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
"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
For the last decade, a team of frontline medics has been fighting to save Borneo's critically endangered orangutans. Armed with cameras, International Animal Rescue has documented their struggle: pulling apes from devastated jungle, giving emergency medical care, rehabilitating and releasing the healthiest orangutans back into the wild. This is both the story of their life-saving work and of how one of our closest wild relatives has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Combining genuine rescue footage with contributions from experts throughout, this documentary looks toward the future and asks what hope remains to save the orangutan.
2018 • Nature
Steve Backshall lifts the lid on an incredible world of intricate relationships and unexpected hardship in the Amazon rainforest, explores the way that the jungle's inhabitants interact, and reveals a hidden secret that might just be what keeps the whole place alive.
In Taiji, Japan, local fishermen hide a gruesome secret: the capture and slaughter of dolphins. Activist Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the "Flipper" TV series, joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society to expose the brutal practice, risking life and limb in the process.
2009 • Nature
Sophie looks at one skill in particular that seems to give humans an advantage over all other animals - our superior talent for language. She explores what language really is, and how close other animals come to having it. She considers the world of primates and the theory that some apes may communicate through sign language, and reveals how, even in the womb, humans start to practise making the mouth movements needed for speech. But language isn't just a power to combine words. Professor Scott explores how we convey information through the tone of voice, our accents and the pace and pitch of our speech. But in a world when we regularly talk to computers, she also shows why scientists need to develop machines that can understand the subtleties of our speech. Finally, she looks at language in this digital age and explores the role that emojis play.
Patrick follows the grizzly bears that are taking a risk with the weather by leaving their winter dens early. Hungry wolves are struggling to bring down their elk prey in the unusually shallow snow. And for great grey owls, it is the iciness of the snow that is hampering their hunts. Yellowstone's winter is always one of the most brutal on the planet. But 2016 saw weather records broken, and the wildlife was forced to adapt to survive. Kate Humble gets to grips with the science behind this remarkable season, from understanding the importance of the snowpack's structure as the melt begins to uncovering why Yellowstone's unique geology poses problems for some grazer's teeth.
In The Secret Life of the Cat, 50 cats were fitted with GPS collars to track their every movement, and cat-cams to record their unique view of the world. In this groundbreaking experiment, a few cats stood out. They include the intruder cat, an unneutered tomcat, who comes into the village and seems to have no owner; the hunter, who prefers food that he can catch and kill to anything his owners might buy him; and the deserter cat who has abandoned his home in favour of a new set of owners. This film reveals that the relationship between cats and their owners isn't quite what we imagine.