Like many of the later Silly Symphonies, The Old Mill was a testing-ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney’s multiplane camera, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce specific dramatic and emotional effects. All of the lessons learned from making The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney’s feature-length animated films, especially 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Tube-Lipped Nectar Bat and the flower of the plant species Centropogon Nigricans, both of Ecuador, are very unique. Why? Because without this specific bat to pollinate this specific flower, the flower wouldn’t exist. As the bat drinks the flower’s nectar, the flower’s pollen dusts its head and face and is delivered to the next flower the bat visits.
And why is this particular bat so important to this long-fluted flower? Because this recently-discovered bat has a tongue that’s 150% the site of its body length! It keeps its tongue in its rib cage and then uses it to reach deep into the flower for its sweet nectar. From LiveScience:
[Nathan] Muchhala [of the University of Miami] suspects the bell-shaped flower and this nectar bat co-evolved, or influenced each other and evolved side-by-side. “This bat was just discovered [in 2005], and now we’ve observed a very unique relationship with a local flower,” Muchhala said.
To confirm, he plans to measure snout length of tube-lipped nectar bats in different areas. If the bats have shorter tongues in areas where the local flowers have diminutive tubes and longer tongues with lengthier flowers, the finding would support co-evolution.
One more note on the video: the National Geographic Untamed Americas team cut a small hole in the flower and stuck a high speed camera in it to capture the bat’s tongue on video. It’s incredible first-time footage of a bat that no one knew existed just a few years ago.
This video was shown at the TED conference in 2011, with scenes from “Wings of Life,” a film about the threat to essential pollinators that produce over a third of the food we eat. The seductive love dance between flowers and pollinators sustains the fabric of life and is the mystical keystone event where the animal and plant worlds intersect that make the world go round.
Lil’ Drac is an orphaned short-tailed fruit bat. This video tells the story of how volunteers at Bat World Sanctuary in Mineral Wells, Texas hand-raised Lil’ Drac from a baby to a healthy adult. A bit more about bats from their site:
Bats are clean, gentle and intelligent, they are vital to the ecosystem, and they enhance out lives in many ways. Fruit and nectar bats bring us approximately 450 commercial products and over 80 different medicines through seed dispersal and pollination. Up to 98% of all rainforest regrowth comes from seeds that have been spread by fruit bats. Insect-eating bats are literal vacuum cleaners of the night skies, eating millions upon millions of harmful bugs. They protect us by eating insect-pests that destroy crops as well as insects that cause human disease.
The video is pretty sweet. The co-curator asked to watch it more than once.