Never before has a film crew had such unrestricted access to the wonders of Saudi Arabia's seas. Desert Seas narrated by Sir David Attenborough tells the story of how the peninsula of Arabia transformed from an ocean millions of years ago to the desert it is today.
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 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).
Gorillas, rhinos, and elephants, three of nature's largest animals, deliver enormous babies. But the immense size of these newborns stands in stark contrast to their vulnerability. Everything from feeding to protection against predators to learning essential life skills falls on one devoted parent: their mothers.
A six-week-old lion cub gets separated from his pride and has to face the nighttime terrors of the African bush. Cub-hungry predators, dehydration, and rival lions instinctively primed to kill are just some of the threats ahead. Can this intrepid little misfit find his way back to safety, or will the harsh rules of the wild prevail?