There is an electric grid submerged deep within the Amazon River, made up of a fascinating community of fish that have technological superpowers. Biologist Will Crampton ventures into this world, one which few have ever seen, on a mission to find, catch, and study electric fish. Armed with his own electric devices, join him as he uncovers the fighting style of the jaw lockers, the navigational skills of the knifefish, and the remarkable hunting technique of the electric eel.
Helen looks at the latest scientific insight into the aurora - dancing lights in the night sky that have fascinated cultures throughout our history. From the networks of cameras now capturing its vast scale, to novel experiments that probe the threat it poses to modern technology, Helen reveals the dramatic transformation in our understanding of the aurora, and the many mysteries that remain to be solved.
What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.
Mammals' ability to learn new tricks is the key to survival in the knife-edge world of hunters and hunted. In a TV first, a killer whale off the Falklands does something unique: it sneaks into a pool where elephant seal pups learn to swim and snatches them, saving itself the trouble of hunting in the open sea. Slow-motion cameras reveal the star-nosed mole's newly-discovered technique for smelling prey underwater: it exhales then inhales a bubble of air ten times per second. Young ibex soon learn the only way to escape a fox - run up an almost vertical cliff face - and young stoats fight mock battles, learning the skills that make them one of the world's most efficient predators.
The vast plains of Addo Elephant National Park stretch more than 600 square miles into South Africa's interior. Embark on a thrilling journey through this unique wilderness sanctuary and meet its most endangered resident: the African elephant.
Sophie explores the world of silent communication in the animal kingdom and the human world - showing how much we can actually say without ever opening our mouths or making a noise. She reveals how some species have harnessed bacteria to generate light and how light messages are used by insects and deep-sea fish for a range of reasons, including attracting prey. Exploring how body language communicates huge amounts about us and other species, Professor Scott shows why a dog's wagging tail does not always mean it is happy and how humans can tell a lot about someone's state of mind from their posture alone. She reveals why yawns and smiles are contagious and how this can play a key role in social bonding and cohesion.
2/3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: The Language of Life • 2017 • Nature
Known as "the roof of Africa," the Simien Mountains offer a glimpse at some of the rarest creatures on the continent. Among plunging cliffs that give way to lush greenery and foggy skies, learn how native wildlife like the magnificent walia ibex and cunning Simien wolf have adapted to this remote alpine terrain.