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
Sir David Attenborough tells the stories of the world's best animal architects. There are house-proud bower birds, who only find a mate if they decorate their homes perfectly. There are hornets, who build electric central heating systems, and the star-nosed mole, whose house is designed so well that worms, his favourite meal, literally drop in for dinner. From larders to nurseries and from high-rises to subway systems, Attenborough shows that the animal architects have designed it long before humans.
First transmitted in 1965. David Attenborough continues his journey along the Zambezi River. This episode begins at Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. At the foot of the falls, with its moist climate, a wealth of plants and animals can be found, such as hyraxes. To coax the hyraxes out of hiding, David Attenborough illustrates why taking a dog whistle with you while on an African adventure is a very good idea indeed. Other highlights encountered on the way include an estivating lungfish and a herd of elephants washing and dust bathing at a water hole.Further along his journey David Attenborough explores a Portuguese fortress at Tete, believed to have been built over 400 years ago, and assesses the impact of the then newly constructed Kariba Dam, one of the largest dams in the world, on the displaced Tonga people and surrounding countryside.
What is it that makes things alive? What if we made robots that could sustain themselves? What if they could mine metals or recycle old robots, reprogram and remake themselves? There's nothing there we would traditional call alive, but they would have at least have the essence of this perpetual rube Goldberg machine.