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 first episode tells how invertebrates became the first creatures of any kind to colonise dry land. Their forerunners were shelled and segmented sea creatures that existed 400 million years ago. Some of them ventured out of the water to lay their eggs in safety, and Attenborough compares those first steps with today's mass spawning of horseshoe crabs off the Atlantic coast of North America.
2005 • Nature
The next programme deals with flying insects. It begins in Central Europe, where the Körös River plays host to millions of giant mayflies as they rise from their larval skins to mate. — the climax of their lives. Mayflies and dragonflies were among the first to take to the air about 320 million years ago, and fossils reveal that some were similar in size to a seagull. Damselflies are also looked at in detail.
2005 • Nature
The final programme looks at the superorganisms formed by bees, ants and termites. Attenborough reveals that their colonies, whose individuals were once considered purely servile, are "full of conflict, power struggles and mutinies." They evolved when such creatures moved away from a solitary existence and started building nests side-by-side, which led to a collective approach to caring for their young.
2005 • Nature
The journey begins on the Galapagos' west side at the youngest and most volcanically active islands in the archipelago, Isabela and Fernandina, which are home to a richly diverse wildlife scene. Here, Liz and the team journey into the clouds above Wolf, the tallest volcano in the Galapagos, where they join a group of biologists hunting for the elusive pink iguana, which teeters on the edge of extinction. But how and why did it come to live on the top of a volcano? Back on the research vessel, Liz boards Alucia's Triton submersible to descend a kilometre into the ocean abyss in search of a new species hiding in the darkness. Liz also travels to one of the most remote locations in the Galapagos, Alcedo Volcano, in search of the largest population of giant tortoises. Plagued by drought in recent months, scientists are keen to find out how this prehistoric species has fared. Finally, Liz helps out with a groundbreaking science experiment to x-ray marine iguanas that have so far stunned the scientific community with a new mutation. As with all life on these remote islands, the key to survival is adaptation.
Professor Richard Fortey travels to northeastern China to see a fossil site known as the 'Dinosaur Pompeii' - a place that has yielded spectacular remains of feathered dinosaurs and rewritten the story of the origins of birds. Among the amazing finds he investigates are the feathered cousin of T-rex, a feathered dinosaur with strong parallels to living pandas and some of the most remarkable flying animals that have ever lived.
The Rockies are the spine of North America, a beautiful wilderness of snow-capped peaks and hidden valleys. Cougars hunt in abandoned ranches, wolverines search the deep snow for food and grizzly bears hunt in the high mountain meadows. Daredevil wingsuit flier’s leap from mile-high cliffs and Native American tribes compete in breakneck horse races. It is also the range of surprises, with tiny cannibal salamanders hunting in mountain ponds and hummingbirds making enormous migrations
Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms. David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations. We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes. It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness. Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here. The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.
The annual migration of wildebeest through the plains of the Serengeti reaches its unforgiving apex at the banks of the crocodile-infested Mara River. Undeterred, the herd leaps in despite the deadly predators within. Join wildlife expert Jean du Plessis as he charts this epic and often-deadly journey.
Picture the last two hundred years without the publication of Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" -- how might the scientific conversation have developed? What were the influences in Victorian England during Darwin's youth, and how tenuous was his opportunity for sailing on the Beagle's voyage?