After the Permian period, the epic saga of evolution and extinction on Earth produced the world's first dinosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs. They dominated land, sea and air until another period of extreme volcanism generated vast waves of lava and toxic gas and killed roughly 75% of all species.
The human eye is an amazing mechanism, able to detect anywhere from a few photons to a few quadrillion, or switch focus from the screen in front of you to the distant horizon in a third of a second. How did these complex structures evolve? Joshua Harvey details the 500 million year story of the human eye.
Vultures are the birds that many people love to hate, but cameraman and naturalist Charlie Hamilton James sees them as beautiful and intelligent creatures that deserve respect. He believes that to appreciate them, people just need to spend time with them and he headed to East Africa to do exactly that. His journey exposes not only a softer, more caring side to these maligned birds but also a much bigger story, one that leaves vultures needing many more admirers.
At the very northern edge of North America is Ellesmere Island, where the unforgiving Arctic winds tear through the tundra, dipping temperatures to 40 below zero. Running through this shifting sea of snow and ice is one of the most hardened predators on the planet, the White Wolf. But as the spring melt approaches, these roaming hunters must adapt to being tethered parents as new additions to the pack have just been born. With their herds of prey continuing to move, we witness a desperate race to keep up and bring back a kill to the hungry mothers and cubs. Traveling farther and farther away from their den each day puts these hunters and their children at risk in this fight for survival.
2018 • Nature
This programme surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night. To prepare for winter, some store it in vast quantities, some hibernate and others make do as best they can. However, the carnivores joined them, and when a drying climate triggered the spread of grass, they followed their prey out on to the plains. Grass is not easily digestible and most animals that eat it have to regurgitate it and chew the cud. Out in the open, the leaf-eaters had to develop means of protection.