Discover why restoring nature might be our best tool to slow global warming. From Borneo to Antarctica, the resilience of the planet is helping us find solutions to cope and even mitigate climate change, providing hope for a more positive future.
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.
At 13, Kamuti is one of the oldest leopards in the Luangwa region of Zambia. Old age brings many challenges, from hunting antelope to keeping a watchful eye on the lion pride nearby. Using a military-grade thermal camera, we lift the veil on the secret world of this enigmatic nocturnal predator for the first time.
With a million species at risk of extinction, Sir David Attenborough explores how this crisis of biodiversity has consequences for us all, threatening food and water security, undermining our ability to control our climate and even putting us at greater risk of pandemic diseases. Extinction is now happening up to 100 times faster than the natural evolutionary rate, but the issue is about more than the loss of individual species. Everything in the natural world is connected in networks that support the whole of life on earth, including us, and we are losing many of the benefits that nature provides to us. The loss of insects is threatening the pollination of crops, while the loss of biodiversity in the soil also threatens plants growth. Plants underpin many of the things that we need, and yet one in four is now threatened with extinction. Last year, a UN report identified the key drivers of biodiversity loss, including overfishing, climate change and pollution. But the single biggest driver of biodiversity loss is the destruction of natural habitats. Seventy-five per cent of Earth's land surface (where not covered by ice) has been changed by humans, much of it for agriculture, and as consumers we may unwittingly be contributing towards the loss of species through what we buy in the supermarket. Our destructive relationship with the natural world isn’t just putting the ecosystems that we rely on at risk. Human activities like the trade in animals and the destruction of habitats drive the emergence of diseases. Disease ecologists believe that if we continue on this pathway, this year’s pandemic will not be a one-off event.
2020 • Nature
Leading experts examine a rock in a crate of finds from an archaeological dig in Africa, which could contain a very rare 200-million-year-old dinosaur skull. The museum staff prepares for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. Other artefacts from the museum featured in this episode include meteorite fragments that are older than the solar system and the oldest complete beetle specimens ever found in the UK.
World-leading dinosaur expert Susie Maidment is in the museum basement trying to piece together the skeleton of the first Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. It's a priceless specimen but somehow the bones have got muddled up with another dinosaur and it's up to Susie to work out if any of the bits are missing. The experts inspect Guy the gorilla, who was a London Zoo favourite for decades and now sits fully preserved in his own glass case, and the museum launches an ambitious project to capture a sample of every living bug in the UK today.
In this episode, Chris reveals how the world's most spectacular grasslands flourish, despite being short of one essential nutrient - nitrogen. As it turns out, the secret lies with the animals. There are the white rhinos of Kenya that create nitrogen hotspots by trimming and fertilising the grass. They are drawn to these particular points by communal toilets or 'fecal facebooks', where they meet and greet each other. In the whistling acacia grasslands of Kenya, Chris reveals the amazing relationships between termites, geckos, ants, monkeys and giraffes that make these places so rich in wildlife