When the first explorers returned from the New World, it was with terror in their eyes. Violent shores, a jungle with trees taller than hills, and unspeakable monsters behind every towering frond - they begged that all of Europe be warned of this verdant hell so that never again would a man die the ignoble death of an insect. Unfortunately, they had not returned empty handed.
"Magnified Materials," it was quickly discovered that even the beach sand of the Americas possessed strength in excess of anything known to man. From this, a simple and enduring theory was formulated, with consequences that would change the world.
Theory of Magnified Materials:
All substances native to the Americas behave such that if one were to become a giant on arrival, they would perceive the New World to be no different than the one they had came from; a desiccated American leaf will catch less air and not deform under its weight like a blanket of European leaves might, yet once ignited, its great mass will burn in the same time as its smaller cousin. Later on, it would be discovered that the rapidity with which a magnified mass falls depends on what changed its motion - being greater for the giant indigenous and lesser for anyone else. This agrees with the observation that magnified materials are no more dense, and possesses no greater inertia than equivalent materials found in the Old World. In effect, it is as if the colonists have shrunk on arrival.
These simple properties hold true for anything derived from magnified materials, which leads us to the problem our colonists face: the native fauna have skin with compressive and tensile strength comparable to steel, given these numbers sit in the tens of MPa and would scale by a factor of 202.
Can well-armed 16th and 17th century colonists deter the local wildlife with their weapons, given a scale factor of 20?
- Would their rifles or even cannons pierce their hides? What about weak points such as the eyes?
- Would polearms be strong enough, and wielded with enough force to do so?
- Are there any other weapons available to the Europeans that might prove effective? For instance, an equivalent to Greek fire.
For simplicity's sake, we need only consider crustaceans and insectivorous mammals since they are the most likely to be encountered.
Out of Scope:
To keep the question well suited to the site's format, I'll head off some of the more obvious ideas - perhaps to ask about in another question.
- Non-violent deterrents such as noise, fire, and offensive scents.
- Schemes to use local materials to manufacture magnified gunpowder or similar.
- Attempts to create or tame friendly animals.
- Arguments involving birds.