This is probably a stupid and question and it's probably going to get taken down but whatever. While I was reading through some of the questions and I stumbled upon a question about biological engineering, and that got me thinking, "How would people create a functioning society inside of a biological being?" Let's just assume that this being has the biology and the of a human and the people have modern technology. Also, the size and the way this society behaves is up to interpretation. I know this is a really ambiguous question and I apologize in advance.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, are you saying humans are essentially living in one giant human? Is the giant human in which the civilization occurs alive? Conscious? $\endgroup$ – anwen Oct 10 '17 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, they would be using their surroundings to their advantage. The size of this humans are up for interpretation. $\endgroup$ – Unhappymarshmellow Oct 10 '17 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ I think this could be an interesting question if you set some parameters. What part of the body are they living in? Is this thing alive, dead, or maybe in a deep sleep? I think that best case scenario would be if it were asleep, people infest and colonize, then when this thing wakes up they have to adjust. $\endgroup$ – Lot-Of-Malarkey Oct 10 '17 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ I belive that these humans could inhabit all parts of the body. I also think that it would be a good idea for the host human to be asleep, this would allow the people to colinize and create without major disturbances. Think about it like any other culture, we're humans, we adapt. $\endgroup$ – Unhappymarshmellow Oct 10 '17 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ How do you start a fire then? Why, to ward off white blood cells of course... $\endgroup$ – user6760 Oct 10 '17 at 4:27

A society needs food, water and shelter for basic survival.


This civilization is parasitic. They'd have to consume parts of the host's body as food. Those humans living near intestinal tracts or the mouth might obtain plant matter on its way towards digestion, as the rest of the mini-humans would have only meat food sources. Others might live in the fat reserves such as on the belly.


Some process could be derived to extract water from blood, or other cells.


Shelter gets interesting, as the only building materials still come from inside the host. Slivers of bone are shaved away to erect housing structures, or else small holes are bored in between muscles or other organs.
The mini-humans need oxygen, which is supplied via the super -human's blood stream.
Individual residences might be located next to arteries to access passing resources.


Maybe they have machines to automatically 'farm' blood, breaking oxygen off hemoglobin and pumping it into the houses. You mentioned the human being asleep, but perhaps, some mini-humans live along nerve cells to fire them and control the host body, while others observe and relay surrounding circumstances to them.


Criminals might be ejected via the lower intestines.

Travel is most likely through the blood stream. A small craft could float throughout the body, stopping at certain connection points. Returning to the starting point would require going all the way through the heart again.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you really need shelter when inside a creature? There would be no weather (unless the creature is really huge) and when the creature is hot-blooded (as implied by "human biology") there would be no notable temperature changes either. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Oct 10 '17 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Philipp While a large fraction of humanity lives at 37C and 100% humidity people generally aim for a little cooler and less muggy. It may be some sort of cold or dehumidified shelter could be made. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Oct 10 '17 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Philipp Spaces between tissues within a body will likely have liquids both in and around them like blood plasma, so one key requirement would be to create a place to breathe in. Movement of tissues could also be very disruptive (think of muscle movements) and push your little human team and their supplies around all over the place making life difficult. $\endgroup$ – Slarty Oct 10 '17 at 17:01

The biggest issue are the scaling effects – do the small humans have small atoms and molecules or do they just have fewer of the big atoms and molecules? But assuming all scaling effects can be ignored there are a range of different possibilities depending on size and location. The size would need to be small enough that they could construct a reasonable sized habitat, but big enough to allow the suspension of disbelief of scaling effects to be plausible.

It is fortunate that the little people have modern technology. Assuming when they arrive that they are well prepared, I think they would need a habitat to live in probably best to have a strong pressure vessel to withstand jolts, knocks and movements of the big human. They would also need a safe place to lodge their habitat. The blood stream would not be good as they would be continuously tumbled and might get stuck somewhere causing a blockage and an aneurism in the big person. I would suggest somewhere deep in fatty tissue would be a good place near a small vein.

All of the components necessary for life would be available outside of the habitat, but to avoid creating severe irritation to the big human they would have to be careful not to disturb their environment too much and they would need a lot of sophisticated equipment to meet their needs.

They will need power to process materials ideally a very small nuclear unit or failing that perhaps some sort of turbine in the blood flow.

Oxygen and carbon dioxide
Oxygen could be extracted from water by electrolysis and carbon dioxide could be scrubbed from the atmosphere and chemically combined with the hydrogen from the electrolysis to produce some organic substance that was not too toxic and could be released into the blood stream as waste. Alternatively the might be able to bring in some red blood cells to create their own mini lung.

If the little people had strong stomachs they could harvest a few fat cells, blood cells and muscle cells and use these for food. Preparation and cooking would not be easy and disposal of waste would be particularly difficult if they were intent on avoiding creation of irritation.

One solution would be to fill up some sort of cellular sack with waste and jettison it into the blood stream ensuring that the package was small enough not to create any blockage. In this way the blood stream would move the waste away from the habitat so avoiding irritation at that site and the body would deal with the waste like any other dead cellular matter.

The little people might be able to travel by using scuba gear when outside the habitat but they would have to be very careful not to be carried way in the blood stream.

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  • $\begingroup$ A very useful answer, however, I was thinking of the humans as more parasitical that just trying to survive. $\endgroup$ – Unhappymarshmellow Oct 10 '17 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ I guess the little humans are parasites in a way as they are living at the expense of the larger human without contributing anything. Parasites have to regulate what they take from their host to ensure they don’t kill it else it’s game over. But if you want more “virulent” parasitic activity then the little humans just need to take less care. They can take as much cellular tissue as they want, process it how they want and dump waste anywhere. $\endgroup$ – Slarty Oct 10 '17 at 16:55

As Vincent has pointed out a civilisation requires several basic necessities to survive. One option is that this civilsation is parasitic 'stealing' from the host body the food, water, oxygen and living space. Another option is that they are symbionts required for the host body like we require our bacterial cultures in our intestines and on our skin to survive.

The inhabitant would have to exist on a small enoguh scale to move through blood vessels without filling them up completely. Consider a large host creature which is inhabited by a 'nanite' society which lives of his ressources, but at the same time repairs injuries, fights off bacteria and viruses. Water is an abundant ressource in such an environment, food could be filtered out of the blood stream directly, extracted from stomach or intestines or from the cells of these organs responsible for extracting nutrition. If you live within the blood stream and extract oxygen from it directly you might not have need for specific shelter or the host having adapted its body to this symbiosis over time has developed a special gland to provide shelter for his society of miniscule helpers.

This scenario reminded me of the educational mini series "Once Upon a Time... Life" where cell in our body with specific functions like immune cells are represented as people fighting bacteria.

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