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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In The Womb: Extreme Animals

In The Womb: Extreme Animals
Premiering Sunday, May 10th at 9 PM on National Geographic Channel

I first heard about this weekend's amazing special, In the Womb: Extreme Animals way back in October of last year. It was my interest in the incredible images that come from In The Womb that made me stand out to National Geographic in the first place, allowing me to preview all the other awesome specials. So it's with great pleasure that I annouce that finally, after waiting since October, you can see In The Womb: Extreme Animals this weekend, on Sunday, May 10th at 9 PM! The first In The Womb was incredible. It followed the development of humans, cats and dogs. Now, we get to see the early lives of animals many of us will never see in the wild.

And, of course, I got a sneak peek at the upcoming event.

In one word: WOW.


In The Womb: Extreme Animals takes us on the reproductive journey of four very different animals: The Lemon Shark, Emperor Penguin, The Glomerata Wasp, and Red Kangaroos. National Geographic follows these four diverse creatures from sex to birth using real-time 4-D ultrasound images, visual effects, and state of the art fetal imaging techniques. Included in the amazing visuals are shots from inside a kangaroos pouch and the first-ever video footage from inside a wild shark's womb!

I don't even know where to begin talking about this special. Each and every story is masterfully done. The images are incredible, transitioning beautifully between real images and created visual effects which allow us to really see these animals grow from the moment of conception until they're born. You get to see the heated battle between rival wasp larvae species in the caterpillar's body cavity and the tense moment when a kangaroo joey travels from its womb to the pouch where it spends the majority of its time growing. You get a sneak peak at a baby bird inside its egg and an unbelievable look at the gruesome battle to be the last baby shark standing.

And what's best is that they don't just detail four separate tales from the four different creatures - the documentary does a fantastic job of comparing and contrasting the similarities and
differences between them. They compare the embryos at different stages, showing how long it took for each of the four species to get to that point, truly accentuating how much faster the insect larvae develop compared to the slow-growing sharks. We also get to delve into the lives of the adults, explaining when and where unique traits develop, like the shark's lateral line system, and how those traits are used when the baby grows up.

The visuals are sure to blow you away. By far the coolest moment for me was the actual footage from inside a sand tiger shark's womb - the marine scientist in me totally nerded out. But each and every one of the four species this special looks at has incredible footage and special effects which truly illustrate the embryo's journey. And some of the images of the growing joey are simply unbelievable.

Even more amazingly, I learned so much more about these animals than I expected. I've studied animal development in college - heck, I took a whole course on elasmobranch biology (sharks and rays), and we spent a month or so on shark reproduction. I have read a ridiculous amount of literature about parasitic wasps for my weekly Sci-Fi parasites.

And yet I still learned amazing new things about how these animals reproduce. The documentary is clear, informative and entertaining - great for everyone, no matter what your scientific background is. You don't have to know a lot about reproductive biology to enjoy this, and if you do, you'll just enjoy it even more. It truly is an amazing spectacle that everyone should watch.

I have loved the National Geographic specials that I have gotten to see in the past, but this one is by far the best one I've gotten to see yet. It's impressive, both visually and mentally stimulating from start to finish.

Oh, and did I mention the little guys are CUTE! Baby kangaroos, sharks, penguins and even wasps are absolutely adorable in my book. Just to give you a tempting taste, here's a clip of the baby shark being born:


This Mother's Day, go hang out with your parents and watch In The Womb. Is there any better way to bond with Mom for her special day?

Nope. Don't think so.

1 comments:

Aimee "Roo" said...

We actually have a copy of the book up for grabs if you want to come by for a chance to win it. It's totally amazing!

http://4theloveofanimals.com/blog/2009/05/01/celebrate-mothers-day/