Nature is Beautiful (Vol. II)
Autumn is here, and you’re ready for a relaxing morning stroll through the neighborhood. The scarlet crest of a cardinal draws your attention as you walk along the carefully manicured lawns; you’re enchanted by the bird’s exotic coloration and the shrill music of its calls. The idyllic moment is shattered the instant you remember one of nature’s most consistent patterns: if an organism looks or sounds beautiful (or appeals to any of our other senses), it’s most likely caught in a struggle to survive, copulate or kill.
The world transforms before you: pine cones? Discarded sex packets in the street. A child playing in a pile of leaves? Heads up primate, you’re swimming in abscised organs that only turn pretty colors to prevent trees from being sucked dry by swarms of aphids. The chirping and buzzing of creatures becomes a cacophony of massive orgies that take place in the air around you, on the grass below and in tunnels beneath the surface. Still hungry? Let’s delve into some bizarre forms and functions.
Giant Pacific Octopus – Semelparity
I understand you’ve become obsessed with your bedroom black metal project, rarely leaving the confines of your “lair” to obtain Vitamin D from that cursed orb in the sky. Your inner turmoil has been chronicled in no fewer than 17 releases since 2016, which is an absolute rookie number compared to the 56,000 eggs released by the Giant Pacific Octopus in the last 6 months. This octopus is an example of a semelparous species, mating and giving birth only once in its life cycle, shortly before the high energy cost leads to the death of the mother. For half of a year, she forgoes a single meal, sacrificing her life to protect her young from algae, bacteria and pop-punk frontmen.
Nothing says “withering away to a husk in a dark and lonely place after a short and thankless life lived solely for the benefit of unappreciative children” like the DSBM/rock of Lifelover‘s “Expandera.”
Anglerfish – Parabiotic Reproduction
To your estimation, dating in the metal scene is a total crapshoot; if only these men/women would swipe right on you! You’re sure it has nothing to do with the garbage pails on your shirt, filled to the brim with eviscerated bodies. The male anglerfish has no pity for your situation—he lives in total darkness and will die young if he doesn’t find a mate, having been born without a functioning jaw with which to hunt prey. Using his strong olfactory senses, when he smells a female nearby (an exceedingly rare occurrence), he latches onto her skin before releasing enzymes that melt his own face (and her skin), melding to her in the process. Over time, the male’s (now unnecessary) body mostly dissolves, leaving behind a sac of reproductive organs that the female can harvest sperm from at will during parabiotic (“living within”) reproduction. Move over Liberty Mutual, this is life insurance.
I’m pretty sure Death‘s “Together as One” is actually about parabiotic reproduction. Just take a look at these lyrics: “Together – they absorb each other’s lives / As one – they will live and they will die.” Also it’s just a great song, so deal with it.
Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar – Crypsis
There’s only one thing worse than being a total poser, and that’s being revealed as a total poser. For humans, it looks like being mocked when your friends find your Dave Matthews Band CD next to your copy of Spawn of Possession‘s Incurso. When you’re an insect, the repercussions are much deadlier, usually along the lines of being chopped into pieces by a razor-sharp beak and vomited down the gullet of a fledgling robin. Luckily, evolution has led to several adaptations that fit under the umbrella of crypsis, the ability of an organism to avoid danger by blending into its surroundings. Enter the Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar, whose entire adolescent life is spent trying to look as much like a pile of shit as possible (I did this very well in my teens). Also known as the Bird Poop Caterpillar, its coloration resembles (you ready for this?) an unappetizing bird turd, a disguise that works so well that the caterpillar can freely move about without fear during daylight hours. The only potential downside to this strategy is the possibility of birds practicing coprophagia, but that’s a concept for another post.
I mean no disrespect to Thulcandra when I say that they mimic Dissection very well, without the baggage of a homicidal homophobe in the band. “Gates of Eden” is a certified banger that does more than imitate, standing on its own despite the heavy influence of its predecessors.