Oxygen – we all need it, we can't live without it. It's integral to life on this planet. And it's probable that, as you watch this film, you will be breathing in an oxygen atom that was also breathed by Genghis Khan – or by the first ever apes to stand upright on the plains of Africa. The oxygen that we breathe is made from two oxygen atoms joined together – O2. They were first joined more than 3 billion years ago by the earliest blue-green algae to evolve. The oxygen molecule first came from bacteria and was present in the fires that destroyed the dinosaurs and the chemical reactions in all human cells, and as ozone they protect the earth from radiation. Since then, both together and apart, they've had the most extraordinary adventures. Each of the two atoms in an oxygen molecule is virtually indestructible – so they have been first-hand players in some of the most dramatic events in the whole of Earth's history. It's often said that we are breathing the same oxygen that the cavemen did. The life of a single molecule of oxygen is traced on it's astonishing journey spanning millions of years, from its creation, into photosynthesis, through the age of the dinosaurs, early man, and on into today.
A journey through nature, commerce and adventure, The Fruit Hunters takes us from the dawn of humanity to the cutting of edge of modern agriculture — a series that will change not just the way we look at what we eat, but what it means to be human. The Fruit Hunters' first episode, "The Evolution of Desire," explores the origins of fruit's diversity and tells the story of humanity and fruit's intimate co-evolution. Every variety of fruit has a story, the story of the person who cultivated an individual plant, and then shared something wonderful with the world. To preserve this diversity is to retain this living memory. A passionate few, the fruit hunters, fight to preserve this diversity in a world increasingly dominated by economically driven monoculture.
In the second episode, Iain discovers how flowers have transformed our planet. He journeys to the remote islands of the South Pacific to track down the earliest flowers. In the deserts of Africa and rainforests of Vietnam, he sees how they brought brilliant colour to the most barren landscapes and sculpted the earth itself. And he learns how they drove the evolution of all animals - kick-starting our human story.
In this final episode we complete our journey, travelling back from the March equinox to the end of June. Kate Humble is in the Arctic at a place where spring arrives with a bang, whilst Helen Czerski chases a tornado to show how the earth's angle of tilt creates the most extreme weather on earth.
Fortey travels to the rainforests of Madagascar - an ancient island that has spawned some of the most extraordinary groups of plants and animals anywhere in the world. From beautiful Indri lemurs, toxic frogs, and the cat-like giant mongoose called the fossa, to evolutionary oddities like the giraffe-necked weevil and the otherworldly aye-aye, he uncovers the secrets of the evolutionary niche - examining how, given millions of years, animals and plants can adapt to fill almost any opportunity they find.
David Attenborough reviews the scientific discoveries that have transformed our view of life on earth during his lifetime. How and where did life first begin? How do continents move? How do animals communicate? And why do they behave the way they do? Sir Attenborough shares his memories of the scientists and the breakthroughs that helped shape his own career. He also recalls some of his most memorable attempts to bring new science to a television audience - by standing in the shadow of an erupting volcano as lumps of hot lava crashed around him, by being charged by a group of armed New Guinean tribesmen and the extraordinary sight of chimps hunting monkeys, captured on camera for the first time by Attenborough and his team.