David Attenborough attempts to animate the life of the ichthyosaur whose 200-million-year-old fossil remains were found on Britain's Jurassic coast. Using state-of-the-art imaging technology and CGI, the team reconstruct the skeleton and create the most detailed animation of an ichthyosaur ever made. Along the way, they stumble into a 200-million-year-old murder mystery - and only painstaking forensic investigation can unravel the story of this extraordinary creature's fate.
The second episode of the documentary series takes a look at bizarre and extraordinary feathered dinosaurs, many of which have only just been discovered. These feathered beasts are revolutionising our understanding of life on Earth as they blur the boundaries between what we know of dinosaurs and birds. China sits at the heart of the feathered dinosaur discoveries and is the home of one of the most unusual discoveries on Earth: the epidexipteryx. Only the size of a pigeon, this predator was the most bird-like of any dinosaur and is the first known case of ornamental feathers. But feathers were not just confined to the small. From caudipteryx to sinosauropteryx and the 8-metre-long gigantoraptor, feathers may have been used for flight, for insulation or even to intimate and attract. These dinosaurs not only hint at how animals might have developed flight, but also suggest that dinosaurs may still live among us today - as birds.
In the vast South Atlantic, huge pods of dolphins, massive penguin colonies and the largest gathering of marine mammals on earth pack chains of extraordinary islands, created by powerful volcanic forces far below them. Nutrient-rich upwellings create profusions of life in some areas, whilst extreme isolation and abyssal depths host a world of bizarre creatures in others.
Patrick follows the grizzly bears that are taking a risk with the weather by leaving their winter dens early. Hungry wolves are struggling to bring down their elk prey in the unusually shallow snow. And for great grey owls, it is the iciness of the snow that is hampering their hunts. Yellowstone's winter is always one of the most brutal on the planet. But 2016 saw weather records broken, and the wildlife was forced to adapt to survive. Kate Humble gets to grips with the science behind this remarkable season, from understanding the importance of the snowpack's structure as the melt begins to uncovering why Yellowstone's unique geology poses problems for some grazer's teeth.
At the very northern edge of North America is Ellesmere Island, where the unforgiving Arctic winds tear through the tundra, dipping temperatures to 40 below zero. Running through this shifting sea of snow and ice is one of the most hardened predators on the planet, the White Wolf. But as the spring melt approaches, these roaming hunters must adapt to being tethered parents as new additions to the pack have just been born. With their herds of prey continuing to move, we witness a desperate race to keep up and bring back a kill to the hungry mothers and cubs. Traveling farther and farther away from their den each day puts these hunters and their children at risk in this fight for survival.
2018 • Nature