Meet slime molds: the brainless blobs that can learn, make decisions, and navigate mazes. Who says you need brains to be smart? Extremely primitive life-forms called slime molds can navigate mazes, choose between foods, and create efficient networks—no brain required. New research on these organisms, which are neither plant nor animal, could help reveal the fundamental rules underlying all decision making.
2020 • Nature
The penultimate instalment investigates the primates, whose defining characteristics are forward-facing eyes for judging distance, and gripping hands with which to grasp branches, manipulate food and groom one another. The programme begins in Madagascar, home to the lemurs, of which there are some 20 different types. Two examples are the sifaka, which is a specialised jumper, and the indri, which has a well-developed voice. Away from Madagascar, the only lemur relatives to have survived are nocturnal, such as the bushbaby, the potto and the loris. The others were supplanted by the monkeys and a primitive species that still exists is the smallest, the marmoset. However, Attenborough selects the squirrel monkey as being typical of the group. Howler monkeys demonstrate why they are so named their chorus is said to the loudest of any mammal and their prehensile tails illustrate their agility.
This edition follows the plight of some of the youngest and most vulnerable of the mountain gorilla population. Includes the two young orphans whose mothers were callously murdered in execution-style killings, the young female battling with new emotions, and the new gorilla king struggling to keep hold of the group he fought so hard to win. Discover how they cope in this exploration of what the future holds for the remaining last few hundred mountain gorillas.
Africa's coasts were formed by the break-up of Gondwanaland 100 million years ago. They define the familiar shape of this special continent, and touch on a variety of environments including deserts, mountains, forests, wetlands and savannahs. Wild Africa takes us back in time to witness the birth of Africa and also carries us on a spectacular journey around the edge of the continent.
David Attenborough chooses his ten favourite animals that he would most like to save from extinction. From the weird to the wonderful, he picks fabulous and unusual creatures that he would like to put in his 'ark', including unexpected and little-known animals such as the olm, the solenodon and the quoll. He shows why they are so important and shares the ingenious work of biologists across the world who are helping to keep them alive.