Linked Questions

55
votes
21answers
12k views

Why would merfolk have hair?

A classic image of mermaids are their long flowing hair that swishes in the water. But in the scientifically realistic sense this makes none. The hair would be nothing more than a nuisance to the ...
21
votes
12answers
5k views

What would be an ideal breathable atmosphere for a planet so that fire couldn't start naturally?

I want to have an intelligent life-form on a planet, but I want this life form to be technologically limited because of the lack of discovery of fire. What changes would have to occur in the ...
13
votes
8answers
3k views

Anatomically reasonable respiratory system for human-derived merfolk

This question considers the respiratory apparatus of an aquatic (or amphibious) species descended from engineered humans. The history of the species provides a relevant constraint. While the science ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

How could mermaids talk with gills?

Recently I was pondering mermaids and was wondering how their respiratory systems work. Most importantly, how could their vocal chords continue to function? Secondly, how would they draw the water ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

genetically engineered humans breathe underwater at extreme depths

Assume humans have the technology and motivation to genetically engineer humans capable of breathing underwater and on land. Also assume for this example mechanical technology is somewhat constrained ...
8
votes
3answers
522 views

How could water breathing animals have a warm-blooded level of metabolism?

In the popular merfolk topic, I always use the model of marine mammals, not water-breathing fish-like animals. They breathe air, that turbo-charged 20% oxygen fluid that enables the scale of ...
7
votes
3answers
246 views

Are pharyngeal and cutaneous breathing possible for an aquatic mammal?

I'm working on a setting with merfolk that I'd prefer to be fully mammalian. However, they have underwater cities and I find that hard to believe for a species that needs to surface every few hours ...
8
votes
2answers
984 views

The Mer--Let's Get Real, Shall We?

The traditional description of the mermaid is half-girl and half-fish. That, both biologically and dramatically, is just ridiculous. If the mermaid were half-fish, then why does she move her tail up ...
5
votes
3answers
232 views

How large does a human’s plastron need to be?

I’m referring to an entomological plastron which is a structure that traps a bubble of air next to the insect's body but permits contact between the air and the water. As the insect consumes oxygen ...
1
vote
1answer
126 views

Alternative origins for the lungs

The terrestrial "vertebrates" of my planet must breathe air, and therefore must have lungs of some kind. They are descended from fish-like creatures, which breathe through gills. However, I would ...