ByOlivia van der Will, writer at

Ariel a.k.a. The Little Mermaid grew up in Atlantica, a kingdom located beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Ariel is the curious and adventurous daughter of King Triton, who always has her dear friends Flounder and Sebastian by her side. But how may Ariel look if her family had evolved elsewhere?

Look no further as Buzzfeed has the answer for us thanks to and an interview with Joseph Shaw, associate professor at Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and some artwork by Monique Steel revealing the answers to this question.

1.) Arctic Ariel

This pale Ariel is larger in size to protect her from the freezing conditions of the Arctic.

“In the Arctic, one would expect to find fatter merpeople that are protected from freezing by the presence of antifreeze genes. They would also be expected to be some of the slowest, because metabolism would be very slow in these arctic creatures.”

2.) Open Ocean Ariel

Open Ocean Ariel would have to pay real close attention to her environment as the open ocean would make Ariel super exposed to danger.

Shaw says, “Merpeople living in the open ocean would be expected to be fast, because they have a lot of ground to cover. They are also likely to be social (e.g., travel in pods) and therefore, have evolved advanced communication skills and we all know that Ariel’s voice is coveted for its beauty. These adaptations would provide a means for them to stay connected despite the vastness of the open ocean.”

3.) Coral Reef Ariel

Coral reef Ariel would be a teeny tiny, allowing her to swim amongst the corals with ease. Ariel would also be colorful to match her environment, I really love the Cheshire Cat inspired looking Ariel on the right.

Shaw says, “In coral reefs, one would expect perhaps the most attractive phenotypes that would include beautiful color patterns in their tails, many examples of mimicry, and amazing eyesight to take advantage of the crystal clear, bright sunny waters.”

4.) Deep Sea Ariel

This Ariel is totally terrifying, the Ariel from your worst nightmares. I sure am glad we didn't encounter this Ariel in the films. She is so translucent that you can see her organs!

“In the deep ocean, one might expect merpeople to have evolved long appendages to provide an enhanced sense of touch to help orient them, because the complete lack of light would eliminate sight. For this reason, some might even acquire bioluminescence to attract potential mates or lure unsuspecting meals.”

It really is hard to beat an original but I love how creative this artwork is and how we have some expert knowledge, too. Thanks Buzzfeed.


Which one if your favorite?


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