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ragingloli's avatar

If spiders and other 6+ legged animals did not exist, would humans have been creative enough to make them up in fiction?

Asked by ragingloli (46437points) June 11th, 2019

considering that most fictional and mythological monsters are just variations and hybrids of existing animals.
Unicorns are just horses with horns, dragons are just lizards with bat wings, minotaurs are just humans with bull heads, etc.
I think humans are less creative than they like to give themselves credit for, so I doubt they could have come up with a spider.

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9 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

Very insightful question. As you probably know, some of the creations of H.P. Lovecraft are far more alien than most fantasy creatures—yet in an unsettling way, far more familiar and threatening.

As to your question, if we did not have six and eight legged creatures in reality, then whenever they were depicted in fantasy we’d react like we do to the six-armed Vishnu. It would just look “wrong” but not threatening as a Spider, Crab, or Face Hugger.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Of course multi limbed animals would occur to people. Consider those multi armed human statues of Indian provenance.

ragingloli's avatar

I am sure they have spiders in India.

Yellowdog's avatar

But if we had no spiders, a made up one would not be particularly threatening. It would just look “wrong” like the vishnu.

seawulf575's avatar

Well, first off…spiders have eight legs. Insects have 6. But that just brings up the question concerning if man would have dreamed up a creature with more arms or legs. I think Edgar Rice Burroughs created the Tharks…Martians that had 2 legs and 4 arms. That was around 1910, when it was written. I suspect the only way it wouldn’t occur is if every creature on the planet was bipedal. Without a frame of reference, it would be difficult to any creature that had or needed more appendages.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@ragingloli Are you saying the multi armed statues are inspired by spiders or perhaps an octopus? People are almost limitless in creative imaginings—everything from the hydra through mermaids and centaurs. It seems more than probable that ANYONE confronted with routine mechanical tasks is bound to speculate eventually on the advantages of extra arms and hands.

Zaku's avatar

Probably. For example they made up centaurs, which have six limbs.

flutherother's avatar

The creativity isn’t in the number of legs but in the concept of legs, which Nature conceived of rather than Man. As Dunsany said “bricks without straw are more easily made than imagination without memories”.

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