We look at the ways in which plants have adapted to survive in the harshest climates on Earth. Whether in the driest, hottest deserts or the coldest Arctic wastes, plants have come up with some ingenious ways of surviving, including eating animals and actually caring for their offspring.
For most of the Earth's history, life consisted of the simplest organisms; but then something happened that would give rise to staggering diversity, and, ultimately, life as complex as that which we see today. Scientists are still struggling to figure out just what that was.
The Namaqua rock fig is known as the rock splitter. It's not just a testament to its ability to withstand the dry conditions, but a literal tribute to its powerful root system, which extends 200 feet into the Earth in search of water. Besides the army of wildlife who rely on it for survival, the rock splitter has a unique relationship with its own species of miniature wasp that help pollinate its tiny flowers. As temperatures soar each passing year, this ultimate survivor reaches deeper to squeeze every drop of water from the parched land.
In this episode Brian uncovers how the stunning diversity of shapes in the natural world are shadows of the rules that govern the universe. In Spain he shows how an attempt by hundreds of people to build the highest human tower reveals the force that shapes our planet. In Nepal, honey hunters seek out giant beehives that cling to cliff walls. The perfect hexagonal honeycombs made by the bees to store their honey conceal a mathematical rule. Off the coast of Canada, Brian explains how some of the most irregular, dangerous shapes in nature - massive icebergs that surge down from Greenland and into shipping lanes of the Atlantic - emerge from a powerful yet infinitely small force of nature. Even the most delicate six-sided snowflake tells a story of the forces of nature that forged it.
There is plenty of food in the Pacific Ocean, but it is the challenge of finding that food that drives all life in the Pacific. In the voracious Pacific we meet a destructive army of mouths, a killer with a hundred mouths and the biggest mouth in the ocean.