The rains are late. It is the most brutal time of year. Babies born into drought face starvation. The weak and the injured are weeded out. Everything is desperate for rain. When it finally arrives, it is a downpour on an enormous scale. Alien creatures emerge into a different world. The wet season begins.
It’s October in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. The hottest and harshest time of year. But this year dry season conditions are exacerbated by a global El Nino event… the Valley is in the throes of drought. There’s been no rain since April and desperate animals are drawn to the only remaining source of water in the Valley – the dwindling Luangwa River...
Formed from the remains of a 2.5 million-year-old imploded volcano, the Ngorongoro crater is a study in contradictions: On one hand, it's a self-sustained and plentiful land that provides for the many animals that call it home. Conversely, its isolation threatens the existence of many of its key species. What does the future hold for this unique habitat?
While the immense ecosystem of the Kalahari is characterized by its harsh conditions, it also offers a wealth of resources to the native wildlife. From the burrows of nocturnal bat-eared foxes to the massive colonies of harvester ants, the region provides habitats for a vast array of life.
Deep within the arid expanse of the Kalahari Desert lies a true anomaly of nature: a land shaped by the unstoppable flow of inland floods to create one of the greatest wildlife havens in Africa. Experience the life-giving might of the Okavango Delta, in all its lush beauty.
Two billion years ago, a giant meteorite crashed into southern Africa's interior plateau, forming a six-mile-deep crater. Today, the site of this cataclysmic event is the Vredefort Dome--a dazzling and rich ecosystem of unique plant and animal life.
Take a trip through the spectacularly diverse terrain of the Waterberg--a South African land so old it was formed before terrestrial life itself. Today, its sprawling grasslands are home to some of the most eclectic wildlife on Earth, all sustained by the region's abundant water supply.
How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
2018 • Nature
There is plenty of food in the Pacific Ocean, but it is the challenge of finding that food that drives all life in the Pacific. In the voracious Pacific we meet a destructive army of mouths, a killer with a hundred mouths and the biggest mouth in the ocean.
Man has explored land, the oceans surface, and large parts of the solar system, and in the 21st century we are just beginning to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean. We yearn to unravel the mysterious Pacific but she does not give up her secrets willingly.
Two male ocelots, among the rarest wild cats of the Pantanal, are fighting it out over a freshly killed anaconda. In the distance, the loudest land animal in the Western Hemisphere, the howler monkey, fills the air with its primal cry. There's excitement at every turn in this protected South American wetland.
A young jaguar embarks on the first solitary hunt of his adult life, deep in the Pantanal, a vast wetland 10 times larger than the Everglades. His target is a savage caiman, a relative of the crocodile, who will fight back for any opportunity to turn the tables on his inexperienced predator.
At first glance, they look like pigs, but they're actually white-lipped peccaries from the Brazilian wetlands of the Pantanal, 10 times the size of the Everglades. Follow scientists as they track these mysterious mammals in their daily quest for food, while keeping a watchful eye for their main predator: jaguars.
In the heart of Brazil lie the immense wetlands of the Pantanal--an area 10 times the size of the Florida Everglades. In the dry season, over 650 species of birds descend onto the shallow marshes to feast, breed, and raise their young, including the the regal jabiru, the colorful hyacinth macaw, and the noisy chacalaca.
Venture into the lush confines of the Brazilian Pantanal, host to an assortment of unusual creatures with similarly strange habits. Among these, you'll encounter the piraputanga fish that leaps out of the water to pluck fruit off low-hanging branches and the lowland tapir--the largest land mammal in South America--who can eat up to 100 lbs. of vegetation each day.
For the last decade, a team of frontline medics has been fighting to save Borneo's critically endangered orangutans. Armed with cameras, International Animal Rescue has documented their struggle: pulling apes from devastated jungle, giving emergency medical care, rehabilitating and releasing the healthiest orangutans back into the wild. This is both the story of their life-saving work and of how one of our closest wild relatives has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Combining genuine rescue footage with contributions from experts throughout, this documentary looks toward the future and asks what hope remains to save the orangutan.
2018 • Nature
In the 1950s, Howard Hughes eyed purchasing the precious Exuma Cays--that is, until the Bahamian government intervened to protect the untouched gems. Set sail with the scientists, tour guides, and guards who have carried on that legacy to protect reefs, patrol waters, and propagate coral.
The Mesoamerican Reef is the second longest on the planet--a threatened world of coastal wetlands, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds. That it exists at all is testament to decades of tireless activism, sustainable tourism, responsible fishing, and strict policing. Join us as we tour its many delights.
Decades ago, Monterey Bay National Sanctuary was on the brink of ecological disaster. Today, it is a lush world of sandy sea floors and twisting seaweed jungles. Explore the home of 525 species of fish and 34 species of marine mammal, including the only species of sea lion with a growing population.
With coastal mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and vibrant coral reefs, the Florida Keys are home to a wealth of underwater environments, all connected by what scientists have dubbed the 'Corridor of Life.' Take a journey through the vital underwater sanctuaries that preserve these delicate ecosystems.
With crystal-clear waters, breathtaking marine life, and teeming biodiversity, the Caribbean island of Bonaire is a top destination for ecotourists. Visit one of the world's great ocean parks and see how the influx of travelers is fueling an ambitious project to conserve it.
The older a species, the better it is at adapting to change. From the ancient lineage of sharks, who've evolved into perfect predators, to the living fossil known as the bichir, get a closer look at some of nature's enduring evolutionary masters.
Bees and ants work selflessly toward a common goal. Bonobos maintain social harmony through sex, while meerkats organize themselves with military-level discipline. What do these creatures all have in common? The basic recognition that their survival hinges on an ability to work and live together.
From penguins whose salt-removing eye glands shield them from the harsh ocean to caterpillars whose fake facial markings are meant to mimic a snake's, animals have evolved in amazing ways to see and be seen. Meet these creatures and see how they use eyes and illusions to their advantage.
When did we start riding horses? When did dogs become man's best friend? Answering questions like these help us understand our impact on other species' evolutionary journeys - a crucial step toward ensuring our survival doesn't necessarily come at the expense of their own.
Why are vultures bald? Why do some orangutans have big cheeks? And if giraffes have long necks to help them reach the highest leaves, why do they mostly eat low-lying shrubs? Embark on a whirlwind tour around the world as we explore some of nature's most-fascinating evolutionary wonders.
From singing whales and squeaking bats to thumping spiders and clicking dolphins, the world is filled with the exotic sounds of our fellow creatures. What are they saying? While we believe language sets us apart, some animals demonstrate they can learn our language—like Chaser the dog, who recognizes hundreds of words, and Kanzi the bonobo, who appears to have a sophisticated understanding of spoken English. But can we decode their own communications? NOVA Wonders follows researchers around the globe who are deciphering an amazing array of clues that reveal how animals share information critical to their survival. Will we one day be able to write the bat dictionary or decode the hidden sign language of chimps? And what can these findings tell us about the roots of our own language?
Many of the great rivers of southern Africa start high up in mountain ranges, power their way eastwards across wild forests and grasslands, and eventually empty out into the Indian Ocean. Ride the currents of these powerful bodies of water as they reshape the lives of the wild animals who rely on them.
The Serengeti is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth--but it's also the scene of some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made. Join us as we meet the modern inhabitants of this ancient land, and track how their evolution helped shape our understanding of human origins.
Formed during a cataclysmic volcanic eruption two million years ago, Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater is home to the highest concentration of mammals in the world. Explore this vibrant ecosystem and the extraordinary geological features that have made it a haven for biodiversity.
Despite the scorching heat, a cold upwelling of nutrients in the Gulf of Oman creates favorable conditions for a host of marine migrants. The behemoth whale shark, hawksbill turtle, and millions of tiny, exotic fish settle in to feast. Take a plunge into the algae-cloaked coral reefs of this underwater tapestry.
Sir David Attenborough tells the stories of the world's best animal architects. There are house-proud bower birds, who only find a mate if they decorate their homes perfectly. There are hornets, who build electric central heating systems, and the star-nosed mole, whose house is designed so well that worms, his favourite meal, literally drop in for dinner. From larders to nurseries and from high-rises to subway systems, Attenborough shows that the animal architects have designed it long before humans.
Thanks to new technologies combining genetics, ethology, geology and even particle physics, paleontologists can now recreate the missing branches of the tree of life. Because of this, it has been discovered that prehistoric mammals were more varied and numerous than previously thought.
Thanks to new technologies combining genetics, ethology, geology and even particle physics, paleontologists can now recreate the missing branches of the tree of life. Now, paleontologists can show that there were far more feathered dinosaurs than previously believed.
Giant insects once dominated the earth before the dinosaurs. Thanks to new technologies combining genetics, ethology, geology and even particle physics, paleontologists can now recreate the missing branches of the tree of life. Assumptions have been shattered and all the rules are changing.
In Taiji, Japan, local fishermen hide a gruesome secret: the capture and slaughter of dolphins. Activist Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the "Flipper" TV series, joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society to expose the brutal practice, risking life and limb in the process.
2009 • Nature
In many of the earth's natural wonders there is an abundance of animals. These can be a devastating threat to the people who live there, or they can provide a means of survival, but often at a high price. In the coastal salt marshes of northern Australia's Arnhem Land, Indigenous Australians still go hunting for the eggs of one of the world's most aggressive predators - the saltwater crocodile. Vanuatu is an island paradise in the south Pacific, but life here isn't perhaps as idyllic as it appears. Overfishing has reduced fish stocks, making food harder to come by for the indigenous islanders like 45-year-old Nigasau.
Steve Backshall reveals the incredible influence that insects and their close relatives have on Earth's many ecosystems. In the grasslands of South America the landscape has been created almost solely by one team of insects - grass-cutter ants. Across the world's oceans one tiny creature plays such a key role that, without it, the largest animal on our planet, the blue whale, could not exist. And in East Africa the savannah would quickly be swamped in dung were it not for the activities of a certain beetle. Yet the greatest influence of all comes from a group of insects that have ultimately changed the colour and diversity of our planet.
Steve Backshall explores the connections and relationship that we have with insects and other arthropods. In Kenya, huge armies of driver ants give houses a five-star clean-up, and in China, we discover how silkworm caterpillars have shaped our culture and distribution. While locusts devastate crops in Africa, bees and beetles across the world provide a key link in our food chains. Many of us perceive these animals merely as creepy crawlies and nothing more than a nuisance, but as Steve reveals, we couldn't live without them.
You find fungi in Antarctica and in nuclear reactors. They live inside your lungs and your skin is covered with them. Fungi are the most under appreciated and unexplained organisms, yet they could cure you from smallpox and turn cardboard boxes into forests. They could even transform Mars into Eden. There are vastly more fungi species than plants and each and every one of them plays a crucial role in life’s support systems. Join us on a journey into the mysterious world of Fungi to witness their beauty, unravel their mysteries and discover how this secret kingdom is essential to life on Earth, and may in fact hold the key to our future.
2018 • Nature
During summer, the Atlantic coast of the northeastern United States attracts huge amounts of fish and wildlife. Particularly interesting are the basking sharks, the world’s second-largest fish, and the leatherback sea turtles, which weigh one ton and are the world’s largest reptile.
The Comb-crested Jacanas are unique birds that use their long toes to walk delicately across lotus leaves and catch underwater prey. This episode, filmed between the rainy season and dry season in Kakadu, follows a father bird raising his chicks through their dramatic and difficult first year.
Picture the last two hundred years without the publication of Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" -- how might the scientific conversation have developed? What were the influences in Victorian England during Darwin's youth, and how tenuous was his opportunity for sailing on the Beagle's voyage?
Once a mountain kingdom of ancient palaces and emperors, Korea in the 21st century is largely known for its modern cities and decades of conflict. Tensions between North and South may be what defines it to outsiders but beyond the battle scars there is another side to Korea. In the south are large pockets of untouched wilderness where extraordinary animals flourish and Koreans continue to practice age-old traditions in tandem with the seasons and with nature. It is in these connections, rather than in division, that we see the true Korea. At the southernmost tip of the peninsular we follow a pod of bottlenose dolphins through the volcanic islands of Jeju. They click at each other as they encounter a human in their midst, but the dolphins know this diver well - they have shared the ocean with the Haenyeo, or sea women, for thousands of years. We travel onwards to the isolated island of Marado, where three generations of sea women are preparing for a dive. Today is the start of the conch season, and they work hard whatever the weather to maximise their catch. In the grounds of an ancient palace on the mainland, a raccoon dog family takes advantage of a rare event. Just once every five years, hundreds of cicadas emerge from below ground providing an easy feast for the raccoon dogs who voraciously fill their bellies. Those that escape their jaws make for the safety of the trees, where they metamorphosise into their flying form. On the mud flats of Suncheon Bay we find a habitat that is neither land nor sea. Only recently has the ecological value of mudflats been recognised. A staggering 50 per cent of the earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton - microscopic algae that are found here in great abundance. That is why the mudflats are known locally as the lungs of the earth. Plankton is far from the only life here - the mud of the bay is rich in nutrients and supports one of the most diverse ecosystems on the peninsula. We follow the story of a young mudskipper who has emerged for his first mating season. His journey to find love is paved with obstacles.
2018 • Nature
Details coastal environments and the effect of tides, of which the highest can be found in the Bay of Fundy in North America. In places, erosion is causing the land to retreat, while in others — such as the tropics — the expansion of mangroves causes it to advance.
Ascends a kapok in the South American tropical rainforest to observe "the greatest proliferation of life that you can find anywhere on the surface of the Earth. There are two main causes for this: warmth and wetness. As this climate is constant, there are no seasons, so trees vary greatly in their flowering cycles.
Begins in northern Norway, 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Here, there is only just enough light for the pine trees to survive, but it is extremely cold during the winter. Pine cone seeds provide one of the few foods available at this time of year, and large herbivores such as the moose must also rely on their fat reserves.
Describes the inhospitable habitats of snow and ice. Mount Rainier in America is an example of such a place: there is no vegetation, therefore no herbivores and thus no carnivores. However, beneath its frosty surface, algae grow and some insects, such as ladybirds visit the slopes. Africa’s mountains are permanently snow-covered, and beneath peaks such as Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, there are communities of plants and animals.
Visits the world's deepest valley: the Kali Gandaki river in the Himalayas. Its temperatures range from those of the tropics in its lower reaches to that of the poles higher up. It therefore shows how creatures become adapted to living in certain environments.
In the third episode, Iain discovers the remarkable impact of just one plant: grass. On the savannah of South Africa he sees how grass unleashed a firestorm to fight its greatest enemy, the forests. He shows how cutting your finger on a blade of grass shows us how it transformed life in the oceans. In Senegal, he meets the cleverest chimps in the world. And, in the ruins of the oldest temple on Earth, he tells the extraordinary story of how grass triggered human civilisation.
In the second episode, Iain discovers how flowers have transformed our planet. He journeys to the remote islands of the South Pacific to track down the earliest flowers. In the deserts of Africa and rainforests of Vietnam, he sees how they brought brilliant colour to the most barren landscapes and sculpted the earth itself. And he learns how they drove the evolution of all animals - kick-starting our human story.
In this first episode Iain journeys from the spectacular caves of Vietnam to the remote deserts of Africa. He sees how plants first harnessed light from the sun and created our life-giving atmosphere. He uncovers the epic battle between the dinosaurs and the tallest trees on the planet. And, using remarkable imagery, he shows plants breathing - and for the first time talking to each other.
Blue Whisper immerges into the ocean's fascinating underwater world and gets to the bottom of a widely unexplored field of underwater science: the communication among fish. The documentary accompanies a team of specialists to overwhelmingly beautiful coral reefs, ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea and sunken submarines that are clouded in secrecy, to explore the versatile forms of underwater communication. What language do fish use? Do they make sounds? Do they have a body language? And what role do colours play? With the aid of complex underwater video and audio equipment those and further questions are answered during a suspenseful journey around the world.
2013 • Nature
This new age of discovery is revealing there is still so much to learn about the cat family. Using high-tech collars, Professor Alan Wilson has discovered it is not straight-line speed that is a cheetah's greatest weapon but their ability to break, change direction and accelerate. His research is rewriting what we understand about the fastest animal on land. This is also a crucial time for cat conservation - most are threatened, facing extreme habitat loss and conflict with humans. Yet there are many positive stories of cats bouncing back from the brink,
The secret lives of the world’s most mysterious cats are brought to light by advances in remote and low-light filming technology. In South Africa, we follow the nocturnal pursuits of the tiny black-footed cat that stakes its claim to the title of the world's deadliest, and in remotest Mongolia we reveal the rarely seen Pallas's cat, at home with her kittens - she hunts by looking like a rock. Finally, in South Africa, we uncover the secret of the serval that thrives amongst the futuristic landscape of Africa's biggest industrial complex. These are remarkable cats, with surprising lives in extraordinary places.
In Ruaha, Tanzania, lions form huge super prides in order to hunt giants. Amongst cats lions are unusual, the only one to live in groups. In numbers they find the strength and audacity to hunt the most formidable prey. In Sri Lanka a tiny rusty-spotted cat explores his forest home - 200 times smaller than a lion, the rusty-spotted is the smallest of all cats, but just as curious. The Canada lynx lives further north than any cat, relying on snowshoe hares to survive the bitterly cold winters. Until now, lynx were creatures of mystery, but now technology provides an insight into their secret lives.
Professor Richard Fortey investigates the remains of ancient volcanic lake in Germany where stunningly well-preserved fossils of early mammals, giant insects and even perhaps our oldest known ancestor have been found. Among the amazing finds are bats as advanced and sophisticated as anything living today, more than 50-million-years-later; dog-sized 'Dawn' horses, the ancestor of the modern horse; and giant ants as large as a hummingbird.
Professor Richard Fortey journeys high in the Rocky Mountains to explore a 520-million-year-old fossilised seabed containing bizarre and experimental lifeforms that have revolutionised our understanding about the beginnings of complex life. Among the amazing finds he uncovers are marine creatures with five eyes and a proboscis; filter-feeders shaped like tulips; worm-like scavengers covered in spikes but with no identifiable head or anus; and a metre-long predator resembling a giant shrimp.
Even after thousands of years of ice crushing the northern hemisphere and temperatures of 20 degrees lower than those of today, many of the great giants of the ice age still walked the earth. It was only when the world had warmed up again that mammoths, woolly rhinos, sabre-toothed cats, giant ground sloths and glyptodonts finally became extinct. Professor Alice Roberts sets off on her last voyage back to the Ice Age to discover why.
The series begins in the 'land of the sabre-tooth'; North America, a continent that was half covered by ice that was up to two miles thick. Yet this frozen land also boasted the most impressive cast of Ice Age giants in the world. Across locations such as the Grand Canyon, the sands of Arizona and the coast of California, Alice traces the movements of Ice Age beasts like bear-sized sloths, vast mammoths and the strange beast known as the glyptodon. These leviathans all have one thing in common: they were stalked by the meanest big cat that ever prowled the Earth, armed with seven-inch teeth and hunting in packs - Smilodon fatalis, the sabre-toothed cat.
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
Living with sharks is one of Andy Brandy Casagrande greatest passions in life. A two-time, Emmy Award winning, wildlife cinematographer and on-air talent for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, Andy is helping revolutionize the way the world sees the ocean’s top predators.
2015 • Nature
Intelligence and adaptability allow primates to tackle the many challenges of life, and this is what makes our closest relatives so successful. This resourcefulness has enabled primates to conquer an incredible diversity of habitat. Hamadryas baboons live on the open plains of Ethiopia in groups up to 400 strong. Strength in numbers gives them some protection from potential predators. But, should their path cross with other baboon troops, it can lead to all-out battle, as males try to steal females from one another, and even settle old scores. Japanese macaques are the most northerly-dwelling primates and they experience completely different challenges. Some beat the freezing conditions by having access to a thermal spa in the middle of winter. But this privilege is only for those born of the right female bloodline. For western lowland gorillas, it's the male silverback that leads his family group in the rich forests of the Congo basin. He advertises his status to all with a powerful chest-beating display. Most primates are forest dwellers, and one of the strangest is the tarsier – the only purely carnivorous primate. As it hunts for insects the tarsier leaps from tree to tree in the dead of night, using its huge forward-facing eyes to safely judge each jump. Good communication is essential for success in primate society.
Plants' solutions to life's challenges are as ingenious and manipulative as any animal's. Innovative time-lapse photography opens up a parallel world where plants act like fly-paper, or spring-loaded traps, to catch insects. Vines develop suckers and claws to haul themselves into the rainforest canopy. Every peculiar shape proves to have a clever purpose. The dragon's blood tree is like an upturned umbrella to capture mist and shade its roots. The seed of a Bornean tree has wings so aerodynamic they inspired the design of early gliders. The barrel-shaped desert rose is full of water. The heliconia plant even enslaves a humming bird and turns it into an addict for its nectar.
Marine invertebrates are some of the most bizarre and beautiful animals on the planet, and thrive in the toughest parts of the oceans. Divers swim into a shoal of predatory Humboldt squid as they emerge from the ocean depths to hunt in packs. When cuttlefish gather to mate, their bodies flash in stroboscopic colours. Time-lapse photography reveals thousands of starfish gathering under the Arctic ice to devour a seal carcass. A giant octopus commits suicide for her young. A camera follows her into a cave which she walls up, then she protects her eggs until she starves. The greatest living structures on earth, coral reefs, are created by tiny animals in some of the world's most inhospitable waters.
Mammals' ability to learn new tricks is the key to survival in the knife-edge world of hunters and hunted. In a TV first, a killer whale off the Falklands does something unique: it sneaks into a pool where elephant seal pups learn to swim and snatches them, saving itself the trouble of hunting in the open sea. Slow-motion cameras reveal the star-nosed mole's newly-discovered technique for smelling prey underwater: it exhales then inhales a bubble of air ten times per second. Young ibex soon learn the only way to escape a fox - run up an almost vertical cliff face - and young stoats fight mock battles, learning the skills that make them one of the world's most efficient predators.
There are 200 million insects for each of us. They are the most successful animal group ever. Their key is an armoured covering that takes on almost any shape. Darwin's stag beetle fights in the tree tops with huge curved jaws. The camera flies with millions of monarch butterflies which migrate 2000 miles, navigating by the sun. Super slow motion shows a bombardier beetle firing boiling liquid at enemies through a rotating nozzle. A honey bee army stings a raiding bear into submission. Grass cutter ants march like a Roman army, harvesting grass they cannot actually eat. They cultivate a fungus that breaks the grass down for them. Their giant colony is the closest thing in nature to the complexity of a human city.
Birds owe their global success to feathers - something no other animal has. They allow birds to do extraordinary things. For the first time, a slow-motion camera captures the unique flight of the marvellous spatuletail hummingbird as he flashes long, iridescent tail feathers in the gloomy undergrowth. Aerial photography takes us into the sky with an Ethiopian lammergeier dropping bones to smash them into edible-sized bits. Thousands of pink flamingoes promenade in one of nature's greatest spectacles. The sage grouse rubs his feathers against his chest in a comic display to make popping noises that attract females. The Vogelkop bowerbird makes up for his dull colour by building an intricate structure and decorating it with colourful beetles and snails.
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.
Mammals dominate the planet. They do it through having warm blood and by the care they lavish on their young. Weeks of filming in the bitter Antarctic winter reveal how a mother Weddell seal wears her teeth down keeping open a hole in the ice so she can catch fish for her pup. A powered hot air balloon produces stunning images of millions of migrating bats as they converge on fruiting trees in Zambia, and slow-motion cameras reveal how a mother rufous sengi exhausts a chasing lizard. A gyroscopically stabilised camera moves alongside migrating caribou, and a diving team swim among the planet's biggest fight as male humpback whales battle for a female.
Reptiles and amphibians look like hang-overs from the past. But they overcome their shortcomings through amazing innovation. The pebble toad turns into a rubber ball to roll and bounce from its enemies. Extreme slow-motion shows how a Jesus Christ lizard runs on water, and how a chameleon fires an extendible tongue at its prey with unfailing accuracy. The camera dives with a Niuean sea snake, which must breed on land but avoids predators by swimming to an air bubble at the end of an underwater tunnel. In a TV first, Komodo dragons hunt a huge water-buffalo, biting it to inject venom, then waiting for weeks until it dies. Ten dragons strip the carcass to the bone in four hours.
In nature, living long enough to breed is a monumental struggle. Many animals and plants go to extremes to give themselves a chance. Uniquely, three brother cheetahs band together to bring down a huge ostrich. Aerial photography reveals how bottle-nosed dolphins trap fish in a ring of mud, and time-lapse cameras show how the Venus flytrap ensnares insect victims. The strawberry frog carries a tadpole high into a tree and drops it in a water-filled bromeliad. The frog must climb back from the ground every day to feed it. Fledgling chinstrap penguins undertake a heroic and tragic journey through the broken ice to get out to sea. Many can barely swim and the formidable leopard seal lies in wait.
This special, narrated by Andrew Scott, celebrates spring on planet Earth, and the extraordinary tricks that animals and plants find to rise to the new challenges it brings. This magical season brings a burst of new life - but as soon as the air starts to warm, it's a race to wake up and get ahead of everyone else. For many, it's the perfect time to find a mate and raise babies - but for everything, from adventurous grizzly bear cubs and amorous dancing grebes, to flowers in the desert and swifts that fly marathons, spring is about rushing to make the most of the opportunities this busy season brings.
This special, narrated by Andrew Scott, celebrates the drama of Autumn and how animals and plants deal with the new challenges it brings. This is the time of year that brings the world's most spectacular transformations. With winter fast approaching, life has to get ready and that means feeding up while you can, fighting for the last chance to breed and rushing to grow up before the cold returns. While chipmunks and beavers dash to stash their winter supplies, many animals from musk oxen to beetles have to battle for mates and young gannets must face life's first dangerous challenges.
This programme, narrated by Andrew Scott, celebrates the glorious nature of summer on Earth and the extraordinary ways animals and plants rise to the challenges it brings. With the sun shining and the flowers blooming, this is the season of splendid abundance, and the long hours of daylight make life burst out in a riot of activity. But you have to find clever ways to get your share of the good times while they last, and as temperatures soar, everything has to deal with sweltering heat. For a whole range of animals, from sneaky ring-tailed lemurs to battling ibex, and from overheated penguins to astonishing colour-changing lizards, summer is a time when the living is not always easy.
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.
2018 • Nature
Chris Packham explores a childhood fantasy - discovering the true animal behind centuries of Hollywood misrepresentation. Using knowledge from groundbreaking paleontological discoveries and utilising the latest CGI wizardry, Chris creates the most authentic T-Rex ever.
2018 • Nature
David Attenborough is in the Swiss Jura Mountains to discover the secrets of a giant. Beneath his feet lies a vast network of tunnels and chambers, home to a huge empire of ants. It is believed to be one of the largest animal societies in the world, where over a billion ants from rival colonies live in peace. Their harmonious existence breaks many of the rules for both ants and evolution, and raises some important questions. Through winter, spring and into summer, David turns detective to find the answers.
Sophie looks at one skill in particular that seems to give humans an advantage over all other animals - our superior talent for language. She explores what language really is, and how close other animals come to having it. She considers the world of primates and the theory that some apes may communicate through sign language, and reveals how, even in the womb, humans start to practise making the mouth movements needed for speech. But language isn't just a power to combine words. Professor Scott explores how we convey information through the tone of voice, our accents and the pace and pitch of our speech. But in a world when we regularly talk to computers, she also shows why scientists need to develop machines that can understand the subtleties of our speech. Finally, she looks at language in this digital age and explores the role that emojis play.
Sophie explores the world of silent communication in the animal kingdom and the human world - showing how much we can actually say without ever opening our mouths or making a noise. She reveals how some species have harnessed bacteria to generate light and how light messages are used by insects and deep-sea fish for a range of reasons, including attracting prey. Exploring how body language communicates huge amounts about us and other species, Professor Scott shows why a dog's wagging tail does not always mean it is happy and how humans can tell a lot about someone's state of mind from their posture alone. She reveals why yawns and smiles are contagious and how this can play a key role in social bonding and cohesion.
The Andes is the longest mountain range in the world and home to astonishing hidden worlds, extraordinary animals and remarkable people. A female puma and her three cubs hunt in the mountains of the frozen south. Spectacled bears search for water on scorched mountain forests and the descendants of the Inca gather in an ancient ceremony to build a bridge made from woven grass. High in the cloud forest, a newly discovered shape-shifting frog baffles scientists with its superpowers and in the Atacama desert - the driest place in the world - strange reptiles battle for access to precious water. This is the mountain range of surprise and wonder.
The highest mountain range on earth is home to extraordinary animals and remarkable ancient cultures. In the depths of winter, snow leopards creep into isolated mountain villages in search of food. In hidden valleys, bizarre-looking monkeys huddle for warmth in a frozen forest. Ancient Buddhist monasteries have age-old rituals creating beautiful works of art made from mountain sand and athletes compete in the gruelling Everest marathon. Strange and exotic creatures live in the Himalaya - the chiru, with the warmest wool in the world, snakes bathing in hot springs and wild yak competing in their annual rut. Breathtaking photography reveals a lost world of surprises in the latest landmark wildlife series from the BBC.
The Rockies are the spine of North America, a beautiful wilderness of snow-capped peaks and hidden valleys. Cougars hunt in abandoned ranches, wolverines search the deep snow for food and grizzly bears hunt in the high mountain meadows. Daredevil wingsuit flier’s leap from mile-high cliffs and Native American tribes compete in breakneck horse races. It is also the range of surprises, with tiny cannibal salamanders hunting in mountain ponds and hummingbirds making enormous migrations
The second episode; tells the story of how wild predators became such popular pets. Kittens trigger an emotional reaction in us. Their baby-like features make us want to nurture them. Its part of the reason we brought cats into our homes. Viewers will discover how the animal’s amazing senses and mouse-catching prowess brought man and cat together ten thousand years ago. And how domestic cats are still evolving and will in the future become less wild, and more mild.
In the first episode and for the first time ever, the programme compares the humble moggy with their big cat cousins, gaining surprising insights into the entire cat family. In Africa, lion whisperer Kevin Richardson proves how similar domestic pets are to the fearsome big cats and why there's more to feline communication than meets the eye. In the thick jungles of South East Asia, the series discovers which sabre-tooth wild cat has given tabbies their gravity defying climbing skills and in Namibia, shows how a strange looking cat called a caracal has given them the ability to jump over three metres and catch birds in flight, inspiring the phrase "put the cat amongst the pigeons". To truly understand the world’s most beloved purring pets, there needs to be an understanding of their wild relatives.
David Attenborough narrates the intimate story of a leopard mother and her two cubs. This very special family must survive in the wilds of Botswana alongside some less-than-friendly neighbours: lions, wild dogs and hyenas. The competition for food is tough, and if they are going to make it they must learn a new skill - they must learn to fish. This is an epic family drama. With them every step of the way is local cameraman Brad Bestelink. Brad's 18-month journey following the lives of these secretive big cats offers a rare glimpse into an otherwise hidden world.
The Galapagos Islands are home to some animals that washed up on the islands millions of years ago and have made adaptations. Penguins, iguanas, tortoises and cormorants have changed so they can survive the harsh climate. But possibly the oddest adaptation is that of the Vampire finch.
The incredible reef life and the birds, lizards and reptiles who cope with the lava rock islands of the Galapagos make this remote series of islands a unique natural habitat. The Panama and Humboldt currents regulate the seasons and the rhythm of life onshore and off.
What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.
In this final episode, Iolo explores bird design - from their ability to fly to the way that their beak design, colour and camouflage enable them to live in the many habitats Wales has to offer. Using ultra-slow motion photography, Iolo looks at how garden birds have such control over take off and landing, and explains why fulmars are one of our most supreme fliers.
In this fourth episode, Iolo Williams explores how birds in Wales have adapted to living alongside us, making use of our buildings, parks and gardens and even the waste we throw away. One of the most notorious urban birds is the gull and Iolo explains why these very adaptable and intelligent birds are doing so well in Cardiff
In this episode, Iolo investigates the courtship and nesting behaviour of birds, including the amazing courtship display of great crested grebes at a reservoir near Pontypool, the impressive sky dance of hen harriers in the dramatic Cambrian Mountains, how nuthatch use mud like cement to prepare their nest in a woodland near Harlech, and why long-tailed tits near Newtown are exceptional nest builders. On the Lleyn Peninsula near Trefor, he looks at why one colony of shags nest earlier than any others in Wales, and in Pembrokeshire he finds out where house martins nested before they used our buildings. Iolo also looks at the variety of places birds like to nest, from little ringed plovers on shingle banks along the River Tywi to puffins underground on Skomer.
In this first episode, he investigates how and why birds communicate, looking at the reasons snipe use their tail feathers to make a very distinctive noise and what's happening when thousands of starlings participate in stunning aerial displays in Aberystwyth.
Dr George McGavin investigates the highly varied and dramatic life of oak tree. Part science documentary, part historical investigation, this film is a celebration of one of the most iconic trees in the British countryside. It aims to give viewers a sense of what an extraordinary species the oak is and provide an insight into how this venerable tree experiences life.
2017 • Nature
The big blue is the world's greatest wilderness, far from shore and many kilometres deep. It's a vast marine desert where there is little to eat and nowhere to hide. Yet it's home to some of the biggest and most spectacular creatures on earth. This episode reveals what it takes to survive in this savage and forbidding world. We witness feats of incredible endurance, moments of high drama and extraordinary acts of heart-wrenching self-sacrifice. Every animal in the big blue must find their own unique way to survive.
Secret History documentary charting an astounding archaeological investigation in South Africa that has discovered the remains of an entirely new species of human ancestor: Homo naledi. Following an expedition by a team of experts, led by Professor Lee Berger, as they recover over 1,500 fossilised bone fragments from a deep and nearly inaccessible cave and conduct extensive analysis
2015 • Nature
This is the ultimate hidden kingdom - the urban jungle. In the colourful and chaotic streets of Rio, a young marmoset is separated from his street gang and forced to confront of the dangers of the city alone. In the futuristic metropolis of Tokyo, a rhinoceros beetle escapes his captors and begins an extraordinary journey through this alien world to find sanctuary.
This is the story of two young animals forced to grow up fast. In Africa's savannah, a baby elephant shrew learns how speed is the secret to survival amongst the largest animals on Earth; and in America, a young grasshopper mouse confronts the Wild West's deadliest creatures to stake a claim of his own.
The Okavango Delta is one of the world's largest inland deltas - and supports a variety of life as rich as any you will see in Africa. Yet this lush wetland of islands and lagoons lies in the middle of the vast, featureless Kalahari Desert. This is the story of how it happens. Following groups of wildlife, including hippos, baboons, catfish, kingfishers, leopards, warthogs and elephants, the film reveals how the yearly flood transforms the landscape and impacts their lives. But more surprisingly, it reveals how, with the help of termites and hippos, the flood actually creates this extraordinary delta in the first place.
Svalbard in the Arctic spends many months of the year in complete darkness, an unrelenting frozen winter with temperatures down to -40 Celsius. But when the sun finally reappears, the landscape magically transforms from an ice world into a rich tundra, full of exotic plants, birds, arctic foxes, polar bears, walrus and reindeer. This film captures the changes in all their glory and reveals how this transformation is only possible thanks to some bizarre micro-organisms that feed on ice and the stunning abilities of migrating birds.
Take a journey through majestic primeval forests of the Urals. These protected sites are known for their extremes, where the fine side by side, and giant deer, and giant leviathan, weighing half a ton, and tiny animals. This also, in search of food, make their seasonal raiding Eurasian elk. Unlike other types of elk Eurasian elk live alone, so for the pregnant female elk stress of meeting with other animals usually leads to a fight. As soon as the snow begins to melt in the woods, baring the ground, a lone wolf set out in search of food, not disdaining the frozen remains of animals
The Arctic region of Russia is considered the most inhospitable places to live. But polar bears, lemmings, Arctic foxes, and seals - Arctic - simply heaven. In late August, with the onset of the breeding season is going very strong male musk for traditional competitions for the right leadership in the pairing with females. Weight of an adult bull can reach 400 kilograms. In a skirmish with a rival musk ox to deliver a decisive blow running away at 40 miles per hour. Sound from the blow horns fighting males can be heard at a distance of more than one kilometer.
As temperatures hit minus 60 food becomes scarce, and animals such as foxes and hares shed their colourful coats to camouflage themselves in the snow. The end of winter heralds one of the world's greatest feeding frenzies as large ocean predators target the millions of fish who have found refuge in the Gulf of Alaska.
Captured in a single, animated time lapsed shot, and based on archeological findings, we trace our epic journey from the first spark of life billions of years ago up to our present status as the most successful species on the planet. Humans are the pinnacle of a chain of species that has survived by way of evolution, natural selection, adaptation, and pure luck. From the formation of primordial genetic material to the development of speech, this is the improbable story of the incredible set of circumstances that led to human existence.
Life and Death explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on our understanding of the meaning of extinction and the interconnections between all life on earth and the environment. Darwin learned many lessons from the giant fossils of extinct animals he found in Argentina and Chile. He eventually revealed to us the unpalatable truth that the logical conclusion to evolution is not perfection but extinction. The extinction of one species creates an environmental niche for new species to fill. Darwin’s theory also gives us vital knowledge we can use to help prolong the existence of our species by respecting the interconnections between all elements of the natural world and the environment. It’s a story in which Darwin’s ideas are taken up with great enthusiasm by his followers throughout the 20th century. But humanity misses one opportunity after another to acknowledge and reduce its destructive impact on the planet. As a result we have set in motion the sixth mass extinction of life on earth. And we are running out of time to do something about it by preserving ecological "hotspots" like certain rainforests which are some of the most productive cradles of evolution. This programme is a warning, but also a celebration, of the knowledge Charles Darwin gave us in his theory of evolution. It confirms that Darwin’s theory continues to inform our understanding of ourselves, our planet and the intricate interconnections between all life on earth.
The second episode of Andrew Marr's exploration of Darwin explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on society and politics. Darwin’s first port of call on the Beagle was Salvador in Brazil – then a major port for the international slave trade. His experience there confirmed his enlightenment views of liberty and progress and his hatred of slavery. But his theory of evolution that began to take root on that epic voyage would describe a world of conflict, ruthless competition and struggle. It would be taken up and abused by some of the most reactionary movements of the late-19th and 20th centuries. The phrase “survival of the fittest” would help propel Darwin’s theory as a scientific justification for eugenics, enforced sterilisation and genocide. But after the Second World War, Darwin’s theory finds redemption in the United Nations statement on race which confirms Darwin’s long-held view that all humans are members of the same race and deserving of equal treatment. This is further reinforced in the extraordinary work of a small Jewish community in New York who used DNA testing and a voluntary and anonymous form of selective breeding to eliminate a debilitating disease from the Jewish community. DNA testing is the final frontier of Darwin’s Dangerous idea. But the lessons from history suggest that the new choices we face about what to do with the knowledge Darwin has given us when combined with genetics and DNA testing remains a major social and political challenge.
Making of David Attenborough’s Galapagos, which is aired first, offers an unrivalled and actually far more interesting view of the dramas that went into capturing all that footage. The way all the shots have been so calmly edited together makes the process look so effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are broken helicopters and broken camera cables that threaten the whole enterprise and the grunting of mating tortoises that threaten to drown out Attenborough’s pieces to camera. This making of programme also includes the discovery of a previously unknown species of pink iguana, as well as the final television appearance of the last-remaining member of another species – the iconic long-necked tortoise known as Lonesome George. “He’s about 80 years old and he’s getting a bit creaky in his joints,” whispers Attenborough. “As indeed am I.”
Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms. David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations. We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes. It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness. Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here. The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.
David Attenborough narrates this astonishing story of a wild cheetah family. Known for being fast, captivating and extremely elusive, a new insight into their remarkable lives is offered by cameraman Kim Wolhuter. For nearly two years, he walked alongside a wild cheetah mother and her young family to unravel in intimate detail what it takes to turn tiny cubs into accomplished predators.
The final episode deals with the evolution of the most widespread and dominant species on Earth: humans. The story begins in Africa, where, some 10 million years ago, apes descended from the trees and ventured out into the open grasslands in search of food. They slowly adapted to the habitat and grew in size. Their acute sense of vision led to them standing erect to spot predators, leaving their hands free to bear weapons. In addition, the primitive apemen also had stones that were chipped into cutting tools. Slowly, they grew taller and more upright, and their stone implements became ever more elaborate.
The penultimate instalment investigates the primates, whose defining characteristics are forward-facing eyes for judging distance, and gripping hands with which to grasp branches, manipulate food and groom one another. The programme begins in Madagascar, home to the lemurs, of which there are some 20 different types. Two examples are the sifaka, which is a specialised jumper, and the indri, which has a well-developed voice. Away from Madagascar, the only lemur relatives to have survived are nocturnal, such as the bushbaby, the potto and the loris. The others were supplanted by the monkeys and a primitive species that still exists is the smallest, the marmoset. However, Attenborough selects the squirrel monkey as being typical of the group. Howler monkeys demonstrate why they are so named their chorus is said to the loudest of any mammal and their prehensile tails illustrate their agility.
This programme surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night. To prepare for winter, some store it in vast quantities, some hibernate and others make do as best they can. However, the carnivores joined them, and when a drying climate triggered the spread of grass, they followed their prey out on to the plains. Grass is not easily digestible and most animals that eat it have to regurgitate it and chew the cud. Out in the open, the leaf-eaters had to develop means of protection.
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.
This instalment is the first of several to concentrate on mammals. The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs (in much the same manner of reptiles), and it is from such animals that others in the group evolved. Since mammals have warm blood and most have dense fur, they can hunt at night when temperatures drop. It is for this reason that they became more successful than their reptile ancestors, who needed to heat themselves externally. Much of the programme is devoted to marsupials (whose young are partially formed at birth) of which fossils have been found in the Americas dating back 60 million years.
This programme focuses on birds. The feather is key to everything that is crucial about a bird: it is both its aerofoil and its insulator. The earliest feathers were found on a fossilised Archaeopteryx skeleton in Bavaria. However, it had claws on its wings and there is only one species alive today that does so: the hoatzin, whose chicks possess them for about a week or so. Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate the probable movement of its ancestor. It may have taken to the trees to avoid predators, and over time, its bony, reptilian tail was replaced by feathers and its heavy jaw evolved into a keratin beak.
This episode is devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates. The reason is their scaly, practically watertight skin. The scales protect the body from wear and tear and in the case of some species of lizard, such as the Australian thorny devil, serve to protect from attack. The horned iguana from the West Indies is also one of the most heavily armoured. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well-known example. Temperature control is important to reptiles: they cant generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool.
The next instalment describes the move from water to land. The fish that did so may have been forced to because of drought, or chose to in search of food. Either way, they eventually evolved into amphibians. Such creatures needed two things: limbs for mobility and lungs to breathe. The coelacanth is shown as a fish with bony fins that could have developed into legs, and the lungfish is able to absorb gaseous oxygen. However, evidence of an animal that possessed both is presented in the 450 million-year-old fossilised remains of a fish called a eusthenopteron. Three groups of amphibians are explored.
This programme looks at the evolution of fish. They have developed a multitude of shapes, sizes and methods of propulsion and navigation. The sea squirt, the lancelet and the lamprey are given as examples of the earliest, simplest types. Then, about 400 million years ago, the first back-boned fish appeared. The Kimberley Ranges of Western Australia are, in fact, the remnants of a coral reef and the ancient seabed. There, Attenborough discovers fossils of the earliest fish to have developed jaws. These evolved into two shapes of creature with cartilaginous skeletons: wide ones (like rays and skates) and long ones (like sharks).
This episode details the relationship between flowers and insects. There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled. Around 300 million years ago, plants began to enlist insects to help with their reproduction, and they did so with flowers. Although the magnolia, for instance, contains male and female cells, pollination from another plant is preferable as it ensures greater variation and thus evolution. Flowers advertise themselves by either scent or display. Some evolved to produce sweet-smelling nectar and in turn, several insects developed their mouth parts into feeding tubes in order to reach it.
This instalment examines the earliest land vegetation and insects. The first plants, being devoid of stems, mainly comprised mosses and liverworts. Using both sexual and asexual methods of reproduction, they proliferated. Descended from segmented sea creatures, millipedes were among the first to take advantage of such a habitat and were quickly followed by other species. Without water to carry eggs, bodily contact between the sexes was now necessary. This was problematical for some hunters, such as spiders and scorpions, who developed courtship rituals to ensure that the female didn't eat the male.
The next programme explores the various sea-living invertebrates. In Morocco, the limestones are 600 million years old, and contain many invertebrate fossils. They fall broadly into three categories: shells, crinoids and segmented shells. The evolution of shelled creatures is demonstrated with the flatworm, which eventually changed its body shape when burrowing became a necessity for either food or safety. It then evolved shielded tentacles and the casings eventually enveloped the entire body: these creatures are the brachiopods. The most successful shelled animals are the molluscs, of which there are some 80,000 different species.
The episode begins in the South American rainforest whose rich variety of life forms is used to illustrate the sheer number of different species. Since many are dependent on others for food or means of reproduction, David Attenborough argues that they couldn't all have appeared at once. He sets out to discover which came first, and the reasons for such diversity. He starts by explaining the theories of Charles Darwin and the process of natural selection, using the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands (where Darwin voyaged on HMS Beagle) as an example. Fossils provide evidence of the earliest life, and Attenborough travels a vertical mile into the Grand Canyon in search of them.
For most of the Earth's history, life consisted of the simplest organisms; but then something happened that would give rise to staggering diversity, and, ultimately, life as complex as that which we see today. Scientists are still struggling to figure out just what that was.
A behind-the-scenes special offering an insider's look at Sir David Attenborough's innovative series exploring the macroscopic world of bugs. David reveals how the film-makers got up close with the insect and arachnid world for the innovative documentary series
Watching the fascinating display of leafcutter ants at the Natural History Museum in London is one of my favourite ways to while away a few hours, but David Attenborough is operating on a much grander scale here in the last in the series. In Argentina he observes some cousins of the leafcutters who are part of a community so vast it spans an entire continent. It’s one of the mandible-dropping facts in a look at one of the key inventions of arthropods: colonies. From termites and honey bees to the leafcutters, it seems that if you want to get ahead, you move to the big city.
While most of the series has focused on conflict, this episode is all about co-operation. The suitably named social spiders spin one enormous, 30m web for the whole colony, a queen bee rules her hive with a strict hierarchy and some green ants show great team spirit to help build a nest together. There are no broken societies here. David Attenborough shifts the focus to bugs that prefer cooperation rather than conflict. They include burrowing cockroaches, the suitably named social spiders - which share a 30-metre web.
A close-up view of sex, bug-style, as David Attenborough talks viewers through the different ways in which creepy-crawlies reproduce. Size matters for the minuscule male orb spider, creepily sneaking up on its intended and trying to mate without her noticing, while there's no rest for the lothario-like butterfly, which has plenty of notches on its proverbial bedpost. However, the harvestman spider has no use for sex at all, and reproduces by cloning itself.
It’s sexy time with the arthropods! This week David Attenborough takes a look at the courtship rituals of the creatures beneath our feet. But lovebugs won’t want to take tips from these bugs. The male Chilean rose tarantula, for instance, weaves a silk mat; deposits sperm on it, then sucks that sperm into a finger-like appendage near his mouth before he looks for a mate. Then there’s the gruesome, but surprisingly effective, coupling of praying mantis. The cinematography is as amazing as ever, catching the mating battles of tramp ants and providing luminescent footage of the courtship dance of Tanzanian red claw scorpions.
The Pray will immerse you into the forested world of the dead leaf mantis. This action packed film boasts incredibly unique and dynamic shots. Fly through the forest with flies, witness the cunning behavior between the mantis and the hawk and experience a hunt like you’ve never seen before. Using stunning cinematography we divulge the truth of a catch and behold the incredible way a mantis devours its prey. It’s everything a fantasy movie would have except this time, it’s real.
2017 • Nature
Plants amazingly dominate this green world by employing poisons, recruiting defensive armies, feeding off the dead and using animals for pollination and seed dispersal. For predators this world presents exceptional challenges, not only in finding prey in such a tangled place, but in how to deal with the toxins that so many animals and plants are laced with.
Africa's coasts were formed by the break-up of Gondwanaland 100 million years ago. They define the familiar shape of this special continent, and touch on a variety of environments including deserts, mountains, forests, wetlands and savannahs. Wild Africa takes us back in time to witness the birth of Africa and also carries us on a spectacular journey around the edge of the continent.
As a whole, Africa is a dry continent with deserts dominating the landscape. Wild Africa explores how these deserts were created, and the amazing ways in which animals and plants have evolved to cope with the meagre and unpredictable rainfall, intense solar radiation, shortages of food and lack of shelter. By traveling through the African deserts, Wild Africa reveals that given enough time, a diverse variety of animals and plants can make a living in even the harshest conditions.
The savannah is home to some of the greatest herds on Earth, and in this episode, Wild Africa brings you close encounters with these animals. The savannah is Africa's youngest landscape, shaped by the weather and the animals themselves as the continent dried. It is now home to baboons, wildebeest, lions, cheetah, and aardvarks who must struggle through the eight-month dry season to survive.
Reconstructing a dinosaur skeleton for a museum is a balance between art and science - but getting that balance right is a tricky diplomatic, as well as scientific, process. Presenter and anatomist Dr. Alice Roberts follows the reconstruction of L.A.'s Natural History Museum's 2011 dinosaur exhibit.
2011 • Nature
Chris and Martha discover which of our tagged bees have survived over the midsummer week - a frenetic nectar and pollen gathering period - and if they have collected enough food at this critical time to see them through the winter. With the help of Prof Adam Hart they will also explore the queen's remarkably deadly mating ritual and look at how bees can help us medically and how we can help them.
As the Ganges nears the sea, it joins its mightiest tributary the Brahmaputra, creating a vast flood-prone delta. Here the bustling cities of Calcutta and Dhaka meet the wetlands, home to giant lizards and snakes, huge mean-eating crocodiles and forests full of monkeys. This is a story of human life persisting in wildly variable conditions in a domain that is still the preserve of the royal Bengal tiger.
From earthquakes to tsunamis to volcanic eruptions, natural disasters are both terrifying and fascinating - providing endless fresh material for documentary makers. But how well do disaster documentaries keep pace with the scientific theories that advance every day? To try and answer that question, Professor Danielle George is plunging into five decades of BBC archive. What she uncovers provides an extraordinary insight into one of the fastest moving branches of knowledge. From the legendary loss of Atlantis to the eruption that destroyed Pompeii, Danielle reveals how film-makers have changed their approach again and again in the light of new scientific theories. While we rarely associate Britain with major natural disaster, at the end of the programme Danielle brings us close to home, exploring programmes which suggest that 400 years ago Britain was hit by a tidal wave that killed hundreds of people, and that an even bigger tsunami could threaten us again.
Oxygen – we all need it, we can't live without it. It's integral to life on this planet. And it's probable that, as you watch this film, you will be breathing in an oxygen atom that was also breathed by Genghis Khan – or by the first ever apes to stand upright on the plains of Africa. The oxygen that we breathe is made from two oxygen atoms joined together – O2. They were first joined more than 3 billion years ago by the earliest blue-green algae to evolve. The oxygen molecule first came from bacteria and was present in the fires that destroyed the dinosaurs and the chemical reactions in all human cells, and as ozone they protect the earth from radiation. Since then, both together and apart, they've had the most extraordinary adventures. Each of the two atoms in an oxygen molecule is virtually indestructible – so they have been first-hand players in some of the most dramatic events in the whole of Earth's history. It's often said that we are breathing the same oxygen that the cavemen did. The life of a single molecule of oxygen is traced on it's astonishing journey spanning millions of years, from its creation, into photosynthesis, through the age of the dinosaurs, early man, and on into today.
2008 • Nature
The British back garden is a familiar setting, but underneath the peonies and petunias is a much wilder hidden world, a miniature Serengeti, with beauty and brutality in equal measure. Chris Packham and a team of wildlife experts spend an entire year exploring every inch of a series of interlinked back gardens in Welwyn Garden City. They want to answer a fundamental question: how much wildlife lives beyond our back doors? How good for wildlife is the great British garden? Through all four seasons, Chris reveals a stranger side to some of our more familiar garden residents. In summer he meets a very modern family of foxes - with a single dad in charge - and finds that a single fox litter can have up to five different fathers. In winter he shows that a robin's red breast is actually war paint. And finally, in spring he finds a boiling ball of frisky frogs in a once-in-a-year mating frenzy. The secret lives of the gardens' smallest residents are even weirder. The team finds male crickets that bribe females with food during sex, spiders that change colour to help catch prey, and life-and-death battles going on under our noses in the compost heap. So how many different species call our gardens home? How well do our gardens support wildlife? By the end of the year, with the help of a crack team from London's Natural History Museum and some of the country's top naturalists, Chris will find out. He'll also discover which type of garden attracts the most wildlife. The results are not what you might expect... You'll never look at your garden in quite the same way again.
2017 • Nature
Investigates the greatest vanishing act in the history of our planet - the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Experts suspect that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a city-sized asteroid smashed into the Gulf of Mexico causing a huge crater. But until now, they haven't had any proof. In a world first, evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod joins a multi-million pound drilling expedition into the exact spot the asteroid hit to get hard evidence of the link. The team overcomes huge obstacles as it attempts to drill 1,500 metres beneath sea level to pull up rock from the Chicxulub crater.
2017 • Nature
Homo sapiens are the only creatures on earth privileged with high intelligence that allows us to be civilized. What evolutionary odyssey did we take to be granted this intelligence? The latest DNA research has discovered a key ancient incident that could solve this million-dollar mystery. It was an unparalleled event that caused our ancestors' brains to increase in size and advance in intelligence. Cutting-edge CG backed by the latest research results will take you on an extraordinary journey through time, back to the primeval event.
Human mothers raise fetuses inside their wombs and breast feed their babies for a long time after birth. What made humans evolve so that we raise our children so affectionately? The latest research reveals an unexpected origin of mothers' affection toward their children. Scientists believe that our ancestors experienced unforeseen dramatic changes in DNA under threats of extinction. These DNA changes caused humans to be devoted to raising children. Learn about the scientific interpretation of the evolutionary roots of your affectionate bonds with your kids.
For many people Sardinia is THE Mediterranean dream island: picturesque coastlines are a reality here. The breathtaking underwater world is concealed beneath the crystal-clear water surrounding the island. Then on to Abruzzo, the same latitude as Rome, the wild heart of southern Italy.
In the culmination of this 1,000km scientific expedition aboard the Alucia, Liz Bonnin and the team of scientific experts journey south to visit the oldest islands in the Galapagos to see first-hand the impact that humans have had on this pristine wilderness. Back on the larger island of Isabela, where her journey first began, Liz descends into a spectacular vertical lava cave. Deep inside, she discovers how this hidden world could even provide an answer to how it might be possible to inhabit other planets. On her last land-based stop, on Santa Cruz, Liz comes face to face with the effects of man as she explores the magical misty scalesia forests and meets scientists who are tracking the invasive species spreading throughout the islands. It is here that she also checks in on a giant tortoise population whose ancient migration pathways have come under threat from the largest human population on the archipelago, and meets a man on a mission to protect this iconic creature. Finally, Liz dives into the deep blue waters to witness the birth of a brand new island. Coming full circle, Liz and the team are able to reflect on the importance of their missions which will help to protect the Galapagos and its extraordinary wildlife in the future. In an ever-changing world, what we learn now from these incredible living natural wonders and what we can pass on to future generations has never been more important.
Hummingbirds represent one of nature's most interesting paradoxes - they are the tiniest of birds, yet they qualify as some of the toughest and most energetic creatures on the planet. New knowledge gained from scientists currently making great breakthroughs in hummingbird biology makes this a perfect time to focus on these shimmering, flashing jewels of the natural world. Stunningly beautiful high-definition, high-speed footage of hummingbirds in the wild combined with high-tech presentations of their remarkable abilities help us to understand the world of hummingbirds as we never have before.
In the second episode; India is a subcontinent surrounded by mountains. We explore the little-known Western Ghats at the edge India's south. Here are Monsoon hills covered in lush forests and tea gardens which shelter some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. But far to the north lies the mighty Himalayas - so vast they drive the climate by capturing the monsoon winds and protect India from the northern chill. It's a unique world full of life.
They cannot tolerate sunlight; some of them are even blind. However they are one of the world's most ingenious builders: Termites. They build high-risers that are, relatively speaking, 25 times higher than the Empire State Building in New York. They are the only animals that have managed to build an air-conditioning system without electricity. Their nests are architectural masterpieces that rise up to eight meters from the ground and contain brood chambers for larvae, corridors for transportation and fungal gardens for nutrition. Termites - The Inner Sanctum takes us along a journey into another world. Visit the skillfully built termite mounds in the savannah, termite nests in the tropical rainforest with their colossal columns of termites foraging for food - and the termites that wreak terrible damage to wood-framed homes. Filmed in the US, Kenya and Borneo.
2011 • Nature
Africa's wildest river is home to the most spectacular wildlife. Hippos fight for territory while herds of elephant, water buffalo and zebra depend on it for life. In the wet season the rains burst the riverbanks and everyone, including people, must move whilst fish swim through the villages. In the dry season the creatures fight over the few pools of water while predators prowl. At its heart it plunges over Victoria Falls and into wild ravines before draining into the Indian Ocean, where storm clouds cycle the water back into the heart of Africa.
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
Our world is the home of millions of plant as well as animal species and provides several territories, each with its own geological and climatic conditions: steep mountains, deep forests, wide oceans and arctic ice deserts. The inhabitants have adapted to its different conditions and are still developing new strategies to survive. “Wonderful World” not only takes a look at the interesting creatures of our planet, but also highlights cosmological circumstances, which made our world unique, diversified and above all so adorable.
2015 • Nature
Part two of two. Explorer Benedict Allen is determined to get disabled journalist Frank Gardner into the wilds of Papua New Guinea, despite having to grapple with Frank's wheelchair. As the terrain gets even tougher to negotiate, the pair know they must make an epic journey into the highlands, crossing through two tribal territories to achieve their objective. However, as Frank gets close to realising his dream of seeing wild birds of paradise up-close, his old injuries return to haunt him and the expedition hangs on a knife edge.
Part one of two. Thirty years ago explorer Benedict Allen lived in Papua New Guinea with the Niowra, a remote people. Broadcast journalist Frank Gardner has always wished to see wild birds of paradise, so Benedict resolves to take him along. The duo set out through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet, negotiating swamps, mountains and crocodile-infested waters, heading into the cloud forest. Despite Frank requiring the use of a wheelchair following a shooting incident in 2004, Benedict determines to get him to their destination.
A behind-the-scenes view of the extraordinary idea of deploying the Spy Creatures, showing how the concept evolved and became the inspiration for the animatronic animals of the series. This documentary reveals the painstaking work behind building the lifelike models, from first concept until they become `alive' for the first time.
The undercover cameras reveal how animals often get up to mischief among themselves - and some are downright criminal. A colony of adelie penguins hunker down to avoid a storm, unaware one of them is a thief out to steal the stones that make up their nests, and Spy Tropicbird witnesses an aerial attack by aggressive frigate birds who attempt to steal his fish. A boisterous elephant has a temper tantrum in the mud near the waterhole, chimpanzees have extra-marital affairs and lemurs get high by sniffing toxic millipedes.
In the final film, he reflects on the dramatic impact that humankind has had on the natural world within his own lifetime. He tells the surprising and deeply personal story of the changes he has seen, of the pioneering conservationists with who he has worked - and of the global revolution in attitudes towards nature that has taken place within the last six decades. In a journey that takes him from the London Zoo to the jungles of Borneo, Attenborough reveals what inspired him to become a conservationist. He remembers classic encounters with mountain gorillas, blue whales and the giant tortoise, Lonesome George. These are all characters that have helped to change public attitudes to the natural world.
David Attenborough reviews the scientific discoveries that have transformed our view of life on earth during his lifetime. How and where did life first begin? How do continents move? How do animals communicate? And why do they behave the way they do? Sir Attenborough shares his memories of the scientists and the breakthroughs that helped shape his own career. He also recalls some of his most memorable attempts to bring new science to a television audience - by standing in the shadow of an erupting volcano as lumps of hot lava crashed around him, by being charged by a group of armed New Guinean tribesmen and the extraordinary sight of chimps hunting monkeys, captured on camera for the first time by Attenborough and his team.
Sir David Attenborough gives his unique perspective on over half a century of innovation in wildlife filmmaking. He revisits key places and events in his filming career, reminisces with his old photos and reflects on memorable wildlife footage - including him catching a komodo dragon and swimming with dolphins. Returning to his old haunts in Borneo he recalls the challenges of filming in a bat cave and shows how with modern technology we can now see in the dark.
The story of animals surviving one of the harshest seasonal changes on the planet continues. It is summer and the Yellowstone beavers have a new challenge. Will the young survive as the river dries up and the colony is forced to move home? As food becomes scarce, wolves have a surprising strategy to keep their pups fed and grizzly bears are unexpected visitors on a cowboy ranch. By midsummer, the hot dry conditions create a new danger - deadly wildfires burn out of control and threaten to engulf a family of great grey owls. 2016 was the hottest year on earth since records began, and across Yellowstone scientists reveal the effects of rising temperatures on the animals that live here.
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.
Winter is here. Ready or not, creatures big and small endure the harshest and most unforgiving season on the planet. Some cling to life in these bitter months…while others see opportunity on the ice. In this special, wildlife around the globe fights tooth and nail to survive the winter season, against a striking frozen backdrop.
2017 • Nature
We all recognize the trademark hoots of the great horned owl. But how many of us have seen one up close? The great horned owl lives all over the Americas, from rural countryside to bustling cityscapes. Yet it’s rare to catch a glimpse of this elusive bird of prey. The Secret Life of Owls gives us a window into the life of this amazing species and introduces us to some passionate owl experts along the way. Through The Secret Life Of Owls, we will witness the power and wonder behind one of nature’s most fierce and formidable hunters.
Helen reveals the latest scientific insights into icebergs. From side-scanning sonar that scrutinises the edge of glaciers where icebergs are born, to satellite images that show how icebergs create hotspots for life and eyewitness pictures that give us a unique glimpse of how they transform over time, we can now capture on camera the mysteries of icebergs - and how their lifecycle is intricately linked to our changing planet.
Dr Helen Czerski peers into the heart of the storm to find out how advances in technology are giving new insight into tornadoes - the fastest winds on the planet. From the breathtaking footage that capture the extreme weather events that produce them, to the latest experiments investigating their incredible destructive power, Helen discovers how understanding the subtle changes deep within the storm are improving predictions of when and where these devastating beasts will strike.
Helen looks at the latest scientific insight into the aurora - dancing lights in the night sky that have fascinated cultures throughout our history. From the networks of cameras now capturing its vast scale, to novel experiments that probe the threat it poses to modern technology, Helen reveals the dramatic transformation in our understanding of the aurora, and the many mysteries that remain to be solved.
Dr Helen Czerski examines the hottest natural phenomena on the planet - lightning. Bolts of lightning five times hotter than the surface of the sun strike our planet over 3 million times every day - and yet we still know little about this deadly force of nature. Now, specialist photography is revealing how lightning travels through the air, high-speed cameras are unlocking the secrets of upward lightning that's triggered by our urban landscapes, and scientific expeditions are capturing rare images of intense electrical discharges over 80 kilometres wide.
Dr Helen Czerski looks at the anatomy of an avalanche. From shocking eyewitness footage from within an avalanche, to detailed CT scans showing the microscopic changes that cause them, we can now capture exactly what happens as snow transforms into a deadly and unpredictable danger.
Grasslands cover one quarter of all land and support the vast gatherings of wildlife, but to survive here animals must endure the most hostile seasonal changes on the planet. From Asia's bizarre-looking Saiga antelope to the giant anteaters of Brazil, grassland animals have adapted in extraordinary ways to cope with these extremes. In the flooded Okavango, lions take on formidable buffalo in epic battles, on the savannah bee-eaters take advantage of elephants to help catch insects and, on the freezing northern tundra, caribou embark on great migrations shadowed by hungry Arctic wolves.
Everyone loves giraffes, but what do we really know about them? Dr Julian Fennessy starts to reveal their secrets - the most important being that they are disappearing. In an urgent and daring mission, with a determined Ugandan team, he plans to round up 20 of the world's rarest giraffe to take across and beyond the mighty Nile River. The stakes are high, but if they succeed the reward will be a brighter future for an animal we have somehow overlooked.
Jungles provide the richest habitats on the planet - mysterious worlds of high drama where extraordinary animals attempt to survive in the most competitive place on earth. Flooded forests are home to caiman-hunting jaguars and strange dolphins that swim amongst the tree tops, while in the dense underworld, ninja frogs fight off wasps and flying dragons soar between trees. Acrobatic indri leap through the forests of Madagascar, while the jungle night conceals strange fungi and glow-in-the-dark creatures never filmed before.
Documentary showcasing some of the planet's most stunning natural forces. Over the course of two years, the film crew travelled to ten countries across six continents to capture footage of some of Earth's natural wonders and wild inhabitants in locations such as Hawaii, South Africa and Patagonia. The documentary explores how wild miracles of nature, from the planet's various species to the Grand Canyon, are able to occur by examining existing relationships between the oceans, geological formations and climate systems.
2016 • Nature
The great mountain ranges are some of the planet's most spectacular landscapes, but they are unforgiving places to live in, and only a few animals have what it takes to live at extreme altitude. Mountain animals are amongst the most elusive in the world, and this film provides unique and intimate glimpses into their secretive lives. Witness the moment four snow leopards come together when a mother and cub become trapped between two rival males. Join grizzly bears as they dance against trees to rub off their winter fur and soar with golden eagles hunting amongst Europe's snow-capped peaks.
Takes us into the world of digestion and its amazingly complex environment.Our health, body shape, mood and even our evolution are determined by the unseen life forms that swarm throughout our bodies. There are worms in your bowels, bacteria in your mouth, fungi in your lungs and even viruses in your DNA.The combined genetic information of all these bugs is more than 150 times greater than our own genes. Their cells outnumber our own by 10 to 1. This collective menagerie is called the microbiome, and in a very real sense, it is the making of us all.
The remote Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, Australia is home to one of the world's most extraordinary and spectacular meteorological phenomena, the Morning Glory Wave Cloud. Up to two kilometers high and a thousand kilometers long, the Glory is a shock wave in the atmosphere of immense proportions.Join Professor Thomas Peacock from MIT in Boston and Dr. Jorg Hacker from Airborne Research Australia as they journey to Burketown in the remote north of Australia to study this elusive phenomenon and meet the glider pilots who ride the largest wave in the world.
2014 • Nature
Remote islands offer sanctuary for some of the planet's strangest and rarest creatures. The rare pygmy three-toed sloth enjoys a peaceful existence on an idyllic Caribbean island, while nesting albatross thrive in predator-free isolation. But island life always comes at a cost. On the Galapagos Islands, young marine iguana must escape an onslaught of deadly racer snakes the moment they hatch from the sand. On the sub-Antarctic island of Zavodovski, life gets more extreme still. Every day, one and a half million penguins risk being battered against the rocks by fierce waves as they try to get on and off the island.
Natural World visits the Arizona desert, where a new honey ant queen wages an intense battle for survival as she attempts to build and defend her empire. Eliminating rivals with ruthless efficiency, sacrificing thousands in her quest for domination, murder, cannibalism, genocide - she will do anything to keep her crown. Empire of the Ants is the epic story of one honey ant queen's dramatic rise to power - and her brutal fall from grace.
The migration of the painted lady has long fascinated scientists, artists and nature lovers alike. The longest butterfly migration on earth, it sees millions of these delicate creatures travel from the desert fringes of north Africa, across thousands of miles of land and sea, before settling in the UK. However, the migration has never truly been understood, the mysteries of the painted lady never unravelled - until now.
2016 • Nature
David Attenborough narrates a documentary looking at the wildlife of the most stunning mountain range in the world, home to snow leopards, Himalayan wolves and Tibetan bears. Snow leopards stalk their prey among the highest peaks. Concealed by snowfall, the chase is watched by golden eagles circling above. On the harsh plains of the Tibetan plateau live extraordinary bears and square-faced foxes hunting small rodents to survive. In the alpine forests, dancing pheasants have even influenced rival border guards in their ritualistic displays. Valleys carved by glacial waters lead to hillsides covered by paddy fields containing the lifeline to the East, rice. In this world of extremes, the Himalayas reveal not only snow-capped mountains and fascinating animals but also a vital lifeline for humanity.
2010 • Nature
Groundbreaking documentary which follows a Japanese-led team of scientists as they attempt to shed light on the mysterious world of deep sea sharks. Only 50 specimens of the newly discovered 'megamouth' have ever been sighted. Over four years, scientists and film crews voyaged in midget submarines into the depths of Suruga Bay and Sagami Bay to film them. Prehistoric 'living fossil' sharks such as bluntnose sixgill sharks, goblin sharks and frilled sharks also lurk in the bay. As part of the investigation, a sperm whale carcass was placed at the bottom of the bay to attract these sharks, which were then studied and observed from the submersible vessels. Revealing in detail the previously unknown behaviour of deep sea sharks, the film unravels another of the intriguing mysteries of our planet's biodiversity. Narrated by David Attenborough.
2015 • Nature
Did you know that no more than a few dozen people dive the icy waters of the Antarctic each year? However, you’ll get to experience the marvel of diving around huge icebergs for yourself. Plus, come eye to eye with a 3.5 metre leopard seal as this deceptively placid-looking killer strikes. Your heart will race!
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.
Take a nerve-wracking dive with great white sharks as they feast on millions of sardines that fall into their trap; it’s one of the most spectacular underwater phenomenons on the planet! Plus you’ll get to patrol reefs with vigilant soldierfish, dance with balletic jellyfish and more!
Sail the stunning Azores as large shoals of migrating humpback whales visit its waters. A sight to behold! Plus spot the symbol of the islands, giant sperm whales. These majestic protected creatures are the biggest tourist attraction of the Azores.
Make way for the ocean’s biggest fish – a whale shark! This awe-inspiring gentle giant feeds on plankton and can reach 18 metres in length. Plus, get a dose of adrenaline as you swim with thousands of hammerhead sharks that gather in massive pulse-quickening shoals in the famous Galapagos Islands!
Visit the Bismarck Sea, a region forgotten by civilisation, where life goes on in harmony with nature as it has for thousands of years, untouched by the troubles of the modern world. You’ll dive amongst the eerie wrecks of WWII planes and ships, navigate darkness-shrouded caves and dodge swift-moving reef sharks.
Fortey travels to the rainforests of Madagascar - an ancient island that has spawned some of the most extraordinary groups of plants and animals anywhere in the world. From beautiful Indri lemurs, toxic frogs, and the cat-like giant mongoose called the fossa, to evolutionary oddities like the giraffe-necked weevil and the otherworldly aye-aye, he uncovers the secrets of the evolutionary niche - examining how, given millions of years, animals and plants can adapt to fill almost any opportunity they find.
Fortey is on Hawaii to investigate how life colonises a newly-born island. The most remote island group in the world, by some estimates only one new species successfully colonised Hawaii every 35,000 years - yet the Hawaiian Islands teem with a great diversity of life. In search of the evolutionary secrets of how one species becomes many, Fortey encounters beautiful honeycreeper birds whose evolution rivals that of the Darwin's famous finches; carnivorous caterpillars who now can't eat leaves; and giant silversword plants that thrive in parched volcanic soil at 10,000 feet.
New Zealand was one of the last land masses to be found and settled by people. Lush and fertile, almost everything brought here flourishes, often with surprising consequences. Told through the experiences of its native species - in particular, a charismatic and peculiar giant, flightless parrot - this is the moving story of the changing fortunes of New Zealand's wildlife since humans first arrived.
The most extreme and wild parts of New Zealand are in the South Island, which lie towards Antarctica, in the path of the tempestuous 'roaring forties'. This is home to some of the most rapidly rising mountains in the world, the Southern Alps. From hyper-intelligent parrots to sinister snails with teeth and magical constellations of glow-worms, this is the story of New Zealand's wildest places and its most resilient pioneers, all of whom must embrace radical solutions to survive.
Isolated since the time of the dinosaurs, New Zealand's wildlife has been left to its own devices, with surprising consequences. Its ancient forests are still stalked by predators from the Jurassic era. It's also one of the most geologically active countries on earth. From Kiwis with their giant eggs, to forest-dwelling penguins and helicopter-riding sheep dogs, meet the astonishing creatures and resilient people who must rise to the challenges of their beautiful, dramatic and demanding home.
In this final episode Professor Brian Cox travels to Iceland, where the delicate splendour of a moonbow reveals the colours that paint our world, and he visits a volcano to explain why the sun shines. By exploring how sunlight transforms the plains of the Serengeti, drives the annual migration of humpback whales to the Caribbean and paints the moon red during a lunar eclipse, Brian reveals the colour signature of our life-supporting planet. Finally, at an observatory high in the Swiss Alps, he shows how these colours aren't simply beautiful, but that understanding how they're created is allowing us to search for other Earths far out in the cosmos.
In this episode, Professor Brian Cox shows how Earth's basic ingredients, like the pure sulphur mined in the heart of a deadly volcano in Indonesia, have become the building blocks of life. Hidden deep in a cave in the Dominican Republic lies a magical world created by the same property of water that makes it essential to life. Clinging to a precipitous dam wall in Italy, baby mountain goats seek out Earth's chemical elements essential to their survival. In the middle of the night in a bay off Japan, Brian explains how the dazzling display of thousands of glowing squid shows how life has taken Earth's chemistry and turned it into the chemistry of life.
In this episode Brian uncovers how the stunning diversity of shapes in the natural world are shadows of the rules that govern the universe. In Spain he shows how an attempt by hundreds of people to build the highest human tower reveals the force that shapes our planet. In Nepal, honey hunters seek out giant beehives that cling to cliff walls. The perfect hexagonal honeycombs made by the bees to store their honey conceal a mathematical rule. Off the coast of Canada, Brian explains how some of the most irregular, dangerous shapes in nature - massive icebergs that surge down from Greenland and into shipping lanes of the Atlantic - emerge from a powerful yet infinitely small force of nature. Even the most delicate six-sided snowflake tells a story of the forces of nature that forged it.
Meet the big birds, a feathered family who have never flown a day in their lives! From ostriches to kiwis, these bizarre birds appear to be nature's greatest novelty act. How they came to be and how they continue to survive is a fascinating tale that has long captivated Sir David Attenborough. It is a story of dedicated dads, enormous eggs and a serious need for speed. And far from being the court jesters of the animal world, these flightless curiosities once nearly ruled the land.
The story of how more than 220 dinosaur bones were found in the Argentinean desert, which were found to have come from a previously undiscovered species, which is the largest land dwelling animal known to have existed. David Attenborough visits the archaeological dig and a laboratory where the remains are being cleaned and analysed with lead scientist Dr Diego Pol and evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod, and meets animators, model-makers, paleontologists and anatomy experts who are working to reconstruct what the 37 metre-long creature would have looked like.
2016 • Nature
The sound of the cuckoo is to many the very essence of spring, yet behind the magical call is a bird that is a cheat, a thief and a killer. Just how does the cuckoo trick other birds into accepting its eggs and raising its young? Why don't the duped foster parents react as they watch the baby cuckoo destroy their own eggs and chicks? And why do they work so relentlessly to feed a demanding chick that looks nothing like them and will soon dwarf them? In this film, new photography is combined with archive footage and the latest scientific findings to solve a puzzle which, as narrator David Attenborough explains, has perplexed nature watchers for thousands of years.
This episode reveals how mammals developed from tiny nocturnal forest dwellers to the dominant form of life on the planet following the death of the dinosaurs. David explains how the meteoric rise of mammals led to an astounding diversity of life and laid the foundations for the ascent of man.
This episode details the origins of the vertebrates, which lie in the primitive fish that once swam in ancient seas. Remarkable advances allowed them to make the radical move onto land, and then take to the skies with the advent of flight. Brand new discoveries of fossils - ancient and living - combined with stunning CGI enable David to chart their unexpected journey out of the water to populate all corners of the globe.
In the final challenge of the game of life, raising offspring is the ultimate prize. Continuing the line through the next generation, is the next best thing to immortality. But it’s far from easy... Some parents must risk their own lives for their offspring.
In a revelatory look at Svalbard, the most northerly region in the series, Steve Backshall leaves no stone unturned as he unravels the secrets that lie covered in ice for most of each year. Svalbard is cold, dark and foreboding, yet it is home to the world's largest land predator and the most northerly population of large herbivore, but Steve discovers that the real secret to this place comes from a very different world.
Steve Backshall tries to discover just what makes it possible for a river to stop in the middle of a desert. The Okavango is the world's largest inland delta and home to a one of Africa's greatest congregations of wildlife, and in asking the difficult questions Steve reveals the astounding secret to its existence.
Monterey Bay on California's coast is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world, its giant kelp forest bursting with life, from microscopic plankton to visiting ocean giants. The secret key to success in such a busy microworld is balance. Steve Backshall guides us through the unique geography of the bay and introduces some of its key characters in a quest to find the one species that keeps life in the kelp forest in check.
Steve Backshall lifts the lid on an incredible world of intricate relationships and unexpected hardship in the Amazon rainforest, explores the way that the jungle's inhabitants interact, and reveals a hidden secret that might just be what keeps the whole place alive.
A look at one of the most famous habitats on the planet, the Serengeti in East Africa, a vast grassland that is home to some of the greatest concentrations of herbivores on the continent. But what is the key to this exceptional grassland that allows such density and diversity?
A visit to arguably the most famous archipelago on Earth, the Galapagos. It's home to a myriad of bizarre and unique creatures, endemic to these islands - but how did they get here and what is the key to these extraordinary islands that allows them to thrive? The programme reveals that this key holds not just the secret to life here, but also to how Darwin was able to leave with the ideas that would revolutionise biology.
A captivating world of creepy crawlies exists all around us. And they are the biggest group of animals in the world, outnumbering humans 200 million to one. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, these invertebrates not only survive in almost every landscape known to man, but also thrive by means of fascinating, and sometimes bizarre adaptations. There's the Bombardier beetle that squirts a boiling hot liquid from its anus, the Assassin bug that turns its victims into soup, and the Parasitic wasp that lays her eggs inside her victims, until her young are ready to eat their way out. We end off with the biggest bugs on the planet: the Atlas moth with a wingspan of over 20 centimetres, the Hercules beetle that can carry 850 times its own weight, and the Giant centipede - big enough to catch flying bats from midair!
2015 • Nature
The Taiga forest, on the edge of the Arctic, is a silent world of stunted conifers. The trees may be small but filming from the air reveals its true scale. A third of all trees on Earth grow here and during the short summer they produce enough oxygen to change the atmosphere.
A humpback whale mother and calf embark on an epic journey from tropical coral paradises to storm ravaged polar seas. Newly discovered coral reefs in Indonesia reveal head-butting pygmy seahorses, flashing 'electric' clams and bands of sea kraits, 30-strong, which hunt in packs. Elsewhere plagues of sea urchins fell forests of giant kelp. Huge bull fur seals attack king penguins, who despite their weight disadvantage, put up a spirited defence.
The Arctic and Antarctic experience the most extreme seasons on Earth. Time-lapse cameras watch a colony of emperor penguins, transforming them into a singleorganism. The film reveals new science about the dynamics of emperor penguin behaviour. In the north, unique aerial images show a polar bear swimming more than 100km. Diving for up to two minutes at a time. The exhausted polar bear later attacks a herd of walrus in a true clash of the Titans.
Around 30% of the land's surface is desert, the most varied of our ecosystems despite the lack of rain. Unravel the secrets of desert survival and experience the ephemeral nature of this dynamic environment. Watch Saharan sandstorms nearly a mile high and desert rivers that run for a single day. In the Gobi Desert, rare Bactrian camels get moisture from the snow. In the Atacama, guanacos survive by licking dew off cactus spines. In the USA, the brief blooming of Death Valley triggers a plague of locusts 65km wide and 160km long. A unique aerial voyage over the Namibian desert reveals elephants on a long trek for food and desert lions searching for wandering oryx.
The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is a 400m vertical shaft, deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. The Lechuguilla cave system in the USA is 193km long and 500m deep with astonishing crystal formations hanging from its chambers. Although often overlooked, caves are remarkable habitats with equally bizarre wildlife. Cave angel fish cling to the walls behind cave waterfalls with microscopic hooks on their flattened fins. Cave swiftlets navigate by echo-location and build nests out of saliva. The Texas cave salamander has neither eyes nor pigment. Unique access to a hidden world of stalactites, stalagmites, snotites and troglodytes brings a wealth of surprises.
Fresh water is our most precious resource and it defines the distribution of life on land. Follow the descent of rivers from their mountain sources to the sea. Watch spectacular waterfalls, fly inside the Grand Canyon and explore the wildlife below the ice in the world's deepest lake. Witness unique and dramatic moments of animal behaviour: a showdown between smooth-coated otters and mugger crocodiles; deep-diving long tailed macaques; massive flocks of snow geese on the wing and a piranha frenzy in the perilous waters of the world's largest wetland.
Welcome to an extreme landscape of rock, ice and snow. We tour the mightiest mountain ranges, starting with the birth of a mountain at one of the lowest places on Earth and ending at the summit of Everest. Find out how some of the most secretive animals rise to the challenge of mountain life. Share one of Earth's rarest phenomena, a lava lake that has been erupting for over 100 years. The same forces built the Simian Mountains where we find troops of gelada baboons nearly a thousand strong. In the Rockies, grizzlies build winter dens inside avalanche-prone slopes and climb the peaks to devour abundant summer moths. In another world first, the programme brings us astounding images of a snow leopard hunting on the Pakistan peaks.
David Attenborough chooses his ten favourite animals that he would most like to save from extinction. From the weird to the wonderful, he picks fabulous and unusual creatures that he would like to put in his 'ark', including unexpected and little-known animals such as the olm, the solenodon and the quoll. He shows why they are so important and shares the ingenious work of biologists across the world who are helping to keep them alive.
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.
Professor Richard Fortey delves into the fascinating and normally-hidden kingdom of fungi. From their spectacular birth, through their secretive underground life to their final explosive death, Richard reveals a remarkable world that few of us understand or even realise exists - yet all life on Earth depends on it. In a specially-built mushroom lab, with the help of mycologist Dr Patrick Hickey and some state-of-the-art technology, Richard brings to life the secret world of mushrooms as never seen before and reveals the spectacular abilities of fungi to break down waste and sustain new plant life, keeping our planet alive. Beyond the lab, Richard travels across Britain and beyond to show us the biggest, fastest and most deadly organisms on the planet - all of them fungi. He reveals their almost magical powers that have world-changing potential - opening up new frontiers in science, medicine and technology.
2014 • Nature
David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. (Part 6: The Future) David Attenborough comes face-to-face with a baby rhino and asks what the future holds for this little one. He meets the local people who are standing side-by-side with the wildlife at this pivotal moment in their history. We discover what it takes to save a species, hold back a desert and even resurrect an entire wilderness - revealing what the world was like before modern man.
David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. (Part 5: Sahara) Northern Africa is home to the greatest desert on Earth, the Sahara. On the fringes, huge zebras battle over dwindling resources and naked mole rats avoid the heat by living a bizarre underground existence. Within the desert, where the sand dunes 'sing', camels seek out water with the help of their herders and tiny swallows navigate across thousands of square miles to find a solitary oasis. This is a story of an apocalypse and how, when nature is overrun, some are forced to flee, some endure, but a few seize the opportunity to establish a new order.
David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. (Part 4: Cape) Southern Africa is a riot of life and colour because of two great ocean currents that sweep around the continent's Cape. To the east, the warm Agulhas current generates clouds that roll inland to the wettest place in southern Africa. To the west is the cold Benguela current, home to more great white sharks than anywhere else. Moisture laden fog rolls inland, supporting an incredible desert garden. Where the two currents meet, the clash of warm and cold water creates one of the world's most fabulous natural spectacles - South Africa's sardine run. This is the greatest gathering of predators on the planet, including Africa's largest, the Bryde's whale.
David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. (Part 3: Congo) The very heart of Africa is covered in dense tropical rainforest. The animals that live here find the most ingenious ways to carve out their space in a claustrophobic landscape. Danger lurks in every shadow, but some animals thrive here, from honey-stealing chimps to birds with a lineage as old as the dinosaurs, thundering elephants and kick-boxing frogs. Here in the Congo, no matter how tough the competition, you must stand up and fight for yourself and your patch.
David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. (Part 2: Savannah) East Africa is a land which is constantly changing. To survive here, creatures must be able to deal with unpredictable twists and turns - wet turning to dry, feast to famine, cold to hot - no matter how hostile it becomes. From dense forests to snow capped peaks, steamy swamps and endless savannah, this unique and varied land is also a haven for life, supporting large animals in numbers found nowhere else on Earth. But away from the familiar, forever-travelling herds, there are a huge cast of other characters - lizards that steal flies from the faces of lions, vast dinosaur-like birds who stalk catfish through huge wetlands, and an eagle who risks everything on the arrival of ten million bats from a far off rainforest.
David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. Part 1: Kalahari In Africa's ancient south west corner, two extraordinary deserts sit side by side. Water is in short supply, yet these deserts are somehow full of life because the creatures that live here have turned the rules of survival on their head. This film celebrates nature's ingenuity, no matter how tough it gets. In the Kalahari scrublands, clever meerkats are outsmarted by a wily bird, solitary and belligerent black rhinos get together to party and giant insects stalk huge flocks of birds. Rain almost never falls in the Namib - instead it must make do with vaporous, vanishing fog. The creatures in this, the world's oldest desert, have gone to the extremes, as spiders wheel to escape and a desert giraffe fights to defend his scant resources in the greatest giraffe battle ever filmed.
With the help of some surprising creatures from around the world, this series sets out to discover how animals take to the air, defying the force all airborne animals must conquer, gravity. Part 2: Masters of the Sky This episode looks at powered flight, revealing why peregrine falcons can top 200 miles an hour, how a hummingbird is a slave to its own rather manic lifestyle and that the albatross's secret to flying for free is its nose. Heavyweight beetles break the rules to find love, a devious sparrow-hawk uses agility to execute a lightning-fast raid on his prey and half a million mother bats dominate the sky above, and below, the ground with a dazzling display of aerial prowess.
"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.
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.
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.
2008 • Nature
On a summer’s night, there’s nothing more magic than watching the soft glow of fireflies switching on and off. Few other life forms on land can light up the night, but in the dark depths of the oceans, it’s a different story: nearly 90% of all species shine from within. Whether it’s to scare off predators, fish for prey, or lure a mate, the language of light is everywhere in the ocean depths, and scientists are finally starting to decode it. NOVA and National Geographic take a dazzling dive to this hidden undersea world where most creatures flash, sparkle, shimmer, or simply glow. Join deep sea scientists who investigate these stunning displays and discover surprising ways to harness nature’s light—from tracking cancer cells to detecting pollution, lighting up cities, and even illuminating the inner workings of our brains.
A Film About Coffee is a love letter to, and meditation on, specialty coffee. It examines what it takes, and what it means, for coffee to be defined as “specialty.” The film whisks audiences on a trip around the world, from farms in Honduras and Rwanda to coffee shops in Tokyo, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and New York. Through the eyes and experiences of farmers and baristas, the film offers a unique overview of all the elements—the processes, preferences and preparations; traditions old and new—that come together to create the best cups. This is a film that bridges gaps both intellectual and geographical, evoking flavor and pleasure, and providing both as well.
2014 • Nature
Armed with the latest global scientific research, Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin battle it out to find the definitive answer to the burning question - which are best, cats or dogs? Part 2: Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin present the second of two programmes in which pooches and pussies are put through a number of tests to see which family pet comes out on top. There are five more rounds, concentrating on which animal is easiest to train, communication, which is best at helping reduce people's stress, independence and the big question - do cats and dogs really love their owners? On the search for answers, dog-lover Chris meets a Border Collie which can recognise more than 150 words and Liz meets a cat capable of choosing its own TV channels.
Armed with the latest global scientific research, Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin battle it out to find the definitive answer to the burning question - which are best, cats or dogs? Part 1: The animals go head to head in a series of rounds testing different aspects, beginning in this edition with intelligence, sensory powers and physical prowess. On the search for answers, dog-lover Chris comes face to face with a pack of wolves, while feline fan Liz confronts an Arabian wild cat to discover how the relationship humans and their pets have evolved.
The Caribbean has been shaped by millions of years of unstoppable volcanic forces and ferocious hurricanes, creating a network of 7,000 islands, each one more unique than the next. From islets only a few miles long to landmasses with towering peaks, the habitats of this tropical paradise range from lush rainforests hiding untold species to multi-coloured coral reefs teeming with marine life. The fauna of the Caribbean has had to adapt to an island existence, becoming either generalists or specialists…creatures as old as the dinosaurs nest on its beaches, opportunistic scavengers patrol its skies, iridescent dynamos forage in its forests and wandering ocean leviathans give birth in its warm waters.
2015 • Nature
Part 3: Survival When David Attenborough first visited the Great Barrier Reef in 1957, he considered it the most spectacular place in the natural world and he assumed that it would last forever. Since then the coral has been dying at an unprecedented rate. In this episode he undertakes his most important mission to understand what the next few decades hold for this remarkable community of animals, as well as what is being done to save it. On his journey, David uncovers the remarkable ways in which scientists are trying to preserve the reef and embarks on an ambitious exploration of his own, the deepest dive ever on the reef. But despite the discoveries now being made by scientists and in the reef's furthest reaches, David fears for the future of this incredibly complex and beautiful ecosystem so vital for the world's oceans.
Part 2: Visitors David discovers the creatures that visit the reef every year, from birds to whales, some travelling thousands of kilometres to get there. Using the latest technology, David dives into the shark-infested waters of Osprey Reef in the Triton submersible. Sixty years after his first visit to Raine Island, he returns to the nesting grounds of the green sea turtle and at Lady Elliot Island marvels at manta ray cleaning stations. New tracking technology allows David to follow the story of visitors like the dwarf minke whales. Stunning satellite imagery and computer animation reveal their journey and David discovers their surprising reasons for returning and why the reef is vital for their survival.
David Attenborough returns in this landmark series to his most magical place on earth exploring the Great Barrier Reef aboard the research vessel Alucia. Part 1: Builders David descends beneath the waves at night in the state-of-the-art Triton submersible, the first of its kind to visit the reef. He meets some of the tiny coral animals that built the reef and helped to turn it into an underwater wonderland. He then takes to the skies to witness the vast scale of their endeavour, a living structure that provides a home for thousands of species. Using cutting-edge technology to generate computer scans of the sea floor, David learns that the Great Barrier Reef we know today is much younger than scientists ever imagined. He meets some of the people that have lived alongside it and who have told stories of its origins for thousands of years.
Documentary series delving into a rarely seen South American wilderness, home to surprising creatures who survive in environments that range from the mighty Andes Mountains to Cape Horn. Part 3: Life on the Edge This is the story of an awe-inspiring coastline, 4000 miles long. From the cold, fearsome waters of Cape Horn, where brave rockhopper penguins overcome huge challenges to raise their young, to the far north, with huge elephant seals battling for position in the heat of the desert. Orcas ram-raid the beaches, grabbing seal pups to feed their young. People too gather the sea's bounty, but these shores are not for the faint-hearted.
Documentary series delving into a rarely seen South American wilderness, home to surprising creatures who survive in environments that range from the mighty Andes Mountains to Cape Horn. From the Andes peaks, we follow the path of the relentless wind, sweeping east through Patagonia's dry desert. We discover a weird world of maras - giant guinea pigs - and desert-dwelling penguins, and witness the first faltering steps of baby guanacos - Patagonia's very own camels. People live here too - brave souls who have taken on this arid world and carved out a home.
Documentary series delving into a rarely seen South American wilderness, home to surprising creatures who survive in environments that range from the mighty Andes Mountains to Cape Horn. Part 1: Fire and Ice Discover the secret lives of pumas and hummingbirds. Soar with condors over glacial peaks and explore monkey puzzle forests from the time of dinosaurs. Ride with extreme kayakers over raging waterfalls, and with Patagonia's cowboys - the gauchos - as they round up wild horses.
The Miller-Urey experiment was the first attempt to scientifically explore ideas about the origin of life. Stanley Miller simulated conditions thought be common on the ancient Earth. The purpose was to test the idea that the complex molecules of life (in this case, amino acids) could have arisen on our young planet through simple, natural chemical reactions.
How can you tell the two poles apart? Where are the penguins? What about the bears? The Arctic pole is located in the Northern Hemisphere within the deep Arctic Ocean, while the Antarctic pole is smack in the middle of the ice-covered Antarctica. Camille Seaman describes how enterprising people and organisms have found ways to reside around both poles despite the frigid temperatures.
What is it that makes things alive? What if we made robots that could sustain themselves? What if they could mine metals or recycle old robots, reprogram and remake themselves? There's nothing there we would traditional call alive, but they would have at least have the essence of this perpetual rube Goldberg machine.
We’ve heard that bees are disappearing. But what is making bee colonies so vulnerable? Photographer Anand Varma raised bees in his backyard — in front of a camera — to get an up close view. This project, for National Geographic, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life.
In this final episode we complete our journey, travelling back from the March equinox to the end of June. Kate Humble is in the Arctic at a place where spring arrives with a bang, whilst Helen Czerski chases a tornado to show how the earth's angle of tilt creates the most extreme weather on earth.
In this second episode we travel from January to the March equinox. Kate Humble gets closer to the Sun than she has ever been before, whilst Helen Czerski visits a place that gets some of the biggest and fastest snowstorms on Earth.
In this first episode they travel from July to the December solstice, experiencing spectacular weather and the largest tides on Earth. To show how the Earth's orbit affects our lives, Helen jumps out of an aeroplane and Kate briefly becomes the fastest driver on Earth.
Dolphins are one of the smartest animal species on Earth. In fact, their encephalization quotient (their brain size compared to the average for their body size) is second only to humans. But exactly how smart are they? Lori Marino details some incredible facts about dolphins.
In the balmy tropical Atlantic, everything from dolphins, manatees and whale sharks to sunbathing jellyfish thrive in the Caribbean's warm, sheltered waters, fringed with coral reefs and rich mangrove forests. But extreme heat in Africa unleashes terrifying hurricanes, causing chaos across the region.
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.
In the wild North Atlantic, massive whale pods, giant turtles and monstrous jellyfish ride the Gulf Stream, a huge ocean current that becomes a migration superhighway and helps warm northern Europe. Meanwhile, fishermen battle for survival in mountainous seas as they try to reap the current's natural fertility.
Across our planet, there are a handful of places that truly astonish, like Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls. These wonders seem to have little in common other than - literally - taking your breath away. But they share one other thing: they pose extraordinary challenges for their inhabitants. The second of two documentaries profiling some of the world's most expansive - and inhospitable - landscapes, and the people who live there. A fisherman in Zambia faces off against crocodiles and risks being swept to his death as he tries to make a living above the imposing Victoria Falls, and in the Amazon, a giant fish offers salvation to a hungry family that calls the river home. A boy's future hangs on the outcome of a single horse race in the vast grasslands of the Steppe, and in a European salt marsh, a young man duels with a savage bull in a centuries-old battle of wills.
Across our planet, there are a handful of places that truly astonish, like Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls. These wonders seem to have little in common other than - literally - taking your breath away. But they share one other thing: they pose extraordinary challenges for their inhabitants. The first of two programmes in which cameras explore some of the most inhospitable places on the planet and the people who live there, including a team of Sherpa roping a route on Mount Everest's notorious Khumbu Icefall and, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, farmers fight pitched battles to save their crops from marauding elephants. In the Amazon rainforest, two boys undergo a rite of passage involving hundreds of ants with the most painful stings on Earth, and conservationists in the Grand Canyon try to ensure the survival of one of America's few surviving condor chicks.
This film explores why it pays to work as a team as it reveals some of the most captivating and awe-inspiring group parenting stories from the animal world. For most group-living species, living together means dividing the labour. From elephants taking part in hostage negotiations for their babies to banded mongoose all giving birth on the same day, female lions forming a sisterhood to see off interloping males and musk oxen rallying together to defend their calves from hungry wolves... it's truly amazing what some animal parents are prepared to do for the next generation!
It may take two to make a baby - but not necessarily two to bring it up. So what makes a parent decide to stay or go? Especially if that parent is a dad. From the California mouse mother who has to kickstart her partner's paternal instincts, to Adelie penguin parents who can't leave their eggs alone for five minutes; from cheetah mums practicing promiscuity to keep the dads on side, to flamingo parents both producing milk for their young. We see just how far these incredible parents go in order to protect and nurture as many offspring as possible through to adulthood.
We reveal the weird and wonderful stories of some of the natural world's incredible single parents: their devotion, dedication and often jaw-dropping endeavour in order to see their babies through to adulthood. From the slow loris covering her baby in toxic saliva to the Weddell seal putting her pup through winter boot camp, a weedy sea dragon cleverly camouflaging his eggs against his body and the female giant Pacific octopus sacrificing herself for her brood - we see how these parents are prepared to go the extra mile to arm the next generation with what they need to survive.
Sharks are among the most misunderstood predators on the planet, but an international team of scientists is trying to change that. Their research is revealing that sharks can be sociable and intelligent, and they could even help solve some of the toughest medical challenges of the 21st century. However, their breakthroughs come just as many sharks face extinction. Science may now be the only way to save them.
Sharks are more than just hunters. Only now are discoveries revealing a hidden side to their character. They have an intricate social life, complex courtship rituals, surprising ways of bringing up their young and extraordinary powers of navigation. They can forge relationships with the strangest of partners, even humans.
The first programme shows how sharks are the ocean's great predators, living in every ocean and hunting in every way. Blacktip sharks hunt in huge packs and herd fish into baitballs, tasselled wobbegongs are ambush hunters, Greenland sharks live under the arctic ice, and whitetip reef sharks are the masters of hunting at night. The finale shows the great white in its hunt for fur seals off the coast of South Africa.
Biologists teach that all living things on Earth are related. Is there any solid evidence to back this claim? Join us as we explore the facts! We start with a close look at the origin of whales from land mammals, and then touch on the origins of several other critters, including our own species.
Issues of genetics and DNA are constantly cropping up in the news from food production and health, to legal cases and ethics. We hear about DNA in movies like Jurassic Park and X-men, we learn bits and pieces about it from TV shows like Dexter and and CSI, but what exactly is DNA, and how does it work?
Humans, octopi and pine trees alike are all made up of cells, tiny but sophisticated systems that keep life going. Cells are almost like tiny factories run by robots, with the nucleus, DNA, proteins, lipids, and vitamins and minerals all playing critical roles. George Zaidan and Charles Morton lay out the blueprint of a cell and explain how biochemistry binds all life together.
David uses the latest 3D technology to explore a world beyond the confines of our human senses. He begins with the secret world of plant movement and uses sinister carnivorous plants to show just how active plants can be. Bladderwort utricularia is a pond-dweller that is among the fastest known, its traps snapping shut in less than a millisecond. As the seasons change, David demonstrates how plants operate on a different time scale to us; how they modify their lives according to the time of year. We discover insects' hidden links with plants, both as pests and ...
The human eye is an amazing mechanism, able to detect anywhere from a few photons to a few quadrillion, or switch focus from the screen in front of you to the distant horizon in a third of a second. How did these complex structures evolve? Joshua Harvey details the 500 million year story of the human eye.
In the final episode of this groundbreaking scientific study, Liz Bonnin and a team of scientists reveal the secret language of our cats, the surprising conversations they have when we are asleep, and why they meow to us but not each other. We rig a house with cameras and cat trackers to discover if four cats living under one roof all get on as well as we would like to think. And we find out why living alongside us is making life difficult for our 21st-century cats.
The second episode of this unique scientific study reveals the wild side of pet cats. Using GPS trackers and cat cameras, they show how these felines transform from pampered pet to purring predator as soon as they leave the cat flap. Liz Bonnin and some of the world's top cat experts put Ozzy and Smudge under surveillance to find out who is king of the street and reveal why, no matter how hard we try, we can't keep our cats' hunting instincts under control.
Playful pets, fearsome fighters or deadly hunters? Millions of us have cats in our homes, yet we know very little about them. In this series, Liz Bonnin joins forces with some of the world's top cat experts to conduct a groundbreaking scientific study. With GPS trackers and cat cameras, we follow 100 cats in three very different environments to find out what they get up to when they leave the cat flap. In the first programme we discover how our cats see, hear and smell the world with the senses of their wild ancestors, and why this could be making life difficult for them in the modern world.
Horizon explores the secrets of what makes a long, healthy and happy life. It turns out that a time you can't remember - the nine months you spend in the womb - could have more lasting effects on you today than your lifestyle or genes. It is one of the most powerful and provocative new ideas in human science, and it was pioneered by a British scientist, Professor David Barker. His theory has inspired a field of study that is revealing how our time in the womb could affect your health, personality, and even the lives of your children.
The hunt for life within the long-dead bones of dinosaurs may sound like the stuff of Hollywood fantasy - but one woman has found traces of life within the fossilised bones of a T rex. Dr Mary Schweitzer has seen the remains of red blood cells and touched the soft tissue of an animal that died 68 million years ago. Most excitingly of all, she believes she may just have found signs of DNA. Her work is revolutionising our understanding of these iconic beasts.
Bill Turnbull investigates one of the biggest mysteries in the British countryside: what is killing our bees. It is a question that generates huge controversy. Changes in the weather, pesticides and even a deadly virus have all all been blamed. It is a question that Bill is all too familiar with as a beekeeper himself. He meets the scientists who are fitting minute radar transponders on to bees to try to find answers.
Our planet was once populated by megafauna, big top-of-the-food-chain predators that played their part in balancing our ecosystems. When those megafauna disappear, the result is a "trophic cascade," where every part of the ecosystem reacts to the loss. How can we stay in balance? George Monbiot suggests rewilding: putting wolves, lions and other predators back on top -- with surprising results.
When you picture the lowest levels of the food chain, you might imagine herbivores happily munching on lush, living green plants. But this idyllic image leaves out a huge (and slightly less appetizing) source of nourishment: dead stuff. John C. Moore details the "brown food chain," explaining how such unlikely delicacies as pond scum and animal poop contribute enormous amounts of energy to our ecosystems.
In The Secret Life of the Cat, 50 cats were fitted with GPS collars to track their every movement, and cat-cams to record their unique view of the world. In this groundbreaking experiment, a few cats stood out. They include the intruder cat, an unneutered tomcat, who comes into the village and seems to have no owner; the hunter, who prefers food that he can catch and kill to anything his owners might buy him; and the deserter cat who has abandoned his home in favour of a new set of owners. This film reveals that the relationship between cats and their owners isn't quite what we imagine.
Horizon discovers what your cat really gets up to when it leaves the cat flap. In a groundbreaking experiment, 50 cats from a village in Surrey are tagged with GPS collars and their every movement is recorded, day and night, as they hunt in our backyards and patrol the garden fences and hedgerows. Cats are fitted with specially developed cat-cams which reveal their unique view of our world. You may think you understand your pet, but their secret life is more surprising than we thought.
Across the world we are seeing the emergence of bacteria that have gone rogue. These are the superbugs, dangerous bacteria that are becoming resistant to our only defence: antibiotics. Horizon meets the scientists who are tracking the spread of these potential killers around the globe, and discovers the new techniques researchers are developing to help defeat these superbugs.
Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists - the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider's web. It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please.
Space. It separates you from me, one galaxy from the next, and atoms from one another. It is everywhere in the universe. But to most of us, space is nothing, an empty void. Well, it turns out space is not what it seems. From the passenger seat of a New York cab driving near the speed of light, to a pool hall where billiard tables do fantastical things, Brian Greene reveals space as a dynamic fabric that can stretch, twist, warp, and ripple under the influence of gravity.
David Attenborough visits archaeological sites where fossils were found illustrating the origins of life on earth, in the ocean. For long, evolution worked very slow and species remained primitive, mostly single-cell, alter fractal. Only the invention of sexual reproduction kick-started genetic diversification.
The theory of evolution explains how the enormous variety of life could come into existence. How it is possible for primitive life forms to spawn the millions of different creatures, that exist today. Unfortunately, evolution is often misunderstood, because it's mechanisms seem counter intuitive. By using visualizations, infographics and appealing characters, the viewer is more likely to understand it the complex information.
In which John Green and Hank Green teach you about how human primates moved out of Africa and turned Earth into a real-life Planet of the Apes. And the apes are people! John and Hank teach you about how humans evolved, and the sort of tricks they picked up along the way like complex tool use, big brains, and fighting. Learn more: http://www.bighistoryproject.com
Following 161 84 views About Export Add to From the Great Pyramid at Giza to the towering skyscrapers of today, humans have engineered massive constructions for at least 5,000 years. But why? How do biology and human emotions affect our desire to build gigantic structures?
Traveling is extremely arduous for microscopic sperm -- think of a human trying to swim in a pool made of...other humans.