There are 200 million insects for each of us. They are the most successful animal group ever. Their key is an armoured covering that takes on almost any shape. Darwin's stag beetle fights in the tree tops with huge curved jaws. The camera flies with millions of monarch butterflies which migrate 2000 miles, navigating by the sun. Super slow motion shows a bombardier beetle firing boiling liquid at enemies through a rotating nozzle. A honey bee army stings a raiding bear into submission. Grass cutter ants march like a Roman army, harvesting grass they cannot actually eat. They cultivate a fungus that breaks the grass down for them. Their giant colony is the closest thing in nature to the complexity of a human city.
Much of Australia consists of vast tracts of uninhabited land, a perfect hunting ground for the country's imperious birds of prey. From the brown falcons that feed on the country's deadliest snakes, to eagles that have been known to start fires on purpose so they can hunt fleeing animals, soar above the diverse habitats of this island continent in the company of its most accomplished aerial predators.
Across the dunes of the Kalahari, a towering, 200-year-old tree extends its branches to the heavens. This camel thorn Acacia is a secret refuge for those in the know. Colonies of sociable weavers use its branches for their oversized nests. Oryx, kudu, and other herbivores feed on her ripened pods, helping soften the seeds for germination. As the rainy season descends, its branches become draped with golden flowers, a magnet for pollinating insects. For many, the Acacia is a 'tree of life.' It's a relationship as old as the Kalahari itself.
At the very northern edge of North America is Ellesmere Island, where the unforgiving Arctic winds tear through the tundra, dipping temperatures to 40 below zero. Running through this shifting sea of snow and ice is one of the most hardened predators on the planet, the White Wolf. But as the spring melt approaches, these roaming hunters must adapt to being tethered parents as new additions to the pack have just been born. With their herds of prey continuing to move, we witness a desperate race to keep up and bring back a kill to the hungry mothers and cubs. Traveling farther and farther away from their den each day puts these hunters and their children at risk in this fight for survival.
2018 • Nature