Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists - the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider's web. It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please.
In this first episode, he investigates how and why birds communicate, looking at the reasons snipe use their tail feathers to make a very distinctive noise and what's happening when thousands of starlings participate in stunning aerial displays in Aberystwyth.
The undercover cameras reveal how animals often get up to mischief among themselves - and some are downright criminal. A colony of adelie penguins hunker down to avoid a storm, unaware one of them is a thief out to steal the stones that make up their nests, and Spy Tropicbird witnesses an aerial attack by aggressive frigate birds who attempt to steal his fish. A boisterous elephant has a temper tantrum in the mud near the waterhole, chimpanzees have extra-marital affairs and lemurs get high by sniffing toxic millipedes.
A close-up view of sex, bug-style, as David Attenborough talks viewers through the different ways in which creepy-crawlies reproduce. Size matters for the minuscule male orb spider, creepily sneaking up on its intended and trying to mate without her noticing, while there's no rest for the lothario-like butterfly, which has plenty of notches on its proverbial bedpost. However, the harvestman spider has no use for sex at all, and reproduces by cloning itself.