Category Archives: Cinematica Animalia

Harry Potter and the Misuse of Ecological Magic

If quarantine has done one thing, it has challenged our creativity in finding ways to pass the time. For some of us, that means trying new recipes or learning new skills. For others that has meant a complete absence of brainwaves and the choice to rewatch the Harry potter series (and if we’re really desperate, the new Fantastic Beasts and the Importance of Correct Animal Handling films).

The benefits of running a movie-based ecology podcast may be few (hate mail about dragon speciation is a new low), but one is that you have to challenge yourself to think about old systems in new ways. So with that in mind, let’s take a painfully obscure look at the ecological realm of the world of Harry Potter.

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Biological Invasions & The Witcher

Image Credit: The Witcher, 2020

Science and movies often don’t go well together*. It’s no-one’s fault. Science can often be boring and riddled with uncertainties, and movies and TV require plot advancement and definitive results.

But you know what’s a scientific fact? That Henry Cavill’s chin can cut diamond, and if you thrust him into a cosplay outift he probably already had at home and send him out to slaughter a bunch of CGI monsters you’ll get something that is at the very least mildly enjoyable. And if you’re an invasion ecologist who runs a podcast looking at the ecology of movie monsters, mildly enjoyable monsters are enough to dedicate a blog post to.

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Lessons From The Lion King

Image Credit: Raymond Santi, CC BY 4.0

After Disney nailed The Jungle Book three years ago (by giving it an actual plot) and made almost a billion USD, it was inevitable that The Lion King was next in big-budget almost-entirely-animal-based Disney capers (I’m guessing the Aristocats is next up). And thus, the Circle of Massive Corporate Cashgrabs┬áLife was completed this summer. Whether you liked it or not, you can’t deny that it was a movie that was made and that at least one child somewhere saw.

So, let’s have a look at it from an ecologist’s perspective.

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Creating the Ecology of the Tooth Fairy

Image Credit: Kimberley Nagle, Public Domain, Image Cropped

Teaching complicated ecological concepts to kids isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Sure, I can explain the Coriolis effect to a bunch of Bachelor’s students, but teaching geographic range expansion to a six-year old is a different prospect. I’m lucky in that I have a kid who is already quite interested in the natural world, but it doesn’t automatically mean that he’ll take on board things like evolution, biological invasions, the MacArthur-Wilson Theory of Island Biogeography. So whenever there’s a weird opportunity to relate my kid’s interests to my work, I jump at it.

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The Ecology of Godzilla

With the King of the Monsters back for his second turn in cinemas, we go through the big, the bad and the bigger problems that a creature of this size might have if it lived on Earth. Is feeding on radiation useful? Don’t be ridiculous.

The Ecology of Godzilla

3:24 – Cinematic History of Godzilla
13:54 – The Ecology of Godzilla
42:16 – Godzilla vs. No-one

The Physiology of Godzilla

01:41 – 2014 Godzilla Need-to-Know
07:08 – The Physiology of Godzilla
37:14 – Vet’s PSA (Adopting Foreign Pets)

The Ecology of Pokemon

Image Credit: Detective Pikachu (2018)

Over 2 weeks, we go into the physiology of everyone’s favourite (or at least the one your parents know) Pokemon, Pikachu, and look at the horrifying world they inhabit. How would people evolve on this world? Is Pikachu a carnivore? What the hell is up with animal ethics here?

The World of Pokemon

01:46 – Obligatory Sonic the Hedgehog Thoughts
04:35 – The World of Pokemon
41:14 – Riddick on the World of Pokemon

The Physiology of Pikachu

01:52 – The Physiology of Pikachu
27:30 – Vet’s PSA (Neutering Your Pets)

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