In the grasslands, animals endure freezes, fires, floods, and droughts; bull elephants clash in mating battles; cheetahs and gazelles engage in a predator-and-prey dance in the Kenyan savanna; bison battle a blizzard while being pursued by wolves.
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From a primate that's no bigger than a mouse, to a chameleon that can fit on your fingertip, the natural world is full of fantastically small animals. Biologist Patrick Aryee explores the fascinating secrets behind these miniature marvels and shows that they're not the underdogs you might think they are. Super Small Animals follows him as he meets the leading experts on these pint sized superstars, and finds out what makes them some of the most successful on the planet. First up, he reveals the huge benefits that being small can bring. There's the little lemur whose diminutive frame helps it to exploit a unique gap in the eco-system, the tiny hummingbird that uses its size to out-manoeuvre the competition, and the world's smallest seahorse that never has to leave home. He also explores why small animals are proportionally the strongest in the world, and introduces a peanut-sized beetle that can pull over a thousand times its own weight. Next he explores the challenges that animals face when they shrink in size, and the ingenious ways they overcome them. We find out how the smallest armadillo in the world manages to control its temperature in the searing desert sun, and the how the world's smallest fish can survive in nothing more than a puddle, because it never really grows up. Patrick meets a secretive hippo that lives in the dense jungle, and looks like it's been shrunk in the wash, and some of the world's smallest snakes that give birth to enormous babies. He also meets a scientist that studies how really tiny spiders have a surprising trick that enables them to travel an incredible 40 miles per day, using almost no energy. Then there are the animals that refuse to be pigeon holed as small, and manage to punch way above their weight. He puts some astonishing invertebrates to the test, to see how they work together to become much bigger than the sum of their parts and meets a pint-sized predator that takes on some of the largest and most dangerous creatures on the planet, getting hands on to discover how its build helps it to be brave. Finally he uncovers the incredible lengths that deep sea anglerfish go to in order to be big and small at the same time, and has an endearing encounter with a tiny carnivore that manages to be small in just one direction. Whether their size helps them to hunt, hide or survive, all these remarkable animals prove that good things really do come in small packages.
2017 • Nature
Liz Bonnin meets the animals using outlandish means to find a mate and raise a family. From feisty mongooses who start wars to pick the perfect partner, to swaggering peacocks faking a mating call and thieving macaques who kidnap babies to get ahead, the natural world appears to be rife with animal rogues.
The ultimate guide to invertebrates, with key biological themes to show a wide range of species. Chapter 1: The Bug Buffet Bugs are the base of the food chain, food for just about everything else, but to start the process, they too must eat. Just like the bigger animals of the plains, there are grazers, scavengers, and predators that hunt them, termites growing fungi, and bees making their own honey. Chapter 2: Breeding Rutting deer and flirting love birds might be what we think of with animal courtship, but even bugs need to breed, and they face all the same challenges of winning a mate and raising their young. Some display, some caress, others fight. There are even insects that care for their young. Chapter 3: Army Few creatures have complex levels of regimented society as social insects. Bees, termites, ants, and wasps can form armies to help them build elaborate homes, defend their territories, grow their own food, raise their young and hunt their prey.
2021 • Nature
From the food on our tables to the fuel in our cars, crude oil seeps invisibly into almost every part of our modern lives. Yet many of us have little idea of the incredible journey it has made to reach our petrol tanks and plastic bags from its origins millions of years ago.
2007 • Nature