The Galapagos Islands are home to some animals that washed up on the islands millions of years ago and have made adaptations. Penguins, iguanas, tortoises and cormorants have changed so they can survive the harsh climate. But possibly the oddest adaptation is that of the Vampire finch.
A captivating world of creepy crawlies exists all around us. And they are the biggest group of animals in the world, outnumbering humans 200 million to one. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, these invertebrates not only survive in almost every landscape known to man, but also thrive by means of fascinating, and sometimes bizarre adaptations. There's the Bombardier beetle that squirts a boiling hot liquid from its anus, the Assassin bug that turns its victims into soup, and the Parasitic wasp that lays her eggs inside her victims, until her young are ready to eat their way out. We end off with the biggest bugs on the planet: the Atlas moth with a wingspan of over 20 centimetres, the Hercules beetle that can carry 850 times its own weight, and the Giant centipede - big enough to catch flying bats from midair!
2015 • Nature
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.
David Attenborough has a passion for birds' eggs. These remarkable structures nurture new life, protecting it from the outside world at the same time as allowing it to breathe. They are strong enough to withstand the full weight of an incubating parent and weak enough to allow a chick to break free. But how is an egg made? Why are they the shape they are? And perhaps most importantly, why lay an egg at all? Piece by piece, from creation to hatching, David reveals the wonder behind these miracles of nature.
One of the world’s happiest, yet most vulnerable marsupials, the Quokka thrives only on Rottnest Island. In almost plague proportions over ten thousand of the strange relic wallabies live here. How do they survive here in such inhospitable conditions and nowhere else?