Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Real Science Behind Sparkly Vampires

One of the most chastised elements in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga is the fact that her tough-as-nails vampires sparkle. Perhaps the masses could get over the lack of pointy teeth, and maybe even the ability to go out in the sunlight, but to sparkle when the sun hits? Blasphemy! Anne Rice making her old vamps have papery skin is one thing, but likening a killer's visage with a sparkly diamond is another thing entirely. Dracula is rolling over in his dirt-lined crypt!

But there might be solid science behind the whys. You've just got to stomach this one fact: Vampires are highly evolved insects.

I Like a Little Science in My Fiction has written an excellent post that explains how and why Meyer's vampires sparkle. It all comes down to their many buggy comparisons. The theory starts with the knowledge that most of the hematophages in the world -- a fancy word for blood eaters -- are bugs. Like fleas, vampires must feed before they reproduce, which triggers a painful metamorphosis. Like butterflies, vamps can remember things from their lowly caterpillar/human days. They're cold-blooded, and have a hard exoskeleton instead of soft, pliable skin. Their speed is like that of the super-fast Tiger Beetle, strong like the horned dung beetle, and have eyes that put our human versions to shame.

But finally -- why do they sparkle? The site posits that vampires must be like butterflies -- sometimes known to feed on blood -- who have tiny iridescent scales.

Yes, it's silly, but it also makes a whole lot of sense. So, next time you pull a Bella and gush over Edward's sparkling face and divine beauty, keep in mind -- you might be lusting for a highly evolved insect.

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