A Living Whirlpool and a Rapid Fire Snake?
December 8, 2016
Filed under Arts & Style
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Charybdis was a legendary sea monster, daughter of Gaia and Poseidon and often depicted as a hole with teeth. She lived in a rocky strait, opposite her sister, Scylla. Over and over again, every minute of every day of every millennia, she would suck in water and spit it back out, endangering everything in the area. Scylla, however was a many-headed dragon that would snatch individual sailors off of passing ships, at lightning speed. If all of the sailors went below decks, she would grab the whole ship and eat all of them. But could they exist?
Charybdis could have been some kind of filter feeding creature, sucking in water and eating the shrimp, not unlike what a baleen whale does. However, Charybdis was said to have been anchored to the sea floor, unable to move herself away. She was also said to be ¨the size of the largest ships.¨ To be able to do all of these things, Charybdis would have to be some kind of cephalopod, but would need to evolve a way to continuously breathe water while remaining stationary. Normally, cephalopods have sharp beaks and eat medium sized fish, but considering the size of Charybdis, it would need to eating much larger amounts of food. The way Charybdis would feed would also be very similar to that of a filter feeder. To do this, it would need baleen large enough to take in enough food to support such a large creature, but tight enough to filter out rocks and other potentially harmful things. Or, it could function similarly to an owl in the sense that it spits out indigestible or undesired objects or foods. Those chunks could be expelled along with the water that all of the food came in with.
Scylla could be, similarly to Ladon in the previous article, a many-headed reptile. It would be enormous, at almost 90 feet tall and about 200 feet long, including the many necks. Each neck would be about 50 feet long with almost as many muscles as the tentacles of an octopus. However the “extra” heads wouldn’t have brains. They would only have opening and closing jaws and could be used similarly to a human hand. There would be a central head that contains a proper brain that controls the bodies’ functions. The other heads would need to be extremely strong to be able to lift grown men, who have been working on enormous ships and have had to change and pull the sails, which even as a team is very hard to do. The average seaman (Going historically. Don’t get triggered.) in the 1600’s weighed about 160-180 pounds, which is the closest approximation of an Ancient Greek sailor that I could find. For a set of jaws to lift that much weight as in the myths would need immense strength. The myths said that the strikes were “lightning fast.” Lightning travels at 224,000 miles per hour (360,493.056 kph). The fastest (known) animal in terms of overall speed is the peregrine falcon, clocked at 242.7 mph in stoops, or dives. The fastest (known) animal in terms of body lengths per second is the South Californian mite, Paratarsotomus macropalpis 322 body lengths per second. The human equivalent would be running at almost Mach 2, or almost twice the speed of sound. The fastest known moving body part of any animal is the termite soldiers’ jaw. It moves at a literal eye-blurring speed of 67 meters per second, or 220 feet per second which makes a cheetah running at top speed look like a ball bearing falling through molasses. If Scylla’s heads were to move at this speed, it could dislodge teeth every time it struck anything and even something tiny, like a pebble, were to hit it, it could cause serious damage. In addition to that, Scylla would need to be able to predict exactly where the sailors would be when the heads hit. But, in finality, yes, Scylla and Charybdis could both exist.