In Tokyo, there are unapproachable "lost islands" with unspoiled environs and rich wildlife. Minami Iwo-to, part of the Ogasawara island chain, is about 1,300km from the Japanese capital. Normally, entry is banned to protect the environment. An exception was made in 2017 for the first comprehensive scientific survey in 10 years. The island compresses multiple climate zones into a small area, offering researchers a rare opportunity to view evolution in action. Braving an arduous climb and a swarm of seabirds, the team discovers one new species after another.
It really is a big bad world out there. So what happens if you are the little guy? This film tells the epic survival stories of the world's smallest animals. To make a living, these tiny heroes have evolved extraordinary skills and achieved mind-boggling feats. From the animal kingdom's greatest artist to the tiny creatures that provide us with so much of the air we breathe, we discover what it takes to be a miniature miracle.
2017 • Nature
Steve Backshall tries to discover just what makes it possible for a river to stop in the middle of a desert. The Okavango is the world's largest inland delta and home to a one of Africa's greatest congregations of wildlife, and in asking the difficult questions Steve reveals the astounding secret to its existence.
In the heart of Brazil lie the immense wetlands of the Pantanal--an area 10 times the size of the Florida Everglades. In the dry season, over 650 species of birds descend onto the shallow marshes to feast, breed, and raise their young, including the the regal jabiru, the colorful hyacinth macaw, and the noisy chacalaca.
This programme focuses on birds. The feather is key to everything that is crucial about a bird: it is both its aerofoil and its insulator. The earliest feathers were found on a fossilised Archaeopteryx skeleton in Bavaria. However, it had claws on its wings and there is only one species alive today that does so: the hoatzin, whose chicks possess them for about a week or so. Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate the probable movement of its ancestor. It may have taken to the trees to avoid predators, and over time, its bony, reptilian tail was replaced by feathers and its heavy jaw evolved into a keratin beak.
Sharks are among the most misunderstood predators on the planet, but an international team of scientists is trying to change that. Their research is revealing that sharks can be sociable and intelligent, and they could even help solve some of the toughest medical challenges of the 21st century. However, their breakthroughs come just as many sharks face extinction. Science may now be the only way to save them.