Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies
Tremendous creatures tend to have babies tiny enough to interact with and/or look cute to humans
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(permanent link) added: 2013-03-15 12:58:28 sponsor: SharleeD (last reply: 2013-04-13 10:00:02)

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When a very large creature such as a Kaiju first appears in fiction, it's usually alone, and menacing for its sheer size even if it's not ferocious. If it acquires offspring, or is shown in flashback as an infant, the image of baby creatures invariably differs: unable to loom like an adult, the juvenile's depiction will become cute and cuddly (if it's friendly) or fast-moving and in-your-face (if it still wants to eat you). Either way, this transition from towering bulk to close contact is facilitated by making the subadult creature much, much smaller than its parent or adult self. Small enough, in fact, to interact easily with and/or appeal to human characters, in ways that the mature version can't.

While this makes sense in terms of drama, it can also lead to situations where the offspring are so tiny, it seems a bit bizarre to we humans to think that baby and adult versions are the same species. This is mostly a case of human/mammal chauvinism -- many, many invertebrates and fishes in Real Life are tiny or even microscopic as hatchlings -- but the feeling of incongruity persists.

Often used to incorporate the Shoulder-Sized Dragon trope in stories about much larger dragons.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Pokémon tend to be very small in their basic and baby forms, then get enormous with each evolution.

Film
  • In the American Godzilla, Zilla is the size of a skyscraper, but its horde of offspring are only about twice the size of humans, allowing them to pursue the main characters indoors.
  • The baby form of Godzilla Jr. from the heisei era of the Godzilla series.
  • Ice Age 3: The baby tyrannosaurs are around Sid's size, but the mother is taller than Manny.
  • The baby rock biter from The Neverending Story 3 is fairly tiny compared to the adult rock biters.
  • In The Water Horse, the Loch Ness Monster is small enough to swim in a bathtub as a baby, but the size of a bus when fully grown.

Literature
  • In Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford is born tiny, but he grows to the size of a house in compliance with his owner Emily Elizabeth's concerned wish for her undersized pet. In the spin-off Clifford's Puppy Days, his pre-wish life as a hamster-sized runt is depicted.
  • Baby dragon Norbert in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is no bigger than a football. But in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we see that adult dragons can get massive!
  • Dragons in Eragon are very large, but their babies are much smaller.
  • Seems to be the case in one of Robert Sheckley's short stories. A starship comes across a planet full of human scale animals and plants. In the end, it turns out that the planet is a playground for some kind of alien children. The children are probably human sized or near so, but the parents seem to cast mountain sized shadows and use a mile high metal column as a key to wind up the entire planet.
  • As a puppy, Harry Dresden's dog Mouse was small enough to fit in his coat pocket. Fully grown, it's a struggle to squeeze the pooch into Harry's Volkswagen.

Live-Action Television
  • Word of God is that adult Adipose in Doctor Who are twice the height of a human. The baby Adipose in "Smith & Jones" weigh exactly one pound and would fit in a human hand.

Tabletop Games
  • In a vintage Dungeons & Dragons supplement about giants, a "hulking barbarian" who volunteers to join the adventuring party turns out to be a young cloud giant playing at being a human warrior. Cloud giant adults average 18' tall, so if human-like growth patterns are assumed, a juvenile 6' tall ought to be their equivalent of a toddler too young to execute such a deception.

Video Games

Webcomics
  • Earthsong - The giant character is the size a human girl of her age would be. It is stated in the comic that had she the opportunity to reach puberty, however, she would be roughly 10 feet tall.
  • In an early Yamara strip, the adventurers come across a tiny two-legged creature and start arguing about what sort of monster it might be. In the last panel, a gigantic foot of the same type appears behind them, and Yamara looks up very high while fearfully suggesting that the tiny creature might be somebody's baby.

Western Animation
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Spike the baby dragon is small enough to live with and interact easily with the ponies. When we're shown a full-sized dragon we see that they are very, very, very much larger.
  • Applies to most The Land Before Time characters, Littlefoot especially. Averted with Petri, who apparently isn't one of the larger pterosaur species.
  • True of dragons in How to Train Your Dragon, as revealed in Gift of the Night Fury.
  • Invoked example: An episode of Danger Mouse had Baron Greenback get a hold of a formula that made giant chickens. The eggs they laid, however, were normal size, and his plan was to distribute them to the world's doorsteps, so that when they hatched...
  • Played with in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Boast Busters." The Ursa Minor that attacks Ponyville is enormous despite being a baby, but its mother, an Ursa Major, utterly dwarfs it.
  • The sabre-toothed moose lion from Avatar: The Last Airbender , which starts life as a rather cute Yorkie-sized cub and grows into a hefty 10' predator.

Real Life
  • Virtually all invertebrates play this trope straight, as do reptiles and bony fishes. Having babies that aren't extremely tiny is mostly reserved for placental mammals, birds, and some species of sharks.
  • Marsupials give birth to offspring that are hundreds of times smaller than their parents. Subverted in that a marsupial newborn is also so underdeveloped, it's neither adorable, nor capable of interacting with anything except the nipples inside its mother's pouch and the fur it has to climb to get there.
  • Bears are extremely tiny at birth compared to their parents. Newborn polar bears weigh just 0.9 kg, but grow to 386-405 kg if male or 150-210 kg if female.
  • Truth in Television: Dinosaur infants tended to be no larger than a football when born, even for the largest sauropod species. There was a practical reason for this: a larger, thicker eggshell would have trouble absorbing enough oxygen for the embryo inside.
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