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156 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 ...
Gustavo's user avatar
  • 5,866
127 votes
Accepted

Lembas bread (2000 kCalories 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 ...
SudoSedWinifred's user avatar
123 votes
Accepted

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 ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 291k
116 votes
Accepted

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 ...
Willk's user avatar
  • 305k
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 ...
A. C. A. C.'s user avatar
  • 2,790
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 ...
Gryphon's user avatar
  • 10.9k
88 votes

Lembas bread (2000 kCalories 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 ...
Chris Johns's user avatar
  • 3,005
85 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 ...
Catalyst's user avatar
  • 7,252
83 votes
Accepted

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 ...
Andon's user avatar
  • 11.6k
79 votes
Accepted

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. ...
Daron's user avatar
  • 66.2k
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 ...
Korthalion's user avatar
  • 1,374
69 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 ...
Logan R. Kearsley's user avatar
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 ...
StephenG - Help Ukraine's user avatar
65 votes
Accepted

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 ...
TrEs-2b's user avatar
  • 56.2k
65 votes
Accepted

How long could a person survive on nothing but water, salt, and sugar?

Warning: the links go to medical Wikipedia pages and they show bodies that look quite ill. Follow with caution. Just isotonic sugar water will likely lead to death by scurvy, beriberi, and kwashiorkor,...
Trish's user avatar
  • 16.7k
64 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 ...
user25972's user avatar
  • 2,071
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 ...
Elmy's user avatar
  • 15.7k
63 votes
Accepted

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 ...
John's user avatar
  • 81.5k
62 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 ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 291k
60 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. ...
chasly - supports Monica's user avatar
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 ...
Alex2006's user avatar
  • 5,569
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 ...
Morris The Cat's user avatar
58 votes
Accepted

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 ...
rek's user avatar
  • 13.1k
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 ...
elemtilas's user avatar
  • 40.7k
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 ...
JDługosz's user avatar
  • 69.5k
56 votes
Accepted

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 ...
mlk's user avatar
  • 1,293
55 votes

How can I make the food of my (fantastical) culture believable?

Food in war-oriented organizations tends to be nutritious, reheatable but can be eaten hot or cold, is neither too bland, too spicy, nor too pungent, is portable, and can be transported and eaten one-...
user535733's user avatar
  • 28.9k
53 votes

What could cause sugary rain?

Your world has much more of an airborne ecosystem than Earth, including a large number of floating photosynthetic aeroplankton. These little plants float about turning sunlight into sugar and are ...
Josh King's user avatar
  • 24.9k
51 votes
Accepted

Would a carnivorous diet be able to support a giant worm?

Your worms are ambush predators. They very rarely move. https://www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=snapping-death-worms-can-hide-undetected-for-years These giant polychaete marine worms (Eunice ...
Willk's user avatar
  • 305k
50 votes
Accepted

In the year 2999, there are pills instead of food. What do commercials look like?

These pills (containing a rich source of magic handwavium) are pretty much identical. Let's look for products which are sold by different companies, but the products themselves are more or less the ...
James K's user avatar
  • 11.6k

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