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.
What is it that makes things alive? What if we made robots that could sustain themselves? What if they could mine metals or recycle old robots, reprogram and remake themselves? There's nothing there we would traditional call alive, but they would have at least have the essence of this perpetual rube Goldberg machine.
In this episode, Professor Brian Cox shows how Earth's basic ingredients, like the pure sulphur mined in the heart of a deadly volcano in Indonesia, have become the building blocks of life. Hidden deep in a cave in the Dominican Republic lies a magical world created by the same property of water that makes it essential to life. Clinging to a precipitous dam wall in Italy, baby mountain goats seek out Earth's chemical elements essential to their survival. In the middle of the night in a bay off Japan, Brian explains how the dazzling display of thousands of glowing squid shows how life has taken Earth's chemistry and turned it into the chemistry of life.
The rains are late. It is the most brutal time of year. Babies born into drought face starvation. The weak and the injured are weeded out. Everything is desperate for rain. When it finally arrives, it is a downpour on an enormous scale. Alien creatures emerge into a different world. The wet season begins.
Britain's best-loved broadcaster brings his favourite extinct creatures back to life in David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive. In this ground-breaking film, Sir David takes us on a journey through the world-famous Natural History Museum in London in a captivating tale of discovery, adventure, and magic, where state-of-the-art CGI, science, and research combine to bring the museum's now long-extinct inhabitants to life to discover how these animals once roamed the planet. As the doors are locked and night falls, Attenborough stays behind and meets some of the most fascinating extinct creatures which come alive in front of his eyes; dinosaurs, ice age beasts, and giant reptiles. The film fulfils a lifelong dream of the nation's favourite naturalist, who said: "I have been coming to the Natural History Museum since I was a boy. It's one of the great places to come to learn about natural history. In this film we have the technology to bring back to life some of the most romantic and extraordinary extinct creatures that can be conceived; some are relatively recent animals like the dodo, others older like the dinosaurs, and some we only know through fossil evidence. Using our current scientific knowledge, this film brings these creatures alive, allowing me to look at some of the biggest questions surrounding them."
2013 • Nature