The first episode tells how invertebrates became the first creatures of any kind to colonise dry land. Their forerunners were shelled and segmented sea creatures that existed 400 million years ago. Some of them ventured out of the water to lay their eggs in safety, and Attenborough compares those first steps with today's mass spawning of horseshoe crabs off the Atlantic coast of North America.
2005 • Nature
The next programme deals with flying insects. It begins in Central Europe, where the Körös River plays host to millions of giant mayflies as they rise from their larval skins to mate. — the climax of their lives. Mayflies and dragonflies were among the first to take to the air about 320 million years ago, and fossils reveal that some were similar in size to a seagull. Damselflies are also looked at in detail.
2005 • Nature
The final programme looks at the superorganisms formed by bees, ants and termites. Attenborough reveals that their colonies, whose individuals were once considered purely servile, are "full of conflict, power struggles and mutinies." They evolved when such creatures moved away from a solitary existence and started building nests side-by-side, which led to a collective approach to caring for their young.
2005 • Nature
Siberian tigers are the largest of all cats. In historic times, the tiger's range was vast, covering much of Asia. Over the last century, they've experienced an almost total population crash, and at least 97% of those tigers have gone.
While the immense ecosystem of the Kalahari is characterized by its harsh conditions, it also offers a wealth of resources to the native wildlife. From the burrows of nocturnal bat-eared foxes to the massive colonies of harvester ants, the region provides habitats for a vast array of life.
The Galapagos Islands are home to some animals that washed up on the islands millions of years ago and have made adaptations. Penguins, iguanas, tortoises and cormorants have changed so they can survive the harsh climate. But possibly the oddest adaptation is that of the Vampire finch.
On the second leg of their journey, wildlife filmmakers Gordon Buchanan and Justine Evans, along with a team of scientists, head deep into the mountains of western Burma. This is where they hope to find the shy sun bear and two of the world's rarest and most beautiful cats: the Asian golden cat and the clouded leopard. Meanwhile, zoologist Ross Piper and the science team are on a mission to create a wildlife survey to present to the government of Burma to persuade them that these forests are so unique they must be protected. High on the forest ridges, Gordon finds evidence to suggest that Burma's wildlife might be in danger. Undercover filming in a border town known as the 'Las Vegas of the jungle' leads to a shocking discovery.
Three hundred and seventy miles off the coast of Mexico in the eastern Pacific, the waters surrounding Socorro Island are home to some of the world's largest marine life. Take a deep dive through surging currents and majestic coral reefs with whale sharks, giant manta rays, and more.
Visit the Bismarck Sea, a region forgotten by civilisation, where life goes on in harmony with nature as it has for thousands of years, untouched by the troubles of the modern world. You’ll dive amongst the eerie wrecks of WWII planes and ships, navigate darkness-shrouded caves and dodge swift-moving reef sharks.