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“Metamorphosis: Tale of Wetland” is the one-year story of a wetland, filmed through four seasons. The wetland seems nothing more than rain-filled pools in the bottom of an abandoned quarry, but nature has started to regenerate the wetland, and the animals are returning. One extremely bizarre creature takes up residence in the bottom of the pools; extraordinary underwater footage captures the genesis of a rare and unexplainable life cycle that occurs in this intriguing animal.

Macroscopic underwater footage shows how life at the wetland begins with plankton. Watch miniscule animals feeding on one-celled plants created by the sun, and then get devoured themselves by dragonfly larvae.

Above the water’s surface, toads battle drought and predatory snakes to breed, salamanders emerge from mammal burrows to hunt, and raptors soar overhead in search of fish. They must all make their living before Winter. Time lapse footage shows how the wetland changes through the seasons, from vernal green to winter freeze.

This film documents neoteny in salamanders, a rare shift in life cycle where the salamander does not metamorphosis and remains in the fully aquatic, larval form for its entire life. Neotenic salamanders reach maturity, breed, and attain large sizes in their larval, neotenic form. What causes neoteny in salamanders is not fully understood, but some conditions that seem to cause it are permanent water that lacks fish, and land conditions that have become too harsh for terrestrial survival. How the aquatic larvae can detect that the land has become too inhospitable is not fully understood.

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