Monday, 26 November 2012

THROUGH THE EYES OF ATTENBOROUGH

#sirdavidattenborough I recently watched a few documentaries on the Eden channel, which were narrated by the legend of life documentaries himself; Sir David Attenborough. These documentaries covered life in the undergrowth and the lives of insects, etc. It is fascinating how well designed all creatures are, take for example the arachnid family. Spiders started off laying traps and not just the usual ones (cobwebs); one remarkable one was the Trap Door Spider. This spider lays what I can only describe as trip wires and once it senses a vibration, it pounces on its prey. Then there is also a species of spider that steals the food from another larger spider web… However, I found the story of the Ants the most remarkable. These fellas can accomplish anything! They can kill prey much larger than themselves and most of us know that they build intricately well designed and ventilated homes. But that’s not all; they seemed to instinctively understand the importance of working together, with individuals performing specific tasks. Take for example the soldiers that protect the other Ants during a migration up a small hill, so that if any member of the army fell, then they would be caught by the interlocked soldiers. These creatures are very well accomplished at what they do and in a sense they also farm other creatures, like termites. Needless to say there is a lot that we as a society can learn from these small creatures. Then of course there are the flying creatures, the insects, such as Dragon flies, May flies, etc. Did you know that the Dragon fly lives a good portion of its life in the water and when it emerges it forces air into its wings to unfurl them, after crawling out of its outer skin? For some of these creatures like the May flies, flying makes up a tiny part of their lives. They can’t feed and have about 30 minutes of flight time from stored energy, with one singular purpose; mating, and then they die. The drives for life seem much more simplified; feeding and mating. I remember seeing this species of fly that gripped the female by her neck while they mated, and then he removes anything that may have been left by a previous mate. Even the mating rituals are interesting by themselves; it is up to the males to be the flamboyant ones, colorful wing patterns etc. and the females make their choice based on the males’ performance. This isn’t so different from our species, save that our females do more ‘prettying up’ than the males but for the most part the choice is still the females, this is a similarity across the animal kingdom… But I think I have gone slightly off point. All these creatures have been so well designed for optimal survival, tailored to their needs, this of course is not a new mechanism but it never ceases to fascinate me. After watching the documentaries, I now see house flies and spiders, etc. in a different light. There is a lot of beauty in our natural world. © Pthasse Amadeus 2012

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