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.
Spring arrives in the polar regions, and the sun appears after an absence of five months; warmth and life return to these magical ice worlds - the greatest seasonal transformation on our planet is underway. Male Adelie penguins arrive in Antarctica to build their nests - it takes a good property to attract the best mates and the males will stop at nothing to better their rivals! But these early birds face the fiercest storms on the planet. In the Arctic, a polar bear mother is hunting with her cubs. Inland, the frozen rivers start to break up and billions of tons of ice are swept downstream in the greatest of polar spectacles. This melt-water fertilizes the Arctic Ocean, feeding vast shoals of Arctic cod and narwhal. The influx of freshwater accelerates the breakup of the sea-ice - an area of ice the size of Australia will soon vanish from the Arctic. On land, a woolly bear caterpillar emerges from the snow having spent the winter frozen solid. Caterpillars normally become moths within months of hatching, but life is so harsh here that the woolly bear takes 14 years to reach adulthood. Once mature it has only days to find a mate before it dies! Alongside the caterpillars white Arctic wolves race to raise their adorable cubs before the cold returns.
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
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.