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Minds Eye

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Changeling Biology · 11:37pm Aug 8th, 2014

Hello, and welcome to all the new people that have followed over the past week. I don't do the blog thing very often, but I have some thoughts to organize. Feedback would be appreciated.

As you can guess from the title, this will concern changelings. I'm currently planning out a multi-chapter story featuring a changeling as one of two main characters. This will probably end up as my longest story, so I want to get it right before cranking out words.

I'll be upfront with this: what follows will disagree with a lot of the fandom's ideas. If you love changelings and how they are presented in so many stories now, please read on and tell me why I should change my mind.

We'll start simple:

Physical Appearance

On the surface, changelings appear quite monstrous. The way the light reflects off the eye suggests a compound eye. With the hairless body, missing chunks of leg, fangs, ripped wings, curved horn, and what looks like the remains of a torn mane and tail, changelings resemble a cruel mockery of the pony form. Perhaps they share a similar origin to Tokien's Orcs? Another subject for another day.

The wings obviously give changelings the ability to fly. The horn provides access to magic. Chrysalis certainly shows more variety in her use of magic, but we see soldiers charge up before they crash into the streets of Canterlot. They do have some tricks up their sleeves.

While changelings do have an insectoid appearance, they are not insects. The number of legs is a dead giveaway. The presence of a mouth is another clue to this. Chewing insects rely on the use of mandibles that extend from the mouth and move horizontally. They are not present on the changeling.

There are other reasons to doubt the classification of changelings as insects:

Exo or Endo?
Insects rely on an exoskeleton for support of their body. A combination of chitin and calcium carbonate make the exoskeleton a very tough and rigid defense.

And changelings don't have them.

Equestria must have a very peculiar definition of the word "rigid" if Chrysalis didn't split her own skeleton open there.

Fun fact: the only known insect in the world that can turn its head to look over its own shoulder is the praying mantis. How many times did Chrysalis look over her own shoulder in her ten minutes of screen time? I counted four before Celestia challenged her.

Another fun fact: a quick ctrl+f search of the wikipedia page for insects returns zero matches for the word "neck." Changelings clearly have a flexible neck. This suggests the presence of vertebrae running down a changeling's back.

What does this mean? Changelings have an endoskeleton. Much like humans and ponies and other vertebrates , their bones are inside their bodies.

If that is true, then what other similarities are there between ponies and changelings?

Blood Runs Red
The color of blood is determined by the protein responsible for carrying oxygen. Vertebrates rely on hemoglobin, which provides a red color for blood. The exact shade of this red depends on the oxygen level of the blood.

Insects do not even have blood. They have a fluid known as hemolymph. While this fluid can be blue-green in color, it is not used to transport oxygen. Insects breathe through holes in their exoskeletons. The same exoskeletons that changelings don't have.

Due to the aforementioned mouth of the changelings, there is an obvious source of respiration. Considering that changelings and ponies can breathe and survive in the same atmosphere, is there any reason to doubt that their bodies process oxygen the same way?

The green blood so often associated with changelings simply makes no sense.

While I'm shooting down headcanon:

The Hive Mind is a Total Crock

There are two times in that video, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, in which a pony dupes the changelings into thinking they are a changeling. How was that possible if every changeling was connected with each other?

In that same episode, we see Chrysalis not order Shining Armor to bring down his own barrier. This meant her troops wasted time and energy smashing down a force field while Chrysalis was trapped with Princess Celestia. Given her surprise when she overpowered Celestia, why would she willingly wait for her troops rather than bring them in immediately? There is also the case of the three bridesmaids. They couldn't even guard a door without being distracted. These four ponies were presumably under her complete control, yet they couldn't do anything she wanted.

Chrysalis felt more like a cut rate Professor X by planting suggestions rather than issuing real commands.

And then there are the comics. At the end of the changeling arc, we see all of them trapped in a castle basement with Chrysalis grumbling "Shut up, all of you. Just shut up." She can't make her subjects shut up at will.

Where is the evidence of a Hive Mind?

What is Love?
Baby, don't hurt me. I have a feeling this one will cause some contention. Changelings don't "feed" on love. They consume love, certainly, but they don't feed on it. I don't believe love hydrates their bodies or gives them nutrition.

Taken from the A Canterlot Wedding Part 2 transcript:

Princess Cadance: She's a changeling. She takes the form of somepony you love and gains power by feeding off your love for them.

Queen Chrysalis: [laughing] Right you are, Princess. And as queen of the changelings, it is up to me to find food for my subjects. Equestria has more love than any place I've ever encountered. My fellow changelings will be able to devour so much of it that we will gain more power than we have ever dreamed of!
Queen Chrysalis: Ah! Shining Armor's love for you is even stronger than I thought! Consuming it has made me even more powerful than Celestia!

Yes, Chrysalis uses the word food here, and she tells her changelings to go and feed later on, but it's a curious choice of words she uses. The idea of consuming food to become more powerful than you have ever dreamed doesn't make much sense. You'll gain something by eating all that food, but power isn't too likely.

Parasitic changelings are reminiscent of vampires and zombies. Things that consume from another being to keep themselves going. The difference is that vampires and zombies are already dead, and... actually... undead changelings sounds fascinating. What if they are the zombie ponies? Hm. I don't think I'll use that, but if anyone wants that idea it's yours. I didn't write this thing to argue about the makeup of a living, breathing changeling to turn around and say they're all dead.

So what is love?

A power source. The more love a changeling consumes, the stronger they are. Tougher. Faster, even. It keeps them in top form. Eventually, they need to recharge. But even though the lack of love will leave them feeling drained or powerless, they won't die without it. They won't be at the top of their potential, but a living body can survive on water and food all the same.

"So why did you bother me with this, Minds Eye?"
What I've said here will impact my story. Where did these ridiculous ideas of green blood and exoskeletons and an enslaving Hive Mind come from?

Maybe they came from a terrorized populace. Maybe Equestria, the land of love and harmony, is as easily frightened about a different tribe or nation or people as humans can be. Maybe there are rumors flying around Canterlot after the invasion, and no one really knows the truth about those changeling scum that attacked. Except, of course, a changeling.

A changeling that is alone, carrying out one final mission for his Queen. A changeling that knows what he is doing, because Chrysalis has earned his respect and loyalty no less than Celestia has earned her little ponies'. A changeling that has to bear the insulting rumors under his disguise, totally alone in a hostile city. A changeling that resents the ponies for it.

This would be a source of conflict throughout the story. Like I said, the story would be lengthy, and if the main character's motivation to stay in Canterlot in spite of the danger rings false, I'm sunk. The reader needs to buy it.

So the million dollar question...

Do you buy it?

Report Minds Eye · 2,096 views · #headcanon
Comments ( 17 )

I'll buy it. Whole cloth too. You make a lot of good points here. I may just borrow them for my "Changeling spends too much time away from the hive" story that's kinda percolating as a half formed idea.

I really like this a lot. You put a lot of research into it, and I like that.

What is Love?

Baby, don't hurt me.


Painful joke aside, I can get behind this. You make reasonable and well thought out arguments that support your theory, and can just as valid as any other head canon. Out of the head canons I have read, I agree with this one more so than others.

I never understood the hive mind theory anyway. As I see it, it is more of a hindrance/weakness than a strength. If all of the changelings are connected via hive mind, then theoretically if one has the power to affect minds, then affecting one changeling's mind, you can affect them all. Effectively shutting down an entire hive by getting to only one.

I eagerly await to see what you do with this, Minds eye. :twilightsmile:

Appreciate it.

And sorry for the joke. I talked myself down from a Youtube video, but I couldn't let it slide completely. :rainbowlaugh:

A word that i personally like when describing changeling is 'insect-like'. They do share some similarities with insects, their wings being a prime example.

I'm in the same boat.

Looks interesting, I can buy that world building.

Alright, good to know.

Certainly. They even have that buzzing sound when they fly. They're a lot more complex the more I think about it. I even changed my mind a couple of times writing this much.

I have a different headcanon, but I like yours as well. It's always interesting to read theories like this! :twilightsmile:

I buy it. I buy it all, damt!!! Just shut up and take my money!!!

And seriusly....Your right. 100% and auto-win. I need to copy this to print and have on my wall!

actually i think you are not taking a certain thing into account. changelings are highly magical creatures in a highly magical world. magic could function as everything they need, and thus they feed on love. and feeding on love can cinrease theri strength because the love they consume becomes energy for them.

and with the hive mind......... i kinda have an idea of that myself, a sort of pseudo hive mind. they have a connected intelligence yet each part has some part of the whole. the more active they are the harder it is for them to keep track on all their parts too. even while they were fighting the mane six the other changeligns were fighting against castle guards, ponies iwlling to defend themselves, and hwo knows what else.
the hive mind is connected yet separate to a queen's mind. she is the center of changeling lives yet a the hive mind is not her.

I've thought more about changelings since I posted this, and their magic was definitely a topic that interested me. Unicorns cast spells with their horns, pegasi control the weather, and earth ponies make plants grow. All that was called magic in the season four finale, so why wouldn't changelings have their own unique magic as well? Thanks for the comment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemovanadin Green Blood is possible, and does exist in nature. Not saying it's likely that Changelings have Hemovanadin rather than Hemoglobin, but evolution is a creepy bastard. And even the most far off [and removed] things from one another can be related evolutionary. [ps: Read the last entry on that list].

As for Love equals food. I see them as a mix of Empavores [feeds off of emotional psionic energy] and omnivores [look at those teeth.] Now you're right in that it's mostly a power source to them, but there's more to it than that. You hear her say, that her children "will never go hungry again".

For them empathic energy is an actual food source. And like vampires [psi-vamps most notably], or anyone that fits the Emotion Eater Trope. So yes it is a necessary food. After all it is what drove them to invade, and is their driving force. Their in a love famine [for what ever reason], and mass invasion / enslavement [in the throes of hunger] seemed like the best idea to ensure a steady meal.

For all we know. While yes they can probably / most likely get physical food for nourishment, that same emotional energy that gives them strength is an important part of their metabolic process, and without it they are unable to absorb food [like an anemic needing Vitamin C to help absorb Iron]. And without that secondary food source to fuel them they become malnourished / starving. After all without a biological imperative feeding off emotions would have no purpose for an entire species.

As for the Hive Mind. I think it's not a true hive mind, as much as you'd see with Pein in Naruto. But more like a mental hub where thoughts interact passively, but sharing sight and senses takes more work. And it needs a Queen to direct the flow of thoughts [seeing as Chrysallis was being a tard and not paying attention to anything other than monologueing.]

Which brings up several questions onto Chryssy being an utter idiot in CW. For a species that's bred for infiltration, spy work, and getting close enough to a pony to eat emotions. She did a horrible job and should be ashamed of herself.

As for the eyes.




No Glow.

We see numerous times in the episode where their eyes have no glow. So I think the shinies, are less compound eye, and more of a magical/arcane origin.

Also I think they have a mixture of Endo-Skeleton, and an armored skin [they're seen taking ridiculous amounts of damage, use falling + gravity as an attack protocol, and even have the Iron Skin trope accredited to them]. The Skin I think is more of the same substance as a hoofnail / hair [same substance different solidity] but both more subtle than a hoof, but as hard if not harder.

Thanks for this. I still have a lot of details to iron out, and feedback like this is what I need.

About the Hemovanadian, I'm not sure changelings would have it. The wikipedia page says it isn't an oxygen carrier, and I'm still not sure why changelings would have a different respiratory system than ponies. Even if the sea squirts are related to... me. :twilightoops:

Those two pictures of the eyes are quite helpful. Thanks.

I'll think on their skin some more as well. The falling+gravity combo was definitely assisted by magic, and then a mob got their tails handed to them in a street fight by an outnumbered enemy. Not sure how much damage they can really take.

As for the Hive Mind... I still don't see it. Based on what I've seen in the show and comics, there's no reason to believe there is a Hive Mind versus the idea that Chrysalis has some low-level mind control power. But even that is suspect, because the bridesmaids were distracted so easily.

And there are two ideas from A Canterlot Wedding that must be addressed: first, Chrysalis was incompetent after the initial attack; second, that Twilight Sparkle, probably the smartest character in the show, never thought there was a changeling present. Twilight even attacked the real Cadance on sight, rather than think "Wait, there are two? How?"

With those two ideas in mind, I don't think a grand invasion is a common changeling practice. If entire villages and towns were attacked, even outside Equestria, the news would spread. Changelings wouldn't be a surprise. Large populations getting kidnapped or falling off the face of the earth wouldn't go unnoticed.

So... how much love would the changelings need to survive? It can't be much, or else their presence would be discovered.

My headcanon on this has changed since I posted this blog. I think changelings have an innate magic in them--like unicorns control magic, pegasi control the weather, and earth ponies grow plants--to sense emotions. But because they've been in isolation so long, their skill has declined. Love is powerful, and that's what they can sense. Their ability to feed on love is less a biological need like breathing, and more an instinct like a pegasus flying.

I'm not even sure if that will make it into the story I'm planning. Probably under the surface, but not in much detail.


Actually Vanabin carries oxygen. hypothesized . So technically they could have green blood, and be air breathers. Although not irrefutable, it's scientifically possible that just like Hemoglobin or Hemocyannin [Copper based blood].

As for the invasion thing. I agree, an invasion isn't a common thing. Which backs the starvation bit. Since when faced with extinction [especially via starvation] any outcome is better than the alternative. So I'm thinking the invasion, especially as bad as it was carried out, was a very rare occurrence. And before that they would've been very hard to find, and relatively unknown. Possible that Tia and Luna might've known of them millenia ago, or longer. But it's possible that they could fade into obscurity even in their memories.

Their TvTropes listing has them as Emotion Eaters which is a form of Horror Hunger via Vampiric Draining [on their trop page has that as well]. So It literally is a form of nuroushiment for them. After all they both eat off of love both passively and actively.

No their innate magic is more geared towards Shape Shifting, and altering their biology [from increasing durability [magic meteor attack], looking / sounding like a target / pony / species, and other forms of transformation. Although I wonder if it goes towards other forms of molecular magic? Since Chryssy did surround Twi with fire [like they surround themselves when using their magic for shapeshifting / attacks] that sunk her through who knows how many meters of solid rock and crystal.

After all if they always talk about it as feeding. And they are in a world where magic exists. and mythological creatures are real, so there's no reason that creatures that feed off of emotions don't exist [since on earth it's a fictional ability, but over there it makes sense that it could exist that way. Especially since it is always refered to as feeding. Thus it is something they eat.]

I agree she was a B list Professor X. But Prof X was a telepath. While Telepathy = Hive Mind. I think a hive mind is a canon thing to make sense of the fact that they are her children, and to make sense of their group eye glow / fix some of the problems the writers created with them.

But yeah, they dropped the ball on Changelings being as awesome as they could've been.

Although here's the big question. How are all they her children? Does she pull a Monotreme?

Shape Shifting is their forte, but the idea isn't unique to changelings. Poison joke can alter appearance and voice. Trixie can change a pony's hair color. Twilight knows a spell that can turn an animal into an orange. Timberwolves can pull themselves together after being broken apart, and can merge into one giant version. What really sets the changelings apart from everything else in the show is their relationship with love.

And there are more emotions than just love. Why wouldn't there be a magic centered on emotion? There's friendship of course, but there's nothing based on an idividual's emotions?

The thing about love is that the words power and food are used almost interchangeably in the episode. The quotes I left above show that. The connection between changelings and love goes deeper than nourishment. Even vampires can last without drinking blood, although they aren't a strong without it. And vampires are dead. Why wouldn't a living body be able to survive on food and water alone?

Which leads to the wedding. The starvation motivation doesn't make sense to me. Nothing in Queen Chrysalis's dialogue, actions, mannerisms, anything shows desperation. She's even kind enough to tell us that this day was one she dreamed about since she was small.

Would she dream about feeding her subjects? No, that would need to be a daily occurence. Which again brings up the point that no one knew anything about changelings. If they were able to fly under the radar after psychically sucking ponies or whatever else of their love, it wouldn't take much love at all to feed the whole hive. And if love meant that little, why would they need it to live at all?

The invasion was about ambition, not desperation. Chrysalis was after the power Equestrian love would give her.


Which she could've done without the invasion. Honestly everything about that episode screamed utter incompetence. I mean we have the pre-CW changeling theory that all the copies of ponies in S1 and S2 were changeling clones. And with the ability to change into literally anyone or thing they had not only easier access to food / ponies, but all the love they could handle. Doing the mass overthrow, party crashing thing. That put them into the spotlight, made others aware that they exist, and made it harder for future invasions / feeding now that ponies know what to look for.

And why I say starvation / desperation is mostly becasue that's the only thing that makes sense. As for why wait / something since she was small. Was because it was hard to find the right moment when she could've both infiltrated the castle, gotten close to the Princesses, and when there was a sufficient opening to make the move. That and she said herself that her people, "Will never go hungry again."

Why declare that they'd never go hungry again if there wasn't a reason for them to be hungry enough to swarm the strongest nation in the world, with three physical dieties, Two of whom move the sun and moon. One of which is changeling food incarnate [the power of love]. And as for why love, idk. It might just be easier to digest, and if they can feed off of ambient love, then there's no reason why they couldn't feed off of friendship as well. Idk.

Their horror hunger was crappily written. Pardon the language. Heck their entire race was horribly written. And while yes vampires can survive without blood, it's only for so long since Blood is the catalyst that fuels their necromatic virus. I was talking more along the lines of psychic vampire, rather than a sanguine [blood drinker / common version of vamp].

Seriously though. The second they knew a Princess of Love existed. The smart thing to do would've either been abscond her, or make a treaty. Especially since not long after she awoken the Crystal Heart which radiates pure magical love. And would've been a pefect, unending food source. Not counting the fact her power is over love and it's generation [limited]. So them tossing her into a cave to starve / wilt. Was stupid. Them planning an invassion since Chryssy was small and not doing recon was stupid. Them not learning Cadance's mannerisms, past, friendships, interactions, or anything about her was stupid. Heck the entire invassion was stupid since they already were in Equestria in disguise, were scattered throughout Equestria, I think a few were hidden as nobles which means that they were close enough to siphon food off of Celestia, the most worshipped pony in Equestria daily without drawing attention to themselves. But breaking that secrecy was stupid.

So yes, Starvation and being groomed [and failing it horribly] from a child, is the only thing I can think of that makes sense. And yes, it makes them stronger. But as I aforementioned, why couldn't it also be something they need to stay healthy? After all if they are empahtic, magical creatures. What's to stop their alien biology from needing a powersource to stay healthy?

After all if you take the battery / sparkplug from a car. Even if it has tons of gas in the tank [physical food], it has no way to covert it into something needed to run the car [run a biological body]. And just because feeding off of love gives them boosted everything, doesn't mean that without it they don't feel starved when low on it? Or that they don't suffer some sort of magical metabolism that's harmful to them without a resevour of empathic energy to fuel it.

I'd give a theory that those Changelings are aliens (but they're not humans). And I don't think they came here to feed on love. They came here for simple reasons. In one of the comics, Chrysalis says that her species come from a carnivorous tree that turn horseflies into an Alicorn hybrid right after the root coils the pony skeleton. Well that's a lie because, like you said, they're not insects, and flies are not eusocial animals; only most bees and wasps are. She has to tell a lie so she won't expose her secrets about her true origin.

As well as they have an endoskeleton, but they do have exoskeletons, but they're covered in layers of skin that protects them from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. They do have wings, but they're not insects if you compare to have four instead of six legs, and they have jaws instead of mandibles.

Compare to the blood, we all know that vertebrates like humans have red blood, and insects don't have blood since they don't have any lungs, but like in the Carboniferous, insects grow in massive size when oxygen increases in our atmosphere. But with the Changelings' blood is green, maybe they produce oxygen, but if extraterrestrial life can be different compare to us including their blood so maybe their blood is green if they're aliens and if they're not insects (but they're still skinned arthropods).

What about the hive mind? Eusocial animals (such as bees, wasps and ants) can work in group minds, and their reproductive female called a Queen gives the commands to her brood to build and expand her hive until death. The Changelings, however, are Euscoial, and they appear to be highly intelligent (since when Chrysalis sneaks inside Shining Armor's barrier without anypony noticing, or her workers successfully replaced the powerful ponies like the Mane 6), but their hive mind is kind of messed up like what happened to Thorax (since I saw that video you posted) especially when she tried to use her mind control on her bridesmaids and Shining Armor, but unable to control them even when they couldn't even guard a door without being distracted. Well in my theory is that the Changelings' pony-like appearance isn't their true form; but it's a hybrid of their original alien form and an Equestrian pony. My guess is that Chrysalis injected pony (or maybe Alicorn) DNA in her blood to transform her and her workers and soldiers into an alien-pony hybrid, but since ponies aren't Euscoial, the effect causes her hive mind to mess up causing her brood to get catatonic or confused.

The love they're feeding isn't their food source, like you said, but it's actually a power source for their magic to become stronger just like a cellphone charger, and they can still survive when they haven't consume love for a while. Maybe shape-shifting isn't their biological abilities; they're using some sort of transformation spell (since they have magic) to turn them into something biotic or abiotic in order to hide among the ponies. So what else did they eat? Well, if you can see those sharp teeth, they appeared to be carnivorous or omnivorous.

So if they didn't came here to feed on love, why're they here? Well, if you can see the season 6 finale, since they abducted Celestia and Luna as well as the Mane 6 plus Cadence, Shining Armor and Flurry Heart, maybe they know that Celestia and Luna didn't just raise the sun and moon; but their job was to help their planet to become habitable. If you look here, you'll see what would Celestia and Luna do to the moon and sun "scientifically with magic".

If you see that, they came here to exterminate all life on this planet since they know that this planet is fueled by Alicorn magic.

So why Equestria and the rest of the planet? And why trying to exterminate everypony? Are they after food, fuel, water, air, minerals, or they're planing on doing something else?

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