Friday Video: Where Do They All Go?

Today’s Friday Video is a preview of the upcoming film, Where Do They All Go? by Tom Davenport.

Davenport is currently raising money to finish the film on Indiegogo.  This film follows Dr. Jerry A. Payne, “Entomologist, Georgia Naturalist, Uppervillian, Friend and Artist,” who remembers, as a child, looking at dead animals in the woods and wondering how they al disappeared.  As he says in the preview, “Animals die all the time.  Where do they all go?”

According to the producers, this film will be of special interest to anyone who enjoys watching birds and butterflies, those interested in the intersection of science and religion, entomologists, forensic scientists, and anyone interested in the history of northern Virginia.  It will also be of interest to those who find themselves pondering concepts of death, aging, and friendship.  Isn’t that all of us?  Sounds utterly fascinating, doesn’t it?

Here’s Davenport’s full description of the film:

Jerry and I met each other in the 1950s, riding the school bus to our small rural Marshall High School in northern Virginia.  His high school nickname was “Osmosis” because of his interest in the biological sciences.

Jerry grew up in a tenant farmer family on Llangollen, a 4000 acre estate and thoroughbred horse farm in Loudoun County near Upperville, VA.  Jerry describes his family as “hunter gatherers”.  His father and mother came from Appalachian backgrounds, with only grade school educations.  But Jerry’s mother Becky Payne, encouraged him to get an education so he could leave the farm. “When I got to college and they closed the door of the classroom, we were all equal.”

Jerry excelled and completed his PhD at Clemson University in South Carolina.  With the encouragement of his beloved teacher, the entomologist Dr. Edwin Wallace King, Jerry did a remarkable study of insect succession in carrion, using dead baby pigs he collected from local farms.

This study attracted national attention in Time Magazine and Scientifc American, and became a foundation of modern forensic science.  Jerry donated his 16mm time-lapse footage of the decomposition of a baby pig to the Smithsonian Institution, and on Youtube the clip has over 2 million views.

After retiring from a career in the field with the US Department of Agriculture in Georgia, Jerry and his wife Rose devote themselves to their 80 acre nature preserve near Macon, Georgia which they walk nearly everyday in the tradition of Darwin and his wife.

Both he and Rose excel at the taxonomy of birds, butterflies, and native plants, and they are active in naturalists circles in Georgia where they often bird and butterfly watch with Father Francis Michael Stiteler, the abbot of the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit near Conyers, GA.  Jerry’s artwork (he paints bones and odd pieces of wood he finds in the woods) is often a prize in fund raising efforts by the Enviromental Resouces Network (T.E.R.N.)

Click on the link below to watch the video.