Shelley Vision: Weird and chunderful.
AS TITLES go, Weird Nature is bordering on the long-winded. Just the word Nature would have sufficed. Even nature's most familiar animals are just Out There. I mean, have you looked at any giraffes lately? They are so weird.
Not surprisingly then, the second episode of Weird Nature (Devious Defences) had barely got going before we were into Chris Morris territory.
To illustrate how the three-banded armadillo of Argentina defends itself, we cut to an innocent armadillo idly making his way across a polo field while there was a match being played.
In retrospect, this particular armadillo will probably concede that reacting to the sound of horses' hooves galloping towards him by rolling into a ball was probably a mistake.
Thwack! He didn't know what hit him, but we did (an Argentine polo player's mallet).
Full-body armour can make for a formidable defence though - as Vanessa Feltz will tell you - and, thanks to his shell's indestructible combination of horn, leather and bone, the armadillo survived.
"Fact," boomed the narrator, "has broken free into fiction."
As if to prove this, the press release for next week's episode claims "Asian shrews love to go caravanning" (it really does) and you can rest assured ShelleyVision will be reporting back on this next week.
This week's improbable treats included a horned frog puffing itself up and wailing hideously "like a banshee" (Hong Kong Garden?) and a vampire squid "turning itself inside out".
In terms of devious disguises, false-faced eye-spot frogs had "cheetahs' eyes on their backs". (Cool).
Vine snakes camouflaged themselves as leaves and snake-head caterpillars disguised themselves as snakes (presumably NOT the ones already disguised as vine leaves.) "Insects BECOME leaves," the narrator said of one fashionably distressed-looking leaf which had bits round the edges missing, "finessed by details of damage" - a sort of leafy version of Michael Barrymore.
Attack being the best method of defence, puffer fish are probably best avoided. (Cross the road if you see one coming towards you down the High Street). Not content with its "leathery", "elasticated" skin and razor-sharp spines, the puffer fish can inflate itself to five times its natural size with liquid (a bit like Gazza) making it impossible for its not surprisingly rare predators to swallow.
"Each spine has enough poison to kill thirty people," we were told, though it was hard to see what the chances of 30 people attacking a single puffer fish would be.
We were also treated to the sight of a spotted skunk walking on its hands to frighten attackers, with its markings and break-dancing abilities, before aiming its anal glands at its assailant's eyes and firing. (Yuk.)
A baby fulmar chick used an oily orange liquid concocted from the fish they eat to deter over-eager rock climbers.
"Birds that use projectile vomiting may seem bizarre," the narrator admitted as the rock climber was gobbed at copiously by the chick. "But humans are weirder."
The logic of this was that humans are the only animals with no natural defences, although Claire Sweeney's face might offer some argument against this view.
Weirdest sight of all was the carnage left in the aftermath of a Texan tornado. Snakes, frogs and chickens all lay in the dust, belly-up. It turned out, they were all faking - just "playing possum" - having put themselves into "a trance-like state".
It was no wonder any potential predators left them well alone. The hob-nose snake even gives off "the stench of decay and re-enacts death throes," the narrator said, with understandable admiration for the animal's acting prowess. "Anal secretions make it smell just like a rotting corpse." Judi Dench eat your heart out.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Apr 2, 2002|
|Previous Article:||Shelley Vision: JIM SHELLEY TALKS TO THE ANIMALS.|
|Next Article:||Coke 'to go vanilla'.|
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