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.
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.
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.
After the Permian period, the epic saga of evolution and extinction on Earth produced the world's first dinosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs. They dominated land, sea and air until another period of extreme volcanism generated vast waves of lava and toxic gas and killed roughly 75% of all species.
The broadcaster continues his bug-eyed view of the world of creepy-crawlies, revealing how predators defuse the defences of their prey. Highlights include the cockroach wasp, busy preparing a tasty - and very live - treat for its young, the whirligig beetle, which employs a water-based radar system, and the jumping Portia spider, which feeds on other arachnids.
Richard Hammond concludes his look at miracles in the natural world by discovering some incredible animal super-powers. Creatures that can create slime as strong as steel, survive massive extremes of temperature or even turn invisible. Animal super-powers that have inspired scientists and engineers to create brand new human inventions that could change the way we live. He discovers how the husky's paw can help American footballers; how a strange eel-like creature with a skull but no skeleton might be the next best thing to a spider; how the kingfisher could revolutionise air-sea rescue; and how the cuttlefish has enabled a military tank to pretend it's a small family saloon.