The Word From the Nerd

Welcome to The Word from the Nerd

Hello, my name is Trystan Nield, and I’m a big nerd. I’ve started up this blog to share some of my views and opinions on nerd/geek topics. I will be reviewing films, writing essays on characters and films, and maybe picking apart the odd bit of poor science depicted. Next time you’re in the shop don’t be afraid to ask me any questions about Marvel, Palaeontology and any other nerd related topics.

I double check that all the information in my write ups is correct, especially when I’m talking about really complicated stuff like Genetics and Particle Physics. I hope you will find my articles to be interesting and informative.

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Jungle Book 2016: The universe shattering Bombshell no one noticed.

24th of May 2018

2016’s Jungle Book was an amazing and visually spectacular film, especially the CGI used to bring the animals of the Jungle to life.  But it appears as if they brought a few too many to life, or should I say back to life. One of the film’s most infamous characters was the menacing King Louie, the massive Orangutan leader of the Bandar-log.

I remember first time watching the film noticing something odd about him, his size. In real life Orangutans are fairly small, around 4ft tall, the same size as Mowgli. But Louie’s head was up to the ceiling of the ancient Buddhist temple.  With me being the massive Palaeontology buff I am, I thought to myself – He’s a Gigantopithecus. And then he said it 


-you might think it’s ridiculous that I Gigantopithecus-


For those who don’t know what a Gigantopithecus is allow me to fill you in. Gigantopithecus is a massive extinct genus of Ape from Southern Asia from the Pleistocene period, it was discovered in 1935 and went extinct around one hundred thousand years ago.  Not much is known about this creature due to the only known fossil being that of a lower jaw and a collection of various teeth.  There as 3 distinct species – G. bilaspurensis, G. giganteus and G. blacki.


There are many competing theories and hypothesise as to what Gigantopithecus looked like and how it behaved.  Some sources claim it to be a large form of early Hominid similar to H. habilis and H. erectus - yes, that’s a real scientific name.  Others say it was an Orangutan based on the area in which it lived and the teeth are very similar.  There is one thing all Palaeontologists unanimously agree on, Gigantopithecus would have been too big to swing through trees like most Apes, it would have preferred as grazing lifestyle, similar to Elephants and Rhinos but still be able to pick fruit off the trees.  It's a well documented fact that when a species grows in size, their proportions alter as well, so King Louie would not look exactly like a scaled up Orangutan, the same applies for when animals become small.


When the climate began to change Gigantopithecus would have still stayed in jungles due to ecosystems like that still being able to support them.  Gigantopithecus was eventually killed off when the Toba super volcano in Indonesia went off, decimating the S. Asian ecosystems.

In Jungle Book they are supporting the Orangutan hypothesis, but is it possible that a small group Gigantopithecide could have survived? 

And what impact would they have on the area?


It’s not impossible for a small pocket to survive, they would most likely down-size and evolve similar to the apes in the area to better suit to terrain, just like how King Louie was portrayed, as a 10ft Orangutan.  As you can imagine a creature like that would require a lot of food but jungles can support millions of individual species at once, including many large herbivores. Due to Gigantopithecus’s size it would have little to no natural predators, although the juveniles would have to be worry about Tigers.  A species like Gigantopithecus wouldn’t need a large population to allow it to survive, especially in the rich S. Asian Jungles.  But they wouldn’t last long, especially with Humans.


The classic Jungle Book story was written in 1894, so let’s say that’s when the film takes place, and that Louie is the last of his species.  If a pocket of Gigantopithecide had survived it could alter the history of that area, due to their human like appearance they would be seen as gods. They would be given food and whole temples built in dedication to them.  Orangutans are fairly docile in comparison to other Great Apes like Chimps and Gorillas, they are gentle and it’s possible that Gigantopithecus would be the same.  They would also pose a serious problem for explorers and colonialists, but like all exotic creatures, the Gigantopithecus would eventually be hunted to extinction.  A Gigantopithecus would be a massive draw for Trophy hunters.


In the film animals are sentient and able to talk.  They possess complex emotions on par with that of humans, although that is impossible it creates a problem.  This makes some things more apparent than others.  Why does King Louie want ‘man’s red fire’ so much? So here is my theory for the Jungle Book’s universe:

Around 100,000 years ago small group of Gigantopithecus managed to survive the Toba mass extinction.  Years later when early humans immigrated into the area they would have encountered these beasts.  Due to their docile nature the Humans would worship them as gods, they would bring them food and build massive temples dedicated to them.  But eventually these animals would die out, invading empires would look to kill these creatures in order to impose their gods and religions on the indigenous people.  But then colonialists came into the area, they would see these great apes and kill all of them, ether for trophies or believing them to be monsters, similar to what they did in Africa.  And so towards the end of the 19th century there are only a handful left.  But one by one they die, until one is left, King Louie.  He survives off his intimidation of the Apes and Monkeys in the jungle who would bring food to him, running it like a crime syndicate.  While he hides out in the ruins on a temple that was once dedicated to his species.  Louie is killed trying to make Mowgli give him fire, maybe so he could have waged a war against the humans that drove his species to extinction.


- I sort of stepped into Planet of the Apes territory there…


King Louie is not the only oversized animal in the film.  There is Kaa, the massive hypnotic Python.  But that one is actually impossible.  The only snake that ever reached sizes similar to that was the semi-aquatic Titanoboa.  But Titanoboa lived in the swamps of S. America in the Eocene, only about 3 million years after the K.T. event that wiped out the Non-Avian Dinosaurs.  A completely different continent, ecosystem, climate and time period to when the Jungle Book is set.  An argument couldn’t even be made for Kaa being a Gigantophis, it was from East Africa during the Miocene (approximately 5 mya) and hunted creatures like Australopithecus, the first Hominids, and nowhere near that big.


King Louie is plausible and did sort of exist, bear this in mind the next time you watch the film…

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Black Panther - Was Killmonger right?

29th of May 2018

!!!!SPOILER WARNING!!!!

!!!!POLITICAL WARNING!!!!


Let me tell you a story, a story about a young boy whose father was killed by the king of an advanced nation who refuses to share his wealth and knowledge with the rest of the world.  The child grows up in poverty but strives to be the best he can so he can overthrow the king, take over the nation and share its resources with the rest of the world.  Does this sound like the backstory to a hero, or a villain?...


This is Erick 'Killmonger' Stevens’s backstory from the 2018 smash hit film Black Panther.  The film is about the young king T’Challa ascending to the throne and deciding on not only Wakanda’s future, but the entire world’s future.


In the film Killmonger is portrayed as the villain, he is vengeful at the Wakandan royal family for what T’Chaka (T’Challa’s father) did to his father years ago and their ignorance to the suffering of millions. Killmonger’s father was a the brother of T’Chaka and a Wakandan spy in America in the early 90s, after seeing the suffering Black people had been put through he made an alliance with Ulysses claw to steel Vibrainiam. T’Chaka found out about this and killed him.  But T’Chaka made a big mistake, he left Eric in the slums to find his father’s body.  Killmonger’s motives were basically to spread the advanced Wakandan weaponry and scientific advancements to impoverished people so they could rise up and take control.  This makes Killmonger a much better villain than any others, he isn’t trying to rule for the sake of ego, or narcissism, he wants to help people.  Although his plan is genocidal it comes from moral motives.


If you don’t know what Wakanda is I will explain the origins of this fictional country: 

thousands of years ago a meteorite containing Vibrainiam crashed in central Africa. Vibranium is a type of metal that can absorb vibrations but also be used as an energy source.  It also got into the soil, effecting plans, making them much stronger and anyone who consumes them will gain superhuman abilities.  The tribes in the area came together and harnessed the material, becoming incredible advanced. But they took it upon themselves to never get involved in the outside world so they hid away.


This presents a major issue, where have they been?  They should have done something when European colonialists slaughtered and pillaged their way through Africa and enslaved any people that they didn’t kill.  This is Killmonger’s main point and he wants to undo that by sharing their resources, he wants to make up for the wrong doings of the past.  Wakanda vowed to never get involved in the affairs of the rest of the world unless it directly involves them, but they could have at least provided refuge to the surrounding tribes.


Although his plan is admirable (apart from mass genocide) it was flawed, mainly in how he went about it.  Due to his traumatic childhood and spending a vast majority of his life in the military it turned him angry and impulsive.  If he hadn’t of gone about it in the way he did, and wasn’t trying to kill millions, T’Challa would have seen his point.


Thought the film T’Challa is battling with himself as to whether he should open Wakanda’s borders and help the rest of the world or not.  As said Wakanda traditionally does not get involved in the rest of the world, but the rest of the world is in dire need of Wakandan advancements.  So T’Challa and Killmonger essentially want the same thing at the end of the day and may very well have seen eye to eye if things had gone differently.  At the end of the film Killmonger’s actions and ideals influence T’Challa to share his resources with the rest of the world.


There is the obvious elephant it the room, Killmonger not only wanted to empower people, he wanted to kill the people in power and kill anyone who would stand in his way, and he was also fine about killing innocent people when robbing the museum. This is what prevents him from being considered the hero of the story and makes him a villain.  Killmonger became a martyr for his beliefs, even though T’Challa offered him lifesaving medical treatment for his wounds, Killmonger refused. His dyeing words hit deep and spoke volumes:


just bury me in the ocean, where my ancestors jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage


When you look at it Killmonger bares a lot of similarities with another brilliant Marvel villain, Magneto.  Both are products of a childhood of oppression – Magneto was a Holocaust survivor, and a Mutant that are hated by society.  Both want to use their powers and resources to empower those oppressed and get rid of the oppressors, and both are also called ‘Erick’ although it’s not their birth name.


So in conclusion was Killmonger the real hero of Black Panther?  No, although his morals were just he did at the end of the day his plan did involve a lot of death.  If Killmonger had excepted T’Challa’s treatment then they could have sat down and disgust their issues and eventually come to an agreement and become strong allies.

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