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What is the blue spot that Minbari have on their bald heads? Does it have any significance? I can't find any information about it, only about the bone ridges.

Minbari head, blue spot

  • I always figured it was the Minbari equivalent to humans having different hair colors. (Aside, the bone ridges are shaped as they grow, similar to humans having different hair styles) – Izkata Jun 23 '13 at 13:39
8

No definitive in universe answer exists.

Speculation:

If we consider evolutionary reasons for animal coloration in most species, color could act in any number of potential ways:

  • Camouflage enables an animal to remain hidden from view.

  • Signalling enables an animal to communicate information such as warning of its ability to defend itself (aposematism).

  • Animals also use colour in advertising, signalling services such as cleaning to animals of other species; to signal sexual status to other members of the same species; and in mimicry, taking advantage of another species' warning coloration.

  • Some animals use colour to divert attacks by startle (deimatic behaviour), surprising a predator e.g. with eyespots or other flashes of colour, and possibly by motion dazzle, confusing a predator's attack by moving a bold pattern (such as zebra stripes) rapidly.

  • Some animals are coloured for physical protection, such as having pigments in the skin to protect against sunburn, while some frogs can lighten or darken their skin for temperature regulation.

  • Finally, animals can be coloured incidentally. For example, blood is red because the haem pigment needed to carry oxygen is red. Animals coloured in these ways can have striking natural patterns.

enter image description here

In the case of the Mimbari:

  • Incidental Coloration: The first and most acceptable answer could be the color is nothing more than a remnant of some vestigial and now obsolete coloration element useful in the past but no longer of significant value.

    • It is possible the patterns or colors were more distinctive in the past and more easily read at a distance.
    • Unless the pattern shows up in a unique spectrum or can be recognized as completely unique (i.e. fingerprint) then the color and patterns on the head are most likely incidental.
  • Temperature Regulation: The Minbari grow no hair on their heads, which could make a case for this coloration to be a heat venting or heat capture pigmentation.

  • Physical Protection: the head ridges (possibly used in a physical challenge), the enhanced physiology and enhanced skeletal systems indicate a biological propensity for the protection of the brain and nervous system. This coloration might indicate a level of physical development of the skeleton at full maturation.

  • Signalling: Advertising, Sexual Selection, or Warning - these also seem unlikely given the location on the top of the head, too faint to be advertising, Too difficult to see in terms of sexual selection (unless it was darker in the past). Seems unlikely to be a warning unless it is to another taller or flying predator.

  • Distraction: Startle or motion dazzle - both seem unlikely as Minbari protective colorations. Zebras are the quintessential example of an animal which uses patterns for motion dazzle to distract or confuse predators.

  • Camouflage: In the case of the Mimbari, there is too little color to be of any value as significant camouflage.

  • Mimicry: No reason to believe it is possible to imitate these head patterns.

Production Notes

From the blog of one of the makeup artists involved in the design work, Greg Gargonowitz, the original coloration was supposed to make the Minbari appear aquatic and the coloration would have had more of a camouflage-like effect.

  • But an interaction with the producers left the designer removing much of the coloration and settling only for a tiny splashing of color on the heads near the bone ridges.

  • Another case of change for change sake, undermining the artistic intention of the designer. The coloration would have made far more sense if we were seeing the completed ideal. Instead we get to see it watered down until it has almost no purpose at all.

Credit for this production information discovery goes to GGLog and sm4. I am adding the information only for completeness.

enter image description here

  • I am watching the whole series now and it seems the coloration is almost the same among all of them. It's always this skyblue color and the shape seems very similar or the same - but that's hard to say. At first I thought the shape looks like a pattern, that might be something like a finger print. – MartinTeeVarga Jun 24 '13 at 3:13
  • I had already upvoted, but good job in "adding the information only for completeness" (attribution is "merely" doing one's duty). – Paul A. Clayton Jul 14 '13 at 19:23
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    Weird that the intended pattern looks like the Narn color pattern. – Carpe CM Dec 16 '16 at 18:09
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Based on GGLog's hint, I did some research and found a blog of the Babylon 5 special effects artist and design specialist Greg Aronowitz.

Just like the drawings, just like the approved color tests. I was going for an underwater feel. But for the bigwigs at WB, my design was “To alien”. That’s an exact quote. I know, I STILL don ‘t understand it, either. Then they said, “Make him more human, flesh color.”

And this his how Delenn's make-up was supposed to look for the pilot:

Delenn's proposed make-up

Another interesting fact: notice that he addresses Delenn as HIM. Read more in the blog.

  • 3
    Guess the gender change is far more known than the color change. Didn't know about the color one before either (at least didn't think it's been so extreme). But this gives their ships a completely new feeling I'd say. Wouldn't call the coloring "too alien", but I feel it would have been too close to the Narn (essentially just different colors with different head shape). – Mario Jul 14 '13 at 8:26
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It's a remnant of the original blue and speckled colour scheme for the makup which covered the entire face which the studio felt was too extreme, and ordered changed just before filming of the pilot began.

  • 2
    Source? This is quite interesting! – MartinTeeVarga Jun 26 '13 at 9:27

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