A Curious Hoax? • 2013 • episode "S1E2" Natural Curiosities

Category: Nature

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.

Make a donation

Buy a brother a hot coffee? Or a cold beer?

Hope you're finding these documentaries fascinating and eye-opening. It's just me, working hard behind the scenes to bring you this enriching content.

Running and maintaining a website like this takes time and resources. That's why I'm reaching out to you. If you appreciate what I do and would like to support my efforts, would you consider "buying me a coffee"?

Donation addresses

buymeacoffee.com

patreon.com

BTC: bc1q8ldskxh4x9qnddhcrgcun8rtvddeldm2a07r2v

ETH: 0x5CCAAA1afc5c5D814129d99277dDb5A979672116

With your donation through, you can show your appreciation and help me keep this project going. Every contribution, no matter how small, makes a significant impact. It goes directly towards covering server costs.

Natural Curiosities • 2013 - 2018 • 21 episodes •

Stretched to the Limit

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.

Nature

Young Wrinklies

David encounters two examples where Nature has tinkered with the aging process to alarmingly different effect – the first grows old while trapped in a young body while the second looks old from birth but might hold the key to a long life.

Nature

A Curious Twist

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.

Nature

Seeing the Pattern

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.

Nature

Virgin Births

Sir David Attenborough uses this episode to investigate two animals who are capable of true virgin birth - the production of offspring without the need for sex.

Nature

Armoured Animals

This episode explores the story of two animals that hide behind seemingly impregnable coat of arms. Can Sir David Attenborough get in behind their armour and reveal their mysteries?

Nature

Curious Imposters

Here we discover that some animals are able to trick others into believing they are something that they are not. The art of deception is a powerful attribute for some.

Nature

Bad Reputations

After initially gaining frightening reputations, it's now known that gorillas and bats are a lot gentler and considerate than their early reputations suggest.

Nature

Shocking Senses

Plants and animals have some curious super senses that enable them to see, hear and feel things that are quite invisible to us.

Nature

Life on Ice

In this episode we explore the remarkable adaptations of two creatures that have evolved to survive the most challenging of conditions and seem to defy the laws of nature.

Nature

Spinners and Weavers

We'll find out how nature is incredibly inventive and has produced two unique mechanisms of natural construction that have fascinated scientists for centuries; weaving in birds and silk.

Nature

Strange Parents

"Strange Parents" asks how we usually recognise animals as either male or female and how each sex normally plays a particular role in their own life cycle. However both hyenas and seahorses completely break the gender rules.

Nature

A Curious Hoax?

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

Life in the Dark

David Attenborough looks at the eyes of squid and owls and how they've managed to maximise their vision.

2014 • Nature

Magical Appearances

"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

Animal Frankensteins

Hybrids can be bizarre and they can be deadly. We look at two hybrid animals that owe their existence to human interference - the pizzly bear (a cross between a polar bear and grizzly), which has come into being because of global warming, and the killer bee, brought into existence because of the transfer of African bees to South America.

2018 • Nature

Finding the Way

Some animals have an extraordinary ability to find their way. The dung beetle, an insect revered by ancient Egyptians, uses the sun, the moon and even the Milky Way to move its prized ball of dung in the right direction. Pigeons are often considered feeble birdbrains, but they have incredible memories that can recall several complex travel routes with amazing accuracy and they even use man-made roads and hedgerows to find the quickest way home.

2018 • Nature

Extreme Babies

The giant panda gives birth to the smallest baby of any mammal and has to care for and protect it for many months. Why don't they give birth to more developed, robust young? The kiwi lays one of the largest eggs in the bird world, which produces a very well-developed chick. Why do kiwis produce a single egg that is a quarter of its body mass and almost too big to lay?

2018 • Nature

Curious Counters

Can animals count? This is a question that has intrigued and fooled investigators for a long time. Just over 100 years ago, a German horse called Hans was declared a mathematical genius but all was not as it seemed. And strangely, some bamboos around the world flower exactly at the same no matter where they are. Are they counting down the years?

2018 • Nature

Incredible Shells

David Attenborough investigates two shells that have proved to be winners in evolution: the tortoise's shell and the shells of birds' eggs. The ostrich egg is so strong it is possible for a person to stand on it without it breaking, but how does the chick break out of this fortress? The evolution of the tortoise shell was for a long time a mystery and this bony box offers a lot more than just protection.

2018 • Nature

Ferocious Fighters

The Siamese fighting fish is so aggressive it will fight its own reflection until it is exhausted. Recent research shows that the fighting behaviour varies and depends on the personality of the fish! Male kangaroos were once pitted against humans in the boxing ring, with the most impressive male kangaroos being solid blocks of muscle with a kick that can kill. Why do they fight and what skills must a winner have?

2018 • Nature

You might also like

Frozen South

The wildlife of Antarctica, from king penguins that must evade leopard seals to feed at sea to albatrosses responding to diminishing number of females in their population, as well as rare footage of the Antarctic blue whale, the largest animal to have ever lived. As the programme ventures into the heart of the continent, surprising footage reveals one of the most volcanic regions on Earth, with unexpected sand dunes hidden in a rare ice-free valley.

S1E4Frozen Planet II narrated by Sir David Attenborough • 2022 • Nature

Death of a Dream

Orphaned leopard, Motsidi, makes a heart-breaking decision to leave her mother's forest.

S4E3Savage Kingdom • 2020 • Nature

Lost World

The series starts in North Africa, where two of the world's biggest predators once battled for supremacy. At 13m and seven tonnes, the carcharodontosaurus was a huge beast, a gigantic lizard-like carnivore with shark-like teeth over six inches long. It was an efficient hunter that would slash at its prey until it bled to death. But the discovery of an upper jaw in Morocco revealed an even bigger carnivorous killer - spinosaurus. Four metres longer than Tyrannosaurus rex, spinosaurus is thought to have been one of the biggest killers to ever walk the Earth. But unlike the meat-eating carcharodontosaurus, spinosaurus mainly ate fish, living and hunting almost exclusively in the water. Like all predators that share an environment, the two may once have had to compete for food. Planet Dinosaur takes a look at what one such deadly battle may have looked like and finds out which giant beast would have been most likely to survive a fight to the death.

S1E1Planet Dinosaur • 2011 • Nature

Oceans

Deep beneath the water's surface, the world's largest predator -- the Mosasaurus -- lies in wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.

S2E4Prehistoric Planet • 2023 • Nature

Dragons of the Dry

Enter the world of the lizard: from the chameleons, masters of the arboreal life to geckos tapping a code to plant-hopper insects and baby pygmy blue-tongued skinks huddling in their burrows long after birth. In the deserts are found some of the most bizarre lizards: baby Bushveld lizards mimicking acid-squirting beetles; the well-armoured and bizarrely spiky; thorny devils and the lizard kings - the Australian monitors - fast, intelligent and efficient hunters.

S1E3Life in Cold Blood • 2008 • Nature

Hidden World

For 10,000 years or more, humans created new plant varieties for food by trial and error and a touch of serendipity. Then 150 years ago, a new era began. Pioneer botanists unlocked the patterns found in different types of plants and opened the door to a new branch of science - plant genetics. They discovered what controlled the random colours of snapdragon petals and the strange colours found in wild maize. This was vital information. Some botanists even gave their lives to protect their collection of seeds. American wheat farmer Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel peace prize after he bred a new strain of wheat that lifted millions of people around the world out of starvation. Today, botanists believe advances in plant genetics hold the key to feeding the world's growing population.

S1E3Botany: A Blooming History • 2011 • Nature