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
The islands of the Galapagos rose explosively from the ocean four million years ago. Although life would not seem viable in such a remote Pacific outpost, the first arrivals landed as the fires still burned. David Attenborough explores the islands for the animals and plants that descend from these pioneers: from the sea birds carrying the seeds that made a tentative foothold on these rocks, to equator-dwelling penguins and a dancing bird with blue feet. This is a story of treacherous journeys, life-forms that forged unlikely companionships, and surviving against all odds. It is the story of an evolutionary melting pot in which anything and everything is possible.
1/4 • 2010 • Nature
No two islands in the Galapagos are the same. The imperceptible drift of a continental plate keeps each island biologically isolated. David Attenborough explores this evolutionary crucible, encountering tortoises that weigh up to half a tonne, finches that use tools and lizards that communicate using press-ups; for Darwin, this was all evidence for his theory of evolution. We see the final footage of the world famous tortoise fondly known as Lonesome George, the last survivor of his species. David Attenborough was the last person to have ever filmed with him. Darwin’s famous visit had a downside – the arrival of man. David investigates the impact we’ve had in these islands, as our influence is a double-edged sword. We’ve disrupted the natural balance but he also believes Darwin would be thrilled with the advances we have made in science. We’re also now uncovering evidence that evolution is more rapid than Darwin could ever have imagined. Whatever wonders the Galapagos Islands hold today, they are only a hint of what awaits them in the future.
3/4 • 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