Metamorphosis seems like the ultimate evolutionary magic trick - the amazing transformation of one creature into a totally different being: one life, two bodies. From Ovid to Kafka to X-Men, tales of metamorphosis richly permeate human culture. The myth of transformation is so common that it seems almost pre-programmed into our imagination. But is the scientific fact of metamorphosis just as strange as fiction or... even stranger? Filmmaker David Malone explores the science behind metamorphosis. How does it happen and why? And might it even, in some way, happen to us?
Asia - the most varied and extreme continent - stretching from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Walrus gather in huge numbers in the frozen north and brown bears roam remote Russian volcanoes. This is a world of the rarely seen, from yeti-like monkeys in the mountain forests of China to the most bizarre predator in the baking deserts of Iran. Asia is the largest of all continents but it seems there’s not enough space for wildlife. The deep jungles provide sanctuary for the last few Sumatran rhino.
The sound of the cuckoo is to many the very essence of spring, yet behind the magical call is a bird that is a cheat, a thief and a killer. Just how does the cuckoo trick other birds into accepting its eggs and raising its young? Why don't the duped foster parents react as they watch the baby cuckoo destroy their own eggs and chicks? And why do they work so relentlessly to feed a demanding chick that looks nothing like them and will soon dwarf them? In this film, new photography is combined with archive footage and the latest scientific findings to solve a puzzle which, as narrator David Attenborough explains, has perplexed nature watchers for thousands of years.
Unlike the many freshwater lagoons in South Africa, the Langebaan consists of 18.5 square miles of saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean. Of all the creatures that rely on it, two are pivotal for its own rejuvenation and sustenance: the regal flamingos and the nutrient-producing prawns.
It’s sexy time with the arthropods! This week David Attenborough takes a look at the courtship rituals of the creatures beneath our feet. But lovebugs won’t want to take tips from these bugs. The male Chilean rose tarantula, for instance, weaves a silk mat; deposits sperm on it, then sucks that sperm into a finger-like appendage near his mouth before he looks for a mate. Then there’s the gruesome, but surprisingly effective, coupling of praying mantis. The cinematography is as amazing as ever, catching the mating battles of tramp ants and providing luminescent footage of the courtship dance of Tanzanian red claw scorpions.