The single spiral tusk of the narwhal inspiration for tales of unicorns and the myriad variations on the twist of the snail shell have delighted and fascinated naturalists and artists since the dawn of civilization.
Some animals appear to have taken Nature’s gifts and stretched them to extreme limits. With these two natural curiosities one creature, the giraffe, has ended up with a super-stretched neck, the other, the chameleon, a super stretchy tongue. In both cases nature has found a way to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Zebra stripes vary subtly between the different species but there is one group of animals that has evolved colourful patterns of seemingly infinite variety, the butterflies. In this episode David looks at two examples of animal patterns that have bedazzled and baffled science for a long time, and uses modern tools to unlock their secrets.
David Attenborough highlights the curiosities that have led to accusations of forgery, but have ultimately helped assist the rethinking of evolution. When early explorers brought the first specimen of a duck-billed platypus to England in 1799, it was considered so bizarre it was deemed a hoax. Similarly, the midwife toad became the centre of a scientific storm in the 1920s that led to accusations of fakery.
2013 • Nature
"Magical Appearances" explores how swallows magically appear each spring and asks how did complex and beautiful insects like butterflies suddenly arrive in the summer.The discovery of the swallow’s epic migration and the revelation that butterflies could metamorphose into totally different looking adults were scientific stories both cloaked in mystery and controversy.
2014 • Nature
With the help of some surprising creatures from around the world, this series sets out to discover how animals take to the air, defying the force all airborne animals must conquer, gravity. Part 1: Defying Gravity In Africa, a caracal's 'rocket-propelled' launch enables it to catch birds in flight. In the Australian outback, a kangaroo's hop is key to finding water in a desert of over a million square kilometres. On an English farm, an insect's ultimate ejector seat accelerates it to 700G with help from a clutch in its crotch. And high above the jungles of Borneo, a leaping snake's unique shape allows it to glide, even without wings.
Visit the Bismarck Sea, a region forgotten by civilisation, where life goes on in harmony with nature as it has for thousands of years, untouched by the troubles of the modern world. You’ll dive amongst the eerie wrecks of WWII planes and ships, navigate darkness-shrouded caves and dodge swift-moving reef sharks.
From the snow-white peaks to scorching sun of deserts - all the Caucasus. Caucasus Mountains - not just a mountain ridge. This is a rich habitat for many species of flora and fauna, which feel great on the wooded slopes, and alpine meadows, and even in salt marshes. It is well settled down wild boar, Eurasian lynx, European bison and the rare fragile ophidian lizard. Caucasus - is another jewel in the crown of Wildlife Russia.
As a whole, Africa is a dry continent with deserts dominating the landscape. Wild Africa explores how these deserts were created, and the amazing ways in which animals and plants have evolved to cope with the meagre and unpredictable rainfall, intense solar radiation, shortages of food and lack of shelter. By traveling through the African deserts, Wild Africa reveals that given enough time, a diverse variety of animals and plants can make a living in even the harshest conditions.