In 1912, the largest volcano eruption of the 20th century laid waste to one of the most pristine corners of Alaska. Today, the Valley of 10,000 Smokes has become a home to one of the largest bear populations in the world.
Fish dominate the planet's waters through their astonishing variety of shape and behaviour. The beautiful weedy sea dragon looks like a creature from a fairytale, and the male protects their eggs by carrying them on his tail for months. The sarcastic fringehead, meanwhile, appears to turn its head inside out when it fights. Slow-motion cameras show the flying fish gliding through the air like a flock of birds and capture the world's fastest swimmer, the sailfish, plucking sardines from a shoal at 70 mph. And the tiny Hawaiian goby undertakes one of nature's most daunting journeys, climbing a massive waterfall to find safe pools for breeding.
Sophie is joined in the theatre by chirping crickets, hissing cockroaches and groaning deer to reveal the very different ways that animals have adapted their bodies to send audible messages that are vital to their species. She also explores how and why the human voice evolved to become the most versatile sound producer in the natural world. She demonstrates what sound actually is and how it travels. Unpacking the power behind sound, she uses it to shatter glass and reveal how the human body can resonate in a way that amplifies our voices to send our messages further. She also explores how different species use very different frequencies to communicate and why humans can only hear a fraction of these animal messages. Finally, she investigates why we all have unique vocal prints, and how computers are learning to recognise these.
1/3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: The Language of Life • 2017 • Nature
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.
Liz meets the animal rogues doing whatever it takes to find food. From kleptomaniac crabs on a stealing spree, tigers deceiving their prey and chimpanzees waging war on their neighbours, the need for a square meal can drive many animals to some seemingly extreme behaviour. Liz sets out to discover the science behind these tactics, joining experts making new discoveries around the world. She sees macaques using psychology to pull off a theft, a spider conning its prey with a chemical disguise and the wedge-billed hummingbird stealing nectar from under the beaks of its rivals. When it comes to finding food, this outrageous behaviour is actually an ingenious way to get ahead.
In this Short Documentary, Geologists in New Zealand created a stir earlier this year when they declared their discovery of the eighth continent of the world. Learn how was it formed and how something so massive could remain undetected until now.