After watching my screener copy of "Happy Feet" last night and seeing how the character designers attempted to somewhat differentiate the male and female emperor penguin characters by adding implied waist curves with the black feathers and giving implied breasts to the main/speaking female characters. (I suppose that's better than just sticking a bow on top, adding major eyelashes and calling it a "girl"). It brought to mind a Starbridge story (a series I really enjoyed) that I read back in 1990 called "Silent Dances". The "alien" avian characters in the story were very similar in appearance to the all white cattle egrets (at least in my memory...however they were about 14 feet tall), and it wasn't until the human observers viewed the intricate art and details on the "capes" made from the skins of these birds with ultraviolet light that they realised that the slaughtered avians were an intelligent species with a language and extensive community. The above picture is actually an etching I did in my print class after reading the book "Silent Dances" since egrets were kinda on my mind, heh.
Thinking about the book made me curious to find out if current biological scientists have done any research on emperor penguins to see if they, too, have art or other patterns on their feathers (applied by beak or just grown that way) that humans cannot see with the naked eye. While I didn't find any specific research about emperor penguins feathers, I did find a rather interesting article about songbird feather patterns as seen under ultraviolet light:
BTW, I did like the "Happy Feet" story alot. Title/logo - good lord, what a horrible job! All of the designers and art directors surely must have been out of the studio when that one got approval. Animation, eh. Lighting, texturing, sound, environments, other characters (elephant seals and killer whales - sweet!) really nice job. I also thought it was pretty funny how they tried to incorporate some of the layouts and narration style from the successful movie "March of the Penguins" which I loved. The HF movie was an excellent way to hit the kiddie market with info about the global effects of human mismanagement of natural resources. Reminded me of similar messages in a couple of my kiddie animation favorites back in the seventies, "The Lorax" and "The Last Eskimo Curlew". I do wonder how "Happy Feet" might influence some people in the future like the other two did me....