There's really two things that I want to bring up here. The first is that the Anatomically Correct series of questions has been flooded with recent questions about various creatures. This is kind of humorous because I was looking into it, and TrEs-2b, the founder of the series, mentions on the Anatomically Correct Slime question (#43) that it was running out of creatures. For reference, we're on #117 last count, and that number will be growing rapidly. This is because if we don't set hard and fast rules as to what is allowed and what isn't, then literally all of science fiction, fantasy, myth, legend, and what-have-you becomes fair game for the Anatomically Correct series, so it will never run out of creatures so long as someone has access to Google.

And I would like not to stop this, but rather to gently apply the brakes and perhaps nudge the wheel a bit. I love the concept of the Anatomically Correct series, because it introduces a monster and then says, 'Okay, but what if this monster was real?", or a fantasy race, or what have you. Then it's a fun exercise putting together the jigsaw of components that allow you to come as close as possible to the target creature, all while staying within the realm of biology. But if we just allow everything, than we run the risk of over-saturating the field. Furthermore, some of the submissions of that 117-item list (as of the time this is being brought up) isn't exactly worthy of the list, so I propose that we implement a more rigid system into place such that all the coming questions in the Anatomically Correct series need not run the risk of downvotes, getting closed, or just an overall lack of interest and answers.

The second thing I want to bring up is that one of the more recent submitters to the series has been insisting on all the creatures evolving naturally. That is certainly a bonus if we can create a creature that can naturally evolve, but that is also horribly limiting in it's own way. A lot of creatures submitted to the list where not created with the intention that they could evolve, they were created to look cool or to be intimidating, and have no business evolving in the first place. Insisting on evolution is a limiting factor when it comes to anatomy, and we can get a lot better answers if we remove that limit.

Here is a short and rough list of conditions that I suggest. The first few have been taken from TrEs-2b's original post in the Meta, and then I've added a few myself.

Conditions for Anatomically Correct:

  • Generalizations are forbidden. A creature must be described as such that a coherent answer can be provided. (Using just 'Vampire' as a description is no good. Something more akin to 'Vampire which is weak to sunlight and feeds on blood' is better.) Links help, but they should be an addendum, not a substitute, for descriptions.

  • On descriptions: It should be a clear and thorough description of all the animal's qualities, as well as signature behaviors of said animal. To borrow the phrase 'We're willing to help, but we will not invent the creature and summon it into this world for you'. Pictures help, but they should be an addendum, not a substitute, for description.

  • Using previous questions under the 'Anatomically Correct' label as an example of why your question isn't violating the rules is not a valid defense. Those question are the exceptions that have been grandfathered in, they are not the precedent.

One that I propose adding:

  • The only requirement for the answer is to be an anatomically correct creature of the question, or at least as close as can be gotten using the current understanding of biology. Magic or handwavium of any sort is forbidden. Explanation of the evolution of such a creature is nice, but not required. This is to give maximum room for potential answers.

  • Variations of creatures which already exist in the series should be discouraged unless they are wholly distinct, i.e. if we have a working answer for Elves, asking a new question about dark elves or water elves should be discouraged unless they are functionally different in a lot ways. (I.e. if your water elves can actually breathe water and have other aquatic features, that's fine. If they only have fin-like hands and feet, that's not quite unique enough.)

  • Characters and creatures that were not intended to be meaningful living creatures with the use of magic, cartoon physics, and / or handwavium should be treated very, very carefully. If you're going to ask about them, make the necessary adjustments in order for them to be meaningful living characters. (For instance, if you wanted to make an 'Anatomically Correct Mickey Mouse', first describe him as close to a real creature as possible, i.e. humanoid creature with mouse-like features including ears and a tail, 3-foot tall body. Don't just post a 2D cartoon picture.) Creatures that have been given power which are biologically impossible should be summarily rejected from the series.

  • An 'Anatomically-Correct' tag should be created and applied to all questions within the series, in addition to the titles. A question that doesn't meet these guidelines should not be closed out of hand unless it also violates this site's other guidelines, such as being a duplicate or being too vague. The idea is that, while we want to keep the Anatomically Correct series exclusive, we don't want to prevent other questions which don't make the cut, thus providing the tag.

Lastly, (and this is not a suggested guideline, it's just a faint plea from me) please try and help to make sure that this tradition is taken with the respect it deserves. I've been on Worldbuilding for less than a year right now, but this is honestly one of my favorite parts of it, and I would really like for it to continue. If you have a favorite monster or you're worldbuilding for a story and you want to use this question, great! Please put it out, I'll gladly read it and try to come up with a creature that works, alongside the other members of this sight. But if the creature you have in mind is just one of idle curiosity which doesn't really fit, maybe consider just asking it as a normal question or saving it for later when you're more interested.

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    $\begingroup$ Its really bugging me the flood of feasibility and anatomically correct questions by the same few uses, it feels like its just to score points when there are many people that are actually writing a story and need help. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ @RandySavage -- There's an old saying: we serve the needy and the greedy. By that is meant, in an open membership and (reasonably) unmoderated forum like this, we have to take whatever queries come along. The only things we can really do are remind abusively idle users that we're here to help them build their own worlds, not satisfy their idle curiosity. There have been scads of such idle questions of late, not just in the A.C. series. Downvote or VTC poor quality or edit to make the Q better. Also, I believe a mod cán peremptorily delete queries that seem to not fit the forum's model. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I guess I am still holding a grudge for one of the users blatantly taking some of my recent questions and passing it off as their own idea. I guess that's the price we pay when using the site but add all the other questions we have mentioned it just feels like straight up plagiarism. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ @RandySavage -- Oh!? Now that's a different matter. I mean, if I ask a question and someone else uses that material to ask a follow up, I think that's fair use of my question. Are you saying something general like that happened, or are you saying someone stole world- or setting-specific elements? If the latter, then I'd urge you to make your own meta question about it. Moderator intervention may be required, which is above my pay grade! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas yeah they had all aspects of my idea in a question changing one detail, I did comment on the post and made a joke how similar it was to my idea. To me it didn't seem like they were going to run with the idea it seemed more like their previous questions related to characters in media and grasping for anything to write a question about. Thanks for the advice, if it is repeated I will bring it up as my own question on here. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas, as a mod I am called to intervene when needed. What is in topic for the community it's up to the community. I also second the feeling that the late flooding of AC/feasibility questions is dumbing down the community, but I cannot use my mod hammer to act on that. It's up to the community with downvotes and close votes to act. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ The problem is that it's not against the rules to flood questions, and in fact I think it shouldn't be against the rules. That why I want the 'Anatomically Correct' series to be a bit more exclusive and be given a proper tag, so while we can't prevent the problem of flooding, we can hopefully help the good question stand out a bit more. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica - I should think your Modmartel could be used against an instance of out right plagiarism. That's what my comment was directed towards, not the overall AC/feasibility discussion. It's up to RandySavage whether he wants to pursue the issue with the Mods. Otherwise, I'd agree: your hammer must rest as regards the vagaries of the AC series. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ Recent & related worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7736/… $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ There was a meta overflow post in 2016 suggesting that we don't need the anatomically correct tag. The top answer was agreeing that we didn't because "an intersection of creature-design and reality-check". $\endgroup$
    – levininja
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ The example of Mickey mouse is actually an interesting one. Mickey mouse's ears are always oriented relative to the camera, which can lead to potentially infinite twisting. I guess the solution would be to have that the ears and top of the head is just a cap put on, mounted on a spike. Similar to the elephant-like creatures in the "his dark materials" trilogy. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Considering the Title, Limiting the Number... I disagree with the premise that there can be too many good Anatomically Correct questions. That is, encyclopedias of myth & folklore are chock full of strange creatures that haven't even been touched in this series. Geopoets, game designers, and authors are also regularly coming up with their own weird races and creatures. Plenty of grist for this particular mill.

I would suggest that in stead of "limiting the number", which suggests that there will at some point be an end to the series, we might rather consider "improving the quality" of the questions in the series. This seems to be where you're heading anyway, but does not have the same psychological effect as an imposed limitation might have.

Considering Section I para 2, some submissions aren't exactly worthy of the list I'd ask you by what criteria you arrived at that opinion and what your plan is for handling those particular submissions. Perhaps make a separate meta question linking to the ones you think to aren't up to quality and they can be examined by everyone else. Include in that question how these fail while others pass the test.

If a former Anatomically Correct query is "demoted", I don't think it should be closed or deleted. Simply remove it from the list and edit the query body & tags accordingly.

Considering Section II para 1, insisting on all the creatures evolving naturally I don't think there should necessarily be an issue with "natural evolution". I think it's the querent's prerogative to insist on that if they wish. However, if this should be taken as a standard rule they should note that this request is at variance with the standard rule of the series.

Though consider: To be honest, I've always understood that for the Anatomically Correct series to work, without magic and handwavium as you say, respondents almost need to consider and apply "natural evolution" to their answers. The whole point of the series is to take fanciful creatures that don't exist and determine ways in which they might be made to exist. Evolution is therefore a presupposed mechanism.

I think Section II para 7, Variations of creatures... would most likely fall under closure for being duplicate as a matter of course. I concur that minor differences don't really make for an entirely distinct race or species or kind. Perhaps consider adding verbiage to that effect in this paragraph?

By Section II para 9, a tag should be created and applied... I am quite surprised! I should have thought a tag would have been created long since. I concur: a tag needs to be created right away. After all, it seems people do search for queries in this series and making the tag would help keep the series linked together.

  • $\begingroup$ There was a meta overflow post in 2016 suggesting that we don't need the anatomically correct tag. The top answer was agreeing that we didn't because "an intersection of creature-design and reality-check". $\endgroup$
    – levininja
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ @levininja - Interesting that we once had one and that it was gotten rid of. I guess the community is revisiting and reassessing that action. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I am still rather surprised that there isn't. That series of questions seems almost iconic of worldbuilding at this point. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 13:34

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