As a whole, Africa is a dry continent with deserts dominating the landscape. Wild Africa explores how these deserts were created, and the amazing ways in which animals and plants have evolved to cope with the meagre and unpredictable rainfall, intense solar radiation, shortages of food and lack of shelter. By traveling through the African deserts, Wild Africa reveals that given enough time, a diverse variety of animals and plants can make a living in even the harshest conditions.
Zebra stripes vary subtly between the different species but there is one group of animals that has evolved colourful patterns of seemingly infinite variety, the butterflies. In this episode David looks at two examples of animal patterns that have bedazzled and baffled science for a long time, and uses modern tools to unlock their secrets.
The second episode of the documentary series takes a look at bizarre and extraordinary feathered dinosaurs, many of which have only just been discovered. These feathered beasts are revolutionising our understanding of life on Earth as they blur the boundaries between what we know of dinosaurs and birds. China sits at the heart of the feathered dinosaur discoveries and is the home of one of the most unusual discoveries on Earth: the epidexipteryx. Only the size of a pigeon, this predator was the most bird-like of any dinosaur and is the first known case of ornamental feathers. But feathers were not just confined to the small. From caudipteryx to sinosauropteryx and the 8-metre-long gigantoraptor, feathers may have been used for flight, for insulation or even to intimate and attract. These dinosaurs not only hint at how animals might have developed flight, but also suggest that dinosaurs may still live among us today - as birds.
The final episode explores dinosaurs' extraordinary ability to survive. Featured dinosaurs include the bizarre magyarosaurus, which lived in the shadow of the biggest flying animal - hatzegopteryx - and showed an amazing adaptation to island life; and the weird nothronychus, a carnivore that gave up meat eating. This astonishing capacity to evolve into ever more diverse and bizarre forms meant that dinosaurs not only spread throughout the world, but also dominated life upon it for more than 160 million years. It was only an unprecedented extraterrestrial event that finally saw the end of planet dinosaur.