(DK Children, May 1, 1995)
Eyewitness -- bringing the natural world into your living room. The skeleton- it is essential to life, yet the sight of one can fill us with fear. As we learn in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Video: Skeleton, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians all have one. Defined as the internal frame of bones on which the soft body hangs, the skeleton supports the body, anchors the muscles and protects vital organs. The spine supports the human frame, limbs give us movement, the ribcage surrounds the soft organs and the skull protects the information center for the entire body. Of the over 300 we are born with to the 206 they fuse to become in adults, every bone has an important and complex job. With incredible computer animation and stunning graphics, the video uses an animated human skeleton as our "host" through the structure itself. Skeletons also serve as the body's permanent record, as fossils they taught us everything we know about evolution, the skull, being a blueprint of lifestyle, telling more than any other bone. In addition to structure and composition, this half-hour video compares and contrasts the human skeleton with those of other animals and explains how the differences correlate in their individual movement (swimming, flying, running on twos or fours). A broken bone is one of the few components in the body that can mend itself and we are shown up-close how this occurs over time. Although a skeleton is defined as internal, the vast majority of living things on Earth have an exoskeleton, or their correlative structure on the outside. Some examples disgust us (insects), but others are beautiful; we collect shells, coral reefs are nothing but masses of dead exoskeletons clumped together. The skeleton will probably always stand as a reminder of our mortality (interestingly, the elephant is the only other creature afraid of its own skeleton), after watching this amazing addition to the Eyewitness Video Series viewers should also be in awe of the massive job it performs for us. Without the strength of our skeleton, life would be far more fragile-if it existed at all.