A Quirk Of Evolution
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PEDESTRIAN 1: I…what? That’s ridiculous!

PEDESTRIAN 2: Oh come on man, don’t be disgusting.

PEDESTRIAN 3: Holovision is really running out of ideas, huh?

PEDESTRIAN 4: Oh, wow, ew, gross, I’m shocked. …Are y’all gonna pay me for this?

Audience laughs. Camera pans to MIKE CATMAN, SHOW HOST.

MIKE CATMAN: Those were just a few of the reactions we got on the street when we showed people the subject of today’s episode of CATMAN’S CRITTERS.

CATMAN’S CRITTERS theme song plays. [CATMAN’S CRITTERS and CATMAN’S CRITTERS JINGLE are registered trademarks of HELIX HOLOVISION LLC.]

MIKE CATMAN: Coming up after the break, we have a leading expert on today’s ‘Critter’ and author of the upcoming book FROM FLAGELLATES TO FOLLICLE FLAPS: THE FASCINATING FOUNDATIONS OF FLUID FEEDERS, Doctor Jacob Jacobs!

Camera pans out as audience cheers. Five minutes of advertisements play.

MIKE CATMAN: And we’re back to more CATMAN’S CRITTERS!

Audience cheers.

MIKE CATMAN: With us today is a very special guest. Doctor Jacob Jacobs is a biologist who specializes in alien anatomy and evolution. Is Jake OK, Doctor?

JACOB JACOBS: Jake is just fine, Mike. I’m happy to be on the show!

MIKE CATMAN: We’re happy to have you with us. Jake, why don’t you introduce us to today’s ‘Critter’?

JAKE JACOBS: Sure. Today’s ‘Critter’ is brand new to science, only recently discovered thanks to radio transmissions. We’ve taken to calling them “Synapsids”, after their similarities to our own synapsids, as you’ll see are abundant.

MIKE signals to an offscreen producer, and a still photograph of a SYNAPSID is projected on the screen behind the stage. The audience collectively gasps.

MIKE CATMAN: Wow, that is… I’ve seen it before, but you never really get used to this thing, do you?

JAKE JACOBS: I haven’t yet, Mike, and not for lack of trying.

MIKE CATMAN: Ahem. Anyway. Why don’t you tell us exactly what we’re looking at here. “Synapsid”, right?

JAKE JACOBS: That’s right, Mike. As you can see, it has all of the basic synapsid features: Thorax, torso, contiguous head region, and four extending limbs. There’s even fur on some of the specimens.

MIKE CATMAN: Hold on, you said…four limbs? If I remember my schooling, I thought synapsids have five?

JAKE JACOBS: You’re close, but that’s not exactly accurate. Synapsids indeed have five protrusions, but only four are fully articulated. The one extending from the hindquarters is an extension of its internal skeleton, a kind of “tail end”, if you will.

MIKE CATMAN: And this one doesn’t have a “tail”. Do the others?

JAKE JACOBS: None of the synapsid specimens appear to have tails, no.

MIKE CATMAN: Nature is truly fascinating. Now Jake, can you tell us anything else about these, uh, synapsids? How big are they, what do they eat, that kind of thing.

JAKE JACOBS: Sure. As far as size goes, they appear to be about twenty mandibles tall on average, but there’s significant variation. The transmissions have actually been very helpful in that regard; they seem to make extensive use of tools, which can be used to gauge relative size.

MIKE CATMAN: Tools. Do you think the broadcasts are from the synapsids themselves?

JAKE JACOBS: It’s the leading theory right now, Mike. I don’t know why else the footage would almost exclusively be of them.

MIKE CATMAN: Right. Of course.

MIKE pauses for several seconds, seemingly in contemplation. The focus shifts to a section of the audience, members of which are murmuring amongst themselves, then back to the stage.

MIKE CATMAN: You know what, I’m sorry, I… I just can’t get past it. I gotta ask… What’s with the uh, thing down there? Between the limbs?

JAKE JACOBS: Laughs It’s quite alright, Mike. It was my first question too. I hope this is alright to say on HV, but we think that’s the…uh… reproductive center.

MIKE CATMAN: You mean the balls?

Audience laughs.

JAKE JACOBS: That’s right. The balls are on the outside.

MIKE CATMAN: I… what purpose could that possibly serve? Wouldn't that be dangerous? How could that survive natural selection?

JAKE JACOBS: Beats me, Mike. And that’s my professional opinion: I’m as stumped as you are.

MIKE CATMAN: Truly disturbing. Pauses. I think our time's about up, unfortunately. Doctor Jacobs, a pleasure as always.

JAKE JACOBS: The pleasure's all mine, Mike. Snaps mandibles

MIKE snaps his mandibles. The camera pans out above the stage, and the audience enters the picture.

MIKE CATMAN: (Get that thing off the screen.)

The image of a SYNAPSID disappears from the screen, replaced by the HELIX HOLOVISION logo.

MIKE CATMAN: CATMAN'S CRITTERS will be back right after the break, where we've got some more… Synapsid… footage. Great.

Audience members politely snap mandibles. Picture cuts to commercials.

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