If you could be any organism besides a human, what would it be?

I really enjoyed the “If you could rename an existing species” post, https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/if-you-could-rename-an-existing-species/6554, and the “Funny, long, or just plain weird animal names” post, https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/funny-long-or-just-plain-weird-animal-names/3220/201. In a spirit of fun, if you could choose to be any organism, what would it be and why? You are not limited to the organisms listed on iNaturalist.

Several hours of thinking later…

Oh yeah…Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus! They are gentle giants of the ocean. Plus, just look at this face! Don’t you want to give it a hug?

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/191739 by @sea-kangaroo.

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Deciding what other species I might like to be is a difficult one, there are so many options and so many issues that each faces as well.

My top non-extinct ones in no particular order are:

  • River Otter
  • Brown Bear
  • Red Panda
  • Eagle, large Hawk, or Owl of some sort
  • Honey Badger or Wolverine
  • Manatee or Dugong
  • Serval
  • Cassowary
  • Dragonfly
  • Salt Water Crocodile
  • Oak Tree
  • Beech Tree
  • Sea Grass Bed (these are often a single clonal organism)
  • Raccoon
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I gave one a kiss once. Not on the lips though, I’m married.

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Good topic! It makes you think… If I were going to be a different species, it would have to be something that offers more in some way than being a human does. Personally, one of the things I like doing most as a human is travelling, so I think it would have to be something that travels long distances, is intelligent enough to appreciate the experience, and lives long enough to have a greater breadth of experiences than a human.

A whale would fit that bill. I could be a big blue swimming across the big blue, or be a deep-diving sperm whale hunting creatures of the deep. Bowhead whales live the longest out of the whales, so I’d have plenty of time to see the world under the sea. To be a killer whale, a top predator roving the oceans in search of fish and seals would be an exhilarating life, though I prefer a little solitude and a whole pack of others to travel with might be a bit much. If I were a lobster instead, I could live almost forever and never stop growing as I crawl across the seafloor, but if they’re not smart enough to stay away from lobster traps and off the dinner table, I’m not sure they’re smart enough to really appreciate the journey their lifespan affords them. But I could be a sea turtle and visit the colorful coral reefs, and every once in a while take a break from travelling on some tropical beach (and who wouldn’t want that?).

If I wanted to live above the waves, it’s definitely birds that see the most of the world while on the wing. A crow or a raven would be a good choice: plenty of curiosity and intelligence, and even some good conversation from time to time. Or an owl, silent like a ghost with eyes that take in everything, and ears that can hear every heartbeat under the snow. I could glide across the waves and watch the ships toss in the storms as an albatross, and when my feet touch ground again, there’d be someone happy to see me again after the long journey, waiting to clack beaks and catch up.

Think about it for too long, and it’s easy to start to feel like being a human might not be as great as we make it out to be. Perhaps if the Buddhists are right and we really do go round again, I’ll come back as one of these.

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Pleurotus fungi. I enjoy food, and having that much potential food out there is fascinating. "Do I want to hunt nematodes today, am I going to spread to a tree? Maybe throw some diesel fuel on there as a treat. Maybe I’ll pop out of someone’s floor boards. Maybe I’ll eat a book. Throw some cigarette butts onto my wood/worm salad and call it croutons.

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Depends on a situation in life. After some especially busy and harrowing period at work I would really like to be a sloth. But for an everyday life wombat would be my totem: though looks clumsy, it is still very fast, it doesn‘t make a difference between having a scratch behind an ear or a kick on the backside (very thick skin on the rear part), it bites when it wants attention, if it decides to burrow somewhere it just burrows.

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Part of the problem with this game is would we retain human cognition? I would love to find out how moths ‘think’, throughout their life cycle, but frankly, they probably don’t think about much. So I would experience it, but not remember it, which is a downer. Still it might be worth it.
Probably I’d settle on some sort of bat - they fly, they look cute but can kill with rabies, and find food through sonar. How cool would that be!

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I laughed out loud when I read your response. Thank you!!

I don’t have a definitive one, since there’s just different places and moods that fit better for one species or another. I love to daydream the specifics from time to time. For example:

-Haven’t you ever walked by a field and wondered how incredible it would be to run and frolic in it as a dog or rabbit could? Or rub your back on a bed of moss or clover?

-How about climbing way up to the top of the trees, to eat the nicest looking fruit? That’s better suitted for a squirrel or a monkey (how cool would it be to have a prehensile tail to hang from a nice firm branch!! )

-And speaking of trees, how about manuvering through a dense forest, like a harpy eagle!! Feeling the air currents beneath your wings and fly way up or dive down with just a small movement.

-And then there’s days when the burden of the knowledge that comes with being a modern-age human just gets a bit too hard to bear. Those days, I think about what it would be like to live as a jellyfish, specifically a golden jellyfish. This gorgeous creatures live in clusters and spend their lives drifting along the currents, swimming gently up to the surface to soak up the sunlight. Like other jellyfish, they have no brains. They don’t worry about grades, quarantine, capitalism or the almost inevitable consecuences of global warming. They just float around, going to wherever the sea takes them and enjoy the warmth of the sun.

-Other times I want to remind myself that all the things that are going on in the world are insignificant in the grand scale of things. Then I think about my favorite shark, the greenland shark. They live deep underwater and the oldest know specimen could be 400 years old. This is an animal that has lived through some of the greatest achievements and catastrophes in human history: The rise and fall of many nations, at least ten pandemics, two world wars and countless other things. But for them the world stayed almost the same. They just kept on living in those dark cold waters, eating fish and swimming around. It calms me down to know that this information overload of sorts that I feel when I think about the state of the world (and I think that lots of people feel that way too) is also a matter of perspective. That even with all that’s going on around us, if there’s a shark out there that is just swimming about, concerned only about when are they gonna find another fish to munch on, then maybe things aren’t as dire and as permanent as they seem. And I too can keep on swimming.

But also I’d love to be a bear so I can eat all I want and then take a big nap afterwards.

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I think periodic cicada would work well. I’m beginning to grasp the philosophy of living underground for 17 years and then emerging to just scream for a few days.

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You guys with all your beautiful, well thought out answers… And I’m here like… um, a bird! Because birds are neat!

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Would a non-human life form want to be human if it could?

Also, I think we are so unaware of what being human really is that we are not even “being” human anyways. If I had a choice (and I do), I would want to know more about what being human is. I would like to experience more situations that reveal what it means to be with people/myself, being selfish/helpful, being healthy/sick, living on the open plains/the mountains/a swamp/ etc etc etc

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That’s probably what birds think, too. You’ll fit right in ;D

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I’ve always figured a crow or raven would be ideal, since they’re relatively long-lived and can travel far and survive in almost any terrestrial environment. A kea or jaeger would be cool for similar reasons. For non-birds, perhaps an otter or a dolphin. I guess wanting to be able to explore the world gives me similar options as what @screedius said.

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In that case, I’ll go with a merman!

You can do that as a human, too. I have.

You win the internet today :smiley:

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My passion is solitary bees and wasps. It’s really difficult to choose just one!
But I think it would be either N. plagiatus or H. ligatus.

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falcon, chickadee, mouse, owl, snake, dragonfly, wolf, spider, spider-monkey, cat, manta-ray, dog-fish, mantis, or a weasel.

I’d like to be a sperm whale, just because last night I procrastinated and watched sperm whale videos.

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