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"You don't really get nature, do you?"
Johnny Bark, Arrested Development

There are cases where the MST3K Mantra certainly applies, especially if the entire world of the work of fiction is pretty crazy and, thus, all bets are off in terms of good science. Therefore, most of the examples below are culled from series who were at least trying to be taken seriously (so please keep that in mind before adding an example on this page).

A subtrope of Hollywood Science. Contrast or compare Art Major Biology, Improbable Taxonomy Skills. See also Hollywood Evolution.


Examples of Artistic License Biology include:


Advertising Edit

  • In an H2OH commercial, the narrator voice comments how cool it is that nature gave spikes to the hedgehog, instead of you (human). In the video, though, the guy shoots spikes all around. It's said that porcupines can shoot their quills -- porcupines are not hedgehogs, however, and the popular belief is in fact false. Porcupines may have their spines dislodged while swinging their tails around because the spines are very loosely attached to the porcupine so that they'll come out once they've been lodged in another creature's skin; however, they don't deliberately shoot their quills at a target. They're much more likely to reverse into your leg and fill it with hooked barbs.
  • Lots of ads and other kinds of artistic portrayals show "parrots" that don't exist in nature, with bizarre coloration, patterns, etc. Oh well. But even depictions which were obviously done with a good attention to detail, including real-life parrot coloration, feather layout, anatomy, etc. still often mess up the feet. A very large fraction of all parrot artwork gives them "chicken feet" (with three toes facing forward, one facing back) instead of real parrot feet (which have two toes forward, two toes backwards). Corona Beer ads are especially bad about this. The same problem often crops up in depictions of woodpeckers, cuckoos, and roadrunners, which also like parrots have zygodactyl feet.
  • There's the "oxygenated water" thing. Drinking water with more oxygen packed into it is good for you, right? Well, only if you had fish gills in your stomach. If you stomach and intestines could perform that sort of gas exchange, Coke and Pepsi with their carbon dioxide would be deadly poison. Lungs do that function excellently, thank you.
  • Yellow, the peanut M&M from the candy commercials, Fails Biology Forever when he and Red show off their muscles. Yellow boasts "Check out my adenoids!", but adenoids are tonsils, not muscles.
  • Most commercials for hair care products use words like "nourishment" or "healthy hair." One commercial years ago even went so far as to call hair "a living, breathing part of your body." Too bad that the part of the hair being "treated" is biochemically dead. The only part that's actually alive is underneath the skin, in the follicle.
  • There's one vitamin commercial that claims that it helps repair your cell walls, a feature not found in mammalian cells. Even if they're just trying to put cell membrane in simpler terms, they still Did Not Do the Research, unless they were referring to the cell walls of the native gut flora...


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Love Hina:
    • Ken Akamatsu seems to have been blindsided by myths about eyesight. Supposedly, Naru 'ruined her eyes' by studying so much for her entrance exams, and towards the end, Keitaro has developed night blindness, unstated but implied to be from going on so many digs with Seta. While these things are possible, they would require our fun couple to do most everything by dim candle-light, never get enough Vitamin A in a modern culture, and basically seems a combo of somewhat realistic biology and old wives' tales. Maybe this was meant to symbolize their blindness about their mutual feelings, but genetics also plays a huge role in eyesight.
    • A turtle which flies by flapping its fins. Of course that's pure Rule of Cool in effect.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia's most prominent female character Hungary used to think she was a boy. And she thought that penises grow as you age, which would "explain" her...lack of one. And she laughed at Prussia for "not knowing."
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle features, to make a long Mind Screw short, a My Own Grampa situation[1] where all involved have the same DNA, despite the presence of a non-blood-relation mother.
  • The masters in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple didn't fail biology. Biology failed them.
  • Handwaved in Digimon, anything impossible that a Digimon (or the Digital World) does is explained away by saying "they're just data".
  • Hentai. For starters, normally men don't use penises of the dimensions of a forearm to fuck women with breasts as big as watermelons, resulting in shoting gallons of cum umpteen times in a row.


Comic Books Edit

  • In the Wham! Episode of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, it is revealed that Swamp Thing is actually a plant, not a transformed human. Fair enough (stranger things have happened in the DC Universe). The thing is, we're told that his memories were transferred to the plant in the same way that planarian worms can learn how to run a maze by eating other planarians that solved the same maze. While it is, admittedly, a fantastic idea for sci-fi writers to play with, it's too bad the planarian worm experiment from 1962 was faulty to begin with and has since been discredited. The new worms in the maze were actually following the slime trails left by the old ones, rather than relying on transferred memories. Placed in a fresh maze, they performed no better than the old ones. (Funnily enough, the scientist saying this in the story is, at his best, not quite right in the head. And later, Moore does, in fact, reveal that A Wizard Did It.)
  • Chick Tracts.
    • "That Crazy Guy" is intended to warn teenagers about the dangers of premarital sex. Among other errors, it includes the old saw about there being holes in latex big enough for HIV to pass through (and for some reason, the statement that doctors don't trust latex gloves to protect them from HIV). In reality what matters is if fluid (the medium for transmission)can pass through the latex, which is dependent on factors like hydrophobicity (surface tension) rather than just pore size. Plus the strong implication that HIV will immediately kill you within a few weeks, rather than taking possibly a decade or so before fatal symptoms set in. (In this light it's actually a good thing she also got gonorrhea, however that happened, because it lead to early treatment for HIV.)
    • Another Tract, "There Go The Dinosaurs" (from which the top picture is), claims that because all the plants died after the Great Flood, there was less oxygen and thus the big dinosaurs were slowed down. By that logic, we'd still have all the other smaller dinosaurs around and big animals like elephants and giraffes wouldn't exist. Also, how did all the plants come back? Pretty much any time Chick uses "science" in his tracts, he fails everything forever.
      • It also showcases another, rather curious, misconception: "All dinosaurs were big." A misconception that shouldn't exist, especially thanks to movies like Jurassic Park.
      • While as a Biblical-literalist Young Earth Creationist, Chick would consider paleontology to have been Jossed (by, ahem, Word of God), there actually seems to have been less oxygen in the atmosphere in the Mesozoic. Dinosaurs evolved a network of air-sacs throughout their bodies that, today, serve to help birds breathe at high altitudes. The low oxygen-levels are also believed to be one reason that mammals, with their less-efficient respiratory system, were restricted to small sizes during the Mesozoic.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer miniseries "Viva Las Buffy", in which our heroine travels to Las Vegas, the villains are two twins joined at the hip: the man's a vampire, the woman's a mortal with deadly aim. One problem: their joining was so minor (both had full limbs and organs), any sane doctor would have separated them at birth - not to mention the fact that conjoined twins are identical and not fraternal and would therefore necessarily be of the same sex. Of course, this being Buffy (and as such, anything can happen), a wizard probably did it.
  • Even Warren Ellis is not safe from failing biology. After he explained the difference between normal and artificial mutants (or were they mutants from alternate reality? Probably both) in his first Astonishing X-Men story, people at Scans Daily pointed out that genetics don't work that way. Ellis admitted his mistake.
  • When Ellis wrote Iron Man: Extremis, he explained the eponymous magic bullet (a single injection which would turn ordinary mortals into supermen) as a "Data package contained in a few million carbon nanotubes, injected directly into the brain". The information package would then rewrite the repair center in the brain -- that is, the part of the brain which keeps a complete 'map' of our organs and functions. "The brain is telling the body is wrong"... and it compliantly changes according to the Extremis instructions. Perhaps needless to say, there is no "repair center" (although the "sensory homunculus" seems a little bit like what is described). Later writers retconned Extremis into a viral package, which is at least borderline believable.
  • How to tell the birds from the flowers. A manual of flornithology for beginners by R.W.Wood parodied semiliterate "botanics" books:

 Some are unable, as you know,

To tell the Crocus from the Crow;

The reason why is just be-caws

They are not versed in Nature's laws.


Fan Fic Edit

  • Dakari-King Mykan gives us this gem in The Sailor Moon Legend of Zelda:

 Melvin was most outraged by that. "How can you girls say that?!?" he spat. "Biology is all around us, the singular sciences of how our glorious Planet-Earth is formed and runs.

    • Moments later:

 "Now, I understand your teacher has had you investigating the science of sound."

  • Somehow, My Immortal confused magic with "advanced biology" when the protagonist was narrating about what is ostensibly transmogrification.
  • Animal comparisons are a very common method of establishing a character as having a Biggus Dickus. Truly clueless writers compare the hero to a gorilla. And the women are impressed by this. As You Don't Know Jack put it, "King Kong my ass!"
  • In Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, Dark shoots and kills Watari on his way out of the "Whammy" house. Watari returns six chapters later, having been revived by CPR - even if he hadn't been killed, CPR could not have saved his life.
  • Subverted in the Danny Phantom/Gargoyles crossover, "A Wish Your Heart Makes." Titania gives Vlad a vision of what his life might have been like if he had stayed friends with Jack and Maddie instead of turning evil. This leads to Vlad becoming Danny's biological father to prevent him from being born with hemophilia (Jack and Maddie had just discovered that Maddie and Jazz were carriers for it). Once Vlad wakes up from the vision, he reminds Titania what almost anyone who knows anything about hemophilia would have already noticed: because it's carried on the X chromosome, any child of Maddie's would have had the same chance of inheriting it no matter who the father was. Titania admits that she included that error on purpose so Vlad would know for sure that it really was All Just a Dream.
  • Dear and fluffy Lord, all the fan fics, who have snake spies reporting what they hear to a master. Ignoring the silliness of snakes understanding human speech, snakes do not have ears. They can detect vibrations in the ground and water, but they cannot detect airborne sound waves.
  • Everything about Chocobo Nights. Not least the fact that, to quote the Ficbitches' review, "TIFA JUST GAVE BIRTH TO A FUCKING CHOCOBO."
  • There exists a fanfic whose author was under the impression that being intravenously injected with deadly nightshade would instantly heal a gunshot wound. Way to misinterpret herbal medicine ...
  • A Fetish Fuel-crossed-with-disturbing Lord of the Rings fic featured the Mary Sue sustaining the Fellowship when they ran out of food by breastfeeding them. Human females do not produce enough milk to feed nine adult males at once. Someone on a badfic-sporking community pointed out that they'd do better to kill and eat her.
    • Not to mention the fact that, even if the Mary Sue could produce enough milk, human breast-milk has very little nutritional value to a human older than, say, 8 years old (this being the absolute upper limit).
  • Similarly to the above, Celebrian features the title character learning to subsist entirely on semen. Then again, maybe orc semen has a higher vitamin content than that of humans.
  • Just about every aspect of For Your Eyes Only.
  • Yaoi fanfic that wishes to define a man as a virgin because his "asshymen" has been breached. As anyone who has ever taken a shit should know, there is no such thing as an asshymen. And besides, if such were the case, wouldn't that mean...
  • There is a rather prolific author on Fanfiction.net who seems to believe that the male and female genitalia differ In Name Only.
  • Invoked in Shinji and Warhammer 40k, after Shinji's trip through the temple of trials. He emerges and calls out the monks on how giant scorpions and the like should not exist by any known physical law, quoting this page's title, word for word.
  • MPreg fics. Sometimes hand waved by A Wizard Did It sometimes...not. The so called real biological justifications range from babies delivered anally to the character having a uterus. The latter example ignores the lack of ovaries, fallopian tubes, a menstrual cycle or any relevant opening with which to eject the baby. There's You Fail Biology Forever and then, there's this.
  • The Digimon fanfic Red Digivice Diaries fails in two ways. First is, when Digimon have sex, the male grows a penis. Seriously, WTF? Second example is that Digimon don't give live birth. Instead, they have digitams develop and give birth to that.
  • There is one Harry Potter fanfic that places Draco's penis at a minimum of forty-two inches long[2]. Needless to say, the quantity of blood required to get something that long erect would cause the rest of the body to die from lack of blood pretty much instantly.
  • There's a particularly bad 6teen fic where the author states that Niki's mary sue twin is such because doctor's put her dad's eggs in Niki's mother.
  • Though this was mentioned in the Troper Tales section of this page, this fanfiction deserves special recognition for logic-defying injuries. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • There are a few fanfics having a girl who just had sex wakes up then instantly knows that she's pregnant.
  • The Fan Fic "Full Metal Dragon" doesn't even have to start before this happens:
    • Summary: Jake's mom had an affair while she was still pregnant with him. resulting in two infants. Jake stayed with them while the other child went with his father, Hoenheim of Light.
  • The infamous My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Cupcakes presents Pinkie Pie as a cannibalistic serial killer. Apart from being horribly and blatantly out of character, Pinkie Pie is a pony, meaning a small horse. Horses are herbivores, and though the show does play fast and loose with equine biology, it doesn't play that loose.
  • In The Darker Knight Batman's batarang hits "Too-Face" in non-vital organ...like his liver and intestines.

Film Edit

  • In Batman and Robin, cops in Mr Freeze's lair SCREAM "My Lungs!! My LUNGS are FREEZING!!" courtesy of some freezing gas by the icy villain. How, pray tell, does Joel Schumacher explain their ability to form sounds, much less scream, when their lungs are freezing?
    • More importantly, how exactly do you tell when your lungs, specifically, are freezing?
  • The 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. "His life-support suit was similar to a placenta." "That makes sense, because a placenta sustains life." Words cannot describe the idiocy of this reasoning.
  • Finding Nemo: Barracuda don't have much of taste for eggs. They prefer live prey.
    • The interior of the whale's throat is too large. While blue whales have a gigantic mouth, their throat is tiny and unable to swallow anything larger a beach ball.
    • They also have respiratory and digestive traits completely separated, you know, so that they don't unintentionally sneeze fish out of their blowhole. And where is the light inside its mouth coming from?
    • Chuckles, the gift fish who was killed by Darla, was a goldfish. Which live in freshwater. The other Tank Gang fish are saltwater fish. You can see where this is going.
    • None of the sea turtles seem to worry about having to breathe. They also don't travel in flocks, but this was intentional.
  • The Doom movie has the mutant monsters come from the genetic experimentation of long dead human Martian Precursors. Fair enough. But it turns out that the mutations are caused by there being a "gene for evil" in the "poorly understood 10% of the human genome" which the genetically engineered chromosome reacts to. Now, when one of these mutants bites a healthy human, it infects them like a virus.
  • In The Horror of Party Beach, a doctor explains that the monster is actually a dead human whose organs were invaded by aquatic plants before they had the chance to decompose, and calls the result "a giant protozoa." Protozoa are single-celled lifeforms, and "protozoan" is the word for describing one in the singular. Also, algae are not "aquatic plants". They're algae.
  • Jurassic Park contains a few:
    • One character who is supposed to be a paleontologist saying "Dinosaurs and man. Two species separated by sixty-five million years." The problem being that dinosaur is not a species designation, but a much higher taxonomic rank. There are currently known to have been more than 1,000 species of dinosaur. Furthermore, most of these species have been extinct far longer than 65 million years (and most paleontologists would argue that some dinosaurs live to this day -- these dinosaurs are technically known as "birds").
    • Another scene has him holding a baby dinosaur in his hands. "What species is it?" he hisses to a nearby geneticist. "It's a Velociraptor," responds the geneticist. Neither of these trained scientists who really ought to know these things picked up on the fact that Velociraptor is the genus name. The species is probably Velociraptor mongoliensis.
    • An early scene has the paleontologists digging up a Velociraptor mongoliensis in the Montana badlands. As the name implies, they lived in Mongolia, and not Montana. The raptors are also way too big. Although if you pretend they're saying Deinonychus every time they say Velociraptor, it makes a lot more sense, because Deinonychus did live in Montana, and was somewhat larger (although the raptors might be closer in size to the even bigger Utahraptor). The cheetah speed and chimpanzee intelligence can at least be filed under artistic license.
      • The misidentification of Velociraptor was actually due to Science Marches On -- the original book based its research on a (now debunked) palaeontologist who argued that Deinonychus antirrhopus was in fact a species of Velociraptor, which means what they were digging for in the novel (which the film failed to correct) was a north-American Velociraptor antirrhopus. Every instance where the book and the film uses Velociraptor is therefore in actuality a reference to Deinonychus antirrhopus. This fails to take into account the lack of feathers and an egregious misunderstanding of Deinonychus anatomy, but this could be explained away (at least in the book) by the knowledge that these aren't "real" dinosaurs but a facsimile created by geneticists working with patchwork DNA and a flawed understanding of the beings they're trying to re-create.
    • The entire premise of the movie (and the book) fails. If the amber-preserved blood was any more than 1 million years old, the DNA would have been irrecoverably decomposed, no matter what it was preserved in. Cloning extinct species from before 1 million years ago is impossible.
      • And even if the DNA were available, we have absolutely no idea how to turn that DNA into a viable dinosaur egg. You'd need complete information about how the oviducts of that particular species operated even to get started, and we don't even have any fossils of dinosaur oviducts, let alone a clue as to their gestational duration, average internal temperature, etc.
        • Of course, it's entirely possible Crichton knew, but bent things on purpose. It's probably a good thing we don't know how to make living dinosaurs. That would be like giving five-year-olds dynamite.
    • One more for the road: The Lysine plan. A plan to limit the growth of the dinosaurs by making them dependent on the amino acid Lysine, by taking away their ability to produce it themselves. Any first-year biochemistry student could tell you that Lysine is an essential amino acid, i.e., most modern-day vertebrates (including crocodiles and sharks; superorders who existed in the Jurassic period) can't produce it either. And we make do without it, because we get Lysine from our gut flora or by eating things containing Lysine (practically anything made from plant matter, or meat from things that have eaten plant matter, or who have eaten things that have eaten things that have eaten plant- oh, you get the point). The Lysine plan is a great way to limit growth of genetically modified bacteria, who depend on Lysine in the media if they can't make it themselves. For vertebrates, who obtains it from eating things anyway, it's not. The book at least acknowledges this as an in-universe whopper by InGen's scientists (who probably slept through their first-year classes), as it turns out it was no hindrance to the Dinosaurs whatsoever.
  • '50s B-movie The Amazing Colossal Man has one of the doctors tending to the eponymous rapidly-growing man describe the human heart as "one big cell." As Tom Servo says, "You're not a real doctor, are you?"
  • In another '50s B-movie, The Alligator People, a physician uses hydrocortisone injections to induce accident victims to regenerate damaged body parts. While cortisones do reduce inflammation (swelling), and can therefore make injuries feel better, they actually slow down the healing process.
  • In The World Is Not Enough, Renard has a bullet lodged in his medulla oblongata that is "slowly killing off his senses". No One Could Survive That! This is credited with removing his sense of touch, despite this not being where the sense of touch is in the brain. The sense of touch is in the parietal lobe (mostly) which is at the top back of the brain. The medulla is at the bottom of the brain. While some have survived with bullets in their brains, such as Kiran Prajapati, who they were likely thinking of, if a bullet was damaging your medulla your heart would quickly fail, you would stop breathing, and your sense of touch would be fine. Until you die, of course.
  • The African exhibit in Night at the Museum includes an ostrich. Ostriches are African, so no problem, right? Except that the exhibit is specifically and prominently titled "The Hall of African Mammals."
  • Push has the lead character inject soy sauce directly in to his blood stream with no side effect at all.
  • Snakes on a Plane is a horrendous violator of biology, and even ignores rules which they mention within the film. The film is not meant to be serious, it is simply silly fun, and the day is actually saved because one character knows Mortal Kombat, but the biology does not even deserve an "F;" it gets an "Incomplete" because it did not even show up to enough classes to qualify as a full-time student:
    • The snakes are shown as shockingly aggressive, actively pursuing prey, whereas most snakes (including those shown in the film) are relatively sedentary; the snakes in the film bite repeatedly for no apparent reason, simply killing without eating the people or defending themselves, and then move to attack and kill other people who are neither a threat nor viable prey. The snakes are described as being so aggressive and violent because they are being stimulated by sexual pheromones, except that snakes are not praying mantids or black widows and do not kill their mates while they have sex. If snakes were to be brought into a violent frenzy when in the presence of sexual pheromones they would require separate pheromones for each individual species, and would be just as likely to attack each other as humans, as any other species would be as much of a threat/competition as the people would.
    • The Burmese python practically growls and flashes fang like an aggressive dog. Then it manages to kill the Jerkass in moments, when in reality it would take much longer even if the guy had a heart attack almost immediately. Finally, the python has no problem getting human shoulders down its throat. A real python would need a few moments to unhinge and stretch out its jaw, and then would probably need some time to properly position a meal that wide. Assuming a snake that size could get its head over an adult male's shoulders in the first place; even most potentially man-eating snakes will have trouble consuming a large person. Yes, there were time constraints, but still. At least the python seems to still have been working on its meal when the poor thing got sucked out the window.
  • Going past all of the usual dragon examples that would apply to the beast from Beowulf (like wingspan), how does a heart that can fit in a man's fist pump blood through the body of a seventy foot long flying and swimming reptile? Never mind that a heart in the neck protected by tracing paper is a bad idea anyway. Blocking the trachea and being easily rip-outtable are not desirable traits in a heart. Although being the product of a gold thing and a human you can hardly expect it to have evolved properly...
  • In Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, a young anteater is seen blowing bubbles in a pool of meltwater, by breathing out through its elongated snout and in through the mouth at its base. Real anteaters have tiny mouths, and they're located at the tips of their snouts, not underneath them. Keeping the end of its snout continuously submerged should've drowned it. Also, Scrat the proto-squirrel has huge saber-like canine teeth. Being rodents, squirrels -- even prehistoric ones -- don't have canines at all.
  • Any Christmas movie which shows female reindeer without antlers, or male reindeer retaining their antlers into December, Fails Biology Forever. Females of the species need antlers to guard their young from predators, whereas males shed theirs after the rutting season, with one exception: males retain antlers in winter if they have a "special operation".
  • The writers of Mission to Mars clearly had a lacking understanding of genetics. To start with, one of the characters constructs a model of a DNA molecule from supplied spacial coordinates, then Gary Sinise is able to look at a (very small) string of computer-generated DNA, and see that it "looks human". This is impossible, because a) you can't tell what species a sequence came from by looking at such a small sample and b) spacial coordinates that form a double helix say precisely jack shit about what bases (and, by extension, what genes) are contained in the DNA sequence. Then someone mentions it's missing "the last pair of chromosomes," when the simulation makes it readily apparent it's missing the last pair of bases. To top it all off, the coloring of the bases appear to suggest that a base pair is made up of two identical bases, which is just wrong.
  • A scene in the bad Canadian vampire B-movie Thralls features the lead villain vampire punch another man through his stomach, tear part of his spine out and show it to him as the now-spineless man merely stands there. And then, rather than break in half where his spine used to be... he just collapses.
  • In the James Bond film Goldfinger, a Bond girl is asphyxiated by covering her entire body with gold paint. Bond explains that people need at least a small patch of bare skin at the base of the spine to "breathe." This isn't true. It was Dave Barry who remarked on the "remarkable recent discovery that people actually breathe with their lungs, and not with their skin after all." This actually has a grain of truth, but the idea of asphyxiation due to painted skin is still 100% bilge. Death would be from heat exhaustion if the paint interfered with perspiration, or exposure to toxins if the paint were unsafe. And it would take a very very very long time.
    • Overlapping with Science Marches On: At the time the novel was written, "skin asphyxiation" was taken seriously, at least by the public. The studio had a team of doctors on hand while shooting the death scene, and left actress Shirley Eaton's stomach unpainted to make sure she could breathe.
  • In Alien Resurrection, the plot hinges on creating a clone from blood samples to harvest the completely separate lifeform hiding out in the original Ripley's chest.
    • It's implied that Aliens bond with their hosts at the genetic level. That doesn't make very much more sense, but hey, it's Alien.
  • The Spleen from Mystery Men is an in-character example, as he named himself for an organ that has nothing to do with his superpower.
    • Is it mentioned that he named himself after the organ? "Spleen" can have several meanings in English.
      • The fact that he's The Spleen would indicate that it's referring to the organ. And even if it doesn't, none of the other definitions fit, either. Unless his superpower is meant to be a very loose definition of "venting one's spleen."
        • What I think it ultimately comes down to is the fact that the Spleen wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • In the a Final Destination movie, a girl is slowly pulled into the machinery of an escalator. As soon as her feet get crushed, she starts spewing blood all over her boyfriend. No reason for that, really. No digestive or respiratory organs in the feet.
    • It is possible that getting her legs crushed between those cogs and gears caused her blood pressure to skyrocket, which would pop blood vessels (starting with the very weak ones, such as the capillary bed in the lungs). Imagine rolling a tube of toothpaste starting from the bottom up.
    • Actually, every single movie is filled with You Fail Biology Forever moments. And a bit of You Fail Physics Forever. C'mon, who gets crushed to death by a rocketed tank gas and a fence? Even if the fence is quite sharp, it should have be broken before reducing someone to confetti.
  • A minor case in Mystery Team, but it is somewhat unusual that Jason can bike several miles with one flat tire without showing any signs of fatigue.
  • A ridiculous number of movies, including the majority of vampire-hunt flicks, depict the human heart as being located near or slightly above the left nipple. The heart is located at the bottom center of the human ribcage, which means an awful lot of would-be Van Helsings actually missed their targets. Also a Real Life misconception, given how people lay their hands over their hearts their left breast to salute the flag, pledge allegiance, etc. (mostly justified for women, though, as placing the hand directly over the heart usually means cupping their own breast).
    • This specific manifestation is subverted in the Gary Oldman film Chattahoochee. Oldman's character tries to commit Suicide by Cop via a shooting spree, which doesn't work. He then takes his gun and shoots himself just above his left nipple. When he wakes up in the hospital, the doctor gives him a short anatomy lesson.
  • The Reaping: Members of the Satanic cult sacrifice all their children to Satan, except for the firstborn, who are inducted into the cult, to ensure the cult itself can survive. In reality, you would need (on average) two offspring to survive (and reproduce) per couple just for the population to remain stable. Even if the cultists recruit outsiders to marry the kids they don't sacrifice, attrition would still wipe them out, as some of each generation are likely to die, fail to reproduce at all, or leave the cult.
  • James Cameron's Avatar has some Taxonomic Term Confusion.
  • Piranha 3D contains an idea so egregiously stupid that it may very well have been put in just to make the dumbest people in the audience feel smart when they realized that it was impossible. The Piranha survived two million years in an enclosed covern through CANNIBALISM!!!! It's like they took The Matrix's bio-battery lunacy and turned it up to OVER 9000!!!!!!. For those of you who were absent the day they taught about food chains in Middle School, the general rule of thumb is that every predator gets about 10% of the energy his prey took in. So, every generation of piranha should have lost 10/11 of their population. Even assuming they magically preserved 90% of the energy, they wouldn't have made it that long without producers in their food chain! And just to add insult to injury at the end of the movie we find out they've been fighting the babies, which are apparently as big as their full-grown prehistoric ancestors. So, apparently, this process made them BIGGER.
  • While most of the less-than-realistic aspects of the Godzilla films can be attributed to Rule of Cool and/or Rule of Funny, there's a scene in the 1993 version of Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla in which one of the human characters feeds Baby Godzilla a leaf. This would be fine and dandy, if Godzilla's species wasn't already established to be carnivorous (Godzillasaurus pretty much looks like a jumbo-sized T. rex) and that Baby Godzilla clearly has teeth better suited for tearing apart flesh rather than munching on veggies.
    • The 1998 American Remake constantly showed Zilla running at a rather high speed. People, there's a very good reason why very large animals (IE: Elephants, Apatasaurus, Tyrannosaurus, etc.) don't move fast (or don't run very often). To put it nicely, if Zilla were to trip while running that fast, he'd pretty much splatter all over the pavement when he fell.
      • Actually, given Godzilla's mass, the amount of force generated by falling at that speed would have been less "splatter" and more "Earthshattering Kaboom."
  • In Showgirls, does Kyle MacLachlan's penis exist in the midst of his stomach? A double case of this and Anatomically-Impossible Sex.
  • In The Matrix, Agent Smith gives a Hannibal Lecture on how humans are viruses, because they don't instinctively develop an equilibrium with their environment like other mammals and instead breed until they can't support themselves and have to move on. In reality, mammals do not instinctively do that, and equilibrium is something forced on them.
  • When Major Cain tries to persuade Alice to cooperate with Umbrella in Resident Evil Apocalypse, she calls herself a freak. Cain's reply? "No. You're not mutation, you're evolution!". If Alice were to breed and pass on her mutation, then it would be evolution.
  • One would hope that Trevor Reznick/Christian Bale of The Machinist is exaggerating when he claims not to have slept a wink for over a year - Unless he was taking little 5-10 minute naps without realizing it, he'd have been dead after a month.
    • That film did a darn good job establishing Reznick as an Unreliable Narrator, so it seems likely he caught cat naps without realizing it.
  • This could be applied to the majority of vampire movies which try to sound "scientific." While it would be possible to rely on a blood-only diet similar to the vampire bat, the vampire in question would have to take half their weight in blood and become enormously bloated since blood contains about 90 percent water and only 10 percent in protein without any fats or carbohydrates. Magic vampires, of course, can handwave all of this.
    • In addition, vampire bats after a feeding are usually too heavy to fly and must accomodate this by digesting the blood quickly and releasing most of it through their urine.
      • Because of this, their necessarily high metabolisms and the sparse nutrients in blood, a vampire bat will die if it goes without feeding for two nights in a row. Even missing one night of feeding could make it too weak to go out the next night for blood unless it begs some blood off another bat in the roost. A human-sized vampire would have to completely drain several humans a night to keep up their health, not to mention do all the things vampires can supposedly do (such as turn into bats, which have higher metabolism than humans, meaning they'd need to consume even more blood just to stop them running out of energy in minutes).
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Spider Woman Holmes meets Spiderologist #1 who recommends that Holmes visits Spiderologist #2. Meanwhile, criminal has murdered Spiderologist #2 and is impersonating him. Holmes spots the fraud because the criminal uses wrong terminology. Meanwhile Holmes, Spiderologist #1, Spiderologist #2 and Criminal all call spiders "insects".
  • In Time The premise of the movie is that the aging gene is switched off, resulting in effective immortality. Aging is not the result of a gene. Aging is caused by the degradation of telomeres. Telomeres are repeated strings of meaningless DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes. Every time cells divide, the chromosome lose some base pairs, necessitating these telomeres. They function in quite a similar way to the aglets on the end of your shoelaces.
  • The second X-Men movie has a scene where a mutant comes out to his parents about it. His father turns to his wife and says, "This is all your fault!" Wolverine speaks up, saying "Actually, the mutant gene is carried on the Y chromosome, so it's really your fault." No mention is made of the fact that Jean Grey, Storm, Mystique, and Rogue apparently now don't exist, or at least aren't mutants, because females only have X chromosomes. Of course, this is Wolverine. Word of God is that the line was solely intended to aggravated the jerk.
    • The X-Men series has a whole collection of offenses. Mutants cannot be called another species, given that they can still interbreed freely with normal humans. Even if you don't have a biology diploma, it ought to be obvious that there could be no universal "cure" that suppressed all the flashy mutations (but not "regular" ones like, say, heterochromia?) on any given mutant without affecting anything else, and certainly not in a matter of seconds.
    • The one speaking up is Pyro, not Wolverine.
  • Oh so very much in the killer snake movie Anaconda, all in the name of the Rule of Scary. Among other things:
    • Anacondas don't grow that damn big.
    • They don't move at the speed of a cheetah in chase.
    • They don't predominantly prey on humans, especially after encountering life-threatening resistance each time.
    • They don't eat multiple preys the size of a human being one after the other. After consuming a meal like that (which can take hours), the snake will find a secure location where it will remain immobile for months to digest its food.
    • And they certainly don't regurgitate their prey just so they can hunt again out of sheer sadism. They sometimes do this for safety purposes, such as when they're threatened by a predator and they can't afford to be lethargic by having such a big meal in their stomach.
  • A woman is cut in half at the waist in Hillside Cannibals; her intestines spill out of her lower half.
  • Predator. After being killed the scorpion cools down, even though it's cold blooded and should have already been at the same temperature as the surrounding air.
  • The Waterboy: Bobby Boucher tackles his biology professor over the fact that alligators get ornery because of their enlarged medulla oblongata, leading to more aggressive emotions, instead of Mama Boucher's explanation that "they got all them teeth and no toothbrush". They're both wrong, because the medulla oblongata has absolutely nothing to do with emotions, being responsible for breathing and heart rate. The amygdala is responsible for emotions.


Literature Edit

  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier book Stone and Anvil, it is explained that Mark McHenry gets his abilities because he is descended from Apollo and Carolyn Palamas. No one else in the line has these abilities because the godhead is carried on the Y chromosome, and all their descendants prior to Mark are female. Of course, females have only X chromosomes, and there's no explanation where Apollo's Y chromosome was hiding out for the intervening century.
  • Mariel of Redwall, of the Redwall series, mentions Gabool the Wild having gold "replacements" for his canine teeth. Sadly, he is a rat, and rats do not have canine teeth to begin with. Most of the physical deformities exhibited by characters (often the villains) would be cause for them to be outcasts and likely dead in short order. Those defects would include walking upright and speaking English. Not all animal characters are as realistic as Richard Adams's.
  • In Susan Collins' first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, there are birds called jabberjays that were created by man to spy on people and relay their conversations to the Capitol. Fine and dandy. But then they (exclusively males) are left to die out after they are discovered; they then mate with female mockingbirds, creating--ta da!--an entirely new species. And the palm hits the face. In real life, hybrids of two species are almost always sterile due to differing numbers of chromosomes.
  • To be fair to Arthur Conan Doyle, at the time the Sherlock Holmes stories was written, legitimate scientists were speculating that some things might be theoretically possible, so it's not always a case of Did Not Do the Research, but more of a case of Science Marches On. That said:
    • In "The Creeping Man", the eponymous character "devolves" into an ape by shooting up with monkey blood, or brain juice, or something. Just... no. (An episode of Mystery based on this story had to put a disclaimer at the beginning of it explaining this fact, lest the audience treat the story's events as pure Narm. It is instead claimed that the character has been driven mad by the adverse effects of the hormones so that he thinks he is a monkey.)
    • In "The Speckled Band", the villain controls a snake by whistling, which a snake would be unable to hear. This one was lampshaded in a Russian miniseries. Watson points out that the snake couldn't possibly hear its master's call. Holmes replies that the villain wasn't sure in his method either, and also tapped his cane on the floor.
      • The man also tempts the snake with milk (a common misconception). Holmes calls it "a swamp adder, the deadliest snake in India", a name which does not correspond to any species of the snake's characteristics.
      • In the same story, a man who collects Indian wildlife is said to have a pet cheetah and pet baboon. While cheetahs hadn't yet been driven to extinction in India in Doyle's day, baboons come from Africa: large ground-dwelling monkeys from the Indian subcontinent are properly called "macaques".
  • Wayne Barlowe does a pretty good job of maintaining consistent and possible alien biologies in Expedition... except for the Daggerwrists. Pregnant Daggerwrists are cannibalistic and are executed by their tribes when their single offspring is born. If you can't do the math, this means that at least two Daggerwrists will die for every one born.
  • Similarly to the above, in the Point Fantasy book Brog the Stoop, it's mentioned that a female "Stoop" (vaguely elven creatures with blue skin) can only bear one "Stoopling," which would mean every generation is half the size of the previous one, thus leading to extinction pretty quickly.
  • Similar, again, is a Dutch book by A.F.Th. van der Heijden called Het Leven uit Een Dag. Humans only live one day in the book. They can only have sex once, then their reproductive organs will wither away (the woman will get pregnant instantly). Since the humans in that world only get one child, each generation will be half the size of the previous one. Since a new generation only takes a day to grow up and die, humankind would be extinct pretty darn soon.
  • Likewise, the vampire-like creatures from George R.R. Martin's Fevre Dream seem doomed to slow extinction, as their females give birth to single offspring and always die as a result. Granted, Martin's vampires are actually aware of this quandary, but that can't explain why their young would evolve the self-destructive habit of clawing their way out of the womb, in the first place. At least the source is clear: that's what they thought about lions in ancient times - hence the Aesop's fable about a hog boasting to a lioness about the number of her babies, to which the lioness replies "I have one, but it's a Lion".
  • Harry Potter:
    • J. K. Rowling, says that "magic is a dominant and resilient gene."[1] Given the number of wizards born to Muggle parents (and the extreme rarity of the reverse), this blatantly flies in the face of middle school genetics. You could say that A Wizard Did It (it is magic, after all), but the far simpler explanation is that magic is recessive and that squibs have mutations that block or repress the magic gene. This may be a whole class of subtrope: treating "dominant" and "recessive" as synonyms for "awesome" and "lame", rather than their proper meaning in genetics, which are "works even if you only get one" and "only works if you get two".
      • Although there are certain rare genetic disorders that are dominant.
      • The problem with this is that half bloods still end up perfectly magical, even if their muggle parent has no magic blood.
      • That we know of. It's entirely possible that the only half-bloods we're shown in the series are the ones born to a heterozygous muggle parent and a wizard. It may be that the ones with a homozygous muggle parent are simply never mentioned.
    • Both the book and movie of Philosopher's Stone feature a snake that winks at Harry. Snakes can't wink.
  • In the Replica series of YA novels, the bad guys repeatedly try to get hold of Amy's super-DNA by cutting her hair and fingernails. The installment where her DNA reverted to "normal" after getting her ears pierced ... wait, what?
  • In The Stand, the explanations given for the operation of the superflu virus are sketchy at best, and it seems highly unlikely that the disease would have resulted in such massive destruction. (Among other things, a plague is deadliest if it has a long incubation period, giving it maximum lead time in which to spread before the victim becomes too sick to move around.) Still, there aren't any obvious screw ups... until the end. Up until this point, the superflu had been a binary proposition: Either you got it and died, or you didn't get it. At the end, however, a baby born to one immune and one non-immune parent gets the superflu and then recovers; which leads the thoughtful reader to ask, what the hell happened to the children of immune and non-immune parents born before the flu? As a bonus, the explanation given for how the baby recovered is a load of crap.
    • The explanation for why the baby recovers and the children of immunes and non-immunes don't before the plague seems implicitly to be that the babies not born until after the plague have acquired protection from the plague by being in their immune mothers' uteruses at the time of the plague; those born before the plague are no longer connected to the mother and thus don't have the ability to catch it and recover.
    • In Salem's Lot Dr. Cody, who is not depicted as an ignorant quack but an at least semi-competent professional, says, "Why should your head hurt? Your brain doesn't have any nerves." First off, if your brain had no nerves then it would functionally be useless. He means that your brain doesn't have nociceptors, which is true, but doctors universally knew very long before the book was written that there are all sorts of reasons why your head still hurts. For example, while the gray matter itself doesn't feel pain the blood vessels that run through the brain do. Ice cream headache is one example of this type: the sudden rush of cold to the head makes the vessels temporarily painfully retract. Also, sinuses can cause headaches, as can the inner scalp. Very often it's the back of the eyes (which are less round and go further back into the skull than they look from the outside) hurting due to eye strain or what not. The skull can feel pain too, but probably only if you've suffered serious cranial damage. No one with an M.D. wouldn't know all this.
  • In Prince Caspian, Reepicheep the talking mouse has lost his tail in battle, and he argues with Aslan over whether it needs to be regrown. Both of them seem to think a mouse's tail has no practical value, and is of use only as a badge of honor or vanity, but the tails of mice and rats are actually important thermoregulatory structures, without which he'd be quite vulnerable to heat stroke.
    • A mouse the size of a domestic cat would have problems with that anyway. It's moot for purposes of the story.
  • Medb, Queen of Connacht, from Tain Bo Cuailnge, is defeated because her period saps the strength of her army. In itself, that's pretty bad, but more for its Unfortunate Implications. The biology fail comes about because her period makes her piss blood. Enough to flood three parade grounds in fact.
  • In Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet, all of the good and significant descendants of Madoc, the good Welsh prince who sailed to America, went native, and married a Native American woman of a tribe called the Wind People, have deep blue eyes--regardless of their racial background. It doesn't matter if they are 99% Native American, they have deep blue eyes. The evil significant descendants of Madoc's power-hungry brother (who intermarried with the warlike People Across The Lake--enemies of the Wind People--and whose descendants intermarried with the native population of Vespugia) have either metal-gray eyes or ice-blue eyes. Because genetics color-codes eyes according to a person's morality. Uh-huh. And the genes for blue eyes of all sorts are totally dominant, too.
  • Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn. Vampires don't have any blood in their tissues, so Edward shouldn't be able to get an erection in the first place. Also, Meyer has said that Vampires' cells don't divide, but sperm is created by a type of mitosis called meiosis, which means that Vampire men shouldn't be able to get women pregnant repeatedly a la Nahuel's father.
    • Not to mention, Vampire venom at one point was stated to replace all fluids in the body which is why it turns into a sparkly rock like substance. If you follow that logic, his sperm should have been replaced. So basically, the first time they had sex and he orgasmed... she should have become a vampire instead of becoming pregnant.
      • By that logic, Bella would have turned the first time she kissed Edward.
    • Also, Vampires somehow gain two extra pairs of chromosomes after they change. Yeah. Yet, they are still capable of impregnating humans, who are at this point, a separate species.
      • Werewolves also gain one extra pair of chromosomes. And Renesmee has one extra pair of chromosomes. Yeah, that she should have two unpaired chromosomes doesn't matter. In fact, pretty much all of Breaking Dawn has no clue at all when it comes to genetics.
      • Where do they get the extra chromosomes?! It's not like you can cut and paste them.
      • And you'll never guess Meyer's excuse: "I'm not a biology major."
    • Smeyer has made it known that she is oblivious to how the eye functions, and how she lacks any knowledge of the color spectrum.
      • Bella sees rainbows around each source of light. We humans can experience the same using micro prism films, those glasses that make every light have a little image over them, or going around with the new 3D movie glasses. The only difference is that the glasses/prism film have a warning not to operate any machinery, drive, or go into direct sunlight wearing the glasses. Should her vampires be allowed to drive cars at that speed?
      • You think that would actually stop them?
  • The Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom briefly mentions a man who has sex with a goat. This causes the goat to give birth to a monster (which he also has sex with).
  • Michael Crichton's novel Sphere has quite a few. The squid might get a pass for being an alien manifestation, although the biologist should know better than to believe that a normal squid could tear a metal structure to pieces. More flagrantly and not given a pass by the Rule of Cool, same biologist sees a seasnake and finds it perfectly normal to see one 1,000 ft down in near total darkness, AND makes a completely ludicrous evolutionary argument that marine organisms have more potent venoms because it's had longer to evolve (implying that land life arose separately rather than as an extension of marine life?). The whole discussion can be eliminated from the book with no negative impact yet it stands as a short Author Tract.
  • In The Sword of Truth Richard rips out his evil half-brother Drefan's spine with his bare hands. Drefan proceeds to keep fighting. There's some attempt to justify this by explaining he knows a (non-magical) technique that he used to stop the blood loss, but that doesn't do much to address the fact that it is now physically impossible for him to control his legs.
    • He was stated to lean up against a waist high wall. I got the impression he managed to raise himself into a sitting position.
  • The Rainbow Fish has the protagonist - a fish with rainbow-colored, shiny scales - give away all but one of his scales to the other fish kids. A nice family-friendly Aesop about sharing with others? Too bad that removing a fish's scales would kill it, because scales don't regrow.
    • If you remove too many at once, it leaves the fish open to infection. Scales do grow back, just not very quickly. Besides, the Rainbow Fish only gives away the iridescent scales that the other fishes ask for.
  • Played straight and averted in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. At one point, the Big Bad sends soldiers who are immune to pain. This seems to endow the soldiers with cockroach-like resilience, with them surviving hideous trauma and even being able to move despite cut tendons and broken limbs. One takes dozens of arrows and still has to be beheaded. In reality, the injuries would kill them despite an immunity to pain. Averted in Inheritance, where the irradiated Vroengard is full of mutants, suggesting Hollywood nuclear physics, but it is in fact a magical effect.
  • In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Ronald Niedermann is a 6'6" musclebound blonde giant, who has a disease which renders him unable to feel pain. The book even mentions that most people who have this disease die at a young age, but then hand waves it away by saying he's just too tough to die. This is, of course, not how it works. Normal life is dangerous enough for people with this affliction, but this character was an amateur boxer and gets in several fistfights over the course of the book. One untreated injury could conceivably kill him, most notably when he takes a full-strength punch to the kidneys from a pro boxer. But even before that, the kind of muscular frame he has cannot be maintained without weight training, which would be catastrophic without pain sensors to determine one's limits.
  • In the original novel version of Frankenstein, Victor worries that if his monster had a female monster to mate with, they would produce monster babies. That would be all fine and dandy if the monsters weren't made from reanimated human flesh, almost guaranteeing them both to be infertile. Even if by some miracle, they were able to conceive, any child of the two of them would in fact be human, biologically descended from whoever the monsters' reproductive organs came from.

    Like the Sherlock Holmes example above, this is also actually a case of Science Marches On. The original novel was published twenty years before Schwann and Schielden founded cell theory, and almost fifty years before Pasteur definitively disproved abiogenesis. In fact, the most exciting discovery of the time was the effect of electrostimulation in disembodied muscle tissue, so the story of a creature made from dead human material reanimated by lightning was as grounded in modern science (in 1818) as literature about sentient computers is today.
    • Although there is no reference to Victor's using lightening. There is a single reference to the "apparatus of life".
  • According to his backstory from James and the Giant Peach, James Henry Trotter's parents were eaten alive by an escaped zoo rhinoceros. In real life, rhinos are supposed to be herbivores. Fortunately, the film adaptation averted this by changing said rhino from an actual rhinoceros to a large rhinoceros-shaped demon made entirely out of thunderclouds.
    • I always thought the implication was that they were crushed by the stampeding animal...
  • At what point did Lesbian Land 2250 get an aspect of human biology correct? "Ginger Winters" thinks that vaginas are indestructible, all-encompassing, and incapable of infection, that breast milk can sustain a grown human. Under any normal biological conditions, entire chapters would culminate in much of the cast dehydrating and succumbing to desiccation. Also, the Voodoo Shark that comes up in the course of handwaving No Periods, Period, and the overall capacity it has to drive geneticists to alcoholism, and...
  • Early in Artemis Fowl, Holly Short has a Character Filibuster denouncing sewage treatment as a horrible violation of Mother Earth, inspiring Fridge Horror in readers familiar with modern Germ Theory. When the elves are this obviously wrong, someone should definitely be arguing with them.
  • Earth's Children: In the second book when Jondalar is giving a young woman her First Rites (popping her cherry), Auel utterly fails at biology by describing what is clearly meant to be the hymen as "a blockage deep inside".
  • Hothouse Flower and The Nine Plants of Desire:
    • Orchidaceae are, in actuality, marginally more difficult to care for than graminoids.
    • Berwin greatly miscalculates the value and rarity of certain plants. Oxalis, for instance, is a relatively common and inexpensive plant.
    • Propagation is significantly more difficult in real life than it is in-universe.
  • Maximum Ride often has shades of this, particularly by abusing the Lego Genetics trope. Splicing bird DNA into human DNA isn't exactly easy, and even then, trying to engineer a Winged Humanoid would be far more complicated than taking bird DNA for wings and putting them into a human zygote. There are no genes for bird wings that one can just take and put into another creature. It gets worse when the characters start developing superpowers, some of which were planned by the scientists and others of which mutated randomly. How would they even do that? There are also some little things, like hawks nesting in large groups, but the genetics is the big one.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • In one of the early episodes of Smallville (which, admittedly, is not well-known for scientific accuracy), an embittered loner entomologist decides to take out his newfound mutant aggression on his mother. He blames this on his nifty bug genes, but rather than describing a real critter, he likens himself to the fictitious pharaoh spider. The fact that this creature exists in Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is either a coincidence or a Shout-Out, as the game wasn't released until two years later.
  • ICarly:

 Spencer: Do girls have bladders?

  • Too many Star Trek episodes to name (some are covered on the subtrope pages).
    • Another Enterprise offender: an Ensign has a slug-pet that is not faring well on board ship, so they drop it off on a planet. Not its native planet, mind you -- just a planet. Admittedly it won't have any breeding stock, but still...
    • Voyager
      • In the episode "Macrocosm" we have viruses(!) which can grow in size - up to a meter, fly, and hover in the air - something tells me the word "virus" was completely misunderstood...
      • 'Virus' was only what everyone was calling them. They had features of many different forms of life, viruses included.
      • The Occampans (Kes' race) In Voyager, can only reproduce once, and have one child. What kind of species would evolve such a trait and thrive? You'd need EVERY member of your race to reproduce to have 0 population growth. If any member of the race dies, then the race as a whole has taken a blow it cannot recover from! Heck, how did the Occampan race come about? Since they can have only one child, and thus cannot grow in numbers, how are there so many of them?
      • It was actually explained in a novella that twin and triplet births were extremely common among Ocampans, so it depends how you look at it.
    • The TNG episode "Genesis" was on a par with "Threshold" -- demonstrating that Brannon Braga may have a PhD in this trope. Switching on Barclay's T-cells causes the Enterprise crew to -- sigh -- devolve to a variety of different species... most of which have common ancestors diverging HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO -- and Spot the cat becomes an iguana. Apparently in Star Trek, everyone walks around with copies of not only the future evolutionary patterns of their own species but ALSO whole swathes of species that are completely unrelated to them from their home planet. The worst offender being Barclay's devolution (and presumably re-evolution) into a spider, which would only be possible if he devolved into a pre-Cambrian lifeform first.
      • Data devolving into a pocket calculator would have made more sense.
      • a) Threshold didn't say that evolution was fixed, it just posited that it (change) could be severely (and randomly) accelerated in certain circumstances. Paris' random allergic reactions and physiological changes had nothing to do with evolution, which takes place over time and hundreds of generations. This is sci-fi, so concepts such as genes being forced into flux are par for the course. b) ALL life is related. DNA is the blueprint, the programming lanaguage. The episode was dealing with a 'what if' - namely, what if that language could be distorted and partially rewritten?
      • And even this was already plumbed with TNG's "The Chase", which attempts to cure at least three problems at once...by making all of the Alpha Quadrant's DNA part of a message by a progenitor race, also humanoid, that "seeded" planets with their genetic code in the hope of more sentient humanoids like themselves popping up. Cue Picard facepalm.
      • An original idea that inspired a lot of 'ancient ancestor' settings. To clarify, the original humanoids found that their home galaxy (not just one quadrant) contained no life that was like them. Their own extinction fears drove them to seed the Milky Way and as a result encourage humanoid life to develop. The code was like a signature for them - they wanted the Milky Way races to find out their origin to encourage cooperation.
  • Brannon Braga, of Star Trek fame, went on to create a short-lived sci-fi series also called Threshold. The premise? Alien space signals cause people's DNA to begin re-writing itself! At least this time, the characters acknowledged that this should be totally impossible and had trouble dealing with the idea that it was actually happening.
    • Totally impossible...within our understanding. It's always worth remembering that in 2100 they will laugh at us for the things we knew for certain in 2010.
  • In the first episode of Primeval, Cutter comes across a human skeleton. He is initially worried that it may be his missing wife, but he soon realizes that it's a male skeleton and thus can't be her. Fair enough, but the way he checks is by counting the number of ribs. Never mind that this is based solely on the Biblical account, which even then only affected one individual from who knows how long ago. Checking the shape of the hipbones would be be easier.
  • On Rides, the build team works to incorporate a real human skull into a spooky-themed vehicle's sound system. The narrator constantly refers to the skull as "he" and "Don", yet the numerous close-ups show features that suggest it's really a "Donna". Granted, the show's cast have no training to recognize this ... but you'd think the suppliers who provided the skull would've mentioned it.
  • In the CSI episode "Crash and Burn," the suspect says, "I have to feed my fish. Clown loaches, tetras, angelfish..." when the aquarium clearly contains goldfish, angelfish, and a couple other species (possibly tetras in there somewhere). There are, however, no clown loaches - probably because they're best kept in groups of 5 or more, in tanks over 100 gallons, which the tank in the episode definitely was not.
    • Likewise, a suspect on NCIS told Ziva that his aquarium held clownfish, triggers and lionfish. The fish in the tank are clearly clownfish, porcupinefish and surgeonfishes, and keeping lionfish in the same tank as smaller fishes is a great way to get the latter envenomated or swallowed.
  • In the third episode of Sanctuary, Zimmerman claims that the last major outbreak of the Bubonic Plague was in 800 AD (the end of the Plague of Justinian). Leaving aside for the moment that he should have said "AD 800," the last major outbreak of the plague was in 1945. He was only off by about a millennium. Even ignoring the occasional outbreak in modern times, he's completely missed a little thing called "The Black Death" in the 14th century, the most famous plague outbreak in history.
  • Monk: A woman kills a billionaire by poisoning a death-row inmate, thus ruining the kidney he was going to donate to said billionaire. They both apparently have the "rarest blood type in the world" -- "AB Negative with D antigen." Except, the Rhesus D antigen is what we mean when we say "positive" or "negative." No wonder AB Negative with D Antigen is so rare... it doesn't exist! "AB with the D antigen" would mean he's AB+ ... and therefore can accept any blood type! Also of note, only blood expresses the Rhesus antigen. All that's required to match in organ transplantation is the ABO blood type; all the recipient needed was another AB-type kidney.
  • Something similar occurs in the first season of Dexter, when Dexter has a flashback to being sick enough that he needed blood. He apparently has an extremely rare blood type that meant donor blood was in short supply, and they had to find a close biological relative of his to donate. That blood type? AB negative. While this is the rarest blood type, it's also compatible with any other type of blood, as long as that blood is also negative. These are more Did Not Do the Research, since there are extremely rare blood types... they're just not the ABO system types that everyone's heard of (in particular, there's an Oh type that's both very rare and which can't accept even the so-called "universal donor" O-type blood).
  • Eleventh Hour likes to totally screw up cloning (at least the clones are born as infants and not carbon-copy adults with complete memories). In the first episode, Jacob Hood insists that cloned pregnancies are more dangerous to the mother carrying the clone and that you need the "real scientist" at the birth, when in fact a cloned infant poses no more threat to the mother than an in vitro pregnancy, which is scarcely more risky than a natural one (and in fact the mother's health is only in jeopardy if her own body is incapable of carrying a pregnancy; if the baby is unhealthy it will simply miscarry). Then in a later episode, he makes the claim that clones are born genetically the same age as the original that they were copied from (so even though they look like babies, their genes are actually adult or even geriatric), stating that the telomeres which break off each time a cell replicates are severely shortened. However, scientific research measuring telomere lengths has proved this to be false; the developing embryo somehow "knows" how long its telomeres should be and resets them to this length with the enzyme telomerase.
    • This could be a better example of Science Marches On as most of these were real concerns when cloning was first something other than science fiction.
      • When you clone vertebrates you only get longer telomeres occasionally, while shorter telomeres due to the cloned DNA's age happen a lot. Measuring telomere length has NOT been proven to be false; on the contrary, the action and behaviour of the telomerase enzyme is still not fully understood.
  • Chuck:
    • An enemy agent injects herself with a sizable amount of ricin so that she will not talk. That's all well and good, as ricin has no antidote...but it also takes days to do its dirty work. She of course died instantly.
    • On The third episode of Season 3, a foreign leader requires a blood transfusion and has AB- blood type. Dr. Captain Awesome is yelling is trying to find someone with AB- blood type; even though people with AB bloodtype can receive A, B, AB, and O blood types as long as they are negative.
  • The Tomorrow People. What makes it worse in this case is the fact that the show had a scientific advisor listed in the credits!
    • Claims that evolution takes "thousands" of years.
      • It is far more complicated than that. Populations and species are constantly evolving - they are not simply different a million years later. Microbes, bacteria and viruses especially, evolve in terms of decades and single years. Why do you you need a flu vaccine every year? Why do bacteria like MRSA come along? Evolution.
    • In "Hitler's Last Secret", John explains, straight faced, that "Genes are those body cells known as the DNA molecule." Which is about as biologically accurate as saying "Fribble fribble rhubarb, fribble fribble ploo," and only slightly better grammatically.
      • A closer analogy would be someone saying: "Addresses are those towns known as the brick/two-by-four/cinder block".
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicless' first season, Derek needed a blood transfusion. Apparently, he needed his own blood type despite being AB ("Universal recipient", able to take blood from any other type)... Sarah said she was type O ("Universal donor", able to give blood to anyone), but her biological son John was AB?! Even if John's father Kyle was also AB, John must have an O from his mother, so he's either A or B, yet his not-AB-blood worked just fine... *headdesk*
  • Animal Planet really, really should know better...
    • An episode of Animal Planet's: The Most Extreme was about modern day animals and their ancient ancestors. Fair enough...until they start talking about the Komodo Dragon and state that its ancestor was the Tyrannosaurus Rex. If the producers of the show had done even five minutes of research on the internet (or even just read a current book on dinosaurs), they would've realized that Komodo dragons and the Tyrannosaurus rex aren't even closely related to one another. A more true ancestor for the Komodo dragon would be the ancient Mosasaurs (sea-dwelling reptiles that lived around the same time as the dinosaurs). Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying smacking his/her head against the wall in disbelief. Your common farm chicken is more closely related to the T-rex (birds are essentially modern-day theropods) than the Komodo dragon is.
      • The misconception about lizards being direct descendants of dinosaurs, and that millions of years ago giant lizards roamed the Earth, is quite common especially in older movies, so common in fact, that many people consider it a fact even to the point of refusing to believe this isn't so. Lizards do not descend from dinosaurs. The most direct descendants of dinosaurs are birds.
      • Or (other than the mosasaurs) they could have substituted T-rex with Megalania, it would have worked and would have been just as or even more cool.
    • As a lead-in to some trivia about prairie dogs, the narrator of 50 Outrageous Animal Facts speaks of how mammals can sometimes be found in large groups. As he talks, shots of animal crowds appear on screen, including a beachful of walruses, a field full of wildebeest, and ... a lake full of flamingos. Large groups of mammals, right...
  • Nobody expects a fake-cryptid-sightings show like Lost Tapes to keep up scientific credibility, but the statements of their bogus "experts" can contain such idiocy it makes you wonder if they're doing it on purpose. When discussing werewolves, a fake biologist cites instances of a chameleon or octopus changing color as examples of "metamorphosis". Never mind research: do the writers even look up terms in the dictionary before writing this garbage?
  • Bones
    • In the episode "The Dwarf in the Dirt," Dr. Brennan epically Fails Biology Forever when she tells Sweets the chunk of brain Booth is missing would in no way mess with his aim because it was taken from his Frontal and Parietal lobes (which according to her only deal with memory). She then states that only the Occipital lobe (sight) and Cerebellum (coordinated movement) have anything to do with aiming a gun. The part of the Frontal lobe closest to the Parietal lobe is called the "Motor Cortex" and, oddly enough, is in charge of motor control. The Parietal lobe (which is a major part of spatial relations) has a part next to the Motor Cortex called the "Sensory Cortex" which, you guessed it, is about feeling ones body. Of course, moving, feeling and spatial relations have nothing to do with aiming a gun... Nothing at all...
    • The frontal and parietal lobes are the largest two lobes of the brain, so it depends on which parts were taken. But the motor cortex and sensory cortex are right beside each other, straddling the border between the lobes, so it's hard to imagine how a single piece could be removed that incorporates both lobes and not involve the motor and sensory cortices (in which case Booth would have troubles far more than just aiming a gun - he'd be liable to be paralyzed on one side of his body in at least one limb). Also, the part of the brain most involved in memory is the Temporal lobe. And in a later episode they show an MRI scan of Booth's brain, and the missing part is most definitely not anywhere near the frontal or parietal lobes.
    • In a minor example, one episode starts with a human falling to his death and landing in a field of cows. The witnessing cows just stand there placidly, and politely keep their distance from the investigators. Real cows tend to be curious, so would gather to see what was going on.
  • Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. Yes, Sheldon. When he is unable to learn to drive on a driving simulation without crashing into a pet store or ending up on the second floor of a building, he claims that because he is the next stage in evolution of humanity, citing his small incisors and his massive ego brain, he does not need to learn how to drive, because the task is beneath him. Evolution does not work that way! Sheldon Cooper is also egotistical and occasionally delusionally convinced of his own superiority. He has been known to occasionally ignore various scientific principles in order to win arguments, particularly when it comes to superhero physics.
    • Given that humanity is still evolving, every generation is a new stage. Sheldon's only mistake is that he overexaggerates his own significance in the process.
    • He is missing the point of natural selection. Because of his psychological quirks and self-centerness, his fitness level currently appears to be very low (moreover he has a very low interest in finding a mate in the first place, much less conceiving and raising a child). Unless his attitute changes completely, he is going to be naturally selected against, and not pass on his genes. Evolution favors those who have multiple children, of course.
  • Battlestar Galactica
    • In season 2, episode 13, the supposed genius Dr. Baltar heals president Roslin's cancer by injecting her with some cylon/human hybrid blood that is more resistant to diseases because it has no antigens (which means it has bloodtype O) and therefore it has no blood type. Therefore it is somehow capable of destroying a cancer in a very late stage. Furthermore, cancer cells (or any other animal cell type) aren't cultivated in a petri dish and on agar, as it is shown on the pictures Dr. Baltar has, but are instead cultivated in cultivation flasks in a fluid.
  • On Discovery Channel's I Shouldn't Be Alive, the narrator explain the effects of hypothermia on human cells, using the term "cell walls", in one episode (and is sure they have used it other times). Animals do not have cell walls (in fact, Animalia is the only kingdom where they are totally absent). Yes, they probably just don't want to explain what a cell membrane is/assume the audience won't understand the explanation, so they use a term the audience will know. Considering Discovery's association with fact and science, it seems like they would be willing to spend an extra ten seconds quickly explaining what it is.
  • On one episode of Charmed two characters performing an autopsy in the coroner's office both appear to believe that a woman with "high levels of testosterone" in her bloodstream is a biological anomaly, rather than a statistical outlier. "Testosterone? How's that even possible?" It's as if the writers believed that women normally have no testosterone in their bodies at all (in actuality, they do, and some have more of it than others).
  • Life After People just lapsed into this trope, showing footage of Volvox and Paramecium -- two well-known varieties of protist -- while discussing how living bacteria might've hitched a ride on one of NASA's deep space probes. Protists are more closely related to us than to bacteria, and the types shown would die just as quickly as we would in hard vaccuum.
  • Cryptid-buffs on Monster Quest attempted to catch photos of Bigfoot, baiting camera-traps with smelly chunks of salmon. If Bigfoot is alleged to be a great ape, why assume it would use smell to find food, or consider fish edible? Apes are mainly vegetarians, the species that do eat meat don't scavenge it, and their sense of smell is only slightly better than our own. Brightly-colored fruit would seem the better ape-attracting food to offer.
    • Except for those apes that are omnivorous and HUNT, humans and Chimpanzees being two examples.
      • But all apes eat fruit, whereas very few primates eat meat. Bigfoot's diet is anybody's guess, so why not select a bait that's palatable to virtually every sort of primate, rather than something only a few would consider edible? The only reason to choose salmon rather than fruit is if you want photos of bears stealing your bait.
  • Doctor Who
    • The weird scorpion monster that Professor Lazarus transforms into is said to be an evolutionary possibility that humanity rejected long ago but has remained locked in the genes, or something along those lines.
    • Another episode had the Doctor discovering an underground lair full of cloned humans infected with, in his words, "EVERY DISEASE IN THE UNIVERSE." They didn't die since all the diseases kept each other in equilibrium but if they touched you, you died instantly and painfully. How did the Doctor cure these poor souls? Why, he doused himself in ten or so intravenous solutions designed to cure the diseases, then transmitted the cure by touch. One of these diseases, called "petrifold regression", turns you into stone.
    • In "The Hungry Earth" the Doctor is able to identify the monster as a Silurian due to the fact that he can't see them with infared goggles. Cold blooded life forms aren't literally cold! Later, while explaining that the Silurians aren't aliens, he calls them 'Homo Reptilians'. Doctor, you fail taxonomy forever.
    • "Planet of the Ood" has Mr. Bartle constantly downing hair tonic which turns out to be Ood-secretions that TURN HIM INTO AN OOD. Complete with the external forebrain, which can apparently break through the hard palate to come out his mouth.
    • In "Daleks in Manhattan", the Daleks are using a giant lightning rod to power their genetic experiments. Okay. The Doctor mixes his own DNA into the results by hugging the lightning rod as it's struck by lighting. Whu? DNA is conducted by electricity now?
    • The classic episode "The Invisible Enemy" beggars description. The Big Bad is a prawn-shaped space virus which spawns... let your imagination fill in the blanks.
    • Could all be handwaved in one of three ways: 1) The TARDIS doesn't give a literal translation of the Doctor's biobabble, it instead renders something the companions can understand, even if it's wrong. 2) The Alien physiology/technology in question could work differently from our understanding. 3) The Doctor makes it up cause it sounds cool.
  • The spin-off Torchwood has a character ask if Weevils might be mutating and thus becoming immune to the Weevil spray. So far so good. Then the Battle Butler adds "or evolving".
  • A Korean drama special entitled Last Flashman has a girl find out a shocking birth secret (that she's an alien or something) because she has blood type O but both her parents have type A. Most of the people are shocked and confused and maintain strongly that it's impossible to have blood type O from A parents. This is biologically wrong, since having O blood type with A parents are perfectly possible -- a person with A bloodtype can have the allele pattern Ai, and if each parent donates an i, the child gets an O. It would be odd if it was two ABs giving birth to an O, or two As giving birth to an AB, or two Bs giving birth to an A, or two Os giving birth to an AB or A or B, but this is not the case.
  • In an episode of Fringe, the Monster of the Week is a fast-moving, foot-long slug that turns out to be an engineered cold virus. Walter attempts to Hand Wave this by stating that it isn't entirely unprecedented since large ostrich eggs are single cells. Except viruses aren't cells. Cold viruses are strands of genomic DNA contained inside of a protein coat, and entirely unable to move under their own power. Saying that it was a "giant" cold virus makes as much sense as a "giant" hemoglobin molecule.
  • One episode of Supernatural involved changelings that replaced children, then fed on the unsuspecting mothers' synovial fluid. The creatures left big lamprey-like bite marks at the bases of the mothers' necks, which only makes anatomical sense if they feed on cerebrospinal fluid; to get synovial fluid, they ought to have bitten knees, hips, and other large diarthrotic joints. A loss of synovial fluid should not cause death, by the way: it causes severe arthritis, which none of the afflicted mothers exhibited.
    • In another episode, a charred bone from a witch's bundle is identified by the boys as that of a newborn baby. Long bones of infants don't have fused epiphyses on their ends, while this one clearly has them.
  • In Babylon 5 the Psi Corps covertly try to get Talia to take a treatment to "cure" her telepathy, when it would in fact turn her into a empath. It is then revealed that their plan involves breeding her with the other empath created using this process, in order to create empath babies. That's right, not only are they evil, they're also Lamarckians!
  • Reign of Fire: A whole species consisting of thousands of females and only one male? Talking about putting all your eggs in one basket...
    • That's actually not impossible. Bees are sort of an example (there's generally more than one male of course, but hives are by far mostly female). A better example, however, is the angelfish, believe it or not. Angelfish live in large schools of females led by a single male. When the male dies, one of the females actually switches gender and becomes the new male; clownfish also operate in a similar manner. So the scenario is completely possible.
      • This Troper hasn't heard of angelfishes having harems like that. He does know that Blue-Headed Wrasses have that reproductive pattern.
    • Although it would be unlikely that killing the male would result in the extinction of the species, like depicted. It's more likely to be like the Anglerfish, one of the females changes into a new male to carry on. Which sort of means it ends on a Downer Ending if you think about it...
  • The entire Stargate series is filled with terrible biology.
    • In Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis there are many references to humans not being as evolved as other alien races. Let's not forget how you ascend, you have to evolve into it, or jump into an evolution machine, or have your brain operating at a certain "wavelength" or whatever happens to be the trope of the week.
    • The Asgard have a serious problem, they are all clones and because they simply clone their last body their DNA is degrading! It seems that nobody had the bright idea to not copy the last clone, but just use the original copy every time.
      • Well, this is actually the point - they do not have any original from back in the time when they were still well enough. They found some ancient frozen asgard, but those were not yet ready to be used as "hosts". And of course, there is no saying what the requirements of the clone are - possibly, the mind transferring process isn't actually as simple as they make it to be - possibly, the body has have some compatibility with the "transplantee". By the time they realized they have a problem, it was already too late. Yes, they could have bought some time if they stored some current copies for later use, but at the end of the series, they made it clear they do not want to protract their "death" as a species any longer, when there are no advancements in their condition.
    • In Stargate Atlantis Dr. Becket concludes that the Wraith evolved from the Aratis bug by using every trope in the biology book. The DNA of the Aratis bug mixed with human DNA, and because parasites are normally identical to hosts they feed from, the Wraith were born.
  • Glee has had several in-universe examples:
    • Early on, Puck claims that women do not have prostates, but technically they do.
      • Was the "woman technically have prostates" claim presented in universe? Because if so, that's some massive biology fail right there: just because Skene's glands are homologous to prostates does not actually make them prostates.
    • Finn was persuaded that he had impregnated Quinn by ejaculating into a hot tub they were sharing, while both of them were wearing bathing suits.
    • In the episode "Sexy," Brittany thought she was going to have a baby because she saw a stork building a nest atop her garage. Not only do storks not drop off babies, but they also do not nest in Ohio.
  • The 1995 Outer Limits remake's Season 7 "Flower Child" was a flagrant offender in this category, featuring Violet, a plant lifeform taking the form of a hot chick via stealing human DNA. At the end of the episode and when her plans are questioned, she reveals her plans for Earth - to the human male who "fathered" her family of spores, no less - with the words "A new species, part you but more of me. To spread across this land, to become many. To become dominant." Correct this troper if he's wrong, but isn't the whole point of inherited genetic characteristics that each parent contributes HALF of their DNA to the child, and not more than half?
    • But even more so, since Violet's human form isn't 100% E.T. by default, isn't the new species going to be more him?!?
  • The X-Files has a bit of this with most monsters-of-the-week.
    • Human-flatworm hybrids can happen on their own with enough radioactive sludge.
    • In Blood an LSD-like substance was combining with adrenaline to produce a hallucinogenic substance... in the eyeball. They have visual hallucinations. (Or did they?) The eyeball could probably absorb it into the blood, but the coincidence is a bit much.
  • In The Tag for an episode of Community Abed, Troy and a character played by Betty White rap the biological classification of human beings with a remixed "Africa". While the song is an Ear Worm there are two minor mistakes when the last 's' is dropped from Primates and Sapiens.
  • Dr. Holt (A Gifted Man) had apparently never heard that you're not supposed to diagnose paternity based on ABO groups when he told an AB- man on the spot that his son, O+, wasn't his biological child. Although it is rare, the man could have been cis-AB and had an O child.
  • QI had an episode about animals and Sean Lock, either as a joke he kept up all evening (claiming that he learned everything he knew about animals from glamour-model Katie Price), or through what he professed to be sincere ignorance, were unable to score a lot of points. Among other "facts", he claimed that that Rhinos are dinosaurs, because he throught they were called "Rhinosaurus".
  • An episode of the National Geographic Channel's series World's Deadliest claimed that the lion is the largest African predator. A large Nile crocodile can weigh five times as much.


Music Edit

  • In the children's song "I'm Being Eaten By A Boa Constrictor", the snake swallows its prey feet-first. This is backwards from how snakes normally feed. (Granted, doing it the right way around would make for a much shorter song...) Another problem with the song is that boas kill their prey before they start to swallow it.
    • Strangling aside, it's not unheard of for snakes to go feet first. It's just that they don't normally do it that way. Maybe the snake in the song was stupid, or concussed, or something.
    • The proper way to survive being eaten by a boa is to lay on your stomach, hands at your side and feet together. The snake will mistake your feet for your head. When the snake gets around your waist you "use your knife to stab its head". That's assuming that you always have your trusty knife with you. Of course, this "advice" is actually from a parody of poor survival advice that somehow became believed.
  • Dem Bones song found here (warning for sound)
    • "...the toe bone's connected to the heel bone..." [Nope.]
    • "...the thigh bone's connected to the backbone..." [Also nope.]
    • "...the neck bone's connected to the head bone..." [No such thing as "the" neck or head bone.]
    • Depending on how you look at it, either very few bones are actually "connected" to other bones, or pretty much all of them are connected to all the others (the various skull bones are pretty clearly connected to each other, as are the fused bones at the other end of the spine; other than that, they mostly just hang out near each other and are connected only by soft tissue without actually touching).


New Media Edit


Tabletop Games Edit

  • In Warhammer 40000 science generally takes a backseat to the Rule of Cool, but...
    • One particularly Egregious example needs to be mentioned: The Eldar are stated to have TRIPLE HELIX DNA and are somehow still hinted to be capable of birthing a viable human/Eldar hybrid, the sole example of which is, of course, one of the Ultramarines.This has since been retconned out of existence.
      • Actually, as the helical structure of DNA is just a type of folding and bonding of strands, triple- and even quadruple-helix DNA have been observed and created, though their use and prevalence are under some debate.
    • Genestealers. Apparently, after three generations of hybrids getting progressively more and more human (which presumably means that the Genestealer DNA is getting more and more diluted), a fourth-generation hybrid has a chance of being... a purestrain Genestealer. Yes, it's alien DNA (and thus presumably subject to somewhat different rules), and yes, purestrain Genestealers are awesome, but come on.
      • Genestealers alter the target's DNA when they reproduce, thus making the offspring closer and closer to purestrain with each passing generation until the 4th.
        • That dove straight into Voodoo Shark; it makes even less sense.
    • The Kroot. Mostly blank DNA, and they evolve very rapidly by incorporating DNA from everything they eat into their genetic structure.
      • So what makes them develop into the organisms they are if their DNA is 'blank' (whatever that means)? Definately a case of 'well, it sounded cool when I wrote it.
        • Most DNA in a human is "blank" junk DNA. Besides the genes proper, there are small sequences which label the genes and tell cells when to turn them on, short sequences which are basically viruses that moved in with us, small protective sequences, and a whole lot of nothing. More accurately, it has no known function and can be lost without adverse effect.
      • Could be worse. Major changes still take several generations. The repercussions of the "DNA theft" ability are shown in other things from the same planet: there's really only one linage of creatures that ATE everything and took over their niches. There's even some FUNGUS in kroot digestive processes, cribbed from Orks. We are talking about alien physiology here.
    • Ork DNA, in past editions, contained an "algal base" that explained their resilience. This made no sense whatsoever and was dropped.
  • In FGU's Space Opera, a character who has died can be injected with "TKM"; a drug that stops cell decomposition. But the drug reaches the whole body via circulation, a function that stops at the moment of death.
  • White Wolf's Aeon Trinity contains the following gem: "[Psions are] the product of natural human evolution, not genetic mutation." This was later reconed to refer to mankind's spiritual evolution.
  • Two specific cases in Rifts, listed separately:
    • In the Atlantis Sourcebook, a parasite called a Brain Feeder is said to "...excrete a chemical that anesthetizes the area of the brain it is eating..." This would be unnecessary, as there are no pain receptors in the brain, and therefore it can't feel pain.
    • This one could well be a case of Science Marches On. There is an animal race in the books called an Ostrosaurus, which is not a dinosaur but "a large featherless bird." According to modern paleontology, that is exactly what dinosaurs were.
  • FATAL allows for completely out-of-whack character biology. Would you like to have nipples the size of your head and an anus with negative circumference? Equally silly is being able to hit a very specific internal organ AND NOTHING ELSE on the enemy; to quote one of the more infamous reviews:

 "The two stared at each other, then struck simultaneously. Jack's sword cleaved through the cultist's chest, cleaving through the nipple, the xiphoid process - the lowest part of the sternum - and the shoulder blade. The cultist's blade only caused damage to Jack's appendix and his adrenal gland, somehow missing everything else in front of and in back of Jack's adrenal gland and appendix."

  • Dungeons and Dragons at least justifies its moments of failing biology forever (admittedly, usually A Wizard Did It).
    • For example, all human/tiefling descendants are tieflings. Forever. Nobody ever finds a tiefling hiding unknown in their family tree; oh no, if your great-grandfather is a tiefling so is everyone descended from him. Apparently when devils are involved, Mendel's laws are more like suggestions. Depending on the sourcebook, some tried to correct it to "half-demon for a few generations, tiefling for a few generations, human eligible for Demon Bloodline feats", judging by the various sourcebooks on the subject (and depending on who you mate with). As of 4th edition, thought, tieflings are back to having supernaturally tainted blood, rather than a genetic condition; the first tieflings were the result of normal humans undergoing an infernal ritual, rather than interbreeding with demons.
    • Some D&D examples of this trope don't even have A Wizard Did It as an excuse. One of the Mystara setting's supplements featured a former underground empire of gnomes, now abandoned and infested with kobolds, various dungeon vermin, and wild herds of fungus-grazing mules. The mules were supposedly the feral descendents of the gnomes' mule beasts of burden. While female mules may not be 100% sterile, fertile males are so rare that the only evidence of such creatures is anecdotal, making a wild population of mules virtually impossible even on the surface, never mind underground!


Toys Edit

  • FurReal Friends has a new line of baby animal animatrons that you feed fake milk. Unfortunately, that line contains a duck and a parrot. When did baby birds start drinking milk?
  • Bratz has "'Lil Angelz" veterinarian toys, including pets who get sick. The problem? You take their temperature orally. That's passable, for a children's toy, but the animals' temperatures are at normal human temperatures - as opposed to their actual regular temperatures.
  • Occurs sometimes in the Beanie Babies plush toy line:
    • A weasel-like Beanie named Runner has mustelidae officially listed as its species. The poem suggests that it could be "a ferret, mongoose, weasel or mink." Although the other three species are legitimately mustelidae, mongoose are kind of on their own classification-wise, and are actually more closely related to felines and hyenas than anything else. This research lapse may have something to do with the "mean poem" that the toy was originally released with (itself a Crowning Moment of Funny for the franchise), which identified it as a mongoose.
    • Seaweed the Otter is depicted with seaweed in her paws, as if she were eating it. Sea otters eat largely eat marine invertebrates and fish.
  • From Bionicle: According the Greg Farshtey, the Makuta "evolved" into antidermis. However, if the Makuta were originally meant and specifically engineered by the Great Beings so that this would happen, this would make it simple metamorphosis.


Video Games Edit

  • In Sly 2, one of Bentley's plans works on the assumption that tigers dislike water. In real life, tigers are one of the few known types of cat who like to get wet. Also in the Sly games, Bentley (a turtle) and Murray (a hippopotamus), both aquatic creatures, are incapable of swimming, instantly drowning upon contact with a body of water.
  • In Metal Slug 3D, there's a scene when Rumi tells Marco that carbon dating estimated that an alien ruin Marco was exploring was 8 billion years old. Even bypassing Ragnarok Proofing, carbon dating will only work on artifacts less than 60,000 years (or so) old. Other methods of testing radioactive decay are necessary for something far older.Not to mention the fact that the alien ruins are well on their way to being twice as old as the sun (4.6 billion years old).
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Diddy Kong is often called a chimpanzee (and, in some instances, referred to as Donkey Kong's nephew), even though he has a tail.
    • In fact, the Kongs themselves. Having the same last name implies they're more or less related, despite them being very different species of apes and monkeys. Cross-species adoption, maybe?
    • Worse, Cranky Kong is explicitly the original DK from the arcade game. He was a gorilla then. He's currently somewhere between Chimp and Baboon, with a demonstrably different bone structure, body shape, set of limb proportions, and cranial shape. Miniature Senior Citizens as applied to non-human primates?
    • An IGN article identifies Diddy Kong (who, again, has a tail) as an "ape", and then goes on to say that Lanky Kong is "not an ape, but an orangutan". Orangutans really are apes.
  • Parasite Eve: Here's a Drinking Game: Take a sip every time you sense a cellular biologist suffering wall-induced forehead injuries. Not a shot, unless you think you can live without a liver (using MITOCHONDRIA! You can start at that remark).
  • The Cure Virus in Ever 17. Willing suspension of disbelief can take you a pretty long way... but a natural retrovirus that not only rewrites the host to be immortal and have a Healing Factor? Maybe that one can slide. But with no apparent benefit to itself and also apparently adapting itself to give infrared vision to cover the inability to cope with UV rays and therefore be unable to go out when it's not dark? Don't think so! Retroviruses are not magical, intelligent and they do not change DNA for the benefit of their host. Odds are, however, that the Cure virus isn't natural. Leiblich was researching virus engineering, after all. It would explain how and why they knew Tsugumi had been infected at all. They infected her. Then, they studied her to try and find out what was about her that made the virus work.
  • World of Warcraft
    • The devs don't know how horses run (the game animates them the same way as a cheetah, with legs outstretched in the suspension phase instead of collected). But is it a big enough deal for the devs to correct it? Not really.
    • Elekk (a pseudo elephant mount) freakin' gallop. Come to think of it, so do the mammoths. Knee joints of adamantium!
    • The wolf mounts, and by extension all wolf mobs using the worg model run nothing like an actual wolf would run. Wolf mobs using the alternative wolf model run pretty much properly.
    • Orcas apparently produce humpback whale song. When fighting, no less.
  • Starcraft. For a series that goes to great length to explain how everything works, the powered marine armour really shouldn't require multiple shoulder dislocations...
  • Star Ocean the Last Hope features a number of baffling evolutionary presumptions. For instance, there are apparently "right" and "wrong" ways to evolve, and we should "make our hearts worthy" of evolution. Edge Maverick must not hold protozoa in very high regard.
  • Metal Gear Solid:
    • The whole business where the Les Enfants Terribles twins were created as double-dominant and double-recessive for absolutely no reason other than to give Liquid Snake something to obsess over. And no, you can't be a homozygous recessive individual because the term is meaningless outside a breeding population.
    • There's also the part where Liquid grossly misapplies Asymmetry Theory. His ramblings just make it seem like the writers had at some point heard of the biology/genetic concepts mentioned, but didn't actually bother to look into them any real way[3]. Then there's the guy whose body carries a charge of 10 million volts, the man who can't decide if his pet internal beehive is full of bees or hornets...
  • In the Director's Cut edition of Scratches, the brief sequel/epilogue reveals that the mother of the game's Bertha in The Attic had been taking thalidomide, presumably accounting for her child's deformities. But thalidomide is specifically responsible for phocomelia, a birth defect in which the limbs are underdeveloped and flipper-like. This game's Bertha may be grotesque, but he's not a phocomeliac, and wouldn't be very scary if he were.
  • Oddly, Pokémon has an example of this. Several of Cubone's Pokédex entries state that it wears the skull of its mother. Every Cubone encountered has a skull on its face, which means that EVERY SINGLE Cubone commits matricide (or its mother just dies) shortly after birth and each female Marowak/Cubone can only have one child. The species should have either died out or have rapidly dwindling numbers at this point.
    • Pokémon also states that Vaporeon's 'cell composition is similar to water molecules. As a result, it can melt away into water.' A cell is a heck of a lot more complex than a three-atom molecule. Even if we assume this to be a mistranslation that should read something like 'its cells are composed mostly of water', we and (just about everything else alive) could too.
  • In Ripper, the killer is revealed as hacking people's minds/brains to program their bodies to self destruct. While there are ways to theoretically kill someone if you interface with their brain, the Ripper somehow increases the internal body pressure to cause them to explode from the inside. Somehow the forensics investigators keep thinking the killer is killing by slicing people up with a knife, which would look nothing like exploding from within, even assuming programming your body to explode was possible.
  • In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, When Daniel has to (quoting TV Tropes here), "drill a hole in the head of a corpse,[sic] insert a copper tube into the hole, and stick yourself on the needle to give yourself an injection of a vaccine." God only knows if they're the same blood type or how long the body's been dead, if he had any infectious diseases, or if the antibodies have degraded and are no longer viable.
  • Super Mario Galaxy featured a boss called "Kingfin", who resembled a skeletal shark. In real life, sharks are cartilaginous fishes, and therefore do not have skeletons.
  • Monster Hunter features a ridiculous number of monsters; some of which, admittedly, could have existed on this or some other planet. Many of them, however, cause Capcom to adhere to this trope - the world on which the game takes place presumably has similar atmospheric conditions and gravity, and yet... the Deviljho...
  • Mortal Kombat is very guilty of this, especially in the 3D games: Rip out a brain, the body is still standing AND feeling pain; rip out a skull, and the head still has shape; rip out your own tibias, and you're still standing; severe someone's head, and the body is still standing; the list goes on...
  • Red Dead Redemption: A rare example of simple mistakes than mismanagement of biological knowledge. In some cases random glitches or hacks allow you to ride other animals that are often used for hunting challenges. However, they still gallop and neigh like horses (as well as floating inches off the ground)- including the elk, wolf, grizzly bear, cougar, deer, bobcat, dog, and even a jack-rabbit. Others were more intentional. For example pumas don't sound like jaguars. In fact they don't roar at all, but growl, hiss and make snarly near-human screams.
  • Wario Master of Disguise has a dolphin boss who breathes water instead of air, and the way to beat it involves trapping it above water so it gasps like a fish. Because dolphins are obviously fish.


Web Comics Edit

  • George the Dragon has a sword fighting scene where the duelists have an improbable Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker moment. "Lobster, I am your Fish"
  • In Kit N Kay Boodle, most of the biological oddities can be put down to creative license. However, Skamm (the current antagonist) and his male love interest are supposed to be tail+monitor&gbv=2&aq=0s&oq=ridgetail ridgetail monitors. The external genitals and hair are par for the course in a furry comic, but they also have external ears. Combine this with the fact that Skamm's a lawyer and it's impossible to think of him as being anything other than a weasel.
  • As referenced above, Liquid Snake's appalling grasp of biology is repeatedly referenced and mocked in The Last Days of Foxhound. It actually explains that the entire dominant / recessive genes thing was complete rubbish, and that Liquid was told he was the inferior one as a part of installing a massive inferiority complex in him, so he'd constantly keep on pushing himself to do better. And then it turns out to be a Double Subversion, because Big Boss explains that it was actually Solid that got all the "recessive genes." It isn't just Liquid's grasp of genetics; it's Hideo Kojima's that's so hilariously wrong.
  • Ménage à 3: DiDi's breasts literally defy the laws of both biology and physics -- despite having enormous natural Gag Boobs, they not only fail to sag at all, but are completely spherical, with the nipple appearing on the upper-third of the breast. Pretty much a Rule of Sexy here, as Gisele almost never draws breasts as anything but round and perky.


Web Original Edit

 "Last time I checked, turtles don't walk around facing the sky."

  • The flash clip Dugong begins with words 'Dugong, dugong it's a cow of the se-e-e-a. Dugong, dugong, also known as the manatee'. The problem is that dugong (Dugong dugong) and manatees (genus Trichechidae) are different animals. One may also argue that 'sea cow' (a common name for dugong) is yet another, now extinct animal also known as Steller's Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas). Furthermore, the song contains the phrase 'Compared to dolphin, its very close cousin...'. Dugong and dolphins are water mammals, but they belong to different orders (dugong to Sirenia, dolphins to Cetacea). Hardly 'very close cousins'.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, during V1 in particular, there were examples of writers who decided to eschew any pretence of realism in their kills. Later versions have done their best to avert this. A particularly...interesting example.
  • Played for laughs by Cracked: " It's like every single AC/DC album cover came to life and punched your eyeballs right in the dick." Read more: 7 Images Too Badass To Be Real (That Totally Are)
  • Keith Thompson's Ghoul seems to depict Kuru as the complete opposite of what it really is: rather than slowly turning destroying the physical and mental capabilities of its victims as it does in Real Life, Keith Thompson's Kuru zombifies them. However, he has Shown His Work in that both versions of the disease are transmitted by eating infected corpses.


Western Animation Edit

  • In Family Guy most of the jokes based on Joe's crippled status fall under this. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about paralysis knows the problem isn't the legs, its the damage to the spine that keeps the legs or anything below the damage from being used. Leg transplants wouldn't repair the damage at all, correcting the damage to the spine would. Even stranger in that in one episode when he was cured, he got re-paralyzed by a gunshot wound to the lower back, and they also make a lot of jokes about how nothing else below the waist works very well. Like most things on the show, Joe's paralysis mostly seems to run on Rule of Funny. Never mind the Unfortunate Implications of all the cripple jokes.
    • There's also the episode where Stewie meets Bertram as a sperm, which has Bertram looking exactly like he does when he's eventually born, despite the fact that the sperm cells only contribute half of the genes of any given person. It's possibly a reference to medieval ideas about how conception worked, where it was thought that the mom didn't contribute any genes and that she essentially "grew" a human who already existed in a sperm cell in her body, but still fails biology.
  • In Danny Phantom, failed cloning resulted in a female, younger version of Danny, named Danielle, who would devolve into ectoplasm if she used her powers. She got better. Cloning should produce a younger version, just a fair bit more so than the cartoon likely portrayed. The entire thing was an obvious reference/homage to the 90's Clone Saga from Spiderman, which similarly botched cloning in many, many ways. Why anyone would WANT to homage that little stain in Spidey's history is up for debate.
  • Yin Yang Yo had at least one episode where Yin and/or Yang throw up. However, since Yin and Yang are rabbits, they shouldn't be able to barf. Truth in Television states that rabbits are incapable of vomiting. Of course, real rabbits lack opposable thumbs, bipedal locomotion and the ability to vocalize in English, so perhaps they possess more non-lagomorph characteristics than strictly necessary for story and audience association purposes. Master Yo once suggested that he was related to raccoons, which was a popular scientific theory... once. Genetic testing conclusively proved otherwise years before the episode aired. Now, it's generally accepted by zoologists that pandas are members of the bear family, even if their unusual bi-colored fur makes them the black (and white) sheep of that family.
  • In an episode of Ben 10, some cows and a human were turned into mutant monstrosities due to exposure to an alien mutagen. Fortunately They were 'only briefly exposed', so the mutation reversed itself by the end of the episode!
    • The sequel series Ben 10 Alien Force features numerous human/alien hybrids, biologically impossible enough on its own. One of these had a nonhuman parent of a species made of fire.
  • King of the Hill:
    • During a visit to a mental hospital to bail out Boomhauer after he woke up in downtown Houston from a tanning on a inner tube gone excessively long (and got arrested by a cop for indecent exposure), Dale Gribble was also accidentally admitted into the hospital after he proclaim to one of the doctors there that peanuts were evolving a defensive mechanism that is behind the peanut allergies of some people. In this case it's specifically Dale that's failing; the writers had the doctors (correctly) conclude that Dale is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
    • When Bobby gets a summer job for a guy who cleans poop off lawns, he and his employer gross out his folks by describing an incident at work: their discovery of deposits of gigantic turds, scattered all over an estate's grounds. Turns out it was alpaca poo, as a neighbor's damaged fence had let a whole herd go trespassing ... and it also turns out that the writers chose the worst possible animal to blame it on, as alpacas produce lots of tiny "beans" of dung, and herds of them do so all in one place. Obscure, but a single phone call to a petting zoo could've rectified this one.
    • During Hank's little problem with constipation (Peggy told me), he had to see a proctologist for a colonoscopy. The Doctor, despite being an apparent expert, told Bobby that if Hank's small intestine was stretched out from end to end, it would go all the way around the earth. Hank points out that there's no possible way his intestines could stretch 26,000 miles, and that if that were true, food would have to fly through his system faster than the speed of sound. Though this could have been simply a way to get the boy interested.
  • South Park does this quite a bit, but in a particularly Egregious example, it is portrayed that before an abortion, a woman is given a waiver of some sort to donate the fetus to stem cell research, whereas feti are only good for adult stem cells; you need an embryo for embryonic stem cell research, and abortion usually (if not always) occurs after 12 weeks of fertilization, by which point the aborted matter is fetal tissue, not embryonic tissue. In addition, even if an abortion were performed before this point, the embryo wouldn't be in any sort of usable condition, as all aborted tissue is considered biohazardous waste and must be treated and disposed of as such.
  • In The Legend of the Titanic, dolphins even jump as high as the deck of Titanic and manage to float in the air for a short amount of time.
    • Let's not forget the unrealistically large octopus which has a dog's nose, and has to take a breath before it goes underwater.
  • Justice League has a glaring biological failure serve as the key plot-point to a first-season episode. In Fury, Arisia attempts to wipe out all men on Earth with a deadly "allergen". Allergens are not contagious; different people (and different species) have different allergic reactions to the same substance. And crystals do not make something super-allergic!
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack plays with this with how medical practices were back in the day with Doctor Barber. One infamous quote from him is, "Silly Flapjack. The human body is a complex system of pulleys and counterweights, all working to manipulate the food hole." This was probably intentional, given how the show revolves around a prepubescent sailor and his captain who uses a talking whale as a ship trying to find an island made of candy.
    • In the episode where everyone catches the plague, Dr. Barber needs the uninfected Flapjack's blood to make a cure. Vaccines are actually made by studying infected blood.
  • An episode of Jimmy Neutron involved extracting mitochondria from a virus. Viruses aren't cellular and don't have cells, and by extension don't have mitochondria.
  • In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, someone pitches ideas for an "inaction figure" based on Perry the Platypus, one of which is "The Mad Marauding Marsupial of Death." Right continent, wrong order. The platypus is a monotreme, not a marsupial. Ferb has also stated that the platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs; apparently, he's never heard of echindas.
  • Franklin and the Green Knight, a film from the Franklin series depicts Mrs. Turtle, an anthropomorphic turtle, as being pregnant with Franklin's sister, Harriet, rather than laying an egg.
    • Franklin can also remove his shell in the cartoon series. In reality, a turtle's shell is fused to its spine. Even if it were possible to take it off, such an act would put the turtle on the fast track to excruciating pain and a quick, messy death. (While we're on the subject, someone should remind a certain Italian plumber of this.)
  • A group of Decepticons from the original Transformers cartoon, known as the Predacons (whom, believe it or not, are actually the ancestors of the Predacons from Beast Wars), actually compose of Razorclaw (a lion), Rampage (a tiger), Divebomb (an eagle), Headstrong (a rhino), and Tantrum (a bull). In real life, the alt-modes of the last two are supposed to be herbivores - very vicious herbivores, but herbivores just the same.
  • Krypto the Superdog: Lex Luthor's pet Iguana and Harmless Villain Ignatius often gets himself into trouble using the Phlebotinum or technology of the week to catch an elusive bug or make them bigger, or in another episode, using a time machine to go to the past and try to eat a dinosaur egg. In reality iguanas are complete herbivores, as any protein is harmful to their health. Although they may accidentally eat a bug or two in the wild, they never actively hunt for anything other than leafy greens, fruits, or vegetables.
  • Done in one Fairly OddParents episode where Timmy Turner's Dad's first time on the Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? spoof, "Are You Brighter Than A 6th Grader" had him answer "Sea Cucumber" to nearly all the questions until the last one, "What Kind of Cucumber Lives In The Sea" prompting him to say the wrong answer. Forcing himself to re-attend school, Timmy's dad retakes the competition and goes on a roll until the last question, "which sea vegetable would suit perfectly on an undersea salad", causes him to hesitate until he find it in himself to say the right answer. In spite of the name, sea cucumbers are NOT cucumbers or vegetables in general, but animals - specifically echinoderms, like starfish.
    • REGULAR Cucumbers aren't technically vegetables, even.
  • Combine that with Artistic License History: In Rankin/Bass Productions' The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town, one music segment has the chickens tell a story in a song that makes fun of the riddle of "chicken or the egg": They explain that "the chicken came first" by retelling The Bible story of Noah's Ark, and comparing the riddle to who came first: "the pussycat or the fiddle", "the Fountain or Ponce de León", and "the cow or Mrs. O'Leary".
  • 1973/74 Superfriends episode "The Watermen. When the title aliens extract silicon from sea water, it causes the sea water to immediately turn into red tide. Just one problem: red tide is caused by microorganisms, not a lack of silicon. This is Lampshaded when Professor Matey notes that it should be impossible.
  • Among the many errors regarding animal physiology and behavior, one the more minor in Hero 108 is the Deer King and his men, who neigh, grunt, and whinny like horses even though deer in real life make noises more like they have kazoos stuck in their throats http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa Ph Vc Ldz 4 M&feature=fvwrel or barking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EWzg4eiJnM&feature=related


Real Life Edit

  • In Egypt, they started slaughtering pigs to stop the spread of swine flu (H1N1). Problem is, H1N1 isn't spread by pigs any more than your normal flu is. As you might expect, the actual reasoning was political; it was an attempt to appease the Islamists (who often take the Islamic aversion to pork to new extremes), who had been making trouble.
    • Iraq used the same "reasoning" to sacrifice the only 3 wild boars that lived in the Baghdad Zoo, which is even less logical. At least farm pigs live alongside people...
  • The province of Alberta in Canada is currently vaccinating citizens for the seasonal flu. However, the health minister has stated that once the H1N1 vaccine becomes available, the seasonal vaccine will no longer be used in favour of exclusively vaccinating for H 1 N 1.
  • The old idea that antibacterial hand gel, which touts a 99.9% effectiveness rate, makes bacteria stronger by leaving only the ones that are resistant to reproduce. While this is true for antibiotic medicines (when taken not according to the doctor's orders), the hand gels usually work by the inclusion of alcohol, where the survivors are usually so only because of the laws of statistics. Note that only the gels that don't require water (they simply evaporate) usually use alcohol. Antibacterial "soap" usually uses triclosan or another active chemical, towards which resistance may conceivably build up. The discussion on this is fairly recent as well, corresponding with the recent popularity of such products, and they're used by people to prevent the Flu and common cold. Which, mind you, are caused by viruses, not bacteria, and the reason why they say 99.9% and not 100% is because even thought the products do work 100% it can not be proven, and any scientist should know that you can never, ever be 100% certain of anything. You can be so close that any other possibility is ridiculously remote, but never 100% certain.
  • The data that is available suggests that antibacterial soap is not that much better at disinfecting than regular soap, but that's not a knock against triclosan; most of the scaremongers forgot that regular old soap is an excellent disinfectant. At least you can always complain about antibacterial agents (any of them) on the grounds that they give children weak immune systems as they are never exposed to pathogens, and allergies and autoimmune diseases as, in layman's terms, their immune cells get bored and start attacking random things to entertain themselves, up to and including other cells in the body.
  • Generation Rescue and other fringe groups that believe mercury in vaccines causes autism, despite the fact that their claims aren't backed up by actual studies, and the original report suggesting the link was rejected by every major health organization and even retracted by all but one of its own authors (and the one lost his medical license) and the medical journal that published it. Even after mercury was removed from vaccines (and the type they were using wasn't harmful), the fringe groups still suggest a link between vaccines and autism. This belief resonates deeper than most people realize. Many of the "vaccines cause autism" crowd are convinced that the skeptics want to go back to the old days, when mothers were blamed for making their kids autistic by being too cold. The skeptics don't even begin to recognize what's going on and assume the anti-vaccine crowd is just a bunch of irrational idiots, when in reality they're simply terrified beyond words that we'll go back to the "women are evil ice bitch monsters who destroy little boys" days.
    • Similarly, the "refrigerator mother" theory was popular from about the 1950s through the 1970s, after which it fell out of favor, though there are still a few die-hard proponents. The scientific consensus for the last generation or so has leaned strongly towards autism being primarily genetic in origin.
  • The common misconceptions about evolution -- namely the joke that "If humans evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?". Meant as a joke mocking this POV, sadly people have taken that viewpoint and assume they know all about evolution when really, anyone who has read a paper about evolution or even a jr. high level section about Evolution can prove that wrong. Namely, people believing that evolutions happens at the species level. If that was true; there would either be no Corgis or Dachshunds, which evolved from the same common ancestor. Just to give a very small example since humans, monkeys, and apes all evolved from various progenitors. Humans did not evolve from monkeys and apes, because monkeys and apes have evolved just as much from their own simian ancestors and are just as "advanced" as we are. The divergence point, or so-called "missing link", is perhaps the Nakalipithecus genus of Great Apes, who lived in modern-day Kenya some 8-10 million years ago and serve as the root from which humans and other modern apes evolved from.
    • If Americans descended from Europeans then why are there still Europeans?!
  • Ray Comfort was filmed in a clip where he used the banana as evidence of intelligent design, going so far as to call it the "atheist's nightmare". The banana, Comfort pointed out, was perfectly shaped to fit the hand, came in handy packaging with a pull tab, and conveniently changed color to let you know when it was ripe. Unfortunately for Comfort, our banana is the domesticated version of a plant that forms a small, turd-shaped fruit filled with huge seeds and little in the way of edible pulp.
    • This video humorously debunks Comfort's original claim by comparing the 'designed' banana with another fruit that God presumably also designed -- namely, a pineapple. Given the relative inaccessibility of a pineapple compared to a banana, the commentator notes that "God, you really fucked up on this one." Especially considering that the pineapple, even after you get past the spike defenses of the plant itself, and even after you remove the spiky, pointy, painful armor of the fruit, is still trying to kill you (in a planty way) ... because the fruit itself features an enzyme which will, if enough is consumed, can cause people's teeth to fall out.
  • Similarly billed as "the atheist's nightmare" is an unintentionally hilarious creationist video in which they talk about how, if evolution was correct, you'd see life coming...from a jar of peanut butter. See also the principle of Spontaneous Generation, or life emerging from non-life, mostly disproven by Francisco Redi in the 17th century, and disproven once and for all by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. Opponents to evolution may want to read middle-school level biology textbooks a little more closely. Particularly hilarious is the fact that just before the jar is opened, Chuck tilts it below the camera, apparently checking to make sure that life has not been spontaneously generated before he continues his point. Classic. That and what they're discussing is actually the theory of abiogenesis, not evolution, and just to add insult to injury, even if we assume Chuck's premise to be 100% valid (that occasionally jars of peanut butter should spontaneously generate new life) the assumption that unaided visual inspection of the jar's contents is sufficient to show that this has not occurred is ridiculous.
  • Not to be outdone by Comfort, his friend Kirk Cameron is on the hunt for the "crocoduck", which he says is the only way that evolution could be proven. In reality, such a beast would actually disprove the current model of evolution. There's more where these came from...
  • Most intelligent design proponents do not get that the changes are random and only a small number are beneficial, but it only takes one rabbit with long ears to make a population of long-eared rabbits. We can see this happening all the time with headlice; random changes make headlice resistant to certain chemicals, only a few headlice get this change, but they breed so damn quickly that your head is covered in the things in a matter of days.
  • In a cross-discipline example, another common misconception of creationists is that 'evolution' is another way of saying 'any science that disproves a literal reading of Genesis'. This will result in creationists calling things like the Big Bang, continental drift, and any other 'long term' scientific theory as being a part of evolution.
    • You end up with quotes like "According to evolutionary theory, the universe was formed 14 billion years ago."
  • It's been said (and even reported in supposedly reputable newspapers) that redheads and blonds will disappear in favor of brunettes at some point because both hair colors are recessive conditions. This is proven false by the Hardy-Weinberg principle, which basically states that alleles and genotypes (whether recessive or dominant) will remain constant in a population unless disturbed by an exterior influence. What this means is that unless blondes and redheads were selectively removed from the breeding population by outside circumstances (such as pro-brunette marriage laws, a mutation that make blondes and redheads sterile, or a hair color-specific nuclear bomb), the genes responsible for them aren't going to die out. Since there are sizable segments of the human population who are attracted to blondes and redheads (which makes them more likely to mate and reproduce with them), the chances of them dying out becomes even lower. This rumor was a hoax, a falsified study from Procter & Gamble attempting to boost hair dye sales.
  • Most people think hollow bones like those of birds are fragile. In reality, thanks to a complex honeycomb structure, bird bones are no more fragile than those of mammals. In the case of the now extinct dinosaurs and pterosaurs, both having pneumatic skeletons, fragility would mean death, and they obviously had quite strong yet light bones.
    • Even more, Mammals also have hollow bones. In fact, a bird's bones are heavier than a same sized mammal's, since they have to hold all the muscles needed for flight.
  • A staggering 41% of museums don't know how dogs walk.
  • Similar to the Chick Tracts example under Comic Books, some pro-abstinence church groups claim that condoms are made of porous material that allows viruses to pass through. This is only true "skin condoms" which are made out of things like lambskin and are porous enough to pass viruses, and the packaging is quick to point out that these are ONLY FOR CONTRACEPTION, and suggest the manufacturer's latex and nitrile options are a much better alternative if the potential customer is worried about VD. Promoting the idea that they are all like that borders on criminal, since studies exist showing that 'abstinence only' curricula that emphasizes the fallibility of protection strongly tends to be correlated with increased rates of VD, as students' thought processes rapidly approach something along the lines of 'why bother'.
  • At this post here, people argue about Lady Gaga's sex. Scroll down to SolaceConversion.
  • A surprising number of people believe the human heart is on the left side of a person's chest, to the extent that some symbolic tattoos are placed over the left lung in support of this belief. While it is positioned slightly to the left (due to the left ventricle being larger than the right ventricle), it is much more central, located between the two lungs under the sternum in a part of the body called the mediastinum.
    • Similarly, some people think that deoxygenated blood is blue. This is due to them seeing diagrams of the circulatory system, which invariable portray veins as blue and arteries as red (or shallow veins on their own body which have a bluish color). In truth, both are red (though deoxygenated is a slightly darker shade) and a staggering number of people who are taught that deoxygenated blood is blue inside the body and turns red when it makes contact with air.
  • Ont he subject of "convergent evolution" there are several cases of this.
    • There's an annoying tendency to cite the koala as an example because it's a marsupial that looks a bit like a bear. But appearance is the only bear-like thing about a koala: it diet, habitat preferences, life cycle and behavior are totally different from bears'. Convergent evolution happens when two species show similar traits because they've been subject to similar selective pressures over time, and have independently hit upon the same solutions. If anything, a koala shows convergence with sloths, not bears.
    • There's also insect wings and bird wings. While both are structures used to allow organisms to fit a specific ecological niche (the air, opportunities afforded by flying rather than walking/swimming), the two structures are derived from two COMPLETELY different origins and developed in compeltely different pathways. Bird wings are modified forelimbs, whereas insect wings are thought to be modified gill structures, believe it or not.
    • And then there's thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian wolf and Tasmanian tiger. It's a marsupial, but the niche it filled was a nearly perfect mix of available prey, environmental issues, and so on. The niche was one similar to many canine predators, such as the wolf, so as the species evolved it looked more like canines, leading occasionally to somewhat understandable confusion over classifying it to this day amongst people who only see a skeleton or the like.
  • According to legend, one night the students of Baron Cuvier (one of the founders of modern paleontology and comparative anatomy) decided to play a trick on their instructor. They fashioned a medley of skins, skulls and other animal parts (including the head and legs of a deer) into a credibly monstrous costume. One brave fellow then donned the chimeric assemblage, crept into the Baron's bedroom when he was asleep and growled "Cuvier, wake up! I am going to eat you!" Cuvier woke up, took one look at the deer parts that formed part of the costume and sniffed "Impossible! You have horns and hooves (and are therefore not not a predator.)" The prank is more commonly reported as: "Cuvier, wake up! I am the Devil! I am going to eat you!" His response was "Divided hoof; graminivorous! It cannot be done." Apparently Satan is vegan.
  • Minor but pertinent -- anyone who tells you that the tear duct is the source of tears, or that tears are what happen when you cry is wrong and didn't pay attention in biology class. Tears are the fluid that keeps your eyes moist, which come from the tear gland, which is situated above the eye; the tear duct drains them away to keep them under control, since they flow constantly instead of waiting for your eyeballs to dry out. There is research that suggests that psychic (crying) tears have a different composition than reflex (irritation) tears and may be involved in chemical signaling, though not much research has been done in this area.
  • Due to the wording of a certain Florida bestiality law, sex may have been outlawed all together.
  • This video shows Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in a public debate with some rather interpretive ideas about fetal development. Doubles as a case of failing sex ed forever.
    • Triples as a Chewbacca Attack against Planned Parenthood, since it's completely out of context and tangential to their argument.
  • A minority public opinion states that men are mutants. Forget that sex differentiation is at least older than mammalianism and mutation in biology is almost always used to mean a trait not inherited; this persists due to recently-popularized misunderstandings of early sexual differentiation in humans. Even under the assumption that people are female before TDF kicks in, the statement is about as meaningful as saying people without tails and webbed hands are mutants or all multicellular organisms are mutants.
    • For that matter, there are two very common errors regarding sex and gender identity. The first camp claims gender identity is entirely a social construct. The second claims sex is gender. Unfortunately, both camps are ignoring exactly what happens in the brain. There are receptors in the brain for sex hormones, and the brain actually changes during fetal development based on the presence of these hormones. Unfortunately, these receptors are encoded by their own genes and can thus mutate on their own into functional or non-functional variants. This means that a person's brain gets a signal to hard-wire for one gender identity or the other. It will not always match the rest of the body. Such a person is likely to suffer extreme dissatisfaction with the situation and should be offered support and medical care. In one extreme case, physicians and parents who thought gender identity was entirely constructed had an infant son whose penis was mangled by a botched circumcision. They opted to surgically alter him to be a girl and raised him as a girl. His brain, however, was already committed to "I'm a boy!" The results were tragic, to say the least, and some of it sounds terribly abusive. He was always deeply troubled and "knew" he was a boy no matter how much everyone tried to make him a girl. The Other Wiki discusses him in depth, including his severe depression and eventual suicide. So, yes, the brain is on the list of organs which are different based on your gender. Some parts of gender identity are pure biology, though of course others are just social norms. In Gender Identity Disorder, where a person is very unhappy with the sex they have at birth, patients usually show brain structures consistent with the other sex when under examination. Many medical personnel want to drop the label of disorder.
    • On the other side, gender identity certainly has social aspects. Some Samoans, for example, have an entire "third gender." This gender consists of biological males who act very much like women. They are genetically not exceptional and in traditional society were not considered odd. Biologically, they are male, but they identify as this third, constructed group, the Fa'afafine. These men range from heterosexual to homosexual. There are other cultures which have "third option" gender identities as well.
  • Among the list of controversies of conservative Baptist and televangelist, Pat Robertson, is his statement in a 1986 New York Magazine article comparing non-Christians to termites since termites can't build things, thus are only intent on destroying institutions build by real Christians like universities, governments, and Good Old Ways. The Australian termites behind the giant and elaborate ironically named Cathedral termite mounts would beg to disagree.

Notes

  1. original, clone, reincarnation of clone who is father to original and has same DNA as last incarnation
  2. IT COULD GET ON DISNEYLAND ATTRACTIONS BY ITSELF
  3. Word of God is that Liquid, personally, has no grasp of how genetics works, and was deliberately taught wrong just to wind him up and make him driven

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