The air we breathe, and all the food we eat, is created from water, sunlight, carbon dioxide and a few minerals. It sounds simple, but this process is one of the most fascinating and complicated in all of science, and without it there could be no life on earth. For centuries people believed that plants grew by eating soil. In the 17th century, pioneer botanists began to make the connection between the growth of a plant and the energy from the sun. They discovered how plants use water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce sugars - how, in fact, a plant grows. The process of photosynthesis is still at the heart of scientific research today, with universities across the world working hard to replicate in the lab what plants do with ruthless efficiency. Their goal is to produce a clean, limitless fuel and if they get it right it will change all our lives.
Hybrids can be bizarre and they can be deadly. We look at two hybrid animals that owe their existence to human interference - the pizzly bear (a cross between a polar bear and grizzly), which has come into being because of global warming, and the killer bee, brought into existence because of the transfer of African bees to South America.
Investigates the greatest vanishing act in the history of our planet - the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Experts suspect that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a city-sized asteroid smashed into the Gulf of Mexico causing a huge crater. But until now, they haven't had any proof. In a world first, evolutionary biologist Ben Garrod joins a multi-million pound drilling expedition into the exact spot the asteroid hit to get hard evidence of the link. The team overcomes huge obstacles as it attempts to drill 1,500 metres beneath sea level to pull up rock from the Chicxulub crater.
2017 • Nature
The final episode deals with the evolution of the most widespread and dominant species on Earth: humans. The story begins in Africa, where, some 10 million years ago, apes descended from the trees and ventured out into the open grasslands in search of food. They slowly adapted to the habitat and grew in size. Their acute sense of vision led to them standing erect to spot predators, leaving their hands free to bear weapons. In addition, the primitive apemen also had stones that were chipped into cutting tools. Slowly, they grew taller and more upright, and their stone implements became ever more elaborate.
Canada's Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island in the world--and with good reason. Temperatures below freezing for nine months of the year and an annual rainfall comparable to the Gobi Desert leave the icy landscape so barren that NASA uses it to simulate conditions on Mars. Take an exhilarating expedition into a land where only the most experienced Inuit hunters dare set foot.