Dressed to Live: Wildlife Styles

2013, Nature  -   Leave a Comment
Storyline

Dressed to Live playfully explores the "fashion sense" of the animal kingdom by taking viewers on a global tour and educating them on the many purposes of skin, feathers, fur and even glands in facilitating communication, reproduction, defense, and survival across species. From the epithelial cells of fish skins to the tusks and whiskers on walruses, this documentary charts the varied "fabrics" of zoological fashion and the ways in which these designs are employed.

Through candid footage of each profiled animal the viewers are treated to intimate portraits of different mammals, insects, and water foul as they demonstrate the purpose of their given looks. Fatty, thick-skinned marine mammals such as walruses and elephant seals reside in climates on opposites end of the global spectrum, yet they share similar body structures. Male elephant seals comically demonstrate the way their layers of fat serve as armor against competitors during mating season through a montage of head-butting and growling – a sound that closely mimics humans belching.

The Pyrenean desman, a river-based relative of the mole, utilizes musk glands to distribute a protective oily layer over its coat, providing insulation for the creature as it spends much of its time in water. Similarly, aquatic birds have an Uropyglial gland situated on the back near the tailbone. Most will spread the gland secretions over the feathers of their bodies to reduce the absorption of water. While only one species does not employ this feather oiling technique in favor of performing faster as diving birds, they in turn have to endure a long period of sun-drying their feathers before they can take flight.

Perhaps more interesting than any singular "wardrobe" function is the film's cross-species comparisons; In another interesting example, it is explained that both black and yellow wasps and salamanders communicate warning through their colors, signaling to other creatures that they will inflict harm if threatened. Coral snakes are also known for this trait, though they incorporate red into their message as well.

These are just a few of the stories told in Dressed to Live, a film filled with visuals that will appeal to wildlife lovers who enjoy observing animals in their natural environments.

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