So, in Animorphs, the kids gain the ability to morph into any animal they can touch. For the most part, the exact mechanics are hand-waved due to it being magic-like alien technology, but one in particular was not.

When they morph into anything, their mass also changes. They do not become a 150-pound mosquito, for example. And in book 12, The Reaction, Rachel "burps" a full-grown crocodile, all that mass coming from... somewhere.

Normally this wouldn't bother me too much; Applied Phlebotinum (TVTropes) doesn't need explanation. However, in book 18, The Decision, we get a direct look at at least one of the mechanics behind how the morphing power works:

When using a low-mass morph, the extra mass is extruded into Z-Space (a parallel dimension mostly used for faster-than-light communication and travel), then retrieved when the morpher returns to their natural form.

What I don't recall is whether or not it's ever explained where the extra mass from a high-mass morph comes from - such as when Rachel becomes an elephant, or when that crocodile was created.

The best I could find so far is an (unsourced) Word of God joke from TVTropes - on the ShapeshifterBaggage page:

Applegate explained once that it came from "Black holes, and pygmy hippos."

Is that really the only explanation out there, and is it a real quote?

1 Answer 1


Okay, apparently I just don't have quite enough patience sometimes. After filtering through a bunch of Youtube results for pygmies, I found this page of questions/answers by K. A. Applegate, one of which was:

You know how when the Animorphs morph into smaller animals their body mass goes into Zero-Space. Well where do they get the body mass when they morph into big animals????????????
Your #1 fan,

With the answer:

Hi, A.J.
Additional body mass is actually drawn from NFL players who graciously donate . . . No? Okay, try this: additional body mass is drawn directly from a herd of hippopotomi, which, of course, explains the existence of pygmy hippos. Or not. Okay, here's the real answer: black holes suck mass into and through z-space. A certain amount of mass is thus always in transit through z-space and can be drawn into the vacuum created by morphing a large animal. Go ahead, try that out on your physics teacher and see if he/she buys it.

So I guess the joke on TVTropes is half correct - Applegate said something like that, but also said technobabble that works well enough: Stuff sucked into a black hole is in transit through Z-Space, and can be indirectly "borrowed" for those high-mass morphs.

  • 6
    Z-space is pretty much the handwave explanation for anything impossible in the Animorphs setting. "Q: In Animorphs, how does X? A: Z-space." It's the equivalent of "A wizard did it."
    – Brian S
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 14:32
  • 1
    @BrianS And in Animorphs, the wizard is also the Ellimist.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 22:17

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