Evolution makes the surreal seem commonplace in NATURE’s The Body Changers.
In The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka wrote about a hapless fellow who awakens one day to find he has changed into a cockroach. In the world of fiction, this is an example of surrealism; in the natural world, it typifies an everyday occurrence.
Many animals have a special ability to transform themselves, for the sake of survival, reproduction, or both. And, as anyone who has watched a caterpillar become a butterfly knows, some animals experience two very different existences, in effect, living for a time as one creature and then changing into another. NATURE probes the intriguing subject of physical transformation in The Body Changers.
The program explores a broad range of creatures with astonishing abilities, from the redwing blackbird, whose brain dramatically changes shape to accommodate the chants and songs of mating rituals, to a fungus that transforms itself into something resembling a stalk that plays a vital role in the proliferation of roundworms.
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Online content for The Body Changers was originally posted May 2000.