• Samantha Schofield

The lifecycle of a Twilight vampire

Twilight is filled with the existence of vampires, werewolves and whatever the hell Renesmee Cullen is. But, does any of the biology check out? Today, we will journey through the life stages of a twilight vampire, from envenomation to demon child creation Renesmee’s birth.


Edward, change me

The beginning of vampire life happens via the injection of venom into a human/angsty teen. Venom in real life is an incredibly complex mixture. The mixture of different peptides and proteins allow the venom to cause a multitude of physiological effects. In venomous animals, a specific delivery system has been developed to deliver venom from the venom glands through the intact skin of prey (aka FANGS). But instead of fangs, Twilight vampires just use their dazzling smiles. Blood feeding animals also require continuous blood flow from their prey so they can slurp up as much blood as needed. This could be by vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) or reduced blood clotting.


Stephenie Myer has also said that vampires have 25 pairs of chromosomes, compared to a human’s 23 pairs. This physically hurts me. This means this vampire venom would have to contain proteins capable of adding 2 extra pairs of chromosomes to every single cell within the human body. Chromosomes are kept within the nucleus of every cell, which is pretty hard to get to. This is a HUGE (and impossible) job. Whilst venom can affect pathways of the body, the venom we know of, can’t change our DNA. But, Carlisle is a doctor and gorgeous and he wouldn’t lie to us.


Newborn

It makes sense to assume all the new special abilities and vampire looks are encoded in the two extra pairs of chromosomes shoved into the human nucleuses when turning into a vampire. Newborn vampires become extra strong, extra fast and most importantly, extra hot. Unless you’re super ugly as a human apparently, then you just become average. The Twilight wiki is so mean. Stephenie tells us all the vampire traits are a result of evolution to ensure human prey are drawn to the vampires and have no chance of escape. In typical predator-prey relationships, the need for being beautiful isn’t necessary, as it doesn’t affect hunting ability. So unless you find great white sharks really hot, it's not happening in nature. Vampires and humans do seem to be a special kind of predator-prey relationship, as they look similar and both have highly evolved brains (not you Emmett, you loveable himbo). So, this predator-prey relationship is a bit special.


Vampire skin is also changed during the transformation/makeover. The paleness of vampires is consistent with the lack of blood, as blood contains red blood cells, giving colour to the skin. For the skin to sparkle and be hard as marble, the skin cells would have to harden and crystallise, giving the same properties as a diamond and reflecting light.


Trendy vegetarian lifestyle

The Cullen clan chose to be more trendy than the other evil vampires and become animal-eating vegetarians. When feeding on animals, rather than humans, vampire's eyes change colour from red to a golden/pee yellow. Your genes determine eye colour. While eye colour can change slightly over time, nothing crazy is possible. Changing eye colour requires genetic changes. As eye colour is already determined by existing human chromosomes, the venom would not only be adding chromosomes but also affecting existing ones.


Stephenie has also told us vampires have no blood or any other body fluids, as it is all replaced with venom-like fluid. She has told us it acts as a lubricant for joints so vampires can move around easily. The fluid also acts to moisten the eyes so that vampires have increased eyesight. Basically, this fluid is amazing! The problem is, if you’re blood-feeding and inputting energy into your body, where is the energy going? The law of conservation of energy states energy is never created or destroyed, only transferred. In humans, chemical energy within food is transferred to kinetic energy for your body to move. Vampires are dead and don’t need energy like humans do. We could say maybe the blood helps the body stay dead and help them continue to be immortal?? This is confusing Stephenie.



image: baby Resume


Sexy vampire times and Resume Cullen

This is actually my biggest problem with the biology of Twilight. Stephenie has told us vampires can have sex (although not Edward, the 108-year-old virgin). She has also told us that when humans become vampires, they are frozen exactly as they were before being turned. Sooooo unless all vampires were bitten when they were fully aroused, vampire sex seems impossible. Stephanie has also told us the reason Edward and Bella were able to create a beautiful baby devil is because Edward still had some sperm saved up (and ready to rumble) from when he was human. Stephenie has said that a male vampire and a female-human are the only combinations able to create a child because women have to create eggs and release them each month. This is not possible when you’ve been frozen/dead/filled with fluid that seems to do everything but let a woman ovulate. Unfortunately, sperm can’t just hang around for 108 years waiting for Bella to come to talk about the cold weather and fall in love. Buuuut Edward is cold! Well how cold is he!? The answer is……… not cold enough. Sperm in sperm banks are kept at usually -196°C to preserve the sperm effectively. Normally, semen is similar to internal body temperature. If Edward released his frozen sperm bullets into Bella’s uterus, no fertilisation would occur and his frozen penis may have hurt/killed her.


But alas, science was ignored and Renesmee was born! When two different species (with differing numbers of chromosomes) produce offspring, it's known as an interspecific hybrid. Renesmee would most likely have some health problems and be sterile, and unable to have a vampire-human-werewolf baby with Jacob (once she is of age of course). Jacob is so considerate! Cough… Team Edward.. cough… In the real world, interspecific hybrids are a combination of both parents genetics. Sometimes, the hybrid gets the good traits of both mum and dad and becomes a stronger version of the two. This makes sense with some of Renesmee’s traits, including her hybrid diet, speed and strength. But also, Bella tells us some weird things. Renesmee’s heart beats fast, like a hummingbird, according to her mum. If Bella is being accurate, then Renesmee would die from a heart attack.


Overall, Stephenie probably should have paid more attention to biology instead of writing about Bella and Edwards stinky first meeting in the biology classroom.




Sources and further reading

https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/sciencecommunication/2012/09/10/the-twilight-saga-evolution-sex-and-science/

https://seducedbytwilight.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/a-biologist-considers-the-twilight-vampires-a-guest-post-by-lin-kerns/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4436903/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/on-the-origin-of-venom

https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2010126

https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(98)00349-5/pdf#:~:text=The%20standard%20method%20for%20preservation,postthaw%20sperm%20quality%20(3).

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170728092603.htm

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/why-are-my-eyes-changing-color