Giant insects once dominated the earth before the dinosaurs. Thanks to new technologies combining genetics, ethology, geology and even particle physics, paleontologists can now recreate the missing branches of the tree of life. Assumptions have been shattered and all the rules are changing.
In some of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, people push themselves to the limit in order to survive. For the people who call these extraordinary places home, survival requires skill, ingenuity and bravery. In Brazil, the Kamayura people of the Xingu Indigenous Park believe they must appease the spirits if they are to remain in good health. In Ethiopia, belief in a higher power leads villagers in the Tigray region to climb a huge, vertiginous mountainside to reach their church. Laos is one of the most fertile places on earth. Despite this, life is dangerous for the rice farmers in this beautiful country. During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped an estimated 270 million bombs on this small country and approximately 80 million of them failed to explode.
How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
2018 • Nature
The British back garden is a familiar setting, but underneath the peonies and petunias is a much wilder hidden world, a miniature Serengeti, with beauty and brutality in equal measure. Chris Packham and a team of wildlife experts spend an entire year exploring every inch of a series of interlinked back gardens in Welwyn Garden City. They want to answer a fundamental question: how much wildlife lives beyond our back doors? How good for wildlife is the great British garden? Through all four seasons, Chris reveals a stranger side to some of our more familiar garden residents. In summer he meets a very modern family of foxes - with a single dad in charge - and finds that a single fox litter can have up to five different fathers. In winter he shows that a robin's red breast is actually war paint. And finally, in spring he finds a boiling ball of frisky frogs in a once-in-a-year mating frenzy. The secret lives of the gardens' smallest residents are even weirder. The team finds male crickets that bribe females with food during sex, spiders that change colour to help catch prey, and life-and-death battles going on under our noses in the compost heap. So how many different species call our gardens home? How well do our gardens support wildlife? By the end of the year, with the help of a crack team from London's Natural History Museum and some of the country's top naturalists, Chris will find out. He'll also discover which type of garden attracts the most wildlife. The results are not what you might expect... You'll never look at your garden in quite the same way again.
2017 • Nature
In the vast South Atlantic, huge pods of dolphins, massive penguin colonies and the largest gathering of marine mammals on earth pack chains of extraordinary islands, created by powerful volcanic forces far below them. Nutrient-rich upwellings create profusions of life in some areas, whilst extreme isolation and abyssal depths host a world of bizarre creatures in others.