Clay or the Origin of Species is a 1965 animated short film (9 minutes) directed by Eli Noyes.
It is a claymation film using actual clay rather than the plasticine that is usually employed for "claymation" films. The film is a humorous take on the process of evolution. Shifting clay that suggests ocean currents suddenly becomes squiggling dots and worms. Eventually they become larger critters, which start eating each other. Abstract aquatic life forms become recognizable fish, birds, and mammals as evolution continues.
Compare Evolution, another animated short with a humorous take on the process of evolution.
- Always a Bigger Fish: In one scene a dinosaur is about to eat a ball of clay that symbolizes a smaller life form. The small critter then morphs into an even bigger dinosaur that eats the first one.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Gray-colored clay against a white background.
- Either/Or Title: "Clay or the Origin of Species"
- Genie in a Bottle: Presumably for Rule of Cool, the montage of various actual life forms is momentarily interrupted for a shot of a genie coming out of an old-style oil lamp.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue, just a jazzy soundtrack as the clay morphs into one life form after another.
- Monumental Damage: Right at the end of the cartoon modern civilization is represented by a cheerful Statue of Liberty—which is then eaten by a giant sea monster, followed by "The End".
- No Plot? No Problem!: No story as such, just an animated collage of various life forms, mostly eating each other.
- Shout-Out: The lion is shown not as a regular lion roaming around, but as Leo the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion in its logo.
- Stop Motion: Claymation, with actual clay, as various life forms change and morph and evolve.