It’s almost a decade into the much ballyhooed 21st century, and if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to get a little impatient with technology. Sure, it’s all well and good to be able to steal music and software from the ether, and battle diseases that were once death sentences with often astonishing rates of success.  But, in the words of one of the great modern philosophers – ” We still have weather?! Give me a break!”

This post marks the beginning of It’s the Future an ongoing feature dedicated to giving you the latest news on all the neat stuff this era was supposed to provide, from devastating ray guns to revolutionary cybernetic arms. Each week will provide a look at how close we really are to the wonders and horrors of living in the world of tomorrow, today. In keeping with the latest economic news, let’s go ahead and start with the horrors.

In cinemas throughout the world in the 1950’s, you seemingly couldn’t turn around without bumping into a giant monster. Filmmakers the world over, terrified and transfixed by the sheer power of the atomic bomb, turned their pens and miniscule budgets towards the more creative horrors that this new and terrible tecnhology could create. 1954 saw the first appearance of everyone’s favorite irradiated monster, Godzilla, in an inspired film blending the best elements of environmental fable and a metropolis being destroyed by an enormous lizard. In Them!, humanity was plagued by humble ants tranformed into monstrous man-eaters by mere proximity to nuclear testing.

The variations on a theme continued with giant spiders, giant gila monsters, and giant…well, you get the idea.Eventually, no animal was safe from being turned into a vicious, bloodthirsty killer courtesy of the miracle of celluloid. Night of The Lepus brought us the previously unimagined horror of giant killer rabbits, and  Black Sheep taught us the horror of… evil sheep. While the creatures may change, the lesson stays the same – as sure as the sun will rise, when mankind mucks about with nature, animals will become gruesome monsters, destroy our cities and gruesomely devour us.

Luckily for mad scientists, hot-rodding teenagers and grizzled generals the world over, it appears that mutant animals are simply more pitiable than fearsome. Chances are that no special forces teams will be scrambled over this two headed calf. And even after exposure to massive amounts of radiation, this poor frog would probably just die a painful death rather than grow to gargantuan proportions and threaten the safety of even a sleepy hamlet, much less a bustling cityscape.

Even when mutations are caused by human activity, the effects are often deeply underwhelming,  more grotesque than blood-chilling, as is the case of these two headed fish larvae recently found in Australia’s Noosa River.

Though the cause of this deformation, found in millions of larvae to date, remains up in the air, the probable culprits are one of two farming chemicals commonly used in the affected region – either endosulfan, an insecticide or carbendazim, an anti-fungal agent that’s closely related to Benomyl, which was found to cause abnormal numbers of chromosomes, among a variety of other unpleasant side effects, in lab testing. Neither substance has been found in the river as of yet, but a number of test results are still pending.

Meanwhile, even if these Blinky wannabes are not about to lay fire-breathing waste to the Sydney Opera House, we’d all probably do well to remember the lesson behind so many B-grade monster movies. When humanity recklessly messes around with nature, it usually doesn’t end well for humanity. And if whatever is mutating these fish moves into human populations, we may well find ourselves wishing for the sort of problem we could solve with a well placed artillery bombardment.

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