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We're told that the Avatars "got big" on the 6-year flight to Pandora -- so they were apparently babies/larvae/whatever back home.

How did Norm manage to link so many hours with an infant Avatar body?

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    Well, for all we know they matured from human-size to na'vi-size. We certainly don't know that they went from infant to mature adult. – Valorum Jan 15 '19 at 21:56
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There really isn't any good indication in the script or supporting materials to suggest that the avatar bodies were infants during the initial training program. The official "Pandorapedia" informs us that the bodies have been allowed to mature at a natural rate, which would imply that a Na'vi body with an evident age of about 20(ish) would have had an evident age of 14(ish) when they were placed onto the ship. Presumably this period covers the journey from adolescence to adulthood as well as a growth spurt.

Thanks to the long duration of the journey (almost six years Earth time), less aggressive growth stimulants are needed to bring the avatar to full adult stature than would usually be necessary; most organisms grown in amnio tanks on Earth are completed within six months.

More “natural” growth to full size of avatars meant that research essentially duplicating the types of experiments carried out on terrestrial mammals did not have to be performed, and also reduced the complexity of the amnio tank monitoring system.

Pandorapedia: Amnio Tank

That being the case, it's possible that Norm linked to the adolescent avatar while it was still in its tank or that the avatar was decanted for the duration of the training program (on Earth) and then returned to the incubator for the flight, where it then grew to maturity. Either way, he wasn't linking to an infant.


As to how he was able to log 500+ hours, you may recall that Jake's brother was training for the mission for three years

GRACE: (turning to Jake) Yeah, yeah, I know who you are, and I don’t need you. I need your brother. (to Max) You know -- the PhD who trained three years for this mission.

Avatar: Screenplay

500 hours of link time would equate to just a few hours each week.


Interestingly, this violently conflicts with the original script treatment which describes the growth pattern of the Na'vi bodies as lasting approximately 3 years ship-time, with the "embryos" being transported onto the ship, then grown to maturity during the voyage.

"That's right, they tell him. His embryo has been growing in-vitro at the lab for several months. This is significant since only one in a hundred volunteers actually produces a viable composite. Each viable embryo represents an investment of over 20 million dollars. Since he is genetically identical, he can step into his brother's shoes, and become a controller. The next mission leaves in three weeks, so he will have to go through a crash training course, but it's still better than wasting a good avatar.

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Spellman does not claim to have actually controlled an Avatar for that time, he only specifies he has logged "520 hours of link-time". Since his Avatar was not mature during his training this was likely done via simulation of some sort.

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