Despite what certain fake documentaries might tell you, there aren’t little mermaids under our seas. However, if there were, we would expect them to evolve and adapt like all other ocean creatures do. Depending on her ancestral home, Ariel would look different. Very different.
Working with artist Monique Steele at Buzzfeed, Joseph Shaw, associate professor at Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, came up with some new looks for Ariel that hinged on her evolutionary history. For example, if Ariel’s lineage lived around coral reefs, she might actually be little (to fit in coral nooks and crannies) and much more colorful:
If she hailed from the arctic, the little mermaid would probably be bigger. Evolution would also do away with the fantastic color scheme and put on some insulating layers. There might even be some anti-freeze genes in Ariel:
Like a toothy barracuda or streamlined marlin, a mermaid from the open ocean would likely be sleek and powerful. Her back would be darker and her stomach lighter, providing camouflage against those striking from below. Shaw figures Ariel could also travel in pods and communicate, like dolphins do:
Deep sea Ariel is nearly transparent, luminescent, and the stuff of nightmares:
Not sure if we want that last one to be a part of our world.