This episode is devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates. The reason is their scaly, practically watertight skin. The scales protect the body from wear and tear and in the case of some species of lizard, such as the Australian thorny devil, serve to protect from attack. The horned iguana from the West Indies is also one of the most heavily armoured. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well-known example. Temperature control is important to reptiles: they cant generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool.
For the animals of the Okavango Delta, life itself depends on a fortuitous natural anomaly: a river that cuts through the mighty Kalahari Desert. Embark on a tour of this accidental paradise, where a colorful ecosystem of plants, animals, and birds flourish in the unexpected abundance.
The series begins in the 'land of the sabre-tooth'; North America, a continent that was half covered by ice that was up to two miles thick. Yet this frozen land also boasted the most impressive cast of Ice Age giants in the world. Across locations such as the Grand Canyon, the sands of Arizona and the coast of California, Alice traces the movements of Ice Age beasts like bear-sized sloths, vast mammoths and the strange beast known as the glyptodon. These leviathans all have one thing in common: they were stalked by the meanest big cat that ever prowled the Earth, armed with seven-inch teeth and hunting in packs - Smilodon fatalis, the sabre-toothed cat.
The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is a 400m vertical shaft, deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. The Lechuguilla cave system in the USA is 193km long and 500m deep with astonishing crystal formations hanging from its chambers. Although often overlooked, caves are remarkable habitats with equally bizarre wildlife. Cave angel fish cling to the walls behind cave waterfalls with microscopic hooks on their flattened fins. Cave swiftlets navigate by echo-location and build nests out of saliva. The Texas cave salamander has neither eyes nor pigment. Unique access to a hidden world of stalactites, stalagmites, snotites and troglodytes brings a wealth of surprises.
Part two of two. Explorer Benedict Allen is determined to get disabled journalist Frank Gardner into the wilds of Papua New Guinea, despite having to grapple with Frank's wheelchair. As the terrain gets even tougher to negotiate, the pair know they must make an epic journey into the highlands, crossing through two tribal territories to achieve their objective. However, as Frank gets close to realising his dream of seeing wild birds of paradise up-close, his old injuries return to haunt him and the expedition hangs on a knife edge.