AN unborn elephant, perfectly formed in every way. A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn dog asleep as if by its master’s side.
Using new technology, these images, published in UK’s Daily Mail, reveal what until now has been a secret – exactly how animals develop in the womb. They were created by the same team who in 2004 showed how human embryos “walk in the womb”.
Using a combination of three-dimensional ultrasound scans, computer graphics and tiny cameras, the team were able to show the entire process from conception to birth.
“These kind of images from inside animals have never been seen before,” Jeremy Dear of Pioneer Productions, who made the film, told The Daily Mail.
“We worked with dozens of zoos and animal sanctuaries across the world. There were a lot of different challenges – recording a dolphin is very different from an elephant, for instance.
“Animals were trained to sit still near the scanners and we also inserted cameras into the womb via the elephant’s rectum-But it has been worth it. It one sequence we follow an elephant developing. When it is finally born, there is not a dry eye in the house.
“The images in the film are a testament to the ingenuity and patience of the production team led by Yavar Abbas and Dr David Barlow, who worked with some of the world’s leading vets to obtain these pictures.”
The images were created for the programme Animals In The Womb, a two-hour show to be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.
Researchers used scans to track elephant calves developing for almost two years in the womb – the longest gestation period of all mammals.
It shows at 16 weeks the elephant foetus starting to look more like an elephant as the trunk develops.
At almost a year, the trunk is longer than the legs, and by 14 months, the characteristic elephant ears are visible. They will eventually grow to almost two feet across to help regulate the body temperature of the fullymature-elephant. At birth, he will weigh nearly 260lb and be able to take his first steps in minutes.
Animals closer to home were also studied. A golden retriever foetus is shown exhibiting some of the same behaviour as family pets, panting with its tongue out, while still in the womb.
Programme makers also reveal the moment at eight weeks when a baby dolphin learns to swim while in the womb. During the next few weeks, it develops flippers, a tail and a blowhole before being born after a year, and must be able to quickly swim to the surface to take its first breath of air.
Experts also found that at 24 days, the dolphin embryo develops tiny leg-like buds, which then disappear over the next two weeks.
After 11 weeks, the dolphin embryo’s fins display bone structures resembling human hands, which experts believe may show that dolphin ancestors were land dwellers.
The footage also shows how many animal embryos are like human ones.
“The incredible thing about the early images is how we all look very similar – it is obviously we humans share a common mammalian ancestry very early in life,” Mr Dear told The Daily Mail.
Lynn, I can't take my eyes off that tiny perfect elephant. This is REALLY peering into the mysteries of life before birth and recognizing how very alive they are. (I keep going back to look at the baby elephant).
I hope this won't be the end of this news and that we will come in contact with this documentary to watch.
Thanks so much for posting this. I can hardly wait to see it. Truly incredible! I just hope none of the animals were hurt during what sounds like quite an invasive process and that no miscarriages were caused by it.
Cheryl, I did a double take when I first saw the article. I thought it was a drawing of an elephant....it was so perfect; even the little closed eyes. The technology of today is just amazing. When I was pregnant with my children, I would never have believed that ultra-sounds would be able to produce the pictures that they do today. I saw Trent's ultra-sound at not quite 8 months of pregnancy and I saw his tiny little face. I cried like a baby and so did my daughter and granddaughter.
This technology that they used in the documentary is far more advanced than just an ultra-sound. They were able to use tiny cameras and were able to document the gestation period of the elephant right up until the birth, which they witnessed. I'm sure that when the documentary airs I will cry my eyes out..especially for the elephant. I do so love elephants.
There was no harm done to the animals or the fetus's. National Geographic would not make a documentary if that were to happen, so don't stress yourself about that.
I can't wait until they show it on television. Then we'll be able to talk about it!
This is not only the rarest, but the strangest parrot in the world. Imagine a rather portly nocturnal bird that never flies, preferring to hike through hilly forest for miles every night. It weighs in as the heaviest parrot in the world at 8 pounds. Imagine this and you have the very real (but virtually extinct) kakapo. A resident of New Zealand, which is home to a number of rare birds, there are only 62 kakapos remaining on earth. (Bonus fact: New Zealand is full of unusual creatures. It originally had no native land mammals, so its many unique birds evolved in unusual ways – which unfortunately has made them very vulnerable
What an amazing photo! That little elephant is just so sweet. You are right Lynn, it doesn't even look real! Thanks for sharing
You're welcome, AldiLa. So nice to see you in here, my dear friend. Keep on coming in to the different threads we have. You will see how interesting and diversified they are. I'm really glad to see you!
Hi Lynn and AldiLa. That's the odd thing about that baby elephant... it doesn't look real and to know that it is, makes it astounding! It would have to be floating while we look at it this picture. Amazing!
I can certainly understand how you felt when you saw the ultra-sound, Lynn. I wish that had been available when I was pregnant. But I have looked at the pictures of friends and got choked up. The little face and fingers... everything so perfect and living and growing each day. Before they had these pictures... I think the first ones where taken around 1965 (?) doctors referred to the fetus (which means "young one") as "no more than a blob" for many months. While typing this paragraph, I've gone back to look at the elephant four times. lol
What an amazing parrot... little Kakapo. There are only 62 left on earth? That is stunning news. He's looks so fluffy and soft I want to hold and pet him. I bet baby kakapos are really cute. Both New Zealand and Australia have wonderfully unusual animals. I heard a real live Tasmanian Devil growling one very dark night while my friend and I had just stopped driving for a few minutes in a remote part of... you got it... Tasmania. We started that car and screamed out of there so fast!!
Now, I've heard two stories about where all dogs came from originally... one is from wolves, and the other is from dingo dogs in Australia. I can't see the dingos multiplying to create all the dog versions we have unless they were shipped to every place in the world.
Wonderful picture, Lynn. I am deeply saddened by their close extinction though, and I hope and pray the remaining ones are well protected.
Look at that tiny trunk!!
Hi Lynn and Cheryl. The baby elephant is so precious. I can't wait to see this show showing other baby animals in the womb!
Yes the Kakapo is almost extinct but are on the come back slowly.
Here is Sirocco's Facebook Page.Sirocco is a Kakapo that has been raised by humans. REad about how Sirocco is help making a come back for Kakapo's in New Zealand.
Hi Barb - wow, what a great little guy! Just seeing him from a different angle is neat too. I looked on the link and there he was again. I am SO HAPPY to hear they may live on with the care and attention of some special people.
I noticed the picture of the white Kiwi bird; how unusual and beautiful. Thanks for extra info. and pics. I go to bed tonight with the word "Kakapo" on my mind thanks to you two!
Barb, I'm so glad that some people are interested in keeping the kakapo population spared from going extinct. I'm happy to hear that they are on the rise. They are so cute and cuddly looking!
Thanks for posting that. It made me look further for articles on the kakapo. You're my inspiration.
Going to bed, now. Talk again tomorrow.
Big hugs, Lynn
Hi AldiLa, Lynn, and Barbara. OH MY GOSH, that Kakapo is gorgeous! Look how BIG he is - and his beautiful colours, and his kind, sweet face! Lynn, is this one of the "chicks"? If so, what size are they when they're grown up?! I can see why they like to walk because they are a pretty hefty built bird.
Thanks so much for picture, Lynn. They are so precious and it looks as though people have woken up to the fact that they will be "no more" if strict measures aren't taken. They must have been killed for food, but it's hard to say because when you take all the feathers off birds there isn't much left!
Can't stop looking at that teeny perfect elephant.
You are most welcome Cheryl.
And Lynn yes there are some people that really want to help. I am so happy about this. There are many people all over the world wanting to help endangered species and all species.
Here is a very funny video of Sirocco!
The Antics of Sirocco:
Sirocco on Rachel Maddow Show. GET READY TO LAUGH YOUR HEAD OFF!!!
Here is another good Kakopo video:
THANK YOU SO MUCH, BARB! I LOVE THESE BIRDS. The fact they are strictly vegetarian goes well with their gentle look. I really laughed when the kakopo was on that fellow's head. Then the advice if you're going to see them - don't wear green!
I can sure see why their caretakers fall in love with them, especially when they raise them from chicks. They blend in perfectly with their surroundings. I get the feeling (watching them walk) they are somewhere between parrot and animal. Interesting!
Thanks again, Barb. I really enjoyed those videos.
We must have been typing at the same time. More super videos. Thanks again, Barb.
For some strange reason I can't get the Kiwi one to work. I have a feeling it's my computer, not the video.
Kiwis are so adorable here in this video!
Now I gotta get back to work.
Oh No one more. Listen to how cute the kiwi sounds here. So adorable. See what happens when I start looking at cute bird videos I get nothing done!
I'm the same, Barb. Get me started on a subject and I just keep going! Here's another kiwi video. They're so cute!!
THESE VIDEOS ARE JUST... The sound of that little Kiwi was almost human! Thank you Lynn and Barb for these videos. WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A PERSON SMILE and ooooooh and awwwwwww!
I hate to take away from the lovely topics above, but this seems like where we can talk about anything, right?
I am watching Dr. Drew right now and a guest just said that Warren Jeffs' followers are building a 38 foot statue of him holding the Book of Mormon and holding the hand of a little girl! I am almost speechless. It's going to take a very very long time, if ever, to unbrainwash those women especially. Waterboarding your baby to keep and teach the baby to be quiet evidence was given at the trial, women took their young daughters to him and thought it was an honour for him to rape them, etc., etc., etc.,.... beyond belief.
BUT... with Jeffs in prison, and when it sinks in that he's not returning to them, will things change? We here in BC have been trying to bring charges for a few decades but actual proof (someone to be a witness) is needed, that young girls went back and forth over the border to be "wed" to much older men, etc. With the "It's a religion" defence, it's going to take more than we have right now to get into those compounds.
I'd like to see Warren Jeffs get a cellmate, a big guy that goes by 'Bubba", who will make Jeffs his bride!