February 10, 2019

This Stunning Timelapse Shows a Single Cell Transform into a Newt

For 6 unforgettable minutes, watch how a single-cell zygote multiplies and transforms into an amphibious alpine newt.

Timelapses are fun to watch and fun to shoot, but the technique never captures our attention more than when it embraces and demonstrates its most unique superpower: depicting change through the passage of time.

Sure, light-painted freeways, rolling clouds, and transforming night skies are entertaining ways to express it, but Dutch filmmaker Jan van IJken decided to do something a little different by cinematically capturing the world on a microscopic, cellular level for his short film Becominga 6-minute journey through the extremely detailed first traces of life of a single-celled zygote as it divides, multiplies, and eventually grows into a fully-formed amphibious organism.

According to PetaPixel, three weeks' worth of footage was condensed into this 6-minutes to reveal the incredible transformation of this, now internet famous, alpine newt. 

Becoming is no doubt a gorgeous example of what timelapses can become in the hands of a skilled artist, but its educational value is strangely inspiring. For example:

My 7-year-old shares with me freakishly keen insight and poses perplexing questions throughout the day. Just a few examples:

  • "What does rain feel like on a bald head?"
  •  "I have a right to say what I know."
  • "I don't care about makeup. I care about my family."

Coincidentally, we watched van IJken's The Art of Flying this last week during a homeschool lesson, and as she watched the synchronized flight pattern, known as murmurations, of the Common Starling, my weird ass kid's eyes widened, her jaw gently fell open, and she said, "What are they saying?!!"

I'm not sure if it's one of those stupid parent things that no one else thinks is cool or if she really did ask a genius-level question (like, should I call Mensa?), but I do know that life and other natural phenomena are incredibly mysterious and awesome, and I feel lucky that a filmmaker like van IJken is out there to capture it—if nothing more than to listen to my kid's arguably brilliant musings on it.     

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