Helen Macdonald traces the dramatic journey of Britain's greatest river, the Tay, over an entire year. Mixing natural history, cutting-edge science and historical biography with a spectacular travelogue, the film is a celebration of our largest river as it transforms from melting Highland snow to a vast torrent flowing into the cold North Sea.
Oxygen – we all need it, we can't live without it. It's integral to life on this planet. And it's probable that, as you watch this film, you will be breathing in an oxygen atom that was also breathed by Genghis Khan – or by the first ever apes to stand upright on the plains of Africa. The oxygen that we breathe is made from two oxygen atoms joined together – O2. They were first joined more than 3 billion years ago by the earliest blue-green algae to evolve. The oxygen molecule first came from bacteria and was present in the fires that destroyed the dinosaurs and the chemical reactions in all human cells, and as ozone they protect the earth from radiation. Since then, both together and apart, they've had the most extraordinary adventures. Each of the two atoms in an oxygen molecule is virtually indestructible – so they have been first-hand players in some of the most dramatic events in the whole of Earth's history. It's often said that we are breathing the same oxygen that the cavemen did. The life of a single molecule of oxygen is traced on it's astonishing journey spanning millions of years, from its creation, into photosynthesis, through the age of the dinosaurs, early man, and on into today.
2008 • Nature
Richard Hammond concludes his look at miracles in the natural world by discovering some incredible animal super-powers. Creatures that can create slime as strong as steel, survive massive extremes of temperature or even turn invisible. Animal super-powers that have inspired scientists and engineers to create brand new human inventions that could change the way we live. He discovers how the husky's paw can help American footballers; how a strange eel-like creature with a skull but no skeleton might be the next best thing to a spider; how the kingfisher could revolutionise air-sea rescue; and how the cuttlefish has enabled a military tank to pretend it's a small family saloon.
Mammals' ability to learn new tricks is the key to survival in the knife-edge world of hunters and hunted. In a TV first, a killer whale off the Falklands does something unique: it sneaks into a pool where elephant seal pups learn to swim and snatches them, saving itself the trouble of hunting in the open sea. Slow-motion cameras reveal the star-nosed mole's newly-discovered technique for smelling prey underwater: it exhales then inhales a bubble of air ten times per second. Young ibex soon learn the only way to escape a fox - run up an almost vertical cliff face - and young stoats fight mock battles, learning the skills that make them one of the world's most efficient predators.
David Attenborough has a passion for birds' eggs. These remarkable structures nurture new life, protecting it from the outside world at the same time as allowing it to breathe. They are strong enough to withstand the full weight of an incubating parent and weak enough to allow a chick to break free. But how is an egg made? Why are they the shape they are? And perhaps most importantly, why lay an egg at all? Piece by piece, from creation to hatching, David reveals the wonder behind these miracles of nature.