Clownfish can change genders, male seahorses carry their young, and some snakes have remnants of leg bones--but why? Discover how significant evolutionary changes inside these creatures have equipped them for survival.
Why are vultures bald? Why do some orangutans have big cheeks? And if giraffes have long necks to help them reach the highest leaves, why do they mostly eat low-lying shrubs? Embark on a whirlwind tour around the world as we explore some of nature's most-fascinating evolutionary wonders.
2017 • Nature
When did we start riding horses? When did dogs become man's best friend? Answering questions like these help us understand our impact on other species' evolutionary journeys - a crucial step toward ensuring our survival doesn't necessarily come at the expense of their own.
2017 • Nature
From penguins whose salt-removing eye glands shield them from the harsh ocean to caterpillars whose fake facial markings are meant to mimic a snake's, animals have evolved in amazing ways to see and be seen. Meet these creatures and see how they use eyes and illusions to their advantage.
2017 • Nature
Bees and ants work selflessly toward a common goal. Bonobos maintain social harmony through sex, while meerkats organize themselves with military-level discipline. What do these creatures all have in common? The basic recognition that their survival hinges on an ability to work and live together.
2017 • Nature
On 12th September 2015, a 30-ton humpback whale breached and landed on Tom Mustill and his friend Charlotte Kinloch as they paddled a sea kayak in Monterey Bay, California. Incredibly, both survived the incident, but the near-death experience haunted documentary maker Tom and left him wondering if the whale was deliberately trying to hurt them. To find the answer, Tom returned to California in 2018 to investigate. Tom meets those who have survived similar hair-raising encounters and the experts who know the whales best. What he discovers raises far bigger questions, not just about what happened that day but also about our relationship with whales and their future alongside us.
Intelligence and adaptability allow primates to tackle the many challenges of life, and this is what makes our closest relatives so successful. This resourcefulness has enabled primates to conquer an incredible diversity of habitat. Hamadryas baboons live on the open plains of Ethiopia in groups up to 400 strong. Strength in numbers gives them some protection from potential predators. But, should their path cross with other baboon troops, it can lead to all-out battle, as males try to steal females from one another, and even settle old scores. Japanese macaques are the most northerly-dwelling primates and they experience completely different challenges. Some beat the freezing conditions by having access to a thermal spa in the middle of winter. But this privilege is only for those born of the right female bloodline. For western lowland gorillas, it's the male silverback that leads his family group in the rich forests of the Congo basin. He advertises his status to all with a powerful chest-beating display. Most primates are forest dwellers, and one of the strangest is the tarsier – the only purely carnivorous primate. As it hunts for insects the tarsier leaps from tree to tree in the dead of night, using its huge forward-facing eyes to safely judge each jump. Good communication is essential for success in primate society.
Every year, just above our heads, Eleonora’s falcon undertakes a mysterious migration. This discreet journey covers thousands of kilometers and triggers puzzles that scientists are still trying to understand today. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, we will track the falcons on their journey.
Richard Hammond continues his exploration of weird and wonderful animal abilities by focusing on super-senses, and discovers how those same animal senses have inspired some unlikely human inventions. Richard gets buried in a Californian gold mine, attempts to talk to a rattlesnake by telephone, and is taken for a ride by a monster truck that drives itself. Along the way, he encounters elephants who can talk to each other through solid rock; seals who use their whiskers to sense the shape, size, speed and direction of an object that passed over thirty seconds earlier; and a blind cyclist who relies on fruit bats to get him safely down a twisting mountain bike trail.
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.