WARNING: GODZILLA SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN THIS POST.
A few weeks ago, I went to see Godzilla. I hadn’t looked up the plot summary or anything beforehand, so imagine my surprise when out of the giant pulsing “spore” (ahem, egg) emerged something that looked a lot like a cross between a giant water bug and Alien…not Godzilla. And then imagine my UTTER GLEE when they said that the thing that was not Godzilla was a parasite. Swoon. I immediately conjured up all kinds of plot possibilities, and I couldn’t wait to see how the parasites attacked Godzilla!
But then I quickly realized that the “parasites” were not parasites at all. The parasites acquired energy from radioactive material. For instance, they ate nuclear warheads. And that alone doesn’t make them parasites.* It makes them autotrophs. I thought I might have missed the parasite explanation, so after the movie, I did some googling. But all I could find was some people saying that the parasites (or their young) might try to feed on Godzilla’s radioactive energy. I would totally buy that, if the parasites had searched for Godzilla in the movie. But instead, Godzilla searched for the parasites. In fact, he was their “predator.” WHAT?! Yo, Hollywood. You need a parasite ecology consultant? HMU.
So, I wrote you guys a different plot, with actual Godzilla parasites in it. Except that they aren’t parasites, per se. They’re parasitoids.* Enjoy!
The female parasitoid hatches from an egg in a mine in the Philippines. The female parasitoid goes to the Janjira nuclear plant to feed and causes a giant explosion. A lady dies, and it’s sad. The female parasitoid forms a chrysalis in the wreckage.
Sometime in the next 15 years, the other egg from the mine in the Philippines is taken to the USA to be studied and whatnot. Then the radioactive body of the male parasitoid – which is thought to be dead – is stored in Yucca Mountain.
After 15 years, the female parasitoid emerges from her chrysalis. She has wings! (Yes, it is the male who has wings in the movie, but I don’t like it that way.) She destroys a bunch of stuff and kills a dude and it’s sad.
The male (he’s alive!) and female parasitoids start communicating via echolocation (ok, whatever, I’ll go with it). They start trying to find each other, stopping only to ransack ships and whatnot so that they can eat radioactive material. When they find each other, the male fertilizes the female. The male also gives her a nuptial gift of a nuclear warhead, because that was really cute. Then he dies because he’s a male and he no longer has a purpose in life. ONE MONSTER DEAD. Huzzah!
Now the female needs a host for her eggs. So, while armed forces are trying to shoot her to bits, she uses her highly adapted sensory apparatus to seek out Godzilla. When she finds Godzilla, she stabs her ovipositor (yes, she has one of those now) into Godzilla’s body cavity and deposits a single egg.
(And you guys thought my artwork was limited to snails!)
Then the female parasitoid tries to fly off to find another Godzilla so that she can lay another egg, because that’s what parasitoids do. But Godzilla grabs her head and breathes plasma down her throat, and she dies. SECOND MONSTER DEAD. Huzzah!
The world starts to rejoice because all the parasitoids are dead, but suddenly San Francisco is being trampled by Godzilla! Someone left some giant war heads in San Francisco, and Godzilla is being manipulated by the parasitoid larvae into finding and eating more radioactive material! Oh no! But wait, one of the nuclear warheads has an analog detonator thingy, so the parasitoid’s EMP abilities can’t stop it from detonating now that it has been activated! Godzilla eats it! 1 hour and 29 minutes later, Godzilla and the parasitoid within explode. ALL THE MONSTERS ARE DEAD!
Some soldier and his lady kiss and stuff. The end!
*If you don’t remember the difference between a parasite, a predator, and a parasitoid, check this out.
Oh. Em. Gee. I see you came to pretty much the same conclusion as I did about MUTO – that they are Kaiju parasitoids! That’s why they found that empty pod in the giant skeleton. I came up with a fan theory that the MUTOs were attracted to nuke warheads and reactors because they are functionally similar enough to their “natural” host (radioactive Kaiju) that it can act as a kind of in vitro “medium” in place of their host!
One thing that bugged me though – they made it out that the Big G was some kind of apex predator and was hunting the MUTO, why didn’t he eat them?
BTW, I have also been drawing MUTO fan art… https://twitter.com/The_Episiarch/status/467962887483301888
I’m so glad that I am not alone! I also complained about Godzilla not eating the MUTOs after killing them. And I like your in vitro medium explanation. The next time the ecology in a movie is messed up, I’ll message you. 🙂
Also, your MUTO is vastly superior to mine. Nicely done! The legs remind me that I wish they’d done the wings like pterosaur wings.
Maybe Godzilla’s not hungry while fighting the mutos.
More of a pet theory than anything, but I interpreted the reason for the fight was not so much hunting, but establishing dominance and preventing them from parasitizing him or other Kaiju. Keep in mind that the government “woke up” Godzilla- he could very well be millions of years old. If he was alive when other members of his species were, there’d be a high chance of him seeing what a MUTO infestation can do. Consider this: the female MUTO laid hundreds upon hundreds of eggs. Given their size, method of survival, etc., I doubt this is JUST overproduction of offspring. Due to the relative sizes of the MUTO’s, I believe that in their heyday, they were Eusocial swarm predators, like hornets or wasps. Can you imagine seeing a person ripped to shreds by giant wasps as big as your leg? If the two species lived concurrently (which, given the behavior of the two, isn’t a big logical jump), its more than likely that Godzilla’s species would struggle with this.
So, here’s my compiled theory:
– The MUTO’s are Eusocial swarm predators, with behavior mixing elements of modern-day honeybees and the Tarantula Hawk Wasp (which, during brooding season, stings a tarantula into temporary immobility, and lays eggs inside of it, which eventually hatch and slowly eat the spider from the inside out, feeding in a very particular order so the spider survives for as long as possible, eventually becoming a walking husk for the fully-grown demon-bees to fly out of. Sorry about that long aside, just wanted to point out the similarities to how the MUTO’s laid there eggs inside a Godzilla skeleton)
– They fiercely competed with Godzilla’s species, which was able to survive in the long term thanks to (1) the ability to breathe underwater (think like how “jump in the pool if you’re getting chased by bees”), and (2) They likely had social structures not unlike that of modern-day packs of wolves, pods of whales, or, possibly, shivers of sharks (yes, that is the word for a group of sharks, and its amazing).
– The biggest reason Goji had difficulty, however, was age. No matter how long-lived his species is, hibernating for that long means he’s OOOLLLDDD. not to mention that he just woke up (at least, relatively speaking. 60 years isn’t much if you’ve been sleeping for millions)
Whew, that was a bit long winded. just wanted to throw that out there, sorry for the long-windedness.
I’m loving this discussion!
On my off-time I’m into speculative biology, creating stuff like this:
So coming up with fictional ecology and organism is a hobby for me – it certainly makes it easier to rationalize messed up Hollywood ecology!
I think this bit of fan art sums up my feels about the new Godzilla:
Big G was a bit too…benevolent for a Kaiju.
Actually, speaking of pterosaurs and wings, see Mark Witton’s take on the anatomy of Godzilla and MUTO: http://markwitton-com.blogspot.com/2014/05/godzilla-and-mutos-vs-birds-and-newts.html
Ahhh, I should have known that Mark Witton would have covered the pterosaur-like aspects. That’s amazing. My life may now be complete.
They did play it a bit fast and loose with the term parasite. It’s hard to even know, from the movie, if the MUTO’s were autotrophic or heterotrophic, since they absorbed radiation but they also ate some of the warheads. But like you, I would lean towards autotrophic.
As for the parasites, I was thinking after the movie that maybe they followed a life cycle like some of nematodes of the genus Strongyloides, which are facultative parasites that can have parasitic and free-living generations.
With the predator line they should have realized that you cannot have it both ways with one being parasites and the other being predators.
The biggest thing that bothered me was how the MUTO’s in the eggs already looked like the adults. By all indications the male MUTO was some type of worm that left an encystment/encapsulation and then burrowed to a nuclear power plant site and created a cocoon and developed into the form that we had seen in the movie after that cocoon.
It would be nice if they did have consultants.
Ooooh, I like the facultative parasite idea!
Also, with the eggs, it looked like the male and female MUTOs each came from one giant egg, right? And there were two eggs next to each other in the ancient skeleton? But then there were about 8 zillion babies in the one egg mass that the female laid? Also, the males should probably just fertilize the females while the females are still in the eggs, or just after they hatch, instead of leaving the females and then needing to find them later. And the males could excavate a burrow out of the underground pit for the females to use, just like fig wasps!
And yeah, I think they should have been holometabolous… but I did think they baby ametabolous MUTOs were cute. 😛
I didn’t notice the MUTO’s coming from one egg, but I did notice the two eggs in the skeleton. I thought each sex came from it’s own separate egg.
I also complained about the lack of fertilization from the male. There was only a marmot like, nose rub greeting. Not that I needed to see any gratuitous MUTO on MUTO action, just something a little more biologically believable.
I do like your alternative story, except you killed Godzilla at the end:-/
I like the way you think, Parasiticus.
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My understanding of the movie is that MUTOs are not parasites per se. Rather, they would deploy eggs into a Godzilla carcass. You see, never during the movie do we see MUTO trying to deploy an egg into Godzilla when they fight.
So more like dung beetles?