Antarctica is the most remote and pristine wilderness on the planet. , It is a timeless and harsh land like no other. Night here can last three months and in the peak of summer the sun never sets. To understand how life can exist in this continent of snow and icebergs you must spend a year there. You discover that despite being the least habitable place on Earth, life abounds in Antarctica. Megafauna such as humpback whales and orca, massive seals and stately penguins all take the brutal conditions head on and thrive in this year on ice.
Watch as birds solve puzzles and challenge our basic notions of intelligence. Call somebody a “bird brain,” and you’re not delivering them a compliment. But as NOVA shows, birds turn out to have advanced problem-solving skills that we usually assume are unique to humans. Watch astonishing tests of avian aptitude: parrots that can plan for the future, jackdaws that can “read” human faces, and crows that can solve multi-step puzzles with tools like pebbles, sticks, and hooks. Could these just be clever tricks based on instinct or triggered by subtle cues from their human handlers? To rule out any doubts, NOVA puts feathered Einsteins through their paces and reveals skills that even three- or four-year-old children have a hard time mastering—such as putting off one reward now to get a bigger one later. From this revolution in thinking about our feathered friends, the conclusion seems irresistible that bird brains see the world in ways that aren’t so different from our own.
The undercover cameras reveal how animals rely upon each other for a range of activities. Arctic wolves group together to survive in one of the harshest landscapes on earth, a band of hungry mongoose groom warthogs for tasty morsels - before turning their attention to Spy Warthog - and fish help clean hippos' bodies, as well as providing a unique dental service. Meanwhile, crocodiles and dikkop birds take part in a mutual neighbourhood watch against hungry prowling monitor lizards, and Spy Rattlesnake captures how prairie dogs and burrowing owls use their language skills to tell the rest of their community of approaching danger.
The leatherback sea turtle is a magnificent creature that can be found in Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. This ancient species swims faster, travels further, and dives deeper than any other reptile on the planet. In the Atlantic, they migrate every year from their nesting grounds in the Caribbean to the chilly waters off the east coast of Canada where they feast on jellyfish. This epic annual journey – at a staggering 12,000 km – is the longest for any reptile in the world.
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.
The tropical climate and varied topography of Costa Rica have fostered exceptional biodiversity, with wildlife from both North and South America. From the peaks of volcanoes down to the Pacific and Caribbean shores. Discover the life of 90 of the most remarkable animals in this remarkable country.
2018 • Nature