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
Traveling is extremely arduous for microscopic sperm -- think of a human trying to swim in a pool made of...other humans.
The highly anticipated sequel to Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike sees award-winning film-maker Terry Abraham return to the Lake District to showcase 'the people's mountain' - Blencathra. This spectacular documentary looks at the lives of local residents, school children and visitors to the mountain with contributions from comedian Ed Byrne, broadcaster Stuart Maconie, mountaineer Alan Hinkes OBE and record-breaking fell runner Steve Birkinshaw. Abraham's breathtaking photography and stunning time-lapse sequences of this unique landscape will inspire newcomers and regular visitors alike.
2017 • Nature
Two hundred million years ago there was an extraordinary development in the history of life: an ancient group of reptiles made a giant evolutionary leap into the skies. In this groundbreaking, BAFTA winning, documentary, David Attenborough travels back in time to discover how and why these creatures took flight, and why after 150 million years of aerial domination they vanished. Using state of the art CGI, and based on new finds and the latest research, Flying Monsters recreates these spectacular creatures and takes us into their world. Beginning on Dorset’s 'Jurassic Coast', David’s journey takes him to sites around the world, from Southern France to New Mexico. With the help of a team of scientists he unravels one of palaeontologys enduring mysteries, how did lizards the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies? Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough finds that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today.
2011 • Nature