The next time you look in a mirror, think about this: In many ways you're more microbe than human. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells.
How do animals experience the world around them? How does what they see impact their place in nature and how has their place in nature impacted what they see? We asked Professor Thomas Cronin to show us how the most interesting and prolific eyes in the animal kingdom work and how they came to be.
2018 • Nature
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest coral reef system in the world. Estimated to be nearly 4,000 years old, its waters are home to an immense marine ecosystem. Explore a deep blue wilderness brimming with rare, exotic fish, sea turtles, sharks, and huge green morays.
Since the Suez Canal's completion in 1869, more than 350 species of plants and sea creatures have migrated through it. Now, over half the marine species in the Mediterranean Sea used to live in the Red Sea, and the ecological ramifications of the canal are still being studied. Dive into the new underwater world that's resulted from this seismic migration.
Plants' solutions to life's challenges are as ingenious and manipulative as any animal's. Innovative time-lapse photography opens up a parallel world where plants act like fly-paper, or spring-loaded traps, to catch insects. Vines develop suckers and claws to haul themselves into the rainforest canopy. Every peculiar shape proves to have a clever purpose. The dragon's blood tree is like an upturned umbrella to capture mist and shade its roots. The seed of a Bornean tree has wings so aerodynamic they inspired the design of early gliders. The barrel-shaped desert rose is full of water. The heliconia plant even enslaves a humming bird and turns it into an addict for its nectar.
This programme surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night. To prepare for winter, some store it in vast quantities, some hibernate and others make do as best they can. However, the carnivores joined them, and when a drying climate triggered the spread of grass, they followed their prey out on to the plains. Grass is not easily digestible and most animals that eat it have to regurgitate it and chew the cud. Out in the open, the leaf-eaters had to develop means of protection.
In this first episode they travel from July to the December solstice, experiencing spectacular weather and the largest tides on Earth. To show how the Earth's orbit affects our lives, Helen jumps out of an aeroplane and Kate briefly becomes the fastest driver on Earth.