Scorpion King, do not possess fighting claws on the other side at all, so we have assumed that Venom is their main weapon, both for hunting and defense. This makes the Manticore a bit of an outlier among the Scorpions: usually increased in size, these creatures trade Venom for muscle-building.
In fact, the most poisonous scorpions in the world are all rather puny. Indian Red Scorpion, whose sting can send an adult human into cardiac arrest, tops out at ca. 3.5 inches in length, while the death stalkers, whose Venom is a potent neurotoxin, rarely exceed 2 inches in.
Toxicity does not however necessarily relate to size – it is a function of the many selective pressures of an organism's environment. Perhaps for the Manticore, Venom is a more effective predator deterrent than large, fleshy claws. Or perhaps scorpion king in the toxic evolutionary arms race with competing species are locked.
We don't know for sure without more information. But regardless of circumstances these toxic fighters have produced, it is clear that the Jade Islands deserve a scientific expedition.
They don't get nearly as much attention as dragons, but there is another dizzyingly large reptilian predator prowling the backwaters of Westeros: the Lizard Lion, Sigil House Reed. As far as we know, lizard-lions are found only in the moors and swamps of the Neck, a region divided to the north from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.
Lizard-lions are crocodilian animals, and from the sparse descriptions found in the books, they behave much like their real-life counterparts, lying in wait, ambushing prey like swimming logs. It is said that the lizard-lions can grow to the size of the actual lion and will brutally attack careless men who wander through the swamps.
Here is one of the few descriptions of the lizard-lions, from the Song of Ice and Fire:
Sansa shuddered. She was twelve days crossing the neck down a crooked dam through an endless black bog rumble and she hated every moment of it. The air was humid and clammy… Dense thickets of half drowned trees pressed more tightly around them, branches dripping with the curtains of pale mushroom. Huge flowers bloomed in the mud and sponge on pools of waterlogging, but would you be stupid enough to leave the dam and pluck them, there were quicksand waiting to suck you down, and snakes swimming from the trees and lizard-lions watching half-submerged under the water, like the black oxen with eyes and teeth.
The Westerosian Alligators?
Based on the descriptions in the books, lizard-lions probably fall within the order Crocodilia, the taxonomic group crocodiles, alligators, and caimans. On earth, these large, predatory reptiles are solitary, usually sedentary, but able to swim quickly and even gallop over land for short bursts to catch prey.
Their northern distribution leads me to believe that lizard-lions are the Westerosian alligators. There are two species of alligators living today on Earth: the American alligator, which can be up to 1.000 pounds, and the China alligator, a smaller, critically endangered species confined to the Yangtze River in China.
Both species are more cold-tolerant than crocodiles, inhabiting tropical regions of South America, West Africa, Asia and Australia. In fact, in the world of ice and fire, George R.R. Martin's comprehensive history of the seven kingdoms, we learn that in Sothoryos, the southernmost continent in the known world there are crocodiles.
For their famous aggression in the series, it is true that crocodiles and alligators attack people. But not often.
"A crocodile or gator will attack you when you reach shore and effectively act as their prey does, but you don't seem to, they go around people, hunting", Emma Schachner, a vertebrate physiologist and alligator expert at Louisiana State University, said. "They are generally fairly low key."
And when raised in captivity, crocs can become downright tame. Who knows, maybe some brave men and women of the north tried to coax the beasts into battle once or hitch a ride through the swamps of the neck on their scaly backs. Then again, if you fell back a lizard-lion and got caught in the neck treacherous quicksand, it was probably game over.
Kraken are giant sea monsters that squeeze deep ocean basins in the world of Game of Thronesher. Like Lizard-Lions, there is little information to be found on these beasts in the books or the TV series. But we can be pretty sure they are cephalopods:
"Octopuses: strong as long as they are in the sea. When you take out of the water, no bones. They collapse under their pride load and break into a pile of nothing. You would think they would know that."
-Snow Ramsay, a song of ice and fire
The most famous massive cephalopod on Earth – the giant squid – was also legendary far before humans even confirmed its existence. In fact, you'll find descriptions of tentacled sea monsters in the 13. Century Icelandic sagas. Old Norse literature. Octopus-like creatures have been in our folklore for centuries, but the first clear photograph of a giant octopus was not recorded until 2002.
The reason giant octopuses – and probably the octopuses from Game of Thrones -are so elusive has to do with their habitat. Giant octopuses are thought to inhabit all oceans on earth, but only at depths below 300 meters. Like giant octopuses octopuses likely live in perpetual darkness, hunting fish and marine invertebrates and fearing nothing except occasional toothed whales encountered.
The only scientific problem I have with octopuses is their aggressiveness towards humans. Octopuses are said to brutally attack ships, and it has been suggested that the scent of human blood draws them from the depths of the ocean. If so, octopuses would either have a fantastic sense of smell or live much closer to the surface than we imagined. Given that deep sea creatures cannot survive depressurization, my money would be on the latter.
But again these are unconfirmed rumors. If our own history is any indicator, it will be many centuries before the people of Westeros and Essos can say for certain whether octopuses are nothing more than salt water legendary.
We can't talk about the fantastic creatures of Westeros without mentioning white walkers, the ice-blooded, humanoid race from the time of the first men.
Also known as appeared U.A. White Wanderer around 8.000 years before the events of the series, descending from their Arctic home in a brutal winter called in the long night. They are described in the books as tall, scrawny, pale humanoid with brilliant blue eyes. During their southern March the white walkers killed everything in their path without mercy or reason reanimating human corpses as evil to join their frozen army. Finally, the people of Westeros rallied together against the monsters driving them back north and erecting the Wall to keep them there.
White walkers possess superhuman powers, can freeze anything they touch, and are rumored to bring cold in their wake. But rather than just mindless killing machines, they appear to be an intelligent, humanoid species with a complex social structure, language and Stone Age technology. Would it also have a place in our world?
Unfortunately, I don't think the answer is one. Even if we white walkers their magical ability to allow the dead to rise and their immunity to everything but Dragonglass, we do not get around the fact that biochemistry as we know it does not work when you are frozen.
There are few microorganisms that can survive subzero temperatures for extended periods of time, basically going dormant. But the idea of being metabolically active while frozen is incompatible with life as we know it. Every single biochemical process, from building new proteins, DNA, replication is based on molecules moving in a fluid medium.
Sorry guys, but I think they are just magical zombies.
After surveying just a few of Game of Thrones' terrible beasts, it's hard to draw any overarching conclusions about the feasibility of their fantastical lives. Direwolves and lizard-lions seem plausible creatures by earthly standards, while dragons have some physiological problems, although if we grant them a magical heat source that could be overcome. Scorpion King Living in a jungle of alien horrors. Octopuses are as mysterious as the giant squid. White walkers have no basis in earthly biology at all. Of course, Game of Thrones is fiction, and part of the fun is that our rules don't apply. Even if none of these animals have a place in our world, at least they are all appropriately terrifying to the violent fantasy realm you inhabit.
This article originally appeared on 23. April 2015
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