Animals Like Us: Business

2004, Nature  -  53 min Leave a Comment
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This installment of the series Animals Like Us focuses on the "business" or "mutual aid" relationships between species. The audience is spectator to the methods utilized in nature to obtain things such as camouflage, nesting grounds, and food sources. By studying intimate interactions that are both symbiotic and parasitic, the audience learns about the oft-unseen dealings between insects, birds, mammals, marine life, and microorganisms.

Many of the examples given include two or more species demonstrating co-dependency, typically in the interest of survival and protection. Stunning photography allows us to witness events that vacillate between charming and horrifying. On the charming side of the spectrum, Nile crocodiles co-exist with riverbank birds that "babysit" the crocodiles' nests and in turn are protected against predators by the presence of the crocodiles.

Several smaller marine creatures, including pilot fish and shrimp, stay close to larger species, enjoying a living shield while feeding off of parasites and providing a sort of hygiene service to their guardians. Similarly, Hawaiian birds deposit poisonous ants into their plumage to rid themselves of tick infestations.

"Animal business" as it turns out, can also benefit humans as we see through a Kenyan tribe that relies upon the honey guide bird for detecting honey. By directing the tribesmen towards ground hives that provide them with a source of harvestable honeycombs, the birds then benefit by eating the larvae and beeswax that remain.

Most of the stories being told demonstrate unspoken agreements that result in mutually beneficial arrangements. Sometimes, however, the relationship is a one-way street. On the more horrifying end of things are the strictly parasitic exploitations, such as the wasp that injects its eggs into unwitting caterpillars, as is shown in detailed macro footage. We watch as the larvae hatch, slowly killing their host as they burrow their way out from within, offering no reward to the caterpillar for its role in perpetuating this new generation of wasp.

A captivating overview of mutual aid relationships from land to sea, Animal Business allows an intimate look at the naturally occurring deals being struck throughout nature, even on a microscopic level.