If Only I Could…Like An Animal!
By Victoria Foyt
Sometimes I feel too vulnerable to the elements, like when it drops below 70 degrees. Seriously. I grew up in Florida, and except for a short stint in NYC, I have lived my adult life in Southern California. But if my skin had fur, say something beautiful like the coat of a jaguar, Panthera onca, I could brave chilly extremes.
Sometimes I want to flop like a harbor seal, Phoca vitulina, onto the beach and absorb the sun’s golden warmth on a summer day. But with the risk of skin cancer—I have already had three scary moles cut out—I cannot afford such exposure and must wear a hat even on a fall outing.
Sometime when my boyfriend points to something far away and says, “Over there, can’t you see it?” and I have to shake my head and say “no,” I really wish I had the keen sight of a harpy eagle, Harpia harpyja, that can spot prey from 100 feet in the air. It also has really great nails, or talons, which are amazing survival weapons.
Sometimes when I pull a muscle in my neck picking up a suitcase, like I did this weekend when I picked up a relative at the airport, I really wish my core muscles were stronger. How cool it would be to impress people at the gym if I had the kind of abs with which the green anaconda, Eunectes murinus, squeezes its prey to death.
But I’m just a homo sapien, a female with overdeveloped mental facilities and flabby muscles. I cannot fly or leap or bite lethally. I cannot even run very far, though I am a pretty good swimmer. I once had my lifesaving certificate and could swim the length of an Olympic-size pool underwater with a single breath, but that was a long time ago.
Come the apocalypse, there won’t be any clean swimming pools around anyway. We will probably also lack electricity, which means no cell phones or computers or refrigerators or any modern convenience. Fuel lines may be disrupted, meaning you must rely on your legs for locomotion. And trucks will not be able to transport food from agricultural centers to your local grocery store. Yikes!
Basically, someone like me who spends the majority of her waking hours behind a computer, will only last about as long as the stores in her pantry. For a number of years, I have pondered apocalyptic scenarios. I even started a vegetable garden and planted some fruit trees. As if those small efforts could stave off disaster for my family and I. But even if we could last an extra week or two by foraging in our backyard, what happens then?
Am I overly pessimistic or simply able to face the future with cold-eyed realism? Surely, the proliferation of apocalyptic books suggests that I am not the only writer who dwells on these dire possibilities.
In my young adult, adventure romance series, Save The Pearls, the protagonist’s father has developed a biological process that will allow man to adapt with certain animal traits. In Adapting Eden, part two of the series, when Eden Newman falls in love with a hybrid man, she must decide whether to trade her human identity for the animal traits that will enable her to be the Jaguar-Man’s mate and survive in a post-apocalyptic environment.
If you were in Eden’s shoes, which you very well may be one day, what animal traits would you wish for?
Thank you so much, Victoria, for that seriously entertaining and thought provoking guest post!! To answer your question on what animal traits I would wish for I think I would have to choose the traits of a crocodile, Crocodylinae, because a crocodile is not only amazing and can kill you in one bite, but it is said that they can go 2 years without eating!! Perfect animal trait in case of the apocalypse.