There will never be a zombie apocalypse, but not for the reason you think. Nope, it isn’t because zombies aren’t real. A naturalist named David Mizejewski says it is because zombies would be easy prey for animals.
In this essay, he lays down a pretty good argument for why the “Walking Dead” style zombie would never stand a chance -- they’ll get eaten before they eat you. Zombies are essentially made of dead flesh and there are very few animals in North America that have too much pride to eat dead flesh.
Mizejewski focuses on bears and other large mammals as the first primary threat. He points out that certain types of bears aren’t afraid of living humans and love carrion. So they aren’t going to be afraid of zombies. A couple dozen zombies in town would be like opening up the “pickanick basket” for Yogi and Booboo.
And of course, you’ve got your carrion birds like vultures. But even seagulls have been known to pick at dead things on the beach. All those Speedo-wearing zombies on the beach are toast. All that would be left would be some bones, some sun tan lotion, and a tankini.
One animal Mizejewski doesn’t mention is dogs. If enough of us turn into zombies and we stop feeding our dogs, you know they’re going to go looking for food. Dogs love to gnaw on a nice bone. What frightens you more, being attacked by a zombie or becoming one and having your dog rip off your foot and run off to gnaw on it in your old bedroom?
You can argue that there aren’t enough mammals to shut down a zombie apocalypse before all the humans die, but Mizejewski saves the best for last: bugs. Yup, bugs feed on dead things and they can strip a carcass amazingly fast. I’ll spare you Mizejewski’s video in case you’re eating lunch, but you can find them in the link to the article.
And I have to admit, bugs are the trump card in this argument. In your average zombie movie a certain number of people become “infected” in an early outbreak and then they pass on the infection in ever-increasing waves as the few uninfected flee to safe houses and small government-run enclaves. Here’s the thing though -- as the zombies grow in number, they’re going to draw animals. There’s a point where the animals and bugs see a tasty new source of food. Pretty soon every zombie is fighting off predators at the same time it is trying to infect more humans.
Then it becomes a math equation. Can they infect faster than they are eaten? Sure, there might be millions of zombies, but there are an estimated 10 quintillion bugs. That’s a one with 19 zeroes, folks. A study of Pennsylvania soil samples estimated that there are 425 million bugs per acre of land. Think about that for a second. The average lot size for a house in the US is a quarter of an acre. In your house and in the dirt around your house over 100 million bugs are crawling around you. If you become a lurching undead mess with dead fleshing falling off of you, how long before a couple million of those bugs find you? We know forensics experts can tell time of death of a body by how many bugs have crawled in within a few hours of dying.
So what would a zombie apocalypse look like? Probably a cross between a terrible plague and a Hitchcock movie. A first wave of thousands or hundreds of thousands would get sick (probably including me). The rest of you would shutter yourselves in fear. And while you are cowering in your house with zombies pounding on your windows and doors trying to get in, you won’t have to reach for your shotgun. Because as you do, you’ll see thousands of sea gulls darkening the sky as they fly down ripping at the flesh of the zombies gathering to eat your brains. They’ll peck at them mercilessly while the zombies flail desperately trying to fend them off. Once the birds have had their way, millions of maggots, flies, and beetles will come to feast on what is left stripping the bodies to the bones. Those “lucky enough” to survive the infection will be treated to the show of natural recycling almost as if in time lapse happening right in front of them on a grand scale.
Almost makes you want to be one of the first to die, doesn’t it?
What do you think? Is that how it would go down? Would the animals beat the zombies in the game of eat or be eaten? Or would the animals that ate the zombies be infected, too? Would we be eaten by zombie bears? Would you survive? Tell us how, and comment below.
Oh, and before I go, if that’s all just a little too intense for you I thought it would be fun to play a little game. You know how zombie movies always center around a tiny band of survivors trying to survive the apocalypse? I thought it would be fun if we imagined the E2 community as that little surviving band in the movies. Of course, in a movie everyone has to have a character to play. We’re going to assign our parts randomly.
I’m sure you’ve seen this is social media. Go to the last story you commented on before this one. Find all the people who commented on the story before you (or after if you need extra people). Put their names into this list in the order their names appear.
- Is first to be infected
- Is always the one with the plan to “escape” to somewhere
- Owns the cool safe house in the woods with the stock pile of weapons and food
- Asks you to kill them when they’ve been infected
- Tells jokes at every opportunity to alleviate the horror
- Tries to see if a friend is “still in there” and reasons with a zombie. Gets mangled.
- Stands before recently infected zombie girlfriend/boyfriend, begging to infect them too, so they can be zombies together
- Captures a zombie, locks it in a lab, performs scientific studies on it in a way that may cause audience to actually feel sorry for the zombie
Post the list in the comments section and tell us what you think. Does it accurately describe them? Which editors fit the descriptions above? Tell us in the comments.