David Attenborough's entertaining romp through the world of monkeys has a serious side: for when we look at monkeys, we can see ourselves. From memory to morality, from 'crying wolf' to politics, monkeys are our basic blueprint. Pygmy marmosets 'farm' tree sap; bearded capuchins in Brazil develop a production line for extracting palm nuts; white-faced capuchins in Costa Rica tenderly nurse the victims of battle; and in the Ethiopian highlands, a deposed gelada baboon has got the blues. Cheating, lying and bare-faced murder are all there too. These revelations of simian science, combined with captivating photography, make this film about monkey business our business.
Fortey travels to Madeira to examine what happens to a volcanic island as it nears the end of its life-cycle and starts sinking back into the sea. Here, in the island's laurisilva forest, he examines the remains of an ancient forest that once carpeted all of Europe, finds island lizards that live to be four times older than their mainland counterparts, and meets a huge wolf spider. With the help of local divers, he also discovers an unexpectedly rich marine habitat populated by whales, dolphins and unusual deep-sea species that have much to tell us about the changing nature of our seas.
Animal Reunions have captured the imaginations of millions of people worldwide. YouTube is full of animal reunion stories - moments that illustrate and capture genuine affection and emotion between and among species. These rare moments provide a fleeting window into the emotional capacities of animals and their ability to form bonds with humans. But can wild animals really feel joy, devotion and love? Most animal lovers are convinced that they do, and now scientists are beginning to agree as we discover the stories that bring those animal emotions to life. We meet orphaned elephants in Kenya who have learned to trust their nursery keepers even after they lost their families at the hand of man - and witness a deep bond revealed as the head keeper travels to the National Park to see if his fully grown elephants remember him. We meet Damian Aspinall, the first man to release a captive-bred family of gorillas back to the wild, and see his reunion with one of those gorillas, proving a bond that may last a lifetime. We also meet Jane Goodall, the legendary chimpanzee researcher who was once heavily criticized for her claims about animal emotions; and Rebeca Atencia, the veterinarian who runs a Congolese chimp sanctuary set up by Goodall, as she travels to find the orphan chimpanzee she raised and released back into the wild. Through these incredible stories about human-animal relationships, illuminated by interviews with some of the world's most eminent ethologists and academics, this film sets out to question not only the emotional intelligence of animals but the so-called divide between us and them.
Slip through millennia-old caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. These spooky, labyrinth-like places were considered magical as early as the Mayan era. Plus you can hitch a ride with sucker fish, dodge gigantic ocean devil fish and be entranced by the dance of a majestic 6-metre long manta ray.
This episode continues the study of mammals, and particularly those whose young gestate inside their bodies. Attenborough asks why these have become so varied and tries to discover the common theme that links them. Examples of primitive mammals that are still alive today include the treeshrew, the desman and the star-nosed mole. Insect eaters vary enormously from the aardvark, giant anteater and pangolin to those to which much of this programme is devoted: the bats, of which there are nearly 1,000 different species. These took to flying at night, and its possible that they evolved from treeshrews that jumped from tree to tree, in much the same way as a flying squirrel.