i intended to talk about these lily pads as having the most beautiful underbellies i’d ever seen, in comparison to the violent underbellies of cities and crime families, and the soft white underbellies of fish and birds and some mammals. and then i got trapped in a research rabbit hole and discovered that white underbellies are features of many fish and aquatic animals that are vulnerable to predators from below. the white underbelly camouflages them against the bright sky overhead, when viewed from below. but why would the vulnerable bellies be soft? well it turns out many species used to have gastralia–basically a network of bones that protected the abdomen, the same way the chest is protected by ribs, but when birds eventually needed to fly, they had to shed weight everywhere possible, and the soft white underbelly was on the evolutionary trading block. sometimes i love my job.
lake valentine, arden hills, minnesota