Curious Cures • episode "S3E5" Natural Curiosities

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David Attenborough examines more creatures that have fascinated us for centuries. A look at some species with remarkable healing properties.

Natural Curiosities • 2013 - 2018 • 27 episodes •

Stretched to the Limit

Some animals appear to have taken Nature’s gifts and stretched them to extreme limits. With these two natural curiosities one creature, the giraffe, has ended up with a super-stretched neck, the other, the chameleon, a super stretchy tongue. In both cases nature has found a way to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Nature

Young Wrinklies

David encounters two examples where Nature has tinkered with the aging process to alarmingly different effect – the first grows old while trapped in a young body while the second looks old from birth but might hold the key to a long life.

Nature

A Curious Twist

The single spiral tusk of the narwhal inspiration for tales of unicorns and the myriad variations on the twist of the snail shell have delighted and fascinated naturalists and artists since the dawn of civilization.

Nature

Seeing the Pattern

Zebra stripes vary subtly between the different species but there is one group of animals that has evolved colourful patterns of seemingly infinite variety, the butterflies. In this episode David looks at two examples of animal patterns that have bedazzled and baffled science for a long time, and uses modern tools to unlock their secrets.

Nature

Virgin Births

Sir David Attenborough uses this episode to investigate two animals who are capable of true virgin birth - the production of offspring without the need for sex.

Nature

Armoured Animals

This episode explores the story of two animals that hide behind seemingly impregnable coat of arms. Can Sir David Attenborough get in behind their armour and reveal their mysteries?

Nature

Curious Imposters

Here we discover that some animals are able to trick others into believing they are something that they are not. The art of deception is a powerful attribute for some.

Nature

Bad Reputations

After initially gaining frightening reputations, it's now known that gorillas and bats are a lot gentler and considerate than their early reputations suggest.

Nature

Shocking Senses

Plants and animals have some curious super senses that enable them to see, hear and feel things that are quite invisible to us.

Nature

Life on Ice

In this episode we explore the remarkable adaptations of two creatures that have evolved to survive the most challenging of conditions and seem to defy the laws of nature.

Nature

Spinners and Weavers

We'll find out how nature is incredibly inventive and has produced two unique mechanisms of natural construction that have fascinated scientists for centuries; weaving in birds and silk.

Nature

Strange Parents

"Strange Parents" asks how we usually recognise animals as either male or female and how each sex normally plays a particular role in their own life cycle. However both hyenas and seahorses completely break the gender rules.

Nature

Impossible Feats

David Attenborough examines creatures that have baffled us for centuries. This episode looks at how fleas jump and tracks the true speed of a cheetah.

Nature

Curious Minds

David Attenborough examines creatures that have baffled us for centuries. This episode looks at two animals that use tools, orangutans and crows.

Nature

Expandable Bodies

David Attenborough examines creatures that have fascinated us for centuries. This episode looks at the expandable bodies of anacondas and camels.

Nature

Curious Feeders

David Attenborough examines creatures that have fascinated us for centuries. A look at some species with unusual styles of consuming food.

Nature

Curious Cures

David Attenborough examines more creatures that have fascinated us for centuries. A look at some species with remarkable healing properties.

Nature

Remarkable Regeneration

David Attenborough examines creatures that have fascinated us for centuries. A look at some species with remarkable regenerative powers.

Nature

A Curious Hoax?

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.

2013 • Nature

Life in the Dark

David Attenborough looks at the eyes of squid and owls and how they've managed to maximise their vision.

2014 • Nature

Magical Appearances

"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.

2014 • Nature

Animal Frankensteins

Hybrids can be bizarre and they can be deadly. We look at two hybrid animals that owe their existence to human interference - the pizzly bear (a cross between a polar bear and grizzly), which has come into being because of global warming, and the killer bee, brought into existence because of the transfer of African bees to South America.

2018 • Nature

Finding the Way

Some animals have an extraordinary ability to find their way. The dung beetle, an insect revered by ancient Egyptians, uses the sun, the moon and even the Milky Way to move its prized ball of dung in the right direction. Pigeons are often considered feeble birdbrains, but they have incredible memories that can recall several complex travel routes with amazing accuracy and they even use man-made roads and hedgerows to find the quickest way home.

2018 • Nature

Extreme Babies

The giant panda gives birth to the smallest baby of any mammal and has to care for and protect it for many months. Why don't they give birth to more developed, robust young? The kiwi lays one of the largest eggs in the bird world, which produces a very well-developed chick. Why do kiwis produce a single egg that is a quarter of its body mass and almost too big to lay?

2018 • Nature

Curious Counters

Can animals count? This is a question that has intrigued and fooled investigators for a long time. Just over 100 years ago, a German horse called Hans was declared a mathematical genius but all was not as it seemed. And strangely, some bamboos around the world flower exactly at the same no matter where they are. Are they counting down the years?

2018 • Nature

Incredible Shells

David Attenborough investigates two shells that have proved to be winners in evolution: the tortoise's shell and the shells of birds' eggs. The ostrich egg is so strong it is possible for a person to stand on it without it breaking, but how does the chick break out of this fortress? The evolution of the tortoise shell was for a long time a mystery and this bony box offers a lot more than just protection.

2018 • Nature

Ferocious Fighters

The Siamese fighting fish is so aggressive it will fight its own reflection until it is exhausted. Recent research shows that the fighting behaviour varies and depends on the personality of the fish! Male kangaroos were once pitted against humans in the boxing ring, with the most impressive male kangaroos being solid blocks of muscle with a kick that can kill. Why do they fight and what skills must a winner have?

2018 • Nature

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Fresh Water

The need for fresh water is as strong as ever. However, the supply is becoming increasingly unpredictable for all manner of species.

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Return of the Prairie Bandit

Their habitat once stretched across the Prairies, but when humans wiped out the one thing they eat, the black-footed ferret disappeared. The only native North American ferret, this mysterious animal became the most endangered species in the world. For many years, they survived only in zoos. Now a fledgling project is attempting to bring the black-footed ferret back to Saskatchewan. This dramatic story of the ferrets’ reintroduction to the wild unfolds in Return of the Prairie Bandit, a new documentary by Kenton Vaughan set in the stunning prairie of southern Saskatchewan.

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Masters of Defense

Staying alive is the first priority for all creatures--and with clever adaptations like poison and mimicry, some species defy the odds to outwit predators. From the hoverfly to the scarlet kingsnake, join us on a fascinating rundown of some uniquely successful survivors.

5/6Attack and Defend • 2016 • Nature

On Thin ice

David Attenborough journeys to both Polar Regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet. David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be Open Ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. Next David travels to see what's happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level. Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It's not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.

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South America

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!

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