On the rocky southern tip of Africa lies a narrow peninsula held hostage by the elements. From pounding ice-cold waves to relentless sun, the extreme conditions demand toughness and adaptability from its resident wildlife.
Just off the southern coast of Africa, beneath the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, lies a safe zone created by a unique confluence of geography and climate: a sanctuary with a vibrant concentration of dazzling aquatic life. Embark on an underwater adventure into a marine wilderness stronghold.
2016 • Nature
Takes us into the world of digestion and its amazingly complex environment.Our health, body shape, mood and even our evolution are determined by the unseen life forms that swarm throughout our bodies. There are worms in your bowels, bacteria in your mouth, fungi in your lungs and even viruses in your DNA.The combined genetic information of all these bugs is more than 150 times greater than our own genes. Their cells outnumber our own by 10 to 1. This collective menagerie is called the microbiome, and in a very real sense, it is the making of us all.
It may take two to make a baby - but not necessarily two to bring it up. So what makes a parent decide to stay or go? Especially if that parent is a dad. From the California mouse mother who has to kickstart her partner's paternal instincts, to Adelie penguin parents who can't leave their eggs alone for five minutes; from cheetah mums practicing promiscuity to keep the dads on side, to flamingo parents both producing milk for their young. We see just how far these incredible parents go in order to protect and nurture as many offspring as possible through to adulthood.
The Cave of Swallows in Mexico is a 400m vertical shaft, deep enough to engulf the Empire State Building. The Lechuguilla cave system in the USA is 193km long and 500m deep with astonishing crystal formations hanging from its chambers. Although often overlooked, caves are remarkable habitats with equally bizarre wildlife. Cave angel fish cling to the walls behind cave waterfalls with microscopic hooks on their flattened fins. Cave swiftlets navigate by echo-location and build nests out of saliva. The Texas cave salamander has neither eyes nor pigment. Unique access to a hidden world of stalactites, stalagmites, snotites and troglodytes brings a wealth of surprises.
The third instalment examines the spiders and others that produce silk. Attenborough visits New Zealand's Waitomo Caves, which are inhabited by fungus gnats whose illuminated larvae sit atop glistening, beaded filaments to lure their prey.
The story of animals surviving one of the harshest seasonal changes on the planet continues. As winter turns to spring, temperatures rise and Yellowstone bursts into life. Beavers feast on new green shoots, baby bison take their first faltering steps and grizzly bear cubs emerge from dens to explore this new green world. But spring is also a perilous time. Wolves are hungrier than usual after slim winter pickings. And rising temperatures melt the vast mountain snow pack, sending a million tons of water flooding into the rivers. Only the toughest will survive.