"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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Arctic and Antarctic experience the most extreme seasons on Earth. Time-lapse cameras watch a colony of emperor penguins, transforming them into a singleorganism. The film reveals new science about the dynamics of emperor penguin behaviour. In the north, unique aerial images show a polar bear swimming more than 100km. Diving for up to two minutes at a time. The exhausted polar bear later attacks a herd of walrus in a true clash of the Titans.
Documentary using groundbreaking computer graphics and close-up photography to reveal the inner alchemy that gives four extraordinary hunters the edge, from the moment they detect their prey through to the vital kill. Soaring above the people of London is the fastest animal on the planet, the peregrine falcon, on a mission to kill for her chicks. Off the coast of South Africa the world's largest predatory fish, the great white shark, has just completed a 7,000-mile journey and is hungry for seal blubber. On the plains of Africa the fastest land animal, the cheetah, struggles to provide for her cubs as her enemies move in. And having survived a drought by entering into a state of suspended animation, the prehistoric Nile crocodile is poised to ambush his dinner.
2010 • Nature
In recent years, our knowledge of life beneath the waves has been transformed. Using cutting-edge technology, One Ocean takes us on a journey from the intense heat of the tropics to our planet's frozen poles to reveal new worlds and extraordinary never-before-seen animal behaviours.
Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain and volcano in the world. Join wildlife expert Jean du Plessis as he makes the perilous summit climb through its five vastly different climates to understand how quickly its famed glaciers are melting.
The secret lives of the world’s most mysterious cats are brought to light by advances in remote and low-light filming technology. In South Africa, we follow the nocturnal pursuits of the tiny black-footed cat that stakes its claim to the title of the world's deadliest, and in remotest Mongolia we reveal the rarely seen Pallas's cat, at home with her kittens - she hunts by looking like a rock. Finally, in South Africa, we uncover the secret of the serval that thrives amongst the futuristic landscape of Africa's biggest industrial complex. These are remarkable cats, with surprising lives in extraordinary places.
David Attenborough is in the Swiss Jura Mountains to discover the secrets of a giant. Beneath his feet lies a vast network of tunnels and chambers, home to a huge empire of ants. It is believed to be one of the largest animal societies in the world, where over a billion ants from rival colonies live in peace. Their harmonious existence breaks many of the rules for both ants and evolution, and raises some important questions. Through winter, spring and into summer, David turns detective to find the answers.