Squirrels are among the most widely known and recognized mammals in the world. Living in an extraordinarily diverse range of habitats, some can fly, some can swim, some live in trees or underground, others love icy wastelands or burning hot deserts.
In the last 30 years the world's urban areas have almost tripled in size, changing at a rate wildlife has never experienced before. As cities are built, animals are pushed out of their natural homes. Their stories are the most surprising and captivating of all. Today, these 'wild outcasts' find themselves fighting for their place in a land that once belonged to them. In this episode we feature elephants in Sri Lanka and see that competition between them and humans for land and resources is resulting in deadly territorial conflicts, which demand solutions. And on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica we meet a troop of capuchin monkeys and learn how our behaviour is affecting them, and raising big questions about their future. But we also discover where we learn to live with wildlife as neighbours, and give it the space and resources it needs, it can thrive. The resulting relationships between human and animals can be mutually beneficial. We meet an Amsterdam heron called Kiri who has been visiting the same house twice a day for the last 17 years, befriending its owner, and the Florida manatees whose population has recovered to such an extent under the guardianship of local human residents that, in recent years, they have been taken off the endangered species list, and contributed to a massive boom in the local tourism industry. We meet the swiftlets who have evolved to live only in people's houses and specially built swiftlet hotels in Indonesia. And the surprising story of a population of tiny foxes on a Californian island whose presence benefits the hardened military personnel of a US naval base. This hopeful but realistic episode culminates with the return of charismatic ocean giants to the world's most iconic city, as humpback whales breach against the New York skyline.
The islands of the Galapagos rose explosively from the ocean four million years ago. Although life would not seem viable in such a remote Pacific outpost, the first arrivals landed as the fires still burned. David Attenborough explores the islands for the animals and plants that descend from these pioneers: from the sea birds carrying the seeds that made a tentative foothold on these rocks, to equator-dwelling penguins and a dancing bird with blue feet. This is a story of treacherous journeys, life-forms that forged unlikely companionships, and surviving against all odds. It is the story of an evolutionary melting pot in which anything and everything is possible.
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
It's death on an unimaginable scale, when a majority of Earth's species quickly die out. It's called "mass extinction," and it's happened at least five times before. Cataclysms, such as supervolcanoes or asteroids, are thought to cause these events, but some experts believe a man-made mass extinction could be next. Is our planet in trouble? And if so, is there anything we can do to stop the next catastrophic annihilation? Experts are traveling the world, performing groundbreaking scientific detective work to answer these very questions.
2014 • Nature