(originally appeared on themanupmag.com¹)
I look at turtles some times and think, “It is a good thing they are slow.”
Why? Because, if they could move like a tiger or a cheetah, we would all be in big trouble. Don’t believe me? Look at the Super Mario Bros. video games for evidence. King Koopa and his ilk are always starting something. Heck, one type of Koopa Troopers even comes back from the dead (Dry Bones). Nightmare fuel at its finest.
But, think about it: if an armor plated, leathery beast with snapping jaws (read: turtle) was faster than a human, we would all be doing their laundry. Metaphorically. Literally, we’d all be turtle chow in about thirty seconds. Maybe twenty.
Ever looked at a snapping turtle? Nasty business right there. Hulking beasts with angry, piercing jaws. According to urban legend (which is like an oral Wikipedia), they can bite through a canoe. Yikes.
Now, picture a snapping turtle chasing after you like a wolf and biting your Achilles’ Tendon in half. You fall to the ground, and it makes a meal out of your face. Nobody deserves that. It would be something out of a B-movie.
One side note: are there any B-movies about normal sized, man-eating turtles? Not counting the turtle scenes in Ernest Goes to Camp, of course. And if there are not any films about killer turtles, then why not? Hollywood needs to put me on retainer. I’m an idea factory.
And it is a good thing most Michigan turtles are on the small side. But, if they could move like chipmunks, we’d all be doomed. Imagine a swarm of painted turtles engulfing you like a cloud of mosquitoes. Man, you would be lucky if the police could identify you via your dental records.
And while we are on the subject of speed, it is a good thing turtles can’t jump. They can’t, right? There you are, just hanging out by the edge of the pond and BAM! A box turtle leaps out and clamps onto your nose. Good luck getting that sucker off there.
It could be way worse though—ever seen one of those giant tortoises? Cheese-and-rice are we lucky they ain’t built like a lion, or anywhere near that fast. Forget a turtle fence, we would need a turtle wall or a turtle force field.
Which brings me to the most terrifying thing ever—Gamera. A giant, flying turtle monster (think Godzilla in turtle form). Man, we’re lucky this thing ain’t real. It isn’t, right? Gamera even has tusks! And it is, according to the Wikipedias, 60 to 80 meters tall…so, that’s at least taller than my car. Scary.
And did I mention Gamera can fly?
The next time you are the reptile house at the zoo, take a good long look at the turtles, and be thankful Nature did us a solid by making them slow.
¹ This was a monthly humor column I used to do for an online magazine. The site does not update any more.