In the crawlies version, an insect’s exoskeleton doesn't grow with them so they have to shed it to grow – just like how you probably don’t fit your childhood onesie anymore! Check out this video where the legendary David Attenborough watches a cicada change its costume.
Be like Iron Man and make your own bodysuit defence system! Get inspired by the awesome armour of Aotearoa’s trees and the excellent exoskeletons of our insects and crabs.
What to do
Your mission is:
1. IRON MAN INSPIRATION
Marvel super-hero Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) is famous for his hi-tech suit of armour. He transforms from a businessman into a superhero when he puts on a special super-powered suit.
2. SEARCH AND RESEARCH
There’s a whole lot of natural inspiration for your body armour right outside! Take a leaf from the Lord of the Forest Tane Mahuta’s book – bark can be very powerful protection. Other native plants have thorns and spikes!
Animals like insects and koura (shellfish) have exoskeletons (a hard shell on the outside) to help protect their insides.
Check out the tabs on this page to get the creative juices flowing – nature has a solution for everything!
3. BUSH AMBUSH
Trees and shrubs have a whole bunch of ways to protect themselves – from thorny spikes to tough bark (they reckon this lancewood/horoeka tree has spiky leaves to warn moa from eating them!)
Check out the plants and trees in your neighbourhood, and imagine what threats they might be defending against: cats, birds, insects, rats, people, disease…
4. IRON WOOD CASTLE
An awesome armour inspiration is the rata and pohutukawa (the NZ Christmas tree); they're called 'Meterosideros' (that's Latin for 'iron-wood'), because their wood is super hard. The defence is so good that rata can live for more than 1000 years!!
This rata that Oli is climbing is over five metres wide! Hard out!
5. ARMOUR ASSEMBLY
Design and build your own body armour prototype using anything you can get your hands on: cardboard, plastic bottles, tape, tree branches, bark, foam mat – whatever you need to make the ultimate super-suit! Check out what’s lurking in your recycling – a pizza box might make a great exoskeletal shell!
Or make a papier mâché mask that mimics the best bark, thorn and shell native defence systems ...
6. SUIT UP!
Get someone to take a photo of you decked out in your outfit of awesomeness and upload it to the Wild Eyes website.
Become Tony Stark Jr and fight the forces of evil as an NZ nature-inspired Iron Kid! Like this suit made out of fallen gum and cabbage tree bark!
OR GO OUT ON A LIMB
If you’re after a suit of insect armor but you find out that it'll require a whole Weta Workshop* to make it (i.e. a lot of time, materials and helpers), maybe focus on making one amazing arm or legendary leg. (*Wellington's Weta Workshop made all the armour and costumes for the Lord of the Rings films.)
OR MAKE AN ANTI-MOA MASK
Get at the front of the Wild Eyes' Staff Pick queue by making a suit or mask defending you against being eaten from the moa you discovered in 'Fake a Giant Moa Discovery'!
Check out the 'divaricating' thorny leaves Stella has used on her anti-moa mask (to find out what 'divaricating' means check out the 'What's Happening' tab).
NO MOA MEALS
In New Zealand, trees evolved with unique plant-munchers e.g. the mighty moa, so they had to protect themselves!
We have more divaricating shrubs and trees (think: wiry branches with tiny small leaves hidden amidst them) than anywhere else in the world, and scientists reckon they’re like this to try and keep off the moa’s menu.
It was mo much effort for the moa to eat the leaves.
LORD OF THE RINGS
When the Lord of the Rings movies were being made in New Zealand, a company called KayneMail produced lightweight plastic chain-mail armour for the protection of all the warriors going into battle at Helm's Deep.
Did you know that many NZ plants make their branches into a twisty, thorny, tangled mess to protect themselves from being eaten – they're like nature’s chain-mail! Check out the meuhlenbeckia in the photo below.