Stars and Stripes

stars2017 – 00:52:00

Why is a baby deer born with white spots – and why do they disappear as it grows? Why is a young wild boar striped? What makes the stripes fade with age? And why is a thrush spotted when it’s young, and striped when it’s older? “Somatolysis” is the answer. This ancient Greek expression means “dissolution of the body”: by changing its shape and contour. For many animals it’s the key to survival in the critical first days and weeks. It works like a magic cloak, that makes hatchlings and youngsters virtually invisible. A female deer leaves her fawn unattended for hours. It’s not strong enough to follow her, but she needs to graze to produce milk to feed it. The fawn’s only hope is to be invisible. Maybe bright white spots aren’t such a bad idea in a meadow full of daisies …