Evolution matters – the anthropomorphism in the world of Narnia

Biology of magical creatures


The world of Narnia is a high-magic world, characterized by a fauna, composed of both native and introduced animals. A land of magic and wonder indeed, the most characteristic feature of the world of Narnia is the talking, humanized animals. This uncommon quality was largely driven by the modifying effects of the magical energy, to which introduced mammals proved to be especially susceptible. Furthermore, the present study establishes the phylogenetic relation to the extent of magic susceptibility and the first evidence of magi-neuronal congestions.

The fauna of Narnia

The most recent studies confirmed that most of the lifeforms in Narnia migrated from our world and were further transformed by a considerable amount of magic, available there. An overview of the fauna indicates the Old World origin of most of the animals there. Most of these appeared to be predominantly of European/Eurasian (badgers, hedgehogs, beavers, boars, bears, foxes, and wolves) or African (lions, gorilla, white rhinoceros) origin. The considerable cheetah population might be either of African or Asian origin, while polar bears and a tiger, seen occasionally seem to be rare immigrants from the Arctic and Eastern Asia respectively.

Therefore, the current fauna of Narnia seems to be mostly of introduced origin, further modified by magic. As seen further, this effect of Narnia’s magic mostly reflects the ability of introduced animals to acquire anthropomorphic features, but this is true only for mammals. A variety of birds and other lesser animals do not undergo or rarely do the same magical-induced changes, which is the clear evolutional dependence of the anthropomorphic potential.

Native Narnia species seem to be rare and probably on the edge of extinction. These include the boggles, ankle slicers, griffins, the phoenix bird, and the giant sea serpent. They have also undergone significant magic-induced evolutional changes and a certain degree of intelligence. For centuries, however, they were outcompeted by the newly introduced Earth animals.

Classes of anthropomorphic creatures

As stated above, mammals are usually the class of animals that are most often successful in developing anthropomorphic features. This is not particularly unexpected, because the evolutional step from mammals to humans that needs to be overcome is much shorter than from reptiles to humans. What is surprising, however, is the fact that different mammalian orders respond differently to magic and this is loosely related to their evolutional closeness to humans. As seen below, some particular orders of mammals are further grouped according to the extent of humanization.

Class I – talking beasts

In the most simplified humanization of animals, intelligence is combined with the ability of human speech, without further changes in the ability to walk on the back limbs or manipulate with tools. Such beasts have essentially preserved their original appearance and, if not talking, could be easily mistaken with their ordinary Earth counterparts. Most of these are from the order Carnivora, such as wolves, foxes, bears, and big cats, including Aslan himself. Others include, but are not restricted to, several ungulates such as rhinoceros, horses (both odd-toed ungulates), and reindeers (even-toed ungulates).

Class II – humanized beasts

The next major step in gaining anthropomorphic features is the acquired ability to use tools, clothes and walk in an upright position. These are relatively rare and seem to be restricted to rodents like mice and beavers as well as several carnivores of the Mustelidae family such as badgers. Much expectedly, these beasts are more susceptible to magical-induced changes.

Class III – human-beast hybrids

Finally, in this particular case, some mammals are so altered by magic that they transform into human-beast hybrids. The already disapproved belief stated that these are derived from the magical-induced fusion of humans and animals. Recent studies, however, proved that these beasts have no genetic material of human origin, respectively the view that they are hybrids is not true at all. It is just the extent of humanization that leads to further resemblance to humans. Both odd-toed (horses) and even-toed (goats, bulls, pigs, and sheep) can evolve into such beasts as centaurs, fauns, and satyrs along with a wide variety of minotaurian-like beasts.

Evolutional relation with anthropomorphism

Figure 1. Relationship between phylogenetic proximity to humans according to the existing cladogram of mammals and the degree of magic-induced humanization. a – not confirmed to be introduced to Narnia or effect not known; b – Class II, humanized beasts; c – Class III, human-beast hybrids; d – Class I, talking beasts.

Physiological changes, related to anthropomorphism

The anthropomorphism of Narnia’s beasts, according to the widely accepted hypothesis, is a result of magic-induced changes in the genetic material of animals, which is highly directed, unlike random mutations that normally occur in the course of evolution. What is usually underestimated, is the extent of physiological changes, associated with it.

Adaptations, associated with sentience and speech ability

The single, most important organ that evolves and undergoes significant development in response to the magical influence is the brain. In all classes of humanized beasts, it is much better developed than in non-humanized predecessors, which is especially true for the cerebrum. Besides the class III anthropomorphic beasts, all others do not have significantly larger brains than normal animals, which was curious to scholars, as human intelligence is also associated with a much larger brain, which is reflected in a larger forehead. In this sense, the so-called “small brain-large mind” phenomenon remained elusive for centuries until magi-neuronal congestions were discovered.

These unique cells and cellular associations were first thought to be tumors, caused by excessive magical energy. Currently, it is known that these neurons have a much higher potential and effectiveness, resulting in complete human abilities, ensured by a relatively small brain. They do, however, require a 5 to 10 fold more metabolic fuel in the form of glucose, which results in higher metabolic and respectively, food requirements in humanized beasts.

The further, purely anatomical changes, common for all three classes of anthropomorphic beasts is the construction of the vocal tract, which resembles the human’s one. Most interestingly, the anatomy of the facial muscles and their voluntary control is also changed to a more human appearance, allowing anthropomorphic beasts to use a variety of facial expressions.

Neuronal changes, associated with anthropomorphism

Figure 2. The brain of anthropomorphic mouse and comparison between regular and magi-neuron. a – magi-neuronal congestions; b – olfactory bulb; c – cerebral cortex; d – cerebellum; e – midbrain; f – regular neuron; g – bi-nuclear magi-neuron with the reverse connection.

Adaptations, associated with tool usage    

The further humanization in class II beasts involves two major adaptations. First, the opposite thumb and the overall hand-like appearance of the front limbs are crucial. The anatomy of mice and beavers‘ front limbs may also hide the big mystery of their higher humanization, compared to carnivores. Unlike wolves and cheetahs, rodents are skillful in holding and manipulating different objects with their front limbs, which makes it easier to adopt humanized hands.

The upright walking, however, requires much more significant changes in the entire skeleton and especially the vertebral column and back limbs.

Adaptations, associated with human-beast hybrids

Finally, the class III anthropomorphic creatures face the biggest anatomical and physiological challenge. First, the minotaurians and especially the bull-human variety have massive heads with long horns, which is a serious anatomical problem, suggesting slightly stooped posture and a more solid back than normal people have. The diet is also a challenge. The teeth of these creatures suggest the consumption of exclusively plant food, but the human digestive system and metabolism, in general, are not designed for this type of diet.

Like the minotaurians, centaurs suffer from several problems that are even more complex. The digestive system is extended and passed from the human torso to the horse’s body. The respiratory system only functions in the human part, which involves repeatedly increased lung capacity. The two bodies suggest a complex circulatory system with two hearts and sufficiently thick arteries and veins that connect them. In other words, the human heart must be able to pump a sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood to the horse’s one, which feeds the entire rear portion. The system operates in the principle in which the mother supplies oxygen to the fetus, with separate rounds of circulation and hemoglobin, with a higher affinity for oxygen in the horse. The real drama came with the nervous system. For the proper functioning and coordination of the two bodies connected a considerable in length spinal cord is needed and an entirely new part of the brain is responsible for new limbs.

Magical effect on early human population

Along with a wide variety of animals, humans did also migrated into Narnia on numerous occasions. The earliest settlements were established in prehistoric times and these inhabitants were often blamed for the extinction of native species. They did also undergo significant changes, caused by the magical power of the world. Interestingly, the extent of these changes seems to be highly location-dependent, which is also indirect proof of the irregular distribution of magic in Narnia. While the telmarines kept their human appearance, others were so disfigured, they were considered not humans by many scholars. The major races of magic-altered humans include the giants, dwarves, cyclops, monopods, and goblins, although the latter may be also a native species, related to boggles.


  1. Clive Staple Lewis. 1950-1956. The Chronicles of Narnia. HarperCollins.
  2. Andrew Adamson, Michael Apted. 2005 -2010. The Chronicles of Narnia. Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures.

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