When you're a baby zebra, muskox, or pronghorn, there is no shortage of predators eyeing you as their next meal. From learning defensive herding to early sprinting skills, these vulnerable newborns hit the ground running with keen survival instincts.
For 10,000 years or more, humans created new plant varieties for food by trial and error and a touch of serendipity. Then 150 years ago, a new era began. Pioneer botanists unlocked the patterns found in different types of plants and opened the door to a new branch of science - plant genetics. They discovered what controlled the random colours of snapdragon petals and the strange colours found in wild maize. This was vital information. Some botanists even gave their lives to protect their collection of seeds. American wheat farmer Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel peace prize after he bred a new strain of wheat that lifted millions of people around the world out of starvation. Today, botanists believe advances in plant genetics hold the key to feeding the world's growing population.
This episode details the relationship between flowers and insects. There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled. Around 300 million years ago, plants began to enlist insects to help with their reproduction, and they did so with flowers. Although the magnolia, for instance, contains male and female cells, pollination from another plant is preferable as it ensures greater variation and thus evolution. Flowers advertise themselves by either scent or display. Some evolved to produce sweet-smelling nectar and in turn, several insects developed their mouth parts into feeding tubes in order to reach it.
The Mesoamerican Reef is the second longest on the planet--a threatened world of coastal wetlands, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds. That it exists at all is testament to decades of tireless activism, sustainable tourism, responsible fishing, and strict policing. Join us as we tour its many delights.
Why are vultures bald? Why do some orangutans have big cheeks? And if giraffes have long necks to help them reach the highest leaves, why do they mostly eat low-lying shrubs? Embark on a whirlwind tour around the world as we explore some of nature's most-fascinating evolutionary wonders.