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
For the animals in the polar regions, autumn means dramatic battles and epic journeys. Time is running out - the Arctic Ocean is freezing over and the sea ice is advancing at 2.5 miles per day around Antarctica. Polar bears gather in large numbers on the Arctic coast as they wait for the return of the ice. Soon, tempers fray and violent sparring contests break out. Meanwhile 2,000 beluga whales head for one special estuary, a gigantic 'whale spa' where they will thrash their snow-white bodies against the gravel and exfoliate. Inland, the tundra undergoes a dramatic transformation from green to fiery red. Here, musk ox males slam head-first into each other with the force of a 30mph car crash as they struggle to defend their harems. Frisky young caribou males play a game of 'grandma's footsteps' as they try to steal the boss's female. Down in Antarctica, Adelie penguin chicks huddle together in creches. When a parent returns from fishing, it leads its twins on a comical steeplechase - sadly there's only enough for one, so the winner gets the meal. Two months later and the chicks are fully feathered apart from downy Mohican hairdos - they're ready to take their first swim - reluctantly though, as it seems penguins are not born with a love of water! And with good reason - a leopard seal explodes from the sea and pulls one from an ice floe, a hunting manoeuvre that has never been filmed before. As winter approaches and everyone has left, the giant emperor penguin arrives and makes an epic trek inland to breed. The mothers soon return to the sea leaving the fathers to hold the eggs and endure the coldest winter on earth.
Indonesia's marine rainforests are under threat, and rising sea temperatures and destructive fishing practices have taken a toll. However, conservation initiatives in hundreds of protected marine zones have given hope to the giant manta rays, 300 species of coral, and six of the world's seven sea turtle species that call this ecosystem home.
This programme, narrated by Andrew Scott, celebrates the glorious nature of summer on Earth and the extraordinary ways animals and plants rise to the challenges it brings. With the sun shining and the flowers blooming, this is the season of splendid abundance, and the long hours of daylight make life burst out in a riot of activity. But you have to find clever ways to get your share of the good times while they last, and as temperatures soar, everything has to deal with sweltering heat. For a whole range of animals, from sneaky ring-tailed lemurs to battling ibex, and from overheated penguins to astonishing colour-changing lizards, summer is a time when the living is not always easy.
Documentary using groundbreaking computer graphics and close-up photography to reveal the inner alchemy that gives four extraordinary hunters the edge, from the moment they detect their prey through to the vital kill. Soaring above the people of London is the fastest animal on the planet, the peregrine falcon, on a mission to kill for her chicks. Off the coast of South Africa the world's largest predatory fish, the great white shark, has just completed a 7,000-mile journey and is hungry for seal blubber. On the plains of Africa the fastest land animal, the cheetah, struggles to provide for her cubs as her enemies move in. And having survived a drought by entering into a state of suspended animation, the prehistoric Nile crocodile is poised to ambush his dinner.
2010 • Nature
David discovers the plants that have evolved to shed their dependency on water enabling them to survive in the driest environments. The story begins at midnight in midsummer as David steps into the Princess of Wales Conservatory to witness the extraordinary nocturnal blooming of a cactus. The Queen of the Night, with its giant flowers, is the centre piece of a stunning symphony of cacti blooms that burst open in the desert (and at Kew) at night. In a mesmerizing 3D slow motion sequence, we discover the extraordinary connections between cacti and their natural ...