Helix - The Willis Hypothesis

Of all the crazy things to come out of the last episode of Helix the connection to the Willis Hypothesis may be the craziest.

Here's what Wikipedia Says about the the turn of the nineteenth century botanist, John Christopher Willis and his "Age and Area" hypothesis.

"In 1896 Willis was appointed director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) until 1912 when he was appointed director of the botanic gardens at Rio de Janeiro. He was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1897, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1919.[1] His notable publications include “A Manual and Dictionary of the Flowering Plants and Ferns” in two volumes and “Age and Area: A Study of Geographical Distribution and Origin of Species”, published in 1922. He returned to Cambridge in 1915, and later went to live in Montreaux, Switzerland. He died in 1958 at the age of 90 and was posthumously awarded the Darwin–Wallace Medal by the Linnean Society."

Age and Area.

"Willis formed the Age and Area hypothesis during botanical field work in Ceylon where he studied the distributional patterns of the Ceylonese vascular plants in great detail.[3] According to his hypothesis the extent of range of a species may be used as an indication of the age of that species. He also maintained that the "dying out" of species occurs rarely, and that new forms arise by mutation rather than by local adaptation through natural selection.[4] Willis defined his hypothesis as:"
"The area occupied at any given time, in any given country, by any group of allied species at least ten in number, depends chiefly, so long as conditions remain reasonably constant, upon the ages of the species of that group in that country, but may be enormously modified by the presence of barriers such as seas, rivers, mountains, changes of climates from one region to the next, or other ecological boundaries, and the like, also by the action of man, and by other causes.[5]"

 So what have we learned from Mr. Willis and how does it connect to Helix?

First off we may have learned why Arctic Bio-Systems is located in the great white north.  As Willis stated, "the ages of the species of that group in that country, but may be enormously modified by the presence of barriers such as seas, rivers, mountains, changes of climates from one region to the next, or other ecological boundaries."  I'd say the Arctic clime serves as a sufficient boundary.

So why are we dealing with the thoughts of an obscure botanist?  I think the answer lies with Hatake.  I've always wondered why he so much plant life in his private lab and the entrance way to his secret stairway.  We've always known he's been interested in the mutation of species, in our case, the human species.  He's been experimenting with viruses as vectors and the manipulation of genetic code to change people "from the inside out" as Doreen stated it.

 We also know Candace Sutton was all for starting a new species and was very impatient for the "dying out" of our current species.  Hatake referred to her solution as "genocide." Hatake, I feel, had a different solution and that would be mutation instead of natural selection.

I think Hatake has taken Willis' work and adapted it to the human condition.  As Willis observed, "also maintained that the "dying out" of species occurs rarely, and that new forms arise by mutation rather than by local adaptation through natural selection. "

Simply put, Hatake has been experimenting with the mutation of plant life and adapting it towards the human species withinin the constrictions of Willis' theory.  The end game would be a kind of plant/human hybrid.

I'm willing to guess this has something to do with Julia's photo-sensitivity.  As we all know, plant life needs light and or sunlight in order to process it's "food" through photosynthesis.  If Julia is a plant/human hybrid then her skin, of better yet, her silvered eyes, may be a conduit for light.  The contacts may be a filter to help with the hyper-absorption of light.

Willis was concerned with the "age" of a species and it's "dying out."  If Ilaria was seeking the same goal through Hatake's work then it would make perfect sense to create a new super species of human using Willis' theory and Hatake's adaptation.

It seemed as though Sutton disagreed.  When she learned of Hatakes work she dismissed it as an "abomination."  She was looking at the torn picture of Hatake with the young Julia but I don't think she was speaking of Julia specifically, but the Willis work instead.  I think she thought it a failure and it may have left them with the silver eyed condition we know of.  Something she and Hatake shared and was quite angered with.  Hence the "abomination" remark.

If we are to extrapolate upon this theory further then we may look upon the severed heads in a new light.  I think the heads are being kept so they can be "regrown" again using Hatake's plant/human hybrid technology.  Are they to be reattached to their former human forms?  Possibly.  I think rather the heads can grow a new body through some massive petri-dish experiment or perhaps in direct connection to a hybrid plant species that has been genetically spliced with the human genome.

Or better yet, the heads can be re-attached to the perfected vector virus infected species!

Don't worry Candace and Dr. Hvit, we'll soon find a suitable human/plant/vector species and you'll soon be starting a new "family tree" in no time.  (Bad pun totally intended.)  Hopefully by the season conclusion if not season two.

Can we connect the filing of Sutton's teeth to all of this?

Most herbivores have flattened teeth in order to gnash and process the plant life they need to consume.  If Hatake's plant/human/vectors have become herbivores then flattening teeth would make sense.  So why flatten them if you are a mutation?  Why are they not growing flat?  Has the mutation led then to be hyper-sharp?  The better to process the consumption of meat like a good carnivore?  

Humans are already a crossover of herbivore and carnivore.  Hatake's imperfect mutation must have tipped the scales too far in one direction.  

Remember Julia's famished state when she came out of level R and sat down to eat with Alan and Sarah?  (And that hilarious "Alien" homage.)  Perhaps being a hybrid means you super process your need for energy and strict absorption of light isn't enough for your plant like state.  Meat is also essential hence the super carnivore teeth that Candace insisted on filing down.

No wonder Sutton thought Hatake's earlier work was an abomination.  She's living proof of it.  So is Hatake and so is Julia Walker.  This also explains Hatake's anguished tears at what Julia has become.

An abomination.

Okay, one last observation for the hyper-toothed human/plant hybrid.

As pictured above I think that is why Julia has been muzzled.  Not to keep her quiet but to keep her from using those nasty new teeth she is going to grow.  With the increased need for consumption comes the increased need for the super teeth.  You eat more efficiently with the hyper teeth in order to sate your heightened need for energy.  Sutton knew this and had Julia properly restrained.

Boy, I can't wait see one of these human/plant hybrids in all it's glory.  Do you suppose they will face off against the vector/human/head transplant species in a battle for Earth supremacy?


  1. This is so much fun and so interesting!!!!!

  2. Oooo... one of your best posts, David! I didn't think of plants, and in a way it is so plain to see. Of course! The heads are like "plant cuttings", trim off the proper part of a plant, put in the proper solution, and voilĂ  - a seedling! Neat, we may see a bunch of seedlings popping if there is a season 2. :-D

    Might that include Doreen?

    Very true that humans are ex-herbivores, and according to my book of Food in History (Reah Tannahill), even when humans began eating meat, there intelligence didn't particularly grow (in the opinion of Tannahill and several of her sources). It was when humans discovered cooking techniques in general, that apparently the brain began evolving at a much faster rate. However, it would seem that cooking is actually quite a science, because while there are many nutrients that are better absorbed raw, there are also many that are better absorbed after being cooked - some only partially, and some after many hours. All kinds of neat enzymes, molecules, or whatever, become transformed and the brain thrives on many of them, whether they be meat or plant-based.

    But anyway. Sorry. Food is cool.

    When you work in a garden, or stare at the trees, one cannot but help wondering what kind of life exists form them. I've always been of the mind that the strangest "aliens" live among us, but not the lizard kind! :-) Plants were here before us. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay before us.

    What is reality to a plant, I wonder?

    Perhaps we will find out! Awesome post, Dave... :-)

    1. Thanks Ingrid, I'm glad you liked the post.

      I think we've seen the last of Doreen, buuuuut, if she does make it back I hope it is as a freakish queen of the human/plant underworld with Peter as her knight-errant. She rules with an iron fist (spinach?) and she's given her followers one mission.

      "Bring me Sergio!"

      The last we see of him is as he disappears behind a lush multitude of leafy greens and a soft munching sound is heard.

      Food is cool! I am familiar with the work you cited thanks to a Science Friday podcast I listened to. It all makes sense to me. However I was called out on a lot of my theories on tumblr by someone who said my work isn't based on real science.


      My entire premise is based on a work of science fiction! Fiction! Hello!

      What is reality to a plant? Let's hope the plant kingdom will finally be given voice when they are crossed with a human being. Wouldn't that be awesome. Thousands of millennium suddenly able to speak.

      "Get off our planet!" "Plants unite!"

      Thanks again Ingrid!

  3. My grandson made an interesting observation last evening. He lives with his grandpa and me. He came into our room and asked me if I remember telling him that plants and trees are living beings. I told him that I do indeed. He told me that he had never really thought about it until he hugged the tree outside this window, and he said he could feel how happy the tree was! My grandson has schizophrenia, and his perceptions are often off the base line, but some things he says are very astute!!

    1. Astute indeed. I talk to my plants and not because it's the trendy thing to do. It's because they listen!

  4. Interesting how you connected it with plant life.

    I'm thinking aliens (like every scifi show). Something similar to "The Event" where these are an older alien species and one group wants to kill off most of the humans where the other (Hatake) wants to evolve them.

    They are probably more an animalistic species (like the Vectors) and their teeth are actually sharp like carnivores hence the filing that Sutton had to do.

    1. No offense, but let's hope it's not aliens, that's been done to death. I was watching Arrow last night and the CW is launching two new aliens to Earth shows. When will it stop?

      But if it is, I can see Hatake wanting to evolve with them or whatever is left of them. Maybe the aliens were closer to a predatory species than we are. There were a lot of Vampire theories going about, what with the teeth and the sensitivity to light, but maybe the alien predators hunt by night thus the aversion to light.

  5. Wonderful theories there!
    I was thinking also that the filing down of the teeth could be as simple as the fact that, much like a plant would keep generating leaves, the teeth and nails would also continually grow.

    1. Maybe! If they start growing appendages then we know the really want to "branch" out!

  6. Hi Dave,

    I like the plant hybrid theory, especially the way the virus behaves given growth media in the lab. It rapidly formed tangles that almost look like vines or roots. I think the theory of the heads being reattached to other bodies (the way plants are grafted) would make sense.

    The teeth grinding actually reminded me of beaver teeth. Their teeth continue to grow their whole lives to compensate for wear due to all the heavy chewing beavers do. However, if the beavers do not chew to wear them down they can grow unchecked to the point where they can loop back and grow into the skull. Flat beaver teeth or fangs, I guess the real question is what the silver eye people's teeth were meant to be chewing on?

    We've seen the silver eyes confer light sensitivity. Are they meant for enhanced vision in darkness? Night vision and needs to chew, hey it's the evolution of mole rat boy! I was thinking maybe it was sensitivity to UV light, which is mutagenic, but Julia was sensitive to artificial white light in the underground lab (which would not have UV wavelengths like the natural sunlight). Sutton and Hitake don't seem to experience the painful light sensitivity, is Julia's just because she is not accustomed to her new eyes?

    So I like the age component of the Willis Hypothesis. Are the silver eyes the older or newer species? Their numbers seem fewer, suggesting younger by the Willis hypothesis. Also on the idea of age, I suspect Hitake may actually be far older than his appearance.

    What do you make of "vector vision" how the vector peering from the duct work "saw" Sara and Alan as green circulatory/nervous systems and Julia was blank. Green = potential host, but how do they actually "see" that?

    One last thought, I am liking the consistently eerie music choices.


    1. Hey Lynne,

      We had a pet rabbit growing up as kids and we learned you had to give it something to chew on so it wouldn't have the "reverse growth teeth." Pity our neighbors didn't heed the same lesson and had to bring their rabbit to the Vet to get it's teeth operated on. Idiots.

      So what do the Silver eyed people need to chew on? Are they Vampiric and need to drain blood or eat flesh? Are the predatory and have enhanced night vision? Are they alien and can see along the electromagnetic spectrum but their "diet" is vastly different than ours?

      We'll have to call Julia "Mole Rat Girl". I love your Fringe reference. Nice call back. I wish she or Hatake would exhibit some other characteristics.

      I emailed the Helix podcast and asked them if they would be surprised if Sergio had the silver eyes also? He may have kidnapped kids recently or long ago as in the case of Miksa/Daniel. I wouldn't be surprised if he kidnapped Daniel long ago! There is a lot of immortality theories going about, have you seen them?

      So, if the Vectors have their "Vector vision" and the Silver people have their own vision (that we've yet to see displayed) does that mean the are related along the evolutionary chain or mutated genetic chain? I'd like to think so. I agree the vector vision is meant to see potential hosts. So the Silver people are poor hosts or have evolved beyond that. Some of the behavior seems to be wolf pack oriented also.

      Now there is a new species, wolf/human that loves their leafy greens.

      I've been using Shazam to pick up on all the music references on True Detective and Helix. Pretty awesome.

  7. Interesting theory. But how do you explain the vectors not harming those with silver eyes? When Hitake went to level R he took out his contacts and those infected things ignored him. And Allen's brother was infected, but is near death, yet the others infected are just zombies. How is it spreading? Where are the children? I hope the science matches up with the fiction!

  8. As we saw in the last episode the Vectors can scan people and see their vital organs. For the silver people they cannot. This seems to make a difference to the Vectors and it hasn't been explained why yet. Maybe the silver people (and when I say that I mean the silvered eyed people) are an advanced version of the Vectors or perhaps they are not "infectable" so the Vectors leave them alone. I guess we'll see.

    Hatake gave Peter some "water" to start the series. Many think it wasn't really water but something Hatake was working on for the infected. I guess we'll have to wait for answers on that one too.

    The virus seems to spreading via the "Goo kiss" as some are calling it. Nasty.

    As for the kids, maybe they all grew up, Daniel (Miksa) did.

    I wouldn't hold out hope that the science will match up with the fiction, this is TV you know! Thanks for the feedback!

  9. ok I think the theory is interesting but I have to take this is another direction. it is a vampire virus. Silver eyes are master vampires. Vectors are clones. Filing the teeth to hide the fangs.

  10. I loved your whole human/plant hybrid theory. It was really interesting. But one thing you didn't discuss is that in his later work and life, Willis talked about linked populations that were outside of his area of botany, and when population genetics started up (or restarted), he extended his theory to all populations. He also focused on saltation theory vs. gradual evolution (Darwinian gradualism), or the idea that large lasting beneficial mutations can occur in big jumps as little as a generation vs. evenly, over long periods of time as Darwin argued. It is an ongoing argument, that also includes the whole "Hopeful Monsters" idea (somewhere in between saltational evolution and gradualism). In spite of how much I enjoyed your theories and ideas, including the fact that I too have wondered a great deal about Hatake's wall of greenery (you also forgot the Sun Room, though that may have been a later episode, and might simply be there to allow people who are always indoors to get enough of a shot of sunlight... although there are much less harsh ways of getting the right light exposure), I think maybe the reference to the Willis Hypothesis may just be about a large evolutionary shift occurring quickly in a linked (also important) population, and saltation vs. gradualism. Sutton's auto-dentistry seemed more psychotic weapon than corrective to me... She could just as easily have been sharpening them from what I saw, as flattening them, and either would require her to take off some of what was there. But overall, very enjoyable and fun.


  11. Well the eye shifting colors isn't just science fiction. For instance I was born with sky blue almost bluish silver eyes. As I got older they deepened in blue. And when I was 7 years old I had a strange fascination taking things apart, preferably batteries well suffice it to say I was taking apart a C Battery one day got frustrated and stabbed it with a philips screw driver spraying alkaline acid into my eyes. I couldn't see for 3 days. On the fourth day I saw nothing but blurry vision. On the fifth I could make out shapes and colors. Aside from developing nearsightedness on the 7 day had good vision but my eyes had changed colors to a hazel brown by the tenth day my eyes had changed to a medium brown and I required glasses. I am 38 now and my eyes are a dark brown and yes I still wear glasses. If I squint without them on I have near 20/20 vision. But because of me developing astigmatism in both eyes I need to have them on or I start feeling nauseous dizzy and vomiting sickness including migraines and regular frontal lobe pounding headaches. Where the simplest sound cause vomiting and severe drowsiness. The doctors could never explain it. They just told my parents that I was lucky to have my eyesight back, regardless of the changing colors. No one else in my family was born with blue eyes except my great grandfather, and my grandmother that passed away when I was 8. No specialist that I have gone to including the army doctors, when I served 13 years, could explain it in any way possible. They all called it a fluke and stated I should just be happy that I have my eyesight . If anyone in the science or science fiction community could explain it it would be more than I have been told by anyone.

  12. When I was born I was born with silver bluish eyes as I got older they deepened in blue. When I was a kid I had a strange fascination with taking things apart. Specifically batteries when I was 7 I was taking apart a C Battery. I got frustrated with it and stabbed it with a philips screw driver spraying alkaline acid into my eyes. I was clinically blind for 3 days on the fourth day I was able to see blurry images. On the fifth day I was able to make out shapes and colors. On the 6th my eye color changed to a hazel brown. the 7th I could see but not without the help of glasses. On the 10th day my eye color turned to a medium brown. I'm 38 now and my eyes are now a dark brown. No specialist that I have gone to can explain it including the army doctors, spent 13 years in, who stated exactly what my childhood docs said that I should be happy having sight at all. I still wear glasses but I developed nearsightedness from the experience. If I squint without my glasses I have 20/20 vision. But because I also developed astigmatism I have to wear my glasses or I experience nausea dizziness and severe migraines including regular frontal lobe headaches that with the slightest sound induces vomiting. So far no one can explain this to me. So if anyone can explain this using science or science fiction I would greatly appreciate it. And I've always been drawn to science fiction for some odd reason. Any thoughts please share still kind of in the dark. And the only people in my family that ever had silver bluish eyes in adult hood was my great grandfather on my dads side, where as my grandmother on my mom's side died with deep blue eyes when I was 8 years old. If anyone could she'd some light that would be awesome.

  13. A crossover between herbivore and carnivore? Has it occurred to you that omnivore is not a crossover. But more evolved? Politically Correct intellectuals like to judge meat eaters and see vegetarians a superior. But nature is not Politically Correct. And an Omnivore is superior to herbivores and carnivores. They can process any food source in their environment plant or animal. Making them more efficient. If ether food source becomes scarce. They can survive on the other.
    Also if she was turning into a herbivore. Filing the teeth would not make sense. People do not have snouts. And cannot open their mouth big enough to stick things like a whole apple into their mouths. They need to take bites. Canines are better for taking bites out of things even if it's a plant. Ever take a bite out of an apple? Try modifying your canines into molars and see how easy that is. And since when do humans chew with their front teeth? The canines are used to acquire the food. [Plant or animal.] Then it is moved to the side molars for chewing. [Plant or animal.]
    But your politically correct arguments are that the new species must ether become a super herbivore OR super carnivore. Because you see omnivore as a [crossover] between one to the other. Instead of an evolution to a superior life form to both.
    Maybe what we are looking at is a super omnivore.

  14. I think this was well written but must disagree, perhaps the willis idea is being applied to a zombie/vampire or alien hybrid which is now out of control?


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