It’s been 10 years since the first episodes of Planet Earth aired on the BBC, and in celebration, the network asked some nature-focused YouTube creators to nominate their favorite moments from the mini-series. Those scenes have now been strung together in a beautiful compilation video, which was spotted by Kottke.org.
Planet Earth aired as the most expensive nature documentary ever commissioned by the BBC and its first in high definition, so it’s no surprise that the series was full of amazing imagery. From footage of lions and elephants shot entirely at night, to the hilarious-looking mating dance of the bird-of-paradise, there are plenty of memorable moments to look back on before you watch the new Planet Earth II, which comes to BBC America in January.
You will have to sit through some narration from various YouTubers, but it's helpful to hear them describe what exactly is going on in the context of the episode, and the images themselves are more than worth it.
If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.
Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.
The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.
“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”
The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.
You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:
It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.
Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.