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154 votes

Why would a berry have a slow-acting poison?

It slowly kills the animal in order to spread over larger distances across soil with poor nutrients. So if your fruit kills the host 1 meter away, not much gain. Let the host migrate for days. Now ...
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127 votes

How to enforce a Ban on Vegetarianism

Simple: Mandatory public meat-eating. A somewhat related historical example occurred in Spain from the 16th century onwards. The Jewish and Muslim religions were banned, and eating of pork was a ...
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126 votes
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Lembas bread (2000 Calories per bite)

It just doesn't add up if you only consider real world nutritional chemistry. The most calorie-dense food available is fat at 9 calories/gram. That's 220 grams to hit 2000 calories, nearly a quarter ...
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120 votes
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Why do the aliens buy Earth whiskey instead of just downloading the copy and creating it themselves?

Status symbol. Plain and simple. Doing a carbon copy is easy and cheap. But if you can afford the original one it means you have a huge load of moneys at your disposal. And those moneys are no good ...
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116 votes
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How do I begin to explain that my orcs may survive by eating soil?

Starting from the ground up: how much caloric energy even exists in the things orcs eat? Energy metabolism for aerobes involves combining oxidizable with oxygen - in essence burning them. One can ...
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  • 277k
112 votes

What could cause sugary rain?

The rain is actually the blood of billions. A species on a nearby planet is being harvested by a technologically advanced alien civilization and the specimens are drained of all their internal ...
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  • 2,780
90 votes

What sort of beak would a bone marrow eating bird have?

Just like so many of our creature-design questions, the answer to this one is: "nature beat you to it." Presenting the Lämmergeier, or Bearded Vulture, a species of vulture that specializes in ...
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  • 10.9k
88 votes

Lembas bread (2000 Calories per bite)

In the books there is a bit more wiggle room : (Farewell to Lorien; last few pages) 'Cram', he [Gimli] said under his breath, as he broke off a crisp corner and nibbled at it. His expression ...
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  • 3,005
84 votes

How to butcher your dragon?

It is a common misconception (likely spread by crafty, older dragons) that only young dragons are tasty. Much like their avian relatives (related via the dinosaurs), mature dragons develop a depth ...
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  • 7,162
83 votes
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How can Dwarves produce honey underground?

The dwarves can keep the bees in the caverns, but provide them with suitable exits. You have your beekeepers on the upper levels of the cities. You'll need ventilation somehow to allow for your city ...
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79 votes
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Does a hexagon-based bread loaf make any sense?

The hexagon is an efficient way to mass-produce identical loaves Following a period of widespread bread alteration (think allum) the king has given a list of decrees to control the bread market. ...
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  • 41.6k
79 votes

What could possibly replace beer?

Water The idea that medieval people drank beer because they did not have access to safe drinking water is a complete and unfounded myth. To quote Steven Harris and Bryon L. Grigsby in their book ...
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  • 1,374
68 votes

Designing an animal that wants to be eaten

That's not too hard. There are plenty of real-life animals that want to be eaten. They're either parasites, or the hosts of parasites, whose behavior is modified by the parasite that they carry. Of ...
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67 votes

Can a creature sustain itself by eating its own severed body parts?

No. To regenerate requires more energy than the part itself will supply. To eat the part you have to break it down chemically and then those chemicals are transported through the body and recombined ...
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66 votes
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Farming after the apocalypse: chickens or giant cockroaches?

Cockroach Farming is the future! They feed the roaches wheat shavings and vegetables for four months. Then they're boiled, dried and some are crushed to put into pill form, which is much easier to ...
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  • 55.2k
64 votes

What could possibly replace beer?

Brew a nice cup of tea. People all around the world found and used all kinds of herbs and other plants with antibiotic properties since prehistoric times. Popular examples for Europe and North ...
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  • 15.2k
63 votes
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A food item only made possible by time-freezing storage?

There is a huge number of delicious fruits that are rarely eaten outside the regions they grow because they either don't transport well or go bad way too fast or both. Examples Cherimoya : a fruit ...
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  • 69.7k
62 votes

How to not starve gigantic beasts

The creatures eat rocks. The excreta from this is fertile loam that is ideally suited to farming. They can be trained to eat from rock formations in such a way as to create walls and fortification. ...
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61 votes

Why do the aliens buy Earth whiskey instead of just downloading the copy and creating it themselves?

This is the basis for the real world economic theory of Comparative Advantage. The aliens can produce any of a large number of products with their industrial capacity. Similarly, Earth can use its ...
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  • 1,991
60 votes
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How often must carnivorous grassland eat?

I think for this we'll need to look at real life. Carnivorous plants tend to be adapted to grow in places with high light where the soil is thin or poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen, such as ...
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  • 26.1k
59 votes
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How many people can you feed per square-kilometer of farmland?

Conventional Farming According to this source, the highest caloric density food is sweet potatoes, which provide 70,000 kcal/ha/day. (with potatoes providing 54,000 which is roughly in line with what ...
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  • 45.6k
59 votes

Selling food to the enemy

It makes no sense, as the attackers will obtain all the gold of the besieged anyway, as soon as the defense has fallen. Selling food to the defenders is the worst possible action, as it increases the ...
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  • 5,524
59 votes

How does Santa eat every cookie?

Santa and his reindeer have to move at fantastic speed to fulfill their yearly duty, this has been solidly established. Moving at that fantastic speed requires a lot of energy, and all the cookies ...
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  • 241k
59 votes

Why would a berry have a slow-acting poison?

The simplest answer is that the delayed poisonous effect is a secondary (and from the plant's perspective, inconsequential) effect compared to the primary evolutionary purpose of the compound in ...
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58 votes
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How would a society isolated by monster attacks get food?

Fungiculture Below the buildings and streets of your beset cities, farmers cultivate fungi in tunnels, basements, catacombs, and mines. Organic scraps and other biological waste is sent here to feed ...
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  • 12.8k
58 votes

Can you make a meal in a cemetery?

As a Matter of Fact, You Can Survive in a Cemetery! Definitely don't eat the corpses, but... You carry a blunt, heavy metal object. Cemeteries, especially in relatively urban areas, are frequented ...
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  • 37k
57 votes

Safe way to eat zombies?

In all cases, suppose that cooking properly will take care of infection. But the skeletal muscles are rotten in the classic zombie: Perhaps you harvest just the (high-calorie) bone marrow, which is ...
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  • 68.5k
56 votes

How to enforce a Ban on Vegetarianism

¿How do you tell if a person is vegetarian? Test the microbiota. The population of microbies in the gut is a function of diet, drug treatments, etc.(See, for instance, this article.) The procedure ...
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  • 1,098
55 votes

How to enforce a Ban on Vegetarianism

The House Vegetarian Activities Committee Many answers have been given, most of them pretty practical and uninvasive (considering). But practical and uninvasive is not what governments are going for ...
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  • 3,453
55 votes
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The first McDonald's restaurant on Mars

A (local) population of about ten thousand people should be enough. In my opinion there are three factors here. Is there enough need for a restaurant? There seem to be around 14.000 McDonalds ...
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