Homo sapiens are the only creatures on earth privileged with high intelligence that allows us to be civilized. What evolutionary odyssey did we take to be granted this intelligence? The latest DNA research has discovered a key ancient incident that could solve this million-dollar mystery. It was an unparalleled event that caused our ancestors' brains to increase in size and advance in intelligence. Cutting-edge CG backed by the latest research results will take you on an extraordinary journey through time, back to the primeval event.
Africa's wildest river is home to the most spectacular wildlife. Hippos fight for territory while herds of elephant, water buffalo and zebra depend on it for life. In the wet season the rains burst the riverbanks and everyone, including people, must move whilst fish swim through the villages. In the dry season the creatures fight over the few pools of water while predators prowl. At its heart it plunges over Victoria Falls and into wild ravines before draining into the Indian Ocean, where storm clouds cycle the water back into the heart of Africa.
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.
This programme focuses on birds. The feather is key to everything that is crucial about a bird: it is both its aerofoil and its insulator. The earliest feathers were found on a fossilised Archaeopteryx skeleton in Bavaria. However, it had claws on its wings and there is only one species alive today that does so: the hoatzin, whose chicks possess them for about a week or so. Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate the probable movement of its ancestor. It may have taken to the trees to avoid predators, and over time, its bony, reptilian tail was replaced by feathers and its heavy jaw evolved into a keratin beak.
In the 1950s, Howard Hughes eyed purchasing the precious Exuma Cays--that is, until the Bahamian government intervened to protect the untouched gems. Set sail with the scientists, tour guides, and guards who have carried on that legacy to protect reefs, patrol waters, and propagate coral.