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.
The first programme of Darwin's Dangerous Idea explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on religion and morality. Andrew Marr discovers that an important part of the Beagle’s mission was to return three natives to their homeland, Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of Argentina. Years before he reached the Galapagos, they raised questions in his mind about the fragility of civilisation and what it really means to be human. Marr explores how Darwin developed his ideas when he returned to Britain and finally unleashed his theory of evolution by natural selection on the world. Darwin’s ideas are taken up by many of the major thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. We discover that his ideas helped motivate the Kaiser’s army in the First World War and would also help convince the United States government to drop its isolationist policy and enter the conflict. In the 20th century, we discover a growing backlash against Darwin’s ideas among fundamentalists from the world’s major religions. At the same time science has been showing that Darwin’s theory of natural selection holds sway over our behaviour - including our morality - as much as it does over the evolution of our bodies. There is significant scientific evidence that suggests that Darwin has returned humanity to nature, in all its wonder, its glory and its danger.
David Attenborough employs the latest technologies to explore the violence, rivalries and deadly weaponry existing within the world of bugs. This first episode examines the survival tactics of its terrifying residents including killer ants, trap-setting spiders and beetles with the ability to shoot boiling chemicals at their enemies.
Horizon discovers what your cat really gets up to when it leaves the cat flap. In a groundbreaking experiment, 50 cats from a village in Surrey are tagged with GPS collars and their every movement is recorded, day and night, as they hunt in our backyards and patrol the garden fences and hedgerows. Cats are fitted with specially developed cat-cams which reveal their unique view of our world. You may think you understand your pet, but their secret life is more surprising than we thought.
Hummingbirds represent one of nature's most interesting paradoxes - they are the tiniest of birds, yet they qualify as some of the toughest and most energetic creatures on the planet. New knowledge gained from scientists currently making great breakthroughs in hummingbird biology makes this a perfect time to focus on these shimmering, flashing jewels of the natural world. Stunningly beautiful high-definition, high-speed footage of hummingbirds in the wild combined with high-tech presentations of their remarkable abilities help us to understand the world of hummingbirds as we never have before.
In episode three, Fortey looks at the Ice Age. 2.8 million years ago - triggered by slight changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun and shifts in its ocean currents - the world began to cool. Within a few thousand years much of the planet was shrouded in a dense cloak of ice that would come and go until only 10,000 years ago. We call this age of ice - the Pleistocene Age - and it transformed the hierarchy of nature. This is the story of how a few specialist species that evolved to live in the biting cold survived into the present day.
Finding somewhere to keep safe is one of the biggest challenges an animal faces. But some animals don't have to find a safe place - they build one. Chris reveals some of the best building animals in the world - a group that is incredibly varied. Accomplished animal architects include everything from beavers to bees and prairie dogs to bowerbirds. They don't only build homes, however - they also make structures to raise their young, store food, catch prey and impress mates. But what can be learnt from their building brilliance?