"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.
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.
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.
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
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
In the heart of south-east Asia lies the tropical island of Borneo. Twice the size of the British Isles, it is the third largest island on earth and home to possibly the greatest diversity of life of any island. Its huge variety of habitats, from bustling coral reefs and ancient jungles to towering mountains, have given rise to more than 60,000 species of plants and animals - many found nowhere else on Earth. This documentary covers Borneo's rich abundance of wildlife, from frogs to orang-utans.
The Mediterranean. Because people have been traveling there for thousands of years, it is believed to be without secrets. And yet, far below its surface, lie vast unexplored territories, luxurious gardens worthy of the finest tropical coral reefs. These natural wonders are inaccessible to the traditional diver, in a twilight zone, between 60 and 120 m, where there’s less than 1% of sunlight. If diving at such depths is always a challenge, staying there is a fantasy, a utopia that becomes reality in Planet Mediterranean. In the tradition of Commander Cousteau and his houses under the sea, the team of diver-photographer Laurent Ballesta is undertaking a new world-record-setting mission in complete freedom and without time limit.
2020 • Nature
Plants amazingly dominate this green world by employing poisons, recruiting defensive armies, feeding off the dead and using animals for pollination and seed dispersal. For predators this world presents exceptional challenges, not only in finding prey in such a tangled place, but in how to deal with the toxins that so many animals and plants are laced with.