This instalment is the first of several to concentrate on mammals. The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs (in much the same manner of reptiles), and it is from such animals that others in the group evolved. Since mammals have warm blood and most have dense fur, they can hunt at night when temperatures drop. It is for this reason that they became more successful than their reptile ancestors, who needed to heat themselves externally. Much of the programme is devoted to marsupials (whose young are partially formed at birth) of which fossils have been found in the Americas dating back 60 million years.
In the first episode and for the first time ever, the programme compares the humble moggy with their big cat cousins, gaining surprising insights into the entire cat family. In Africa, lion whisperer Kevin Richardson proves how similar domestic pets are to the fearsome big cats and why there's more to feline communication than meets the eye. In the thick jungles of South East Asia, the series discovers which sabre-tooth wild cat has given tabbies their gravity defying climbing skills and in Namibia, shows how a strange looking cat called a caracal has given them the ability to jump over three metres and catch birds in flight, inspiring the phrase "put the cat amongst the pigeons". To truly understand the world’s most beloved purring pets, there needs to be an understanding of their wild relatives.
We flail, we swat, we sweat. We spray, cover up, and hide. But still the tiny, fearsome mosquito penetrates our best defenses. ZAPPED: the buzz about mosquitoes is the story of our ongoing struggle to conquer a little insect that is both delicate and deadly. As the program reveals, this beautiful and versatile blood-sucker has always managed to stay one step ahead of us. As tortured as we are Zapped uncovers, in exquisite detail, how the mosquito goes about its handiwork. It's really only the females that are the problem – they need our blood to incubate their eggs. And, out of more than 3500 species, only 200 or so transmit disease.
In this highlights programme compiled from the recent Life Story series, David Attenborough brings us the universal story that unites each of us with every animal on the planet, the story of the greatest of all adventures - the journey through life. For each stage of life we see the most spectacular, beautiful or dramatic stories from the Life Story series.
Oxygen – we all need it, we can't live without it. It's integral to life on this planet. And it's probable that, as you watch this film, you will be breathing in an oxygen atom that was also breathed by Genghis Khan – or by the first ever apes to stand upright on the plains of Africa. The oxygen that we breathe is made from two oxygen atoms joined together – O2. They were first joined more than 3 billion years ago by the earliest blue-green algae to evolve. The oxygen molecule first came from bacteria and was present in the fires that destroyed the dinosaurs and the chemical reactions in all human cells, and as ozone they protect the earth from radiation. Since then, both together and apart, they've had the most extraordinary adventures. Each of the two atoms in an oxygen molecule is virtually indestructible – so they have been first-hand players in some of the most dramatic events in the whole of Earth's history. It's often said that we are breathing the same oxygen that the cavemen did. The life of a single molecule of oxygen is traced on it's astonishing journey spanning millions of years, from its creation, into photosynthesis, through the age of the dinosaurs, early man, and on into today.
2008 • Nature