Gunda provides a glimpse into the raw and simple power of nature through mesmerising encounters with farm animals, the eponymous Gunda, a mother pig, two ingenious cows and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken. Film-maker Victor Kossakovsky reminds us of the many lives that share this earth with humans and their value. From the first steps of piglets to the roaming joy of freed cows, Gunda: Mother, Pig draws a connection between human and animal, and the planet that we share with creatures great and small.
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The air we breathe, and all the food we eat, is created from water, sunlight, carbon dioxide and a few minerals. It sounds simple, but this process is one of the most fascinating and complicated in all of science, and without it there could be no life on earth. For centuries people believed that plants grew by eating soil. In the 17th century, pioneer botanists began to make the connection between the growth of a plant and the energy from the sun. They discovered how plants use water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce sugars - how, in fact, a plant grows. The process of photosynthesis is still at the heart of scientific research today, with universities across the world working hard to replicate in the lab what plants do with ruthless efficiency. Their goal is to produce a clean, limitless fuel and if they get it right it will change all our lives.
2/3 • Botany: A Blooming History • 2011 • Nature
Dolphins are one of the smartest animal species on Earth. In fact, their encephalization quotient (their brain size compared to the average for their body size) is second only to humans. But exactly how smart are they? Lori Marino details some incredible facts about dolphins.
David Attenborough narrates the story of Rodrigo Medellin. Since he first kept vampire bats in his bathroom as a child, Rodrigo has dedicated his life to saving them. Now Mexico's most famous export, tequila, is at stake. Rodrigo's beloved lesser long-nosed bat is crucial to the liquor - pollinating the plants the drink is made from. To save both, Rodrigo must track the bats' epic migration across Mexico - braving hurricanes, snakes, Mayan tombs and seas of cockroaches. The threats are very real for not only Rodrigo and the bats, but also for anyone with a taste for tequila.
Natural World • 2014 • Nature
Across the dunes of the Kalahari, a towering, 200-year-old tree extends its branches to the heavens. This camel thorn Acacia is a secret refuge for those in the know. Colonies of sociable weavers use its branches for their oversized nests. Oryx, kudu, and other herbivores feed on her ripened pods, helping soften the seeds for germination. As the rainy season descends, its branches become draped with golden flowers, a magnet for pollinating insects. For many, the Acacia is a 'tree of life.' It's a relationship as old as the Kalahari itself.
The penultimate instalment investigates the primates, whose defining characteristics are forward-facing eyes for judging distance, and gripping hands with which to grasp branches, manipulate food and groom one another. The programme begins in Madagascar, home to the lemurs, of which there are some 20 different types. Two examples are the sifaka, which is a specialised jumper, and the indri, which has a well-developed voice. Away from Madagascar, the only lemur relatives to have survived are nocturnal, such as the bushbaby, the potto and the loris. The others were supplanted by the monkeys and a primitive species that still exists is the smallest, the marmoset. However, Attenborough selects the squirrel monkey as being typical of the group. Howler monkeys demonstrate why they are so named their chorus is said to the loudest of any mammal and their prehensile tails illustrate their agility.
12/13 • Life on Earth • 1979 • Nature
David Attenborough concludes his documentary series with a programme about our closest animal relatives, the intelligent great apes, and finds out how their large brains enabled one of their kind, an upright ape, to go on to dominate the planet. David travels to the forests of Borneo to meet a remarkable orangutan with a passion for DIY and a talent for rowing boats. He shifts continent to Africa and takes part in a special nut-cracking lesson with a group of chimps learning survival skills. He discovers how food - and the ways apes find it - has been key to the evolution of our large brains.
S1E10 • The Life of Mammals • 2008 • Nature