (which would be extremely strange,) their size would lead to them having a population issue very quickly. They have no natural predators, they take a lot of food to survive, and they have multiple children every year. It doesn't make sense.

As for the Ultrasaurus, I've read speculation that extremely prehistoric times may have had a higher oxygen content in the air, allowing creatures to grow larger than would be possible nowadays. I don't know a lot about dinosaurs, though, so definitely don't quote me on this, and I can't say a lot else on the subject.


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Real life biological adaptations don't 'line up' either. Real world biology is always messier and less prone to human linear logic than theoreticians would like.
And here's where I stop talking about biology and start talking about writing.
There's a rule of thumb for authors when writing a story: Your job is harder than God's. In real life, a long string of coincidences can lead to good or bad things happening. A non sequitor can come in out of the blue, saving the day, and nobody will say it couldn't happen because it actually just happened. The craziest or most insane coincidences can happen, and that's okay. In a story, though, everything has to make sense in a way that the reader can understand, and nothing should come out of the blue. (With exceptions. If you're writing absurdest works or a comedy, it's sometimes okay, but never when it's part of an actual plot or drama. The other exception is when starting your story: Conflict can be started by a character winning the lottery, but it should never be resolved by their winning the lottery.) Plot points can't come out of nowhere, important subplots can't be dropped or forgotten, and what the author says has to make sense. If you want to create a fictional creature, great. Go ahead. If you want to then try and explain the anthropology of the fictional creature, though, it has to make sense. If an author brings up a topic and takes that topic seriously, then they have to be prepared for the audience to take the topic seriously.

An author should never rely on handwaving or 'It's okay because it doesn't make sense in real life.' (Jeph hasn't done this, I'm not criticizing him for it, I'm just saying this as a rule of writing.) Fans shouldn't have to use this defense, either. It's not a large issue here, because I don't think the plot is going to heavily rely on the bird's anthropology or the audience's knowledge and understanding of it, but that doesn't mean it should be defended because we can't explain everything in real life.

Again, if Jeph had just written: They're harmless, don't worry about it, then the setup would be fine because it'd be clear that their evolutionary history doesn't matter. Because he brought it up, though, it's fair game to talk about.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #196 on: 19 Mar 2015, 14:59 »

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The size and long necks were likely a food-driven adaptation - to reach high-hanging nuts, shoots and fruits. The loss of flight was consequential BUT the long neck and large size counter-balanced it, giving them a survival advantage.
So, a bird which could fly, grew larger in order to reach food that it couldn't reach? Even though it could fly, it needed long legs to reach nuts that were in trees. Right. And then it lost the ability to fly, because it had to grow larger to reach things which were in the air... Right.

Right. Flying, especially if it involves taking off from ground level is higher-energy. No animal would do that if it couldn't reach. Once again, adaptation insists on a lower-energy solution.

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This is assuming that their habitat is exclusively jungle. Remember that there are also open plains and hilly grasslands near the town. In any case height (and thus the ability to see over undergrowth at nearby and more distant hazards remains an advantage, even in the forest.
Height is an advantage, but size isn't. The larger you are, the more you need to eat. Even if they travel out into the plains or grasslands, they live in the forest/a cave, both places where the height advantage would be minimal next to the huge increase in food consumption that they would need.

Nonetheless, this is what RL animals do. Larger size provides advantages of its own, including reserves of fats that enable the creature to survive lean and dry periods for longer.

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Wrong again. This adaptation increases the birds' survival chances as they are no longer specialised to a certain type of food and thus can handle environmental changes. In the real world, specialists (like the panda) always do poorly compared to generalists (like the raccoon).
Ignoring your 'Always' to describe an extremely large set of examples, (Pretty much nothing with thousands of variables is 'Always' one way or another,) the problem isn't that they developed a way to eat multiple food sources, but that the developments both hinder each other. One evolution actively detracts from the other, based off of the order that it would have had to adapt in.

How can an Elephant be so huge? How can a Rhino be so huge? How can an Ultrasaurus be the single largest life-form ever to walk the Earth all despite being pure herbivores?

I already brought up Elephants and Rhinos briefly, but I'll talk more about them 'cause why not? First off, they are huge because they actually need to fight off predators. Predators which they actually have, unlike this bird. They grow large enough to fight off predators, they don't grow so large that they are never, ever hunted.

Wrong. Adults are never hunted. Young and juveniles are. Just like the birds.

There is such a thing as being a nit-picker. Can't you just accept that this is what these creatures are and this is Jeph's justification for their characteristics? I don't consider it implausible. Maybe I'm guilty of not knowing enough about RL biology and zoology. However, there is a point where over-thinking it just ruins enjoyment, as it clearly is for you.
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mikmaxs

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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #197 on: 19 Mar 2015, 15:32 »

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Right. Flying, especially if it involves taking off from ground level is higher-energy. No animal would do that if it couldn't reach. Once again, adaptation insists on a lower-energy solution.
But increasing in size wouldn't assist with gathering food unless it was an extreme increase. And now you're arguing that a massive increase in size over the average bird would use lower energy than being small and requiring extremely little food to eat.

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Nonetheless, this is what RL animals do. Larger size provides advantages of its own, including reserves of fats that enable the creature to survive lean and dry periods for longer.
Please, name a real-life bird that is eight feet tall and has bulky muscles and thick limbs. Larger sizes do provide advantages, but you're acting like being large has no downsides. Also, reserves of fat don't seem particularly important in the forest environment that we've seen, where dry periods wouldn't be as bad as they might be in more barren environments.

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Wrong. Adults are never hunted. Young and juveniles are. Just like the birds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2ZW0EvMzSM - Go to about the 5:45 mark to see a pride of lions take down a fully grown Elephant. I realize that the lions in the video are especially hungry and this isn't an entirely common occurrence, but there's a reason that Elephants travel in large herds, not all alone: They'll get hunted and killed otherwise, because they do have predators. (Also, these birds don't look large enough to fight off most real-life predators of large animals anyways. I'm assuming that there's something equivalent of a bear in the forest, or a pack of wolf-like beings, and I see no reason why they couldn't hunt these birds.)

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There is such a thing as being a nit-picker. Can't you just accept that this is what these creatures are and this is Jeph's justification for their characteristics? I don't consider it implausible. Maybe I'm guilty of not knowing enough about RL biology and zoology. However, there is a point where over-thinking it just ruins enjoyment, as it clearly is for you.
I'm not the one who brought up the issue of anthropology, Jeph is. I can't accept his explanations for the characteristics when the characteristics don't hold up or make sense. As I said a few posts ago, this is something I think about a lot because it's something I have to focus on when I'm writing, so this is an issue that stood out to me pretty obviously. I didn't have to overthink it at all, I just read the comic and was immediately struck with the problem. Something else I've said a few times: If Jeph had just hand-waved it I wouldn't care, it's only because he explained it poorly that I have the issue.

Consider this example: In the original trilogy of Star Wars, the Force was never explained. Nobody even tried to touch on how it worked, but that was fine. Nobody cared, it was just a thing that existed, and it was cool. In Episode I: The Phantom Menace, however, they try and explain that the Force is a microscopic life form called Midichlorians, and everyone hated it because it was an explanation that nobody wanted, didn't add anything to the lore or universe, and didn't make sense. They could have just as easily had Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon say that 'I sense a great power in him' or something and it would have worked fine. It's okay to leave things up to the reader's imagination when it's not something that they need to understand. When the fix to an issue is as simple as 'Don't bring it up,' it leaves me wondering why the problem was included at all, even if it's pretty minor.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #198 on: 19 Mar 2015, 15:42 »

@Mikmaxs
Do you even know what 'anthropology' is? It's the study of human social behaviour.

Anyway:
Size: It would have happened this way - neck length and probably leg length to assist in gathering food, making flight difficult or impossible. Size bulks out as the species becomes more and more reliant on ground locomotion. As said before, the neck muscles (and, by structural necessity, the body muscles) bulk out to increase the tearing power of the bird's beak.

Your insistence that I provide an example of a 'real world bird' like this is needlessly restrictive. Still, okay; how about the iguanadon? They have broadly the same body plan and likely, dietary requirements. They are even larger!

Predation: You admit that this is an extreme example. I'm sure that quite a few of these giant birds have been taken down by desperate group hunters. You're taking Alice's statement as an absolute when she's merely giving a general rule - In normal circumstances, local predators can't handle them. Because of this, they are not a particularly aggressive species unless their young is threatened. This is true of elephants too.

Here's the thing - I thought that Jeph's explanation was neat and plausible. We're at a YMMV situation. Just because you don't like it doesn't meant that the explanation is invalid.
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Re: Alice Grove MCDT March 2015
« Reply #199 on: 19 Mar 2015, 16:00 »

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Do you even know what 'anthropology' is? It's the study of human social behaviour.
Well now I feel a little silly. Zoology. Zoology is what I meant. :P

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Your insistence that I provide an example of a 'real world bird' like this is needlessly restrictive. Still, okay; how about the iguanadon? They have broadly the same body plan and likely, dietary requirements. They are even larger!
The Iguanodon doesn't have the same body plan at all, though. It has four legs not two, and while it could stand on its hind legs it was mainly quadrupedal. It also has teeth, a long tail, and it's head/neck are of a different shape. Not to mention, lived in a totally different environment, and more importantly: It wasn't a bird! Dinosaurs may have evolved into birds over millions of years, but that doesn't make them the same thing in the slightest. You might as well compare these birds to the elephant again.


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Here's the thing - I thought that Jeph's explanation was neat and plausible. We're at a YMMV situation. Just because you don't like it doesn't meant that the explanation is invalid.
Here's the thing - I thought that Jeph's explanation was unnecessary and implausible. I don't like it because the explanation doesn't work under scrutiny, unless you make a lot of assumptions of very unlikely things happening in succession. It makes it obvious that the birds were designed first and explained second. It doesn't automatically make sense just because people don't care one way or the other. I'm not saying the comic in general is bad because of this, I'm not saying that Jeph is a bad writer, I'm saying that this one comic has an issue and I'm pointing it out because it's something that matters to me.
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