The Biology of Pandora

I have a long standing bet with my father that goes something like this: you show me any fantastical creature from science fiction, and I’ll show you something from the natural world that makes your alien look like a care-bear. Basically, it’s the old truth-is-stranger-than-fiction idiom. This held up through “Alien”, “Predator”, “Starship Troopers”, “Star Wars I, II, III, IV, V, and VI” and a host of other great and not-so-great science fiction adventures. When I heard about “Avatar”, the awe inspiring special effects, the bizarre reports of people being depressed after seeing it, and the incredible description of a totally new world, I though I had finally lost that bet.

I was wrong. Read More