How have some plants managed to live 5000 years? They are masters of photosynthesis and have survived on trips into space. In fact, there are now "plantimals". Perhaps it is time we learned more from plants about our world and how to live in it as partners.
The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is a 400m vertical shaft, deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. The Lechuguilla cave system in the USA is 193km long and 500m deep with astonishing crystal formations hanging from its chambers. Although often overlooked, caves are remarkable habitats with equally bizarre wildlife. Cave angel fish cling to the walls behind cave waterfalls with microscopic hooks on their flattened fins. Cave swiftlets navigate by echo-location and build nests out of saliva. The Texas cave salamander has neither eyes nor pigment. Unique access to a hidden world of stalactites, stalagmites, snotites and troglodytes brings a wealth of surprises.
There are 200 million insects for each of us. They are the most successful animal group ever. Their key is an armoured covering that takes on almost any shape. Darwin's stag beetle fights in the tree tops with huge curved jaws. The camera flies with millions of monarch butterflies which migrate 2000 miles, navigating by the sun. Super slow motion shows a bombardier beetle firing boiling liquid at enemies through a rotating nozzle. A honey bee army stings a raiding bear into submission. Grass cutter ants march like a Roman army, harvesting grass they cannot actually eat. They cultivate a fungus that breaks the grass down for them. Their giant colony is the closest thing in nature to the complexity of a human city.
Richard Hammond continues his exploration of weird and wonderful animal abilities by focusing on super-senses, and discovers how those same animal senses have inspired some unlikely human inventions. Richard gets buried in a Californian gold mine, attempts to talk to a rattlesnake by telephone, and is taken for a ride by a monster truck that drives itself. Along the way, he encounters elephants who can talk to each other through solid rock; seals who use their whiskers to sense the shape, size, speed and direction of an object that passed over thirty seconds earlier; and a blind cyclist who relies on fruit bats to get him safely down a twisting mountain bike trail.