We Are Made Of Dead Stuff

Another brilliant and insightful lesson from the TED Education camp with Dead stuff: The secret ingredient in our food chain – John C. Moore.

We are all at least vaguely aware of what a food chain is.  Smaller animals tend to be eaten by larger ones as part of nature’s continuous energy cycle of creatures at different trophic levels.

However, what most of us (me included) don’t know about is the “brown food chain”.  This comprises of much less appetising items such as pond scum and animal waste, but contributes 90% of the energy to these ecological systems.

You and most of the matter in your body are just two or three degrees of separation from things like pond scum. All species in an ecosystem — from the creatures in a coral reef, to the fish in a lake, to the lions on the savannah — are directly or indirectly nourished by dead stuff.

That’s right, you are just two degrees of separation from detritus.  The dead stuff from which we are ultimately made.  Erm, lovely.

The animation was directed by Biljana Labovic, with the oddly charming character design coming from Celeste Lai who took inspiration from Lisa LaBracio’s “lifelong leaf collection“!




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