Spinners and Weavers • episode "S2E8" Natural Curiosities

Category: Nature

We'll find out how nature is incredibly inventive and has produced two unique mechanisms of natural construction that have fascinated scientists for centuries; weaving in birds and silk.

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Natural Curiosities • 2013 - 2018 • 21 episodes •

Stretched to the Limit

Some animals appear to have taken Nature’s gifts and stretched them to extreme limits. With these two natural curiosities one creature, the giraffe, has ended up with a super-stretched neck, the other, the chameleon, a super stretchy tongue. In both cases nature has found a way to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Nature

Young Wrinklies

David encounters two examples where Nature has tinkered with the aging process to alarmingly different effect – the first grows old while trapped in a young body while the second looks old from birth but might hold the key to a long life.

Nature

A Curious Twist

The single spiral tusk of the narwhal inspiration for tales of unicorns and the myriad variations on the twist of the snail shell have delighted and fascinated naturalists and artists since the dawn of civilization.

Nature

Seeing the Pattern

Zebra stripes vary subtly between the different species but there is one group of animals that has evolved colourful patterns of seemingly infinite variety, the butterflies. In this episode David looks at two examples of animal patterns that have bedazzled and baffled science for a long time, and uses modern tools to unlock their secrets.

Nature

Virgin Births

Sir David Attenborough uses this episode to investigate two animals who are capable of true virgin birth - the production of offspring without the need for sex.

Nature

Armoured Animals

This episode explores the story of two animals that hide behind seemingly impregnable coat of arms. Can Sir David Attenborough get in behind their armour and reveal their mysteries?

Nature

Curious Imposters

Here we discover that some animals are able to trick others into believing they are something that they are not. The art of deception is a powerful attribute for some.

Nature

Bad Reputations

After initially gaining frightening reputations, it's now known that gorillas and bats are a lot gentler and considerate than their early reputations suggest.

Nature

Shocking Senses

Plants and animals have some curious super senses that enable them to see, hear and feel things that are quite invisible to us.

Nature

Life on Ice

In this episode we explore the remarkable adaptations of two creatures that have evolved to survive the most challenging of conditions and seem to defy the laws of nature.

Nature

Spinners and Weavers

We'll find out how nature is incredibly inventive and has produced two unique mechanisms of natural construction that have fascinated scientists for centuries; weaving in birds and silk.

Nature

Strange Parents

"Strange Parents" asks how we usually recognise animals as either male or female and how each sex normally plays a particular role in their own life cycle. However both hyenas and seahorses completely break the gender rules.

Nature

A Curious Hoax?

David Attenborough highlights the curiosities that have led to accusations of forgery, but have ultimately helped assist the rethinking of evolution. When early explorers brought the first specimen of a duck-billed platypus to England in 1799, it was considered so bizarre it was deemed a hoax. Similarly, the midwife toad became the centre of a scientific storm in the 1920s that led to accusations of fakery.

2013 • Nature

Life in the Dark

David Attenborough looks at the eyes of squid and owls and how they've managed to maximise their vision.

2014 • Nature

Magical Appearances

"Magical Appearances" explores how swallows magically appear each spring and asks how did complex and beautiful insects like butterflies suddenly arrive in the summer.The discovery of the swallow’s epic migration and the revelation that butterflies could metamorphose into totally different looking adults were scientific stories both cloaked in mystery and controversy.

2014 • Nature

Animal Frankensteins

Hybrids can be bizarre and they can be deadly. We look at two hybrid animals that owe their existence to human interference - the pizzly bear (a cross between a polar bear and grizzly), which has come into being because of global warming, and the killer bee, brought into existence because of the transfer of African bees to South America.

2018 • Nature

Finding the Way

Some animals have an extraordinary ability to find their way. The dung beetle, an insect revered by ancient Egyptians, uses the sun, the moon and even the Milky Way to move its prized ball of dung in the right direction. Pigeons are often considered feeble birdbrains, but they have incredible memories that can recall several complex travel routes with amazing accuracy and they even use man-made roads and hedgerows to find the quickest way home.

2018 • Nature

Extreme Babies

The giant panda gives birth to the smallest baby of any mammal and has to care for and protect it for many months. Why don't they give birth to more developed, robust young? The kiwi lays one of the largest eggs in the bird world, which produces a very well-developed chick. Why do kiwis produce a single egg that is a quarter of its body mass and almost too big to lay?

2018 • Nature

Curious Counters

Can animals count? This is a question that has intrigued and fooled investigators for a long time. Just over 100 years ago, a German horse called Hans was declared a mathematical genius but all was not as it seemed. And strangely, some bamboos around the world flower exactly at the same no matter where they are. Are they counting down the years?

2018 • Nature

Incredible Shells

David Attenborough investigates two shells that have proved to be winners in evolution: the tortoise's shell and the shells of birds' eggs. The ostrich egg is so strong it is possible for a person to stand on it without it breaking, but how does the chick break out of this fortress? The evolution of the tortoise shell was for a long time a mystery and this bony box offers a lot more than just protection.

2018 • Nature

Ferocious Fighters

The Siamese fighting fish is so aggressive it will fight its own reflection until it is exhausted. Recent research shows that the fighting behaviour varies and depends on the personality of the fish! Male kangaroos were once pitted against humans in the boxing ring, with the most impressive male kangaroos being solid blocks of muscle with a kick that can kill. Why do they fight and what skills must a winner have?

2018 • Nature

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The Western Lowland Gorilla

Following a large family of gorillas over nine years, this film captures many aspects of unique behavior as well as revealing touching stories of compassion among this gorilla family in the tropical rainforests of Gabon.

S1E1Wildlife • 2017 • Nature

The Next Generation

Insects are very good at making more insects, but it's not easy. Insects are tiny creatures living in a big world. Partners must find each other to mate and the next generation must survive in a huge dangerous world.

S1E2Planet Insect • 2022 • Nature

Part 2

Part two of two. Explorer Benedict Allen is determined to get disabled journalist Frank Gardner into the wilds of Papua New Guinea, despite having to grapple with Frank's wheelchair. As the terrain gets even tougher to negotiate, the pair know they must make an epic journey into the highlands, crossing through two tribal territories to achieve their objective. However, as Frank gets close to realising his dream of seeing wild birds of paradise up-close, his old injuries return to haunt him and the expedition hangs on a knife edge.

S1E2Birds of Paradise: The Ultimate Quest • 2017 • Nature

A Confusion of Names

What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.

S1E1Botany: A Blooming History • 2011 • Nature

Mountains

This episode looks at Africa's mountain ranges. From the giant mole rats of the Ethiopian Highlands to the Barbary Macaque monkeys of the Atlas Mountains, this episode gives a fascinating look at the mountains of Africa and the animals that inhabit them.

S1E1Wild Africa • 2001 • Nature

Cape

David Attenborough takes a breathtaking journey through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it has never been seen before. (Part 4: Cape) Southern Africa is a riot of life and colour because of two great ocean currents that sweep around the continent's Cape. To the east, the warm Agulhas current generates clouds that roll inland to the wettest place in southern Africa. To the west is the cold Benguela current, home to more great white sharks than anywhere else. Moisture laden fog rolls inland, supporting an incredible desert garden. Where the two currents meet, the clash of warm and cold water creates one of the world's most fabulous natural spectacles - South Africa's sardine run. This is the greatest gathering of predators on the planet, including Africa's largest, the Bryde's whale.

S1E4Africa • 2013 • Nature