Exhibitions > Northern Passage at the Darwin Museum

Arctic Animals
Arctic Animals
taxidermy
2018

The animals selected for this exhibition have physically adapted in order to survive the harsh winter conditions of the Arctic. Camouflaged by their white fur and feathers, the mammals and birds fade into the landscape for most of the winter. The snowy owl and snow partridge’s feet are covered with dense feathers. The feathers provide insulation and allow them to easily walk over fresh snow. The outer coat of the polar bear is composed of hollow translucent hairs which scatter light and hold in warmth. The hollow hairs allow light to reach their dark skin which absorbs the heat. Shorter durations of sunlight activate the fur of the fox, lemming, and weasel to turn from brown to white with the onset of winter.

As Arctic temperatures are warming, the ecosystem experiences shorter lengths of snow cover over the course of the year. Changes in light are no longer in tune with changes in temperature. Earth-tones and brown foliage increasingly emerge earlier and remain later in the year. As a result, animals are left in a state of camouflage mismatch, no longer in sync with the cycles and codes of nature.