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May 8, 2024 5 mins

In this episode of STBYM’s The Monstrefact, Robert discusses the prolific and adorable tribbles of the Star Trek universe…

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Hi, my name is Robert Lamb and this is the
Monster Fact, a short form series from Stuff to Blow
Your Mind focusing on mythical creatures, ideas and monsters in time.
We cannot discuss the various creatures of the Star Trek
universe without of course considering the tribles of Iota geminorum,

For a world home to an abundance of carnivorous reptiles,
in addition to the vaguely mammalian Trible, which seems to
serve as a basic prey species for all the space lizards.
The Triple is, of course, a small, furry creature with
no discernible limbs or features. Really, its only means of
defending itself, at least against humanoids, is to basically tranquilize

the humanoid with a gentle cooing effect. The trouble with Triples,
of course, is their incredible rate of reproduction. They are
even reportedly born already pregnant, and can quickly overrun any
given ecosystem or starship that they are introduced into. In
their natural habitat, they eat and reproduce as quickly as possible,

but their numbers are kept in check, presumably by their
many voracious predators. But on a Federation starship, yes, this
is where the trouble occurs. With no predators, plentiful food,
and a crew overcome by their adorable cuteness, their population
very quickly spirals out of control. The creatures debuted in
a nineteen sixty seven episode of the original Star Trek series,

but the Grimlins franchise of the eighties and nineties treads
on similar ground. Adorable fur babies that get entirely out
of hand due to a mix of ineptitude, human vulnerability
to cuteness, and a reproductive system clearly evolve for different parameters.
I've speculated elsewhere that Magwai might depend on a a desert,
if not an extraterrestrial environment for their biology to make

sense and likewise unsuftible your mind. We've talked about the
role of cuteness, both among humans and cuteness between humans
and non human animals. It is a potent force that
manipulates us. For the Triple, the stabilizing factor is the
severity of its ecosystem. On the Triple home world, triples

presumably die in vast numbers and their prolific reproduction rate
merely allows them to keep up. We see variations of
this in the natural world here on Earth as well.
In general, we see the basic quality quantity tradeoff. In practice,
some organisms err on the side of producing few high
quality offspring, while others simply produce offspring in vast numbers.

The predators can't eat all of them, and a select
few survive to reproduce as adults. In sea turtles, for example,
somewhere on the order of two out of a thousand
eggs actually makes it to adult blihood, surviving the gamut
of consumers along the way. We can also think of
the triple in terms of predator satiation, by which prey
briefly and periodically occur at such high population densities that

the predators can't possibly eat them all. Periodical cicadas, which
many of you will be experiencing yet again this year,
are an example of this. So it would seem possible
that tribles might work in a similar manner, periodically reproducing
in such numbers that they simply overwhelm their many reptilian predators. Now,

given that triples are vaguely mammals, we might also compare
them to such prolific terrestrial warm bloods as the European rabbit,
infamous for its own rapid reproduction rate. According to the
Texas Invasive Species Institute, an eighteen fifty nine introduction of
a mere twenty four European rabbits into Australia led to
a population of more than six hundred million in less

than a century. The tribles ultimately are a fantastic commentary
on what can happen when a species is artificially transplanted
from one ecosystem into another. Now, how long would it
take triples to overrun the starship enterprise? Well, that is
a question that you have to throw some math at,
and in twenty twenty student researchers at the University of

Leicester made science headlines with a paper in the journal
Physics Special Topics. Their answer four point five days. Tune
in for additional episodes of The Monster Fact, The Artifact
or Anomalius to Pendium each week. But I'm going to
try and press on with more trek selections, so please
send in your recommendations. As always, you can email us

at contact. It's Stuff to Blow Your Mind dot.

Speaker 1 (04:42):
Com Stuff to Blow Your Mind is production of iHeartRadio.
For more podcasts from my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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Robert Lamb

Robert Lamb

Joe McCormick

Joe McCormick

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