Wilbur’s Twin by John Cherevka
Whether you are talking about single-cells organisms such as amoeba and Euglena or the Giant Squid, many Terran forms of life utilize extensions off their main body for a variety of reasons. These extensions can be pseudopods, flagella, cilia, tongues or tentacles. From the perspective of energy conservation, extending a small portion of one’s body into the environment to move, collect food, obtain information about your surroundings or communicate with others makes a lot of sense. If that part of you is removed through predation or some other cause, vital organs and body mass are left intact and only small portion of the body has been sacrificed. Additionally, such extensions tend to be extremely flexible with the muscles generating small forces but having very high strain rates, resulting in high velocity response times. Studies on the tentacles of the squid and as well as the tongues of frogs, salamanders and chameleons have verified and quantified the evolutionary mechanics of such protuberances (Van Leeuwen, De Groot and Kier, 2000; Netherlands Journal of Zoology). Thus, this extension of an organism’s self into the environment is an evolutionary trait that has been repeated throughout Terran life.
H.P. Lovecraft by James Daly III
Given the biological value of tentacles and other extensions used by life on Earth, the external organs of Lovecraftian entities are probably used for similar functions such as feeding, obtaining information about their immediate surroundings, and communicating with others of their kind. Lovecraft does provide some data to support this hypothesis. For example, in describing the Elder Things in “At the Mountains of Madness” a number of passages identify body extensions and possible functions.
“Around equator, one at central apex of each of the five vertical, stave-like ridges are five systems of light gray flexible arms or tentacles found tightly folded to torso but expansible to maximum length of over three feet. Like arms of primitive crinoid. Single stalks three inches diameter branch after six inches into five substalks, each of which branches after eight inches into small tapering tentacles or tendrils, giving each stalk a total of twenty-five tentacles.” – “At the Mountains of Madness”
Fossilized Crinoid (from http://www.wikipedia.com)
In the passage above the mid-body tentacles of the Elder Things are compared to the arms of a crinoid, which is an echinoderm, closely related to sea stars (both having a radial symmetry like the Elder Things). Crinoid arms are covered in cilia and are used primarily to collect food and push it toward the mouth. The Elder Thing’s tentacles can extend over three feet so it may be possible that these organs are used in a similar manner. In addition, Elder Things may also use these tentacles the way we use our hands, to manipulate objects and make tools.
Other external protuberances were described on the Elder Things with various functions. One example is the set of tubes at the top of their head that terminate with glassy, red-irised globes that look like eyes. Another example is the set of long, reddish tubes that end with bell-shaped orifices that are lined with sharp, white teeth.
Elder Thing by KingOvRats (www.deivantart.com)
The Elder Things are alien to Earth but they are still made of the same matter we are; they are native residents of our space-time. However, what of entities from outside of our space-time? Once again Lovecraft provides supporting evidence for one of these entities – the Mi-Go. These creatures are known to be from beyond our space-time, yet they have protuberances on their head that rapidly change color, similar to the photophores in an octopus or squid. These external organs are thought to serve as a means of communication, particularly in interstellar flight when individuals may be considerable distances away from each other.
Bringing this conversation back to “The Dunwich Horror,” the Whateley twins are truly unique entities, even by Lovecraft’s standards since they are hybrids but not hybrids of two closely related species. Instead, they are extra-dimensional hybrids, a genetic fusion of two very different types of entities. The closest thing we have in comparison is the “Brundle-fly” in David Cronenberg’s 1986 movie “The Fly,” where two distantly related species are genetically fused to create one unique organism.
As previously described Wilbur Whateley had a nearly-human appearance above his waist; below his waist was a strange conglomeration of alien organs. Some of these included a set of long, greenish-grey tentacles with red sucking mouthparts. These organs were obviously used for feeding and apparently Wilbur was feeding on both his grandfather and mother, based on the strange markings identified on both. Wilbur’s brother obviously fed on the cattle that were constantly being purchased by Old Wizard Whateley.
Wilbur Whateley by Verreaux (www.deivantart.com)
A large rudimentary eye was identified on each of Wilbur’s hips, each circled by a series of pink cilia. It is hypothesized that the pink cilia somehow enhanced the vision of Wilbur. Maybe the cilia allowed him to see beyond visible light; maybe he could “see” longer (infrared or radios) or shorter (UV or X-rays) wavelengths of the EM spectrum with the cilia. Wilbur also had a large tail with annular markings and a large undeveloped mouth at the end. This is particularly curious since Wilbur already had feeding organs. While redundancy is very common on a genetic level, on a phenotypic level (manifestation of the genetic) redundancy, particularly of organs, is very rare – at least for Earth life. Assuming the same can be applied to Wilbur, this second mode of feeding, tail in contrast to tentacles must have some specialized role or function that we are completely unfamiliar with; this can obviously be said about a about a number of biological issues associated with the Whateleys.
Unfortunately, the description we have of Wilbur’s brother, after he is exposed to the power made by Dr. Armitage, is not nearly as detailed as that of Wilbur’s. Curtis Whateley was the individual who actually saw Wilbur’s brother from a distance when he was visible through the use of the powder. Here is his testimony:
“Oh, oh, my Gawd, that haff face – that haff face on top of it…that face with the red eyes an’ crinkly albino hair, an’ no chin, like the Whateleys…It was a octopus, centipede, spider kind o’ thing, but they was a haff-shaped man’s face on top of it, an’it it looked like Wizard Whateley’s, only it was yards an’ yards acrost..”
A strange version of Wilbur Whateley’s brother from the 1970 Roger Corman movie “The Dunwich Horror.”
Two items can be noted based on this brief description. First, as was discussed in a previous article, the large face on the creature was that of Wizard Whateley’s, supporting the hypothesis that incest between Wizard Whateley and his daughter occurred. Second, the body of Wilbur’s brother was a composite of a number of invertebrates. Based on the animals identified in the description, octopus, centipede and spider, Wilbur’s brother was a living mass of tentacles, legs and insect-like mouthparts. In addition, the marks or footprints left by this creature were similar to that of a large, semi-hooved animal. Again, this collage of legs, protuberances and mouthparts indicates that this extra-dimensional hybrid has a number of means of sampling and interacting with its surroundings as well as multiple modes of feeding. Yet, it still probably had possession of our five senses, based on its large human head. However, without a more detailed account and description of the anatomy of Wilbur’s brother, it is difficult to even guess the function of its external organs.
Next time we will conclude our investigation into “The Dunwich Horror” by discussing what Wizard Whateley and his extra-dimensional hybrid offspring were trying to achieve by opening the way for Yog-Sothoth. Thank you – Fred.