Sir David Attenborough has captured a new species of pink iguana on film for the first time. In his new series about the Galapagos Islands, the veteran broadcaster was thrilled to come face to face with a creature missed by Charles Darwin. Now he will give viewers their first glimpse of the rare, pink iguana – which lives on top of a volcano “It’s a remarkable thing in this day and age when you think about the number of scientists per square metre in the Galapagos, and yet suddenly we have discovered a new species,” Sir David said. “A little periwinkle or something which nobody has identified before is one thing, but this is more than that. “You would have thought because these islands have been pretty well raked over by scientists for 150 years that the basics would be pretty well established, but that they should discover a new species of iguana is quite extraordinary. The new iguana will feature in the third episode of Galapagos
Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms. David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations. We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes. It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness. Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here. The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.
2/4 • 2010 • Nature
Making of David Attenborough’s Galapagos, which is aired first, offers an unrivalled and actually far more interesting view of the dramas that went into capturing all that footage. The way all the shots have been so calmly edited together makes the process look so effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are broken helicopters and broken camera cables that threaten the whole enterprise and the grunting of mating tortoises that threaten to drown out Attenborough’s pieces to camera. This making of programme also includes the discovery of a previously unknown species of pink iguana, as well as the final television appearance of the last-remaining member of another species – the iconic long-necked tortoise known as Lonesome George. “He’s about 80 years old and he’s getting a bit creaky in his joints,” whispers Attenborough. “As indeed am I.”
4/4 • 2010 • Nature