top of the food-chain

this is perhaps a slightly whimsical post, but bear with me. i do not know if it has deeper meaning, but it might give you something to muse over.

it occurred to me tonight that i have willingly relinquished my spot at the top of the food-chain. humans are, for the most part, the undisputed top of the local food-chain. there are very few creatures which eat humans, and humans eat pretty much everything. furthermore, if something does actually eat a human, it will be hunted down systematically. we had a bit of a discussion on whether humans would still be the planetary apex predator without technology, and while i agree the position wouldn’t be as clear-cut as it is now, there would still be very few other animals capable of hunting humans.

and here i am, and have given up this spot in not one, but two distinct ways. i went vegetarian a long time ago – if i’ve worked it out right it was over 13 years ago – and early this year i went vegan. in other words, i am no longer a predator, i live exclusively from plants, from the primary producers. in contrast, apex predators on land live off of herbivores, who live from primary producer; they are two levels removed from the primary producers. apex predators at sea are usually many levels further removed from primary producers.* even whales, whom we are often told are exceptional because they feed at the bottom of the food-chain, are actually second- and third-level predators. but i digress. i have made myself, through choice and conviction, a herbivore.

the second characteristic of an apex predator is that it isn’t usually eaten by anything else.** while this might apply for whales,*** who are apex predators at a much lower degree of separation from the primary producers than other marine apex predators, it doesn’t apply to me. because, and this is where this post finally connects to the subject of this blog, i’ve gone and made myself prey. i am food, and not just to the insects and bacteria and fungi and so on which will feed on my decomposing body.**** i am (willing) prey to the actual apex predators on land: vampires!

and actually, while thinking on this, i realised that we might just have a possible cause for the wide-spread taboo on cannibalism. humans tend to see themselves as superior to pretty much everything else around. and if anybody comes along and starts eating them, it implies that they’re inferior (at least in simple human minds it might). and they have a real inferiority complex to deal with. which is probably why they come up with ideas like transforming all predators to herbivores.*****

*the marine food-chain is a lot more complex than the one on land, and almost everything large enough to be seen by the naked eye is a predator.

**well, besides the whole complex and multilayered series of organisms which decompose everything back into primal mulch; there’s a word for them, but i forget. all the billions of billions of creatures riding the last bit of the wave as it dies on the beach.

***with the exception of the occasional baby taken by a pod of orcas, or a beluga taken by a polar bear; but i did say “usually”.

****which will probably feed on my decomposing body. in an ideal world, my body would be eaten as food after i’m dead. lots of good meat on there!

*****not directly related, but came up in a concurrent discussion, and it was too funny to miss.

  1. September 23rd, 2009

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