We all know and love The Little Mermaid, Ariel.
She’s the red-haired princess we’ve loved ever since we were kids. Ariel is from Atlantica, the city on the Atlantic coast where all the merfolk live. Here’s how Ariel appears:
But suppose Ariel didn’t originate in the Atlantic. I wonder what her appearance would be like if she came from a different sea or climate. Joseph Shaw, an expert on aquatic evolution, can envision her in both of these settings with great accuracy. Associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, he has collaborated with his mermaid expert daughter, Emma, to imagine what Ariel would look like if she were actually from a variety of oceanic regions.
1. Ariel from Coral Reefs.
Shaw opines, “one would expect perhaps the most attractive phenotypes in coral reefs, including beautiful colour patterns in their tails, many examples of mimicry, and amazing eyesight to take advantage of the crystal clear, bright, sunny waters.”
If Ariel were from the Coral Reefs, she would be extremely diminutive and brightly coloured. Because of the colours, she would be less noticeable to potential predators.
2. Open Ocean Ariel.
Shaw argues that seafarers should be swift because they must travel great distances. We also know that Ariel’s voice is highly sought after due to the likelihood that they are social (e.g., travel in pods) and have developed complex communication abilities. These modifications would allow them to maintain contact despite the vastness of the ocean.
It’s likely that Ariel has a darker skin tone. She would be harder for predators to spot thanks to the contrast between her dark back and light belly. Her speed would be exceptional as well.
3. Arctic Ariel.
As Shaw puts it, “one would expect to find fatter merpeople who are protected from freezing by the presence of antifreeze genes in the Arctic. As a result of their low metabolic rate, arctic animals are likely to rank among the slowest known to exist.
Ariel would be covered in blubber to keep her warm and would be very pale to blend in with the icebergs.
4. Deep Sea Ariel.
Shaw says, “Because of the total absence of light in the deep ocean, one might expect merpeople to have evolved long appendages to provide an enhanced sense of touch to help orient them.” Some may develop bioluminescence for the express purpose of luring prey or attracting mates.
Under the Sea Since finding food in the ocean depths is challenging, Ariel would have large chompers to help her catch her prey. Additionally, she would present an extremely frightening appearance.
Good luck sleeping tonight!
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