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Attack of the B-movie scientists

Giant mutant beasts are dangerous — but not if they’re too big to walk, says a biomechanics professor.

Michael LaBarbera, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Chicago, has gained a reputation as a man unafraid to tackle life’s knottier mysteries. He once wrote a paper explaining why animals don’t have wheels. Most famously, he is the author of “The Biology of B-Movie Monsters,” a treatise in which he explored the science behind films like “Them!” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” And his findings represent good news (for humans, anyway): The shrinking, enlarging, and sundry biological tinkering employed in creature-feature disaster flicks of the 1950s and ’60s would have been a disaster mainly for the creatures themselves.

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