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The Life Collection is a 24-disc DVD box set of eight titles from David Attenborough's 'Life' series of BBC natural history programmes


Saisons & épisodes Les résumés de tous les épisodes de The Life Collection

S01E01 The Infinite Variety 00/00/0000 The first episode begins in the South American rainforest, whose rich variety of life forms is used to illustrate the sheer number of different species. Since many are dependent on others for food or means of reproduction, David Attenborough argues that they couldn't all have appeared at once. He sets out to discover which came first, and the reasons for such diversity. He starts by explaining the theories of Charles Darwin and the process of natural selection, using the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands (where Darwin voyaged on HMS Beagle) as an example. Fossils provide evidence of the earliest life, and Attenborough travels a vertical mile into the Grand Canyon in search of them. By the time he reaches the Colorado River bed, the geological strata are 2,000 million years old — yet there are no fossils. However, the "right rocks" are found on the shores of Lake Superior in Canada, where wafer-thin slices of flint, called chert, reveal filaments of primitive algae. Also, the micro-organisms that flourish at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming appear to be identical to the Earth's oldest fossils. The evolution of single-celled creatures, from simple cyanophytes to more complex ciliates, and then from multi-celled sponges and jellyfish to the many variations of coral and its associated polyps, is discussed in detail. The fossilised remains of jellyfish are shown within the Flinders Ranges of Australia, and are estimated to be 650 million years old.
S01E02 Building Bodies 00/00/0000 In Morocco, the limestones are 600 million years old, and contain many invertebrate fossils. They fall broadly into three categories: shells, crinoids and segmented shells. The evolution of shelled creatures is demonstrated with the flatworm, which eventually changed its body shape when burrowing became a necessity for either food or safety. It then evolved shielded tentacles and the casings eventually enveloped the entire body: these creatures are the brachiopods. The most successful shelled animals are the molluscs, of which there are some 80,000 different species. Some are single-shelled such as the cowrie, while others are bivalves that include the scallop and the giant clam. One species that has remained unchanged for millions of years is the nautilus: it features flotation chambers within its shell, which in turn formed the basis for the ammonites. Crinoids are illustrated by sea lilies, starfish and sea urchins on the Great Barrier Reef. Segmented worms developed to enable sustained burrowing, and well preserved fossils are found in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. These developed into trilobites and crustaceans, and the horseshoe crab is shown nesting in vast numbers on Delaware Bay. While the robber crab breeds in the sea, it is in all other respects a land animal and Attenborough uses it to exemplify the next evolutionary step.
S01E03 The First Forest 00/00/0000 This instalment examines the earliest land vegetation and insects. The first plants, being devoid of stems, mainly comprised mosses and liverworts. Using both sexual and asexual methods of reproduction, they proliferated. Descended from segmented sea creatures, millipedes were among the first to take advantage of such a habitat and were quickly followed by other species. Without water to carry eggs, bodily contact between the sexes was now necessary. This was problematical for some hunters, such as spiders and scorpions, who developed courtship rituals to ensure that that the female didn't eat the male. Over time, the plants' cell walls strengthened and they grew taller. Ferns and horsetails were among the first such species. Insects then evolved wings to avoid climbing and the dragonfly (which once had a wingspan of 60 centimetres) is one of the most successful. The elaborate wingbeats of the damselfly are shown slowed down 120 times. Some plants, like the cycad enlisted the insects to transport pollen, while others, like the conifer, spread spores. Over a third of forests contain conifers and the giant sequoia of California is the largest living organism of any kind: it grows to a height of 112 metres. The conifer secretes resin to repair its trunk, and this survives as amber. Within it, insect specimens have been found that are 200 million years old. In fact, at this time, every insect known today was already in existence.
S01E04 The Swarming Hordes 00/00/0000 Details the relationship between flowers and insects. There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled. Around 300 million years ago, plants began to enlist insects to help with their reproduction, and they did so with flowers. Although the magnolia, for instance, contains male and female cells, pollination from another plant is preferable as it ensures greater variation and thus evolution. Flowers advertise themselves by either scent or display. Some evolved to produce sweet-smelling nectar and in turn, several insects developed their mouth parts into feeding tubes in order to reach it. However, to ensure that pollination occurs, some species — such as the orchid — have highly complicated mechanisms that must be negotiated first. Others, such as the yucca and its visiting moths, are dependent on one another. Hunters, such as the mantis, are camouflaged to match the flowers and leaves visited by their prey. Since an insect’s skin is chitinous, it has to shed it periodically in order to grow, and the caterpillar, its chrysalis or cocoon and resulting butterfly or moth is one of the more complex examples. Termites, ants and some bees and wasps overcame any limitations of size by grouping together and forming superorganisms. The green tree ants of south-east Asia are shown to display the most extraordinary co-operation when building their nests.
S01E05 The Conquest of the Waters 00/00/0000 Looks at the evolution of fish. They have developed a multitude of shapes, sizes and methods of propulsion and navigation. The sea squirt, the lancelet and the lamprey are given as examples of the earliest, simplest types. Then, about 400 million years ago, the first back-boned fish appeared. The Kimberley Ranges of Western Australia are, in fact, the remnants of a coral reef and the ancient seabed. There, Attenborough discovers fossils of the earliest fish to have developed jaws. These evolved into two shapes of creature with cartilaginous skeletons: wide ones (like rays and skates) and long ones (like sharks). However, it is the fully boned species that were most successful, and spread from the oceans to rivers and lakes. To adapt to these environments, they had by now acquired gills for breathing, a lateral line to detect movement and a swim bladder to aid buoyancy. Coral reefs contain the greatest variety of species, many of which are conspicuously coloured to ward off predators or attract mates. Their habitat, with its many hiding places within easy reach, allows them to remain so visible. However, the open ocean offers no such refuge, so there is safety in numbers — both hunters and hunted swim in shoals and have streamlined bodies for pursuit or escape. Most species that live below the thermocline, in the freezing depths of the ocean, have never been filmed, and these are largely represented by still photographs.
S01E06 Invasion of the Land 00/00/0000 Describes the move from water to land. The fish that did so may have been forced to because of drought, or chose to in search of food. Either way, they eventually evolved into amphibians. Such creatures needed two things: limbs for mobility and lungs to breathe. The coelacanth is shown as a fish with bony fins that could have developed into legs, and the lungfish is able to absorb gaseous oxygen. However, evidence of an animal that possessed both is presented in the 450 million-year-old fossilised remains of a fish called a eusthenopteron. Three groups of amphibians are explored. The Caecilians have abandoned legs altogether to aid burrowing, newts and salamanders need to return to the water to allow their skins to breathe, but it is frogs and toads that have been the most successful. Attenborough handles a goliath frog, the largest of the species, to demonstrate its characteristics. Their webbed feet form parachutes that turn them into "dazzling athletes", and some can leap over 15 metres — 100 times their body length. In addition, their vocal sacs ensure that mating calls can be heard from up to a mile away. Poison dart frogs deter predators by means of venom, and one such example could kill a human. Various methods of breeding are examined, including laying eggs in rivers, depositing them in other damp habitats for safety or, as with the Brazilian pipa, embedding them within the skin of the parent itself.
S01E07 Victors of the Dry Land 00/00/0000 Devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates. The reason is their scaly, practically watertight skin. The scales protect the body from wear and tear and in the case of some species of lizard, such as the Australian thorny devil, serve to protect from attack. The horned iguana from the West Indies is also one of the most heavily armoured. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well known example. Temperature control is important to reptiles: they can’t generate body heat internally or sweat to keep cool. Therefore, they rely on the sun and areas of shade. The reptiles were the first vertebrates for whom internal fertilisation was essential, so they developed the watertight egg, which hatches fully formed young. The age of the dinosaurs is explored, and Attenborough surmises that it may have been climate change that led to their abrupt demise. Those that survived were water-dwellers, and the bull Nile crocodile is the largest reptile alive today. Snakes evolved when burrowing lizards lost their legs but returned above ground. The boa, puff adder and sidewinder demonstrate methods of locomotion, the egg-eating snake has an extreme example of a hinged jaw, and the lethal diamondback rattlesnake is described as the most efficient at despatching its prey.
S01E08 Lords of the Air 00/00/0000 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. Beaks come in a variety of shapes depending on a bird’s feeding habits: examples given include the pouched bill of a pelican, the hooked beak of the vulture and the elongated mouth of the hummingbird. Attenborough hails the tern as one of the most graceful flyers and the albatross as a skilled glider. The swift is shown as one of the fastest: it can fly at 170 km/h. Birds communicate through display and/or song, and the elaborate courtship rituals of New Guinea’s birds of paradise are shown. All birds lay eggs, and the range of different nesting sites and parenting skills is explored. Finally, Attenborough visits Gibraltar to observe migratory birds. These rely on thermals when flying overland and use height to conserve energy when crossing oceans. It is estimated that some 5,000 million southbound birds cross the Mediterranean Sea each autumn.
S01E09 The Rise of the Mammals 00/00/0000 This instalment is the first of several to concentrate on mammals. The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs (in much the same manner of reptiles), and it is from such animals that others in the group evolved. Since mammals have warm blood and most have dense fur, they can hunt at night when temperatures drop. It is for this reason that they became more successful than their reptile ancestors, who needed to heat themselves externally. Much of the programme is devoted to marsupials (whose young are partially formed at birth) of which fossils have been found in the Americas dating back 60 million years. However, because of continental drift, this kind of mammal flourished in Australia. Examples shown include the quoll, the Tasmanian devil, the koala, the wombat and the largest marsupial, the red kangaroo. The thylacine was similar to a wolf but is now thought to be extinct. In 1969, bones of creatures such as a 3 metre-tall kangaroo and a ferocious marsupial lion were found in a cave in Naracoorte, South Australia. The reason for these animals' extinction is, once again, thought to be climate change. Finally, Attenborough describes the most prolific mammals — those that originated in the Northern Hemisphere and give birth to fully formed young. He states, "The placenta and the womb between them provide a degree of safety and a continuity of sustenance which is unparalleled in the animal world."
S01E10 Theme and Variations 00/00/0000 This episode continues the study of mammals, and particularly those whose young gestate inside their bodies. Attenborough asks why these have become so varied and tries to discover the common theme that links them. Examples of primitive mammals that are still alive today include the treeshrew, the desman and the star-nosed mole. Insect eaters vary enormously from the aardvark, giant anteater and pangolin to those to which much of this programme is devoted: the bats, of which there are nearly 1,000 different species. These took to flying at night, and it’s possible that they evolved from treeshrews that jumped from tree to tree, in much the same way as a flying squirrel. Most bats use sonar to hunt and navigate, and ultrasound to communicate. However, some of their prey, such as the lacewing and tiger moth, have developed techniques to confuse and evade them. Aquatic mammals superseded sea-going dinosaurs such as the plesiosaur. The whales’ immense size is related to the retention of body heat. The dinosaurs’ growth was limited by the strength of their bones but the whales only rely on water to support their weight, and so have been able to grow into the world’s largest animals. Some of those shown include humpbacks, narwhals, killer whales and dolphins. The latter use echolocation in much the same way as bats, and Attenborough observes one finding objects in the water even after it has been blindfolded.
S01E11 The Hunters and Hunted 00/00/0000 This programme surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night. To prepare for winter, some store it in vast quantities, some hibernate and others make do as best they can. However, the carnivores joined them, and when a dying climate triggered the spread of grass, they followed their prey out on to the plains. Grass is not easily digestible and most animals that eat it have to regurgitate it and chew the cud. Out in the open, the leaf-eaters had to develop means of protection. A few species turned into burrowers: examples include the blind mole-rat, which is completely underground, and the prairie dog, which isn't. The capybara — the largest rodent — spends much of its time in the water. Those that evolved long legs and hooves, such as the zebra and impala, seek safety in speed, while larger creatures, such as the rhinoceros, rely on their armoured hides. The elephant is the world’s largest land animal and is virtually invulnerable. Cheetahs and lions are attracted by those that herd in large numbers, like wildebeest. The cheetah uses its considerable speed while the heavier lion is a social predator, mostly using co-operation and stealth to capture its victims, and its methods are explored in detail. Meanwhile, a pack hunter, such as the hyena, has immense stamina and will eventually wear down its quarry, easing the kill.
S01E12 Life in Trees 00/00/0000 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. However, such tails are not characteristic of monkeys that inhabit Africa and many of them, such as vervets and baboons, are just as happy on the ground. Others have moved elsewhere, and the macaques of Koshima in Japan have learned to wash their food before eating. Most apes have taken to swinging from trees, and their feet are just as versatile as their hands. They include the orangutan, the gibbon, the chimpanzee and the primate with whom Attenborough has arguably his most famous encounter, the mountain gorilla.
S01E13 The Compulsive Communicators 00/00/0000 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. Furthermore, animal hunting expeditions required a degree of co-operation to achieve a successful outcome. Therefore, Attenborough argues, such foresight, teamwork and planning must have meant some skill at communication. Homo erectus gradually spread from Africa and reached Europe some 800,000 years ago, where a drop in temperature led to him inhabiting caves. Such creatures evolved further and learned to use flint for weapons, animal skins for clothing, and fire for warmth and preparing food. Their brains became fully formed and, using the walls of their caves as a canvas, they painted and eventually learned to write. Homo sapiens had arrived. However, Attenborough warns, just because humans have achieved so much in such a comparatively short space of time, it may not mean that they will be around forever.
S02E08 Sweet Fresh Water 00/00/0000 This programme focuses on fresh water habitats. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh, and Attenborough describes the course the Amazon, starting high up in the Andes of Peru, whose streams flow into the great river. Young rivers are by nature vigorous and dangerous: they flow fast and form rapids, thick with mud and sediment. They accumulate sand and gravel en route, and this erodes all but the hardest surrounding rocks. The Yellow River of China carries the most sediment of any river. By the time it has settled down and fallen over its last cascade, the water becomes tranquil and rich with nutrients from its banks. It begins to form lakes, and where the water flows into basins created by geological faults, they can be immense. When water reaches such areas, it loses its impetus and drops its sediment, potentially making it very fertile. Lake Baikal in Russia is the deepest: 1,500 metres. In addition, 80% of its inhabitants are unique, including the Baikal seal. There are many examples of creatures that thrive in such an environment. Predators lie in wait above the surface (kingfishers), below it (turtles), on it (water boatmen), and at its edge (fishing spiders). In its final stages, a river’s tributaries are liable to burst their banks and flood. However, some have made a virtue of this: the Marsh Arabs of Iraq construct their buildings on rafts of reeds. This allows fish, pelicans and humans to flourish in a single community.
S02E09 The Margins of the Land 00/00/0000 This instalment details coastal environments and the effect of tides, of which the highest can be found in the Bay of Fundy in North America. In places, erosion is causing the land to retreat, while in others — such as the tropics — the expansion of mangroves causes it to advance. Mussels keep their shells closed at low tide to deter attackers but the oystercatcher is adept at dealing with them. Other estuary wading birds, which have developed a multitude of techniques for gathering food from mud flats, include godwits, curlews, dunlins, ringed plovers and avocets. While glasswort grows on many European tidal banks, the mangroves of the tropics are extensive. The largest forest is in the Sundarbans at the mouth of the Ganges River and is 370 square metres in size. Where waves meet rocks and cliffs, the bands between low and high tides are narrow, and creatures have developed according to their dietary and safety needs. Mussels are preyed on by starfish, and so ensure that they are out of reach at low tide. Barnacles are higher still and feed on microscopic particles. On a Costa Rican beach, Attenborough observes female Ridley turtles arriving at the rate of some 5,000 an hour to deposit their eggs. Finally, he discovers the largest turtle, the giant leatherback, also laying eggs. He remarks that despite its great size, little is known about it — except that its eggs are easily plundered, thus making it an endangered species.
S02E10 Worlds Apart 00/00/0000 This episode investigates remote islands and their inhabitants. Some islands are tips of volcanoes; others are coral atolls. Those that colonise them transform into new species with comparative speed. Attenborough visits Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, which is 400 kilometres from the African coast. It has a vast population of sooty terns, which enjoy a degree of protection from predators that is unavailable on the mainland. The giant tortoise has also proliferated, despite the inhospitable nature of the landscape. Many island birds become flightless, including the Aldabran rail and the extinct dodo of Mauritius. Living in such isolation seems to allow some species to outgrow their mainland cousins, and Attenborough observes a group of feeding Komodo dragons at close quarters. The volcanic islands of Hawaii have become rich in vegetation and therefore a multitude of colonists: for example, there are at least 800 species of drosophila that are unique to the area. Polynesians reached Hawaii well over a thousand years ago, and their sea-going culture enabled them to reach many Pacific islands, including Easter Island, where they carved the Moai, and New Zealand: the ancestors of the M?ori. Attenborough highlights the kakapo as a species that was hunted to near-extinction. It is a facet of animal island dwellers that they have developed no means of self-defence, since their only predators are those that have been introduced by humans.
S02E11 The Open Ocean 00/00/0000 This programme concentrates on the marine environment. Attenborough goes underwater himself to observe the ocean's life forms and comment on them at first hand. He states that those that live on the sea bed are even more varied than land inhabitants. Much sea life is microscopic, and such creatures make up part of the marine plankton. Some animals are filter feeders and examples include the manta ray, the basking shark and the largest, the whale shark. Bony fish with their swim bladders and manoeuvrable fins dominate the seas, and the tuna is hailed as the fastest hunter, but the superiority of these types of fish did not go unchallenged: mammals are also an important component of ocean life. Killer whales, dolphins, narwhals and humpback whales are shown, as well as a school of beluga whales, which congregate annually in a bay in the Canadian Arctic — for reasons unknown. Marine habitats can be just as diverse as those on dry land. Attenborough surmises that the coral reef, with its richness of life, is the water equivalent of the jungle. Where the breezes of the Gulf Stream meet those of the Arctic, the resulting currents churn up nutrients, which lead to vegetation, the fish that eat it, and others that eat them. Attenborough remarks that it is man who has been most responsible for changing ocean environments by fishing relentlessly, but in doing so has also created new ones for himself — and this leads to the final episode.
S02E12 New Worlds 00/00/0000 The final instalment surveys those environments that have been created by and for humans. Man has spread to all corners of the globe — not because he has evolved to suit his surroundings, but because he has exploited the adaptations of other animal species. Despite being in existence for 500,000 years, it was not until 9,000 years ago that man began to create his own habitat, and in Beidha, in Jordan, Attenborough examines the remains of one of the earliest villages. Its inhabitants owned animals, and this domestication spread to Europe, eventually arriving in Britain. Much of the UK's landscape is man-made: for example, the South Downs were once a forest and the Norfolk Broads are the flooded remains of pits dug 600 years ago. Man also shaped his land by ridding himself of certain species and introducing others. He changed plants by harvesting them: the vast wheat fields of America now constitute a monoculture, where no other species are permitted. The same can be said for cities, which were constructed entirely for man's benefit. While humans are good at managing unwanted species (such as rats and other vermin), Attenborough argues that man has failed to look after natural resources and highlights the ignorance in assuming that the Earth has an infinite capacity to absorb waste. The now acidic, lifeless lakes of Scandinavia are examples that are "shameful monuments to our carelessness and lack of concern."
S03E01 Arriving 00/00/0000 The first episode examines the various methods by which creatures come into the world. Attenborough’s opening statement alludes to the annual spawning of the Christmas Island red crab, of which there are estimated to be some 120 million. The exercise is all the more hazardous since the species is a land crab, and the eggs have to be deposited in the sea — where the most ancient animals on the planet still live and breed. One of the most prolific aquatic egg producers is the giant clam, but some land animals also lay vast quantities, and the mantis is one example. In the Western United States, Attenborough observes a wasp that digs a burrow, conceals it, and stocks it with fresh caterpillars for her emerging young. The grubs of another start life inside caterpillars, and eat the unsuspecting hosts. The problems of larger animals are illustrated by snow geese in the Arctic, which have to defend their eggs from arctic foxes. The process of embryonic growth inside the egg, from laying to hatching, is shown in detail. The malleefowl warms its eggs with rotting leaves, and Attenborough demonstrates the care with which it regulates them by adding sand to its mound — to have it kicked back in his face. The sea louse is a crustacean that commits suicide: its grubs consume so much of the mother’s energies that she dies after birth. Mammals shown giving birth to fully formed young include wildebeest, antelope, sea lions and chinchillas.
S03E02 Growing Up 00/00/0000 This programme describes the ways that various species care for their young. Attenborough defines childhood as achieving two tasks: growing and surviving. He highlights the elephant seal as an animal that experiences a compressed childhood, being abandoned after three weeks and left for up to another eight alone, while it becomes large enough to be able to swim. For terns, there is safety in numbers as the dense population works together to drive out marauding gulls. The snow geese in the Russian Arctic show intense devotion as they escort their goslings by foot to the coast some 50 kilometres away. Scorpions carry their young on their backs, while a shrew will leave hers under a stone while she goes to feed. The eider duck is one creature that shares responsibility for its offspring: females regularly supervise the ducklings of others in a group. The mara is another that uses a crèche system, as does the bat, whose nurseries can be up to a million strong. The Florida scrub jay has a complex system of raising young known as cooperative breeding, where young stay on as helpers at the nest of their parents. Such behaviour is exhibited on a larger scale by elephants, where all females take an interest in raising a single calf. A chimpanzee’s childhood is socially complicated, as an individual must learn how to behave towards others, as well as master the use of tools. Albatrosses must be accomplished fliers as soon as possible — chicks are shown being hunted by tiger sharks.
S03E03 Finding Food 00/00/0000 The next instalment is devoted to the ways in which animals gather their sustenance. Attenborough begins in the South American rainforest, where the proliferation of animal and plant life does not necessarily make it easy to find food. Some leaves are poisonous, and so those that eat them have to be careful. Other plants use food (or nectar) as a bribe to get their pollen transported, and several species of hummingbird have developed exclusive relationships with certain of them. Fruit is also on offer, again as a means of reproduction, and creatures such as squirrel monkeys eat little else. Meanwhile, parrots and macaws take kaolin as an antidote to their diet of toxic seeds. Attenborough witnesses a 60,000 strong flock of knot and dunlin suddenly take advantage of a low tide to feed on tiny mud-dwelling molluscs. Barracuda hunt small fish, and drive shoals of them into bays to be eaten by pelicans, which are besieged by gulls that attempt to steal their catches. One species of gecko is able to differentiate between worker termites and the more dangerous soldiers. The web of the orb spider is hailed as one of the most elegant food catching devices, and the methods of two others, nephila and its kleptoparasite visitor, argyrodes, are explored in detail. Finally, tropicbirds, their crops full with food en route back to their nests, are ambushed in mid-air by a group of frigatebirds, whose aim is to make them surrender their cargo.
S03E04 Hunting and Escaping 00/00/0000 This episode looks at those that hunt other creatures and ways of avoiding capture. Attenborough is attacked by a pair of skuas as he approaches their nest, which demonstrates this particular bird's aggressive behaviour, both when taking food and defending its young. Off the shores of Patagonia, the same group of killer whales returns each year to ambush sea lion pups, which stray out of the safer shallow waters. Having grabbed their prey, they take it back out to sea and 'play' with it for some time before killing it. Poison can be used both as a weapon and a deterrent, such as by the viper and tomato frog respectively. Some animals advertise their defensive measures in advance, in case deployment occurs too late. Among them are the skunk, which discharges an appalling smell, and some salamanders that display their toxicity by remaining stationary, with their warning markings visible. Several species of stick insect and their elaborate camouflage are shown. However, none of these methods of protection pose problems to army ants, which can subdue any of their prey, simply by virtue of their size and vast numbers. The Harris hawk is unusual, since it hunts in teams, and a group of six are shown practising their skill in the desert of New Mexico. The final sequence depicts a troop of chimpanzees displaying strategy and co-ordination as it successfully pursues colobus monkeys through a forest in the Ivory Coast.
S03E05 Finding the Way 00/00/0000 This programme explores forms of navigation. Attenborough starts in Africa at dusk, by describing some of the species that don't rely on sight. The spotted hyena uses its acute sense of smell to guide it while it hunts nocturnally, while galagos urinate on their hands so they can completely mark their movements. Some animals use echolocation and these include swiftlets, bats and river dolphins. By contrast, electric eels use fields of electricity to sense their environment. During the hours of daylight, other methods are employed: the rufous elephant shrew, with its carefully cleared network of pathways, has a sharp mental picture of its habitat — even knowing the various shortcuts with which to evade capture. Attenborough visits the Sahara to illustrate a species that makes the longest overland journey of any insect: cataglyphis, an ant that uses the sun's position to enable it to return to its nest in a straight line. Lobsters in the Bahamas are shown marching in columns to escape stormy waters. In its search for perpetual daylight in which to fish, the Arctic tern makes a 19,000-kilometre journey from one end of the Earth to the other. The albatross is highlighted as one of the most skilled navigators: it can travel up to 1300 kilometres over sea in search of food for its chicks, and still find its way back to the nest. Finally, Attenborough stands on a waterfall in Ireland to tell of the three-year, 10,000-kilometre journey made by elvers.
S03E06 Home Making 00/00/0000 This instalment deals with how animals construct their shelters from the elements and predators. Burrows and holes can provide considerable refuge, and Attenborough inspects the home of the American prairie dog, an elaborate construction that has its own air conditioning system. Silk is such a valuable commodity that those that can't make it steal it instead. The hermit hummingbird uses it to attach its nest to the underside of a leaf, while the Indian tailorbird stitches two leaves together. However, the expert in complex nest-building is the weaverbird which makes its abode from over 1,000 strips of grass that are perfectly interwoven — and dismantling it if it fails to attract a mate. The beaver is responsible for one of the biggest animal dwellings: its wooden lodge that rises from the river bed stays in place from one generation to the next, and so requires constant maintenance. Some stingless bees use their wax and the resin of tree bark to create labyrinthine structures containing various compartments. Mud is also used by several creatures, such as the potter wasp and the cliff swallow. The termites' intricate creations allow for security, heating, air conditioning, self-contained nurseries and gardens, and sanitation systems. Attenborough hails the species as the consummate home maker, and explores a 15-foot colony in West Africa that contains 1.5 million insects: he crawls right inside to examine its method of ventilation.
S03E07 Living Together 00/00/0000 This episode focuses on those species that co-operate and depend on (or exploit) others. Spotted deer follow langur monkeys as they travel from tree to tree, eating any leaves that get dropped from above. In return, the deer serve as a lookout when the primates are feeding on the ground. Underwater, a hermit crab is shown adding sea anemones to its shell in order to protect itself from attack by an octopus, and a goby assists a virtually blind shrimp. Fleas, lice and mites are parasites: they share no mutual partnership and instead take advantage of creatures for food or shelter. However, parasites have their predators, and an example are the finches of the Galápagos Islands that clear the resident giant tortoises of their ticks, and oxpeckers, which do the same for giraffes in Africa (and even use its fur to line their nests). Some fish regularly clean others, and wrasse and shrimp appear to specialise in this regard, as do remora, which permanently hang on to their hosts. One parasite that grows inside its host is the fluke, and one is shown gestating inside a snail, having previously been unknowingly eaten. Because it needs to transfer to a bird's gut to develop further, it causes the snail to advertise its presence to allow itself to be consumed — thus completing the circle. However, some microscopic creatures inhabit the stomachs of large herbivores in order to break down the cellulose of their diet, thereby aiding their digestion.
S03E08 Fighting 00/00/0000 This programme details how fighting — both physical and psychological — is used for food, land or to gain a mate. Territorial conflict is demonstrated by the hummingbird, and Attenborough illustrates its aggressiveness by placing a stuffed specimen nearby, only to have it speared by its opponent's bill. The midas cichlid on the other hand, has no weapons to speak of, and so uses its mouth to hold on for trials of strength. By contrast, the forelegs of a mantis shrimp are powerful enough to crack the shell of another crustacean: therefore disputes or courtship are fraught with danger. Animals that possess lethal food-gathering weapons usually don't use them against one another, as neither side wishes to risk death. For example, one venomous snake will aim to floor the other, rather than bite. Wolves and big cats largely use snarls and body posture to convey their threat. There are no holds barred between rival zebras: kicking and biting is employed until a victor emerges, whereas giraffes slam their necks against each other. Normally peaceful mountain gorillas are shown squabbling when play gets out of hand, and one of them communicates real fright by urinating uncontrollably. Large herbivores that have horns or antlers are naturally inclined to use them to assert their dominance over the females in a herd. Duelling male ibex and Alaskan bull moose undergo some of the most ferocious engagements — sometimes to the death.
S03E09 Friends and Rivals 00/00/0000 This instalment investigates the ways in which those animals that live in social groups interact with each other. The solitary eagle is contrasted with whooper swans landing in Scotland after a 1,600-kilometre journey from Iceland. Once arrived, they must battle for territory with those already there, and pairs or families are usually victorious. Attenborough uses a group of farmyard chickens to demonstrate a pecking order. Caciques are shown cooperating to deter predators, despite their fighta amongst themselves to establish a pecking order. A pride of lions is shown co-operating to subdue a buffalo. Afterwards, each animal peacefully awaits its turn at the carcass. Baboons live in troops of up to 150, and their complex dominance hierarchy is examined in detail. Vampire bats display reciprocal altruism by regurgitating blood for any neighbour that has missed out on a night's feeding. Dwarf mongooses live in family groups of around a dozen. While some look for food or sleep, others are always posted on the lookout for predators and quickly raise the alarm if necessary. Meanwhile, some of the most extreme co-operation is demonstrated by the underground naked mole rat, whose 80-strong clusters are divided into workers (who tunnel perpetually), soldiers (who only act when danger threatens), and a single queen for breeding. Leafcutter ants are shown transporting their food deep below ground: it has to be planted in a special fungus to convert its indigestible cellulose into something edible, and each stage of the operation is carried out by a different caste of individuals.
S03E10 Talking to Strangers 00/00/0000 This episode concentrates on animal communication. In Kenya, Attenborough accompanies a tribesman who calls to a honeyguide, which in turn answers him and leads the pair to a bees' nest. The tribesman extracts the honey, and some is left to reward the bird. African hunting dogs are shown hunting gazelles, of which the target is the individual that leaps lowest. Larks evade merlin by sending a similar message: by continuing to sing while being chased, it tells the pursuer that its prey is fit and therefore will be difficult to catch (see handicap principle). (In 80% of cases this turns out to be true.) Vervet monkeys' cries are among the most complex. Their utterances are effectively words: a vocabulary that defines each of their predators, so an alarm call is specific to a particular threat. Some creatures transmit their presence by display, and Attenborough observes thousands of fireflies illuminating the darkness. Sounds travel faster and further underwater, and over 200 species of fish use them to communicate. In turn, sea lions have become adept at sensing their proximity. However, the most visual aquatic animal is the squid, which uses colour change and posture to communicate. Finally, Attenborough swims with spotted dolphins. They converse with a series of ultrasonic clicks, and each has a family call inherited from its mother: effectively a 'surname'. They also use normal sound, body posture and touch — in short, in terms of ability to communicate, they are man's closest rival.
S03E11 Courting 00/00/0000 This programme surveys the methods employed in attracting a mate, mainly those of birds. The Indian florican inhabits long grass, and so is difficult to see. In order to gain attention, it 'trampolines' in the same spot for up to 400 times a day. Whales sing to their prospective partners, and the female's calls can be heard by suitors for over eight kilometres. When animals send out signals of attraction, they must also ensure that they don't entice the wrong species, and so have markings that differ prominently. Attenborough highlights the booby as an example: there are around half a dozen species, all of which may occupy the same island. However, the blue-footed booby reassures its chosen mate by continually lifting its feet. Tropicbirds and marsh harriers are shown providing graceful aerobatic displays, while the sac-winged bat uses a strong perfume to lure a companion. Among those birds that produce the most spectacular visual displays are the lyrebird (which also has an elaborate song), the peacock, and the riflebird (and indeed most other birds of paradise). The bowerbird invites potential partners to inspect its bower: a specially prepared area that contains a hut or walkway augmented by strikingly coloured objects. The intricate dances performed by manakins in Trinidad are also examined. Finally, Attenborough observes the topi's display courts, whose sharply defined boundaries are jealously guarded by rival males.
S03E12 Continuing the Line 00/00/0000 The final instalment illustrates how species fulfil their ultimate raison d'être and ensure that their genes are passed on to the next generation. It is a universal problem, but one which has given rise to a variety of solutions. Barnacles cannot move, but each has both male and female sex cells, allowing each neighbour to be a potential mate. On the other end of the scale, a female elephant undergoes a long pregnancy — 22 months — and so wishes to ensure that her calf is fathered by a strong and proven male. She is therefore very choosy about her partner. A female chinchilla is even more so, and rejects an unwanted suitor by squirting urine in its face. Mating is a dangerous business when weapons are involved, and a male tarantula approaches his intended with trepidation. Only when he succeeds in holding off her poison fangs is he able to progress any further. For some, the right moments to get together are few and far between: a male crab, for example, must wait until a female moults her shell before he is able to fertilise her. Male sea lions are shown fighting over a harem, and some use the battle to their advantage by making off with reluctant females. Attenborough observes that the monogamous relationships enjoyed by humans are rare within the animal kingdom, but he highlights the Royal albatross as a "beautiful" exception. The pair of birds featured met as five-year-olds, and have been together for twenty years.
S04E01 The Bountiful Sea 00/00/0000 The first episode introduces the continent of Antarctica and the surrounding sea and islands, its glaciers and the icebergs that form from it. It describes how the continent changes throughout the seasons, as it effectively doubles in size in winter when the surrounding sea freezes over, "the greatest seasonal change that takes place on this planet." Penguins, whales and seals are shown feeding in the Southern Ocean. Many of them eat the abundant krill (which in turn feed on phytoplankton and ice-algae). Humpback whales are shown catching krill through sophisticated co-operation: they create spiralling curtains of air bubbles that drive it into their centre, where the whales can then catch them by surging upwards in the middle of the spiral. Also shown are the various seabirds which feed in the Antarctic sea, especially albatrosses, whose impressive wingspans are possible because they utilise the updraft generated by the huge waves in the stormy southern waters. Because of the patchiness of krill, albatrosses can travel for many hundreds or indeed thousands of miles on a single trip in search of it. All birds scavenge, and a group (including giant petrels) is shown taking the remains of a whale, left by orca. Many birds (including penguins) lay their eggs and feed their chicks on the islands surrounding the Antarctic continent, especially South Georgia where both albatross and King penguins have their nesting sites throughout the year.
S04E02 The Ice Retreats 00/00/0000 The second programme examines what happens during spring on Antarctica. The sea ice extends for hundreds of miles around the continent, but there are a few subantarctic islands that escape it. Such places are highly valued, for as the sea never freezes, animals can always get ashore. Elephant seals are the first creatures to return to the beaches. They form large breeding colonies, where the males fight fierce battles to gain and retain permanent access to a great number of females and mate with them as soon as they are receptive again. Millions of macaroni penguins occupy huge territories on the islands to breed, as do thousands of albatrosses. The Antarctic peninsula is one of the few regions of the continent inhabited by animals, even in summer. Gentoo penguins build their nests on bare rock and humpback whales seek krill along the coast, while Adelie penguins nest even further south. Crabeater seals, one of the most numerous mammals on Earth, live and reproduce in the pack ice zone around Antarctica. Snow petrels fly many miles into the island to find rock on which to lay their eggs.
S04E03 The Race to Breed 00/00/0000 This instalment looks at the summer, when almost all life in the region breeds. A South Georgian colony of fur seals is shown: the pups grow fast on the rich, fatty milk provided by their mothers and double their weight in just sixty days. As the females become sexually available, the mating season begins — males try to claim territory and mate with females. Chinstrap penguins form large groups on Deception Island, climbing up its steep slopes to find mountain ridges free of snow. Returning birds find their partners by recognising their voice (performing a brief greeting ritual when they find them), which is why the colonies are very noisy during the breeding season. Males and females take turns in catching food, some of which they later regurgitate for their chicks. The summer also thaws some of the ice on the continent's shores. The fresh water allows moss and other plants to grow, which in turn provide food for mites that are adapted to the cold climate — they can survive temperatures up to minus 30 °C because they contain a kind of antifreeze. They become active as soon as the ice melts, and reproduce whenever they get an opportunity to do so. Lichens grow even further south than moss, and algae populate some of the snow. In the ocean, life is much more diverse, and blue-eyed shags dive for fish near the peninsula. More than 300,000 petrels come to breed to the Scullin Monolith, one of the few areas of open rock.
S04E04 The Door Closes 00/00/0000 This episode describes the migration of most animals northwards (some from the Antarctic continent, others from the few islands surrounding it) as the continent and surrounding sea freeze over at the end of summer. At Cape Royds, the most southernly colony of Adelie penguins is virtually emptied as adults lead their newly feathered young to the sea. Young penguins often fall prey to leopard seals as they try to make their way across the already partially frozen water — and their stripped remains become food for isopods and meter-long nemerteans. However, before going to the sea, the adult penguins must moult their coats. The freezing sea ice usually does not reach South Georgia, and seal pups are still fed there by their mothers in autumn to be ready for the winter. They use their remaining time for play and mock fights in the ocean. Those who do not survive become food for the predator birds — the skuas and the giant petrels. Elephant seals also undergo moulting while on the island. Albatrosses nesting on South Georgia continue to feed and mate, but the ever harsher weather forces most animals further northwards.
S04E05 The Big Freeze 00/00/0000 This programme deals with those who stay during the coldest weather. As almost all animal inhabitants of Antarctica are forced to migrate, the sea underneath the ice still provides a home to many specially adapted fish whose cells are protected from freezing through an inherent "antifreeze". Many feed on the faeces of other animals. Perhaps the most notable larger creature that does not journey north is the Weddell seal, which can be found as close as 1300 kilometres to the pole. Groups of seals tear holes into the ice to dive for food and come up to breathe. The females come back to the ice to give birth. Also described is primitive plant life such as lichen, which can still be found on the continent in winter, even in the extremely dry and permanently frozen valleys — conditions under which dead animals can lie frozen for many centuries without decomposing. Attenborough observes that the Antarctic plateau is so "forbidding, hostile and desolate" that human life there seems not only insignificant, but also "totally irrelevant". Also explored is the life of the Emperor penguin, "the only birds to lay their eggs directly on ice". While others retreat, Emperors migrate not just to the ice, but into Antarctica itself. The newly laid egg is quickly transferred from female to male. They then incubate the eggs under the harshest conditions on Earth (huddling closely together in temperatures of minus 70 °C), while their partners return to the sea.
S04E06 Footsteps in the Snow 00/00/0000 The final instalment discusses human exploration of Antarctica, in particular the mission led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, whose team died on the way back from the South Pole. Attenborough visits the hut at Cape Evans where Scott and his team spent the winter of 1911. The freezing temperatures have preserved everything exactly as it was, including clothing and bedding. It shows their surprisingly well-equipped laboratory and the darkroom where the group's photographer, Herbert Ponting, developed his films. Attenborough contrasts the transportation used by Scott (initially motor sledge, ponies and dogs before ending up on foot) with today's helicopters. The episode also details the scientific work in the modern human bases in Antarctica, especially Mawson Base and its observation of Adelie penguins (partially through tracking devices). The film concludes that although working in Antarctica is now much easier than during the early days of exploration, human footsteps on the continent are still exceedingly rare — in part because of international treaties prohibiting industrial exploitation.
S05E01 Travelling 00/00/0000 The first episode looks at how plants are able to move. The bramble is an aggressive example: it advances forcefully from side to side and, once settled on its course, there is little that can stand in its way. An altogether faster species is the birdcage plant, which inhabits Californian sand dunes. When its location becomes exposed, it shifts at great speed to another one with the assistance of wind — and it is this that allows many forms of vegetation to distribute their seeds. While not strictly a plant, the spores of fungi are also spread in a similar fashion. One of the most successful (and intricate) flowers to use the wind is the dandelion, whose seeds travel with the aid of 'parachutes'. They are needed to travel miles away from their parents, who are too densely packed to allow any new arrivals. Trees have the advantage of height to send their seeds further, and the cottonwood is shown as a specialist in this regard. The humidity of the tropical rainforest creates transportation problems, and the liana is one plant whose seeds are aerodynamic 'gliders'. Some, such as those of the sycamore, take the form of 'helicopters', while others, such as the squirting cucumber release their seeds by 'exploding'. Water is also a widely used method of propulsion. However, most plants use living couriers, whether they be dogs, humans and other primates, ants or birds, etc., and to that end, they use colour and smell to signify when they are ripe for picking.
S05E02 Growing 00/00/0000 This programme is about how plants gain their sustenance. Sunlight is one of the essential requirements if a seed is to germinate, and Attenborough highlights the cheese plant as an example whose young shoots head for the nearest tree trunk and then climb to the top of the forest canopy, developing its leaves en route. Using sunshine, air, water and a few minerals, the leaves are, in effect, the "factories" that produce food. However, some, such as the begonia, can thrive without much light. To gain moisture, plants typically use their roots to probe underground. Trees pump water up pipes that run inside their trunks, and Attenborough observes that a sycamore can do this at the rate of 450 litres an hour — in total silence. Too much rainfall can clog up a leaf's pores, and many have specially designed 'gutters' to cope with it. However, their biggest threat is from animals, and some require extreme methods of defence, such as spines, camouflage, or poison. Some can move quickly to deter predators: the mimosa can fold its leaves instantly when touched, and the Venus flytrap eats insects by closing its leaves around its prey when triggered. Another carnivorous plant is the trumpet pitcher that snares insects when they fall into its tubular leaves. Attenborough visits Borneo to see the largest pitcher of them all, Nepenthes rajah, whose traps contain up to two litres of water and have been known to kill small rodents.
S05E03 Flowering 00/00/0000 The next instalment is devoted to the ways in which plants reproduce. Pollen and a stigma are the two components needed for fertilisation. Most plants carry both these within their flowers and rely on animals to transport the pollen from one to the stigma of another. To do this, they attract their couriers with colour, scent and nectar. It isn't just birds that help pollination: some mammals and reptiles also do so. However, it is mostly insects that are recruited to carry out the task. To ensure that pollen is not wasted by being delivered to the wrong flower, some species of plant have developed exclusive relationships with their visitors, and the gentian and its attendant carpenter bees is one example. Since pollen can be expensive to produce in terms of calories, some plants, such as orchids, ration it by means of pollinia and a strategically placed landing platform. Other orchids offer no reward for pollination, but instead mislead their guests by mimicking their markings and aroma, thus enticing males to 'mate' with them. The most extreme fertilisation method is one of imprisonment, and one plant that uses it is the dead horse arum. It is often found near gull colonies, and mimics the appearance and smell of rotting flesh. Blow-flies are attracted to it, and are forced to stay the night before being allowed to depart in the morning, laden with pollen. Finally, Attenborough introduces the world's largest inflorescence: that of the titan arum.
S05E04 The Social Struggle 00/00/0000 This episode examines how plants either share environments harmoniously or compete for dominance within them. Attenborough highlights the 1987 hurricane and the devastation it caused. However, for some species, it was that opportunity for which they had lain dormant for many years. The space left by uprooted trees is soon filled by others who move relatively swiftly towards the light. The oak is one of the strongest and longest-lived, and other, lesser plants nearby must wait until the spring to flourish before the light above is extinguished by leaves. Tropical forests are green throughout the year, so brute force is needed for a successful climb to the top of the canopy: the rattan is an example that has the longest stem of any plant. As its name suggests, the strangler fig 'throttles' its host by growing around it and cutting off essential water and light. Some can take advantage of a fallen tree by setting down roots on the now horizontal trunk and getting nutriment from the surrounding moss and the fungi on the dead bark. The mountain ash grows so tall, that regeneration becomes a considerable problem. It is easily flammable, so its solution is to shed its seeds during a forest fire and sacrifice itself. It therefore relies on the periodic near-destruction of its surroundings in order to survive. Attenborough observes that catastrophes such as fire and drought, while initially detrimental to wildlife, eventually allow for deserted habitats to be reborn.
S05E05 Living Together 00/00/0000 The fifth programme explores the alliances formed between the animal and plant worlds. Attenborough dives into Australia's Great Barrier Reef and contrasts the nocturnal feeding of coral, on microscopic creatures, with its daytime diet of algae. Some acacias are protected by ants, which will defend their refuge from any predator. Besides accommodation, the guards are rewarded with nectar and, from certain species, protein for their larvae as well. Fungi feed on plants but also provide essential nutriment to saplings. The connection is never broken throughout a tree's life and a quarter of the sugars and starches produced in its leaves is channelled back to its fungal partners. Meanwhile, fungi that feed on dead wood leave a hollow trunk, which also benefits the tree. Orchids enjoy a similar affiliation. Lichens are the product of a relationship between fungi and a photosynthetic associate, usually algae. They are extremely slow-growing, and a graveyard is the perfect location to discover their exact longevity. Mistletoe is a parasite that obtains its moisture from a host tree, while its seeds are deposited on another by the mistletoe tyrannulet, following digestion of the fruit. The dodder is also parasitic, generally favouring nettles, and siphons its nourishment through periodic 'plugs' along its stem. The rafflesia has no stem or leaves and only emerges from its host in order to bloom — and it produces the largest single flower: one metre across.
S05E06 Surviving 00/00/0000 The final episode deals with plants that live in hostile environments. Attenborough visits Ellesmere Island, north of the Arctic Circle, to demonstrate that even in a place that is unconducive to life, it can be found. Algae and lichens grow in or on rock, and during summer, when the ice melts, flowers are much more apparent. However, they must remain close to the ground to stay out of the chilling wind. In the Tasmanian mountains, plants conserve heat by growing into 'cushions' that act as solar panels, with as many as a million individual shoots grouped together as one. Others, such as the lobelia in Mount Kenya, have a 'fur coat' of dense hairs on their leaves. The saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert flourishes because of its ability to retain vast amounts of water, which can't be lost through leaves because it has none. Many desert dwellers benefit from an accelerated life cycle, blooming rapidly within weeks after rainfall. Conversely, Mount Roraima is one of the wettest places on Earth. It is a huge sandstone plateau with high waterfalls and nutrients are continuously washed away, so plants have to adapt their diet if they are to survive. A bladderwort is shown invading a bromeliad. Inhabitants of lakes have other problems to contend with: those that dominate the surface will proliferate, and the Amazon water lily provides an apt illustration. Attenborough ends the series with an entreaty for the conservation of plant species.
S06E01 To Fly or Not to Fly 00/00/0000 The first episode looks at how birds first took to the skies in the wake of the insects. It begins in Mexico, where Attenborough observes bats being outmaneuvered by a red-tailed hawk. Pterosaurs were the birds' forerunners, some 150 million years after dragonflies developed the means of flight, but eventually went extinct together with the dinosaurs. Birds had by then already evolved from early forms like archaeopteryx, the first creature to possess feathers. Its ancestry can be traced through reptiles, and some current species, such as the flying lizard, possibly show paths this evolution may have taken. One of the biggest birds to have ever existed was the terror bird, which proliferated after dinosaurs vanished and stood up to 2.5 metres tall. By comparison, the ostrich, while not closely related, is the largest and heaviest living bird. It was probably the evasion of predators that drove most birds into the air, so their flightless cousins evolved because they had few enemies. Accordingly, such species are more likely to be found on islands, and Attenborough visits New Zealand to observe its great variety, most especially the kiwi. Also depicted is the moa, another huge creature that is now gone. The takah? is extremely rare, and high in the mountains of New Zealand, Attenborough discovers one from a population of only 40 pairs. Finally, another example on the brink of extinction is the kakapo, which at one point numbered only 61 individuals. A male is heard calling — an immensely amplified deep note that can be heard at great distances from its nest.
S06E02 The Mastery of Flight 00/00/0000 The second programme deals with the mechanics of flight. Getting into the air is by far the most exhausting of a bird's activities, and Attenborough observes shearwaters in Japan that have taken to climbing trees to give them a good jumping-off point. The albatross is so large that it can only launch itself after a run-up to create a flow of air over its wings. A combination of aerodynamics and upward air currents (or thermals), together with the act of flapping or gliding is what keeps a bird aloft. Landing requires less energy but a greater degree of skill, particularly for a big bird, such as a swan. Weight is kept to a minimum by having a beak made of keratin instead of bone, a light frame, and a coat of feathers, which is maintained fastidiously. The peregrine falcon holds the record for being fastest in the air, diving at speeds of over 300 km/h. Conversely, the barn owl owes its predatory success to flying slowly, while the kestrel spots its quarry by hovering. However, the true specialists in this regard are the hummingbirds, whose wings beat at the rate of 25 times a second. The habits of migratory birds are explored. After stocking up with food during the brief summer of the north, such species will set off on huge journeys southwards. Some, such as snow geese, travel continuously, using both the stars and the sun for navigation. They are contrasted with hawks and vultures, which glide overland on warm air, and therefore have to stop overnight.
S06E03 The Insatiable Appetite 00/00/0000 The next installment focuses on dietary needs and how different species have evolved beaks to suit their individual requirements. The latter come in a multitude of forms. Blue tits and goldfinches have beaks akin to tweezers, with which to extract seeds, while the hawfinch's razor-like bill can deal with a cherry-stone. However, the crossbill is the only finch that can twist its mandibles in opposite directions. Jays store acorns for winter by burying them in the ground, whereas woodpeckers can keep up to 60,000 of them in one tree trunk. Sap is also desirable, and there are a variety of methods used to obtain it. The hoatzin is the only specialised leaf-eater, and accordingly has a digestive system more akin to that of cattle. Plants recruit birds to aid pollination, and offer nectar as a reward. Hummingbirds eat little else, and the sword-bill's beak is the longest of any bird in relation to its body. Insects are also highly prized, and Galápagos finches are shown to possess some ingenuity as they not only strip bark, but also use 'tools' to reach their prey. Crows are hailed as being among the most intelligent birds, and one is shown using a twig to spear a grub within a fallen log. The robin is an opportunist, and Attenborough observes one seizing morsels as he digs a patch of earth. In South America, a cattle tyrant sits atop an obliging capybara and uses its vantage point to spot passing food that may be dislodged by its grazing partner.
S06E04 Meat-Eaters 00/00/0000 This episode examines those birds whose sustenance comes from flesh and their methods of hunting. In New Zealand, Attenborough observes Keas, parrots that do not eat meat exclusively, raiding a shearwater's burrow for a chick. However, it is the dedicated birds of prey, such as owls, buzzards, eagles, falcons and vultures, to which much of the programme is devoted. In order to spot and pursue their victims, senses of sight and hearing are very acute. Vultures are the exception, in that they eat what others have left, and once a carcass is found, so many birds descend on it that the carrion seems submerged beneath them. The Turkey Vulture is an anomaly within its group, as it also has a keen sense of smell. Eagles defend their territory vigorously, and a pair of sea eagles are shown engaging in an aerial battle. The Galápagos Hawk hunts Marine Iguanas, but can only do so when its quarry is vulnerable, during the breeding season. The African Harrier Hawk has adapted to extracting burrowing animals by virtue of an especially long, double-jointed pair of legs. By contrast, a shrike is not equipped with the requisite sharp beak and talons needed for butchery, and so dismembers its kill by impaling it on the thorns of acacias. The Lammergeier eats bones, and will drop them on to rocks from a great height in order to break them down to a digestible size. Also featured are the Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon.
S06E05 Fishing for a Living 00/00/0000 The next programme details river and ocean dwellers. The dipper swims completely below water to search for food, whereas the kingfisher uses a 'harpoon' technique, diving from a vantage point. However, the darter uses a combination of both methods, stalking its prey underwater before spearing it. By contrast, the reddish egret uses a kind of dance to flush out the aquatic inhabitants. Skimmers have different-sized mandibles, the lower one being used to skim the water's surface for small fish. Ducks have developed an assortment of angling skills. Some dabble, like the mallard, while others are of a more streamlined design and are at home underwater, such as the merganser. Waders, which specialise in feeding on mud flats at low tide, include avocets, godwits, dowitchers and sanderlings. The pelican feeds in groups, their pouch-like bills being more successful when used collectively. Boobies fish in the open ocean and are shown dive-bombing shoals en masse. Attenborough visits Lord Howe Island, off Australia, and by imitating the calls of various birds, invites a group of curious Providence petrels — which are indigenous — to investigate. Because there are no humans in their habitat, they are a very trusting species, as Attenborough discovers when one perches on his hand. Out on a seemingly empty area of ocean, the presenter is able to fill it with various sea birds within seconds, simply by throwing fish oil on to the water.
S06E06 Signals and Songs 00/00/0000 This installment describes ways of communicating. A colony of fieldfares in Sweden deters a raven from raiding a nest by collectively raising an audible alarm. However, in an English wood, all species co-operate to warn each other surreptitiously of approaching danger. By contrast, a sunbittern is shown expanding its plumage to discourage a group of marauding hawks. The members of the finch family exemplify how colour aids recognition. Birds have excellent colour vision, and the feathers of many species react to ultraviolet light. Flocking birds, such as sparrows, also have a 'ranking system' that determines seniority. In Patagonia, Attenborough demonstrates the effectiveness of sound: he summons a Magellanic woodpecker by knocking on a tree. The nature of tropical rainforests means that their occupants tend to make much louder calls than those in other habitats, and several such species are shown. Saddlebacks vary their calls so that even individuals from different areas can be identified. The dawn chorus provides a mystery, as there is still much to learn about why so many different birds sing together at the same time of day. (Proclaiming territory or attracting mates are two likely reasons.) Finally, Attenborough introduces the Superb Lyrebird as one of the most versatile performers: it is a skilled mimic, and this particular one imitates not only other species, but also cameras, a car alarm and a chain saw.
S06E07 Finding Partners 00/00/0000 This programme discusses mating rituals. If a male bird is on the lookout for a partner and has a suitable nest, it must advertise the fact, either by its call, a visual display or both. The frigatebird provides an example of the latter, with its inflated throat pouch. The hornbill's courtship, among that of many others, also runs to the offer of a gift. For some species, dancing can also be an important component, and grebes are shown performing a pas de deux. The cock-of-the-rock, which dances solo within a group, is contrasted with the team performance of the manakin. Once trust has been established between a pair, mutual preening can follow. After mating, the individuals usually remain together to rear their eventual family. In this regard, the rhea and the phalarope are highlighted as unusual because in both instances, it is the male that incubates the eggs. Some females judge a prospective companion on its nest-building ability, and this is a conspicuous part of the weaver's behaviour. The bowerbird puts on one of the most elaborate displays: a hut-like construction, completed by a collection of objects designed to impress. Competition among males can be fierce and in Scotland, Attenborough observes rival capercaillies engaging in battle — after one of them chases the presenter. Avian polyandry is not widespread, but is illustrated by the superb fairy-wren, where the male's family can easily comprise young that it did not father.
S06E08 The Demands of the Egg 00/00/0000 This episode explores the lengths to which birds will go to ensure that their chicks are brought into the world. Attenborough begins on an island in the Seychelles, where sooty terns, which have hitherto spent their lives on the wing, have landed to lay their eggs. This is a necessity for birds, as eggs are too heavy to be borne in the air for any considerable length of time. It is imperative that nests are kept as far away from predators as possible, and unusual locations for them are shown, such as: behind the water curtain of Iguazu Falls in South America (as chosen by swifts), cliffs on Argentina's coast favoured by parrots, an ants' nest occupied by a woodpecker, and a tree hole inside which a female hornbill seals itself. Eggs require warmth, and some nests are insulated by the owners' feathers, others from ones found elsewhere. External temperatures dictate how the eggs are incubated. The snowy owl has to do so itself, because of its habitat; however, the maleo is able to take advantage of solar heating. The amount of eggs laid also varies: for example, the kiwi lays just one, whereas the blue tit will deposit many. Their mottled surface serves to camouflage them. Birds that steal eggs include toucans and currawongs. A number of strategies are employed to deter the thieves, as illustrated by the yellow-rumped thornbill, which builds a decoy nest atop its actual one, and the plover, which distracts marauders by feigning injury.
S06E09 The Problems of Parenthood 00/00/0000 The penultimate installment concentrates on the ways in which birds rear their offspring. Having successfully incubated their eggs, the moment arrives when they hatch — and then the real challenge begins: feeding the chicks. Lapland buntings and dippers are shown doing so virtually non-stop throughout the day. The Gouldian finch has a further problem in that its tree-hollow nest is dark inside, so its young have conspicuous markings inside their mouths for identification. Grebes are fed feathers with which to line the stomach, and so protect it from fish bones. Coots and pelicans are among those that turn on their own and force death by starvation if there is insufficient food. The European cuckoo famously tricks other species into raising its chick, but it is by no means alone in doing this. Protecting a family is also a priority, and Brent geese are shown nesting close to snowy owls as a means of insurance, but as soon as the eggs hatch, they and their young must flee to avoid giving their neighbours an easy meal. The million or so sooty terns in the Seychelles prove that there is safety in numbers and the nearby predatory egrets have little success when attempting to steal. The behaviour of Arabian babblers is more akin to that of a troop of monkeys: they do everything for the benefit of a group as a whole. Eventually the day will come when flight beckons, and the grown bird will leave the nest to start a family of its own.
S06E10 The Limits of Endurance 00/00/0000 The final programme investigates the challenges that must be surmounted if birds are to survive. The sandgrouse is a species that has adapted to desert living: its breast feathers are capable of absorbing water, which it can pass on to its young. The crab plover also nests in the sand, and burrows until it finds a comfortable temperature. Birds that choose remote places can proliferate hugely, like the flamingos on an African soda lake. Meanwhile, during winter, the entire world population of spectacled eiders can be found in just a few assemblies on patches of the Arctic Ocean. The city is a relatively recent habitat, but many have become accustomed to it, such as the American black vultures in São Paulo. In Japan, crows have learned to crack nuts by dropping them on to pedestrian crossings — and waiting for the traffic to stop before collecting them. In North America, purple martins have become totally dependent on humans for their nest sites. Attenborough highlights man's influence by describing the Pacific island of Guam, whose bird population was wiped out following the accidental introduction of brown tree snakes during the 1940s. Examples of species that were hunted to extinction are the huia, the great auk and, most famously, the dodo. However, there are conservation efforts being made, such as those for Australia's orange-bellied parrot, the pink pigeon and the echo parakeet (the latter two both of Mauritius).
S07E01 A Winning Design 00/00/0000 The first episode gives a general overview of mammals before moving on to monotremes and marsupials. Attenborough begins in the high Arctic, where he contrasts the Arctic fox's ability to live there all the time (thanks to its dense coat of fur) with his own need for protective clothing, despite them both being mammals. From there, he travels to Australia to illustrate the evolution of the species with the help of the echidna and the platypus. Both creatures, unlike all other mammals, lay eggs — similar to birds and reptiles — and have been around for 100 million years. With an optical probe, the inside of a platypus nest is able to be shown for the first time. The defining characteristic of a marsupial is its pouch, inside which its young develop, having been born externally. Kangaroos and koalas are two examples that inhabit a warm environment, while the wombat demonstrates its ability to withstand a cold climate. Red kangaroos, in particular, are more at home in arid, desert-like conditions, while their grey cousins are sociable and prefer more temperate climes. The mammalian tongue is very adaptable, and those of numbats and honey possums have become greatly extended to enable the gathering of insects and nectar respectively. However, the most successful group of mammals are the placentals. Attenborough witnesses a wildebeest being born and explains both the dangers and advantages of this way of reproduction.
S07E02 Insect Hunters 00/00/0000 This programme discusses insectivores. Shrews are descendants of the earliest mammals, which were scurrying creatures that had a diet of insects. Their warm blood enabled them to hunt at night while dinosaurs slept; they nurtured their young and gave them milk. When the dinosaurs died out some 65 million years ago, the mammals' inherent features meant that they could proliferate. The shrews evolved: the elephant shrew is shown, alongside its prepared pathway of getaway routes; while others adapted further into species of mole. The increased relative size of armadillos came about because they broadened their diet. Other animals grew larger owing to more of their favoured nutrition being available: these include the giant anteater and the pangolin. However, Attenborough hails the evolution of the bat — a winged mammalian insect catcher that can navigate using echolocation — as being "magical". The European brown long-eared bat switches off its echolocation and then uses its keen sense of hearing to detect an insect's location through its movements. He ascends 3 kilometres into the night sky over Texas to investigate why there should be so many bats at such a height. It transpires that this is also heights to which moths from the Tropics climb up as they migrate. Whereas the bats in Texas are forced to migrate in winter, Attenborough visits a cave in Canada where they stay all year round and go into deepest hibernation when the cold weather arrives. In New Zealand, bats seem to have reverted to the hunting techniques of their ancestors, and are shown tackling a weta on the ground.
S07E03 Plant Predators 00/00/0000 The next instalment looks at herbivorous mammals. The sloth is a leaf-eater, but it has compensated for the lack of nutriment in its diet by doing less (its reactions are a quarter the speed of a human's). This doesn't apply to all herbivores, which rely on bacteria in their stomachs to digest the leaves' cellulose. Plants can be poisonous, but Brazilian tapirs — the largest inhabitant of the South American rainforest — deal with them by eating a little of each species and then supplementing it with kaolin. In East Africa, via infrared cameras, Attenborough observes a herd of elephants squeezing into a pitch black cave and gouging the walls with their tusks to mine salt for their diet. Grazing animals, such as caribou and wildebeest, must migrate at the onset of winter and make long journeys to find new pastures. Despite its spiny fortification, the acacia is favoured by antelope, elephants and giraffes, which all have adaptations to reach its leaves. Smaller grazers are always at risk from carnivores: so they have developed the means to detect and evade them, and do so more often than may be supposed. A herd of wildebeests is shown defending one of their number by charging the lions attacking it. However, the horns of antelope are primarily used for fighting each other to determine rank within their group and to maintain a breeding ground. Topi are shown doing so to the point where they are so exhausted that they easily succumb to a pack of hyenas.
S07E04 Chisellers 00/00/0000 The fourth episode examines rodents, which are characterised by strong, sharp, continuously growing incisors. These enable the animals to eat food that others find impossible, such as nuts or wood, and have enabled them to become the most successful and numerous of all mammals. Attenborough visits the forests of Virginia, where the grey squirrels are able to differentiate between the acorns of the red oak and the white oak: eating the latter and storing the former. Seed-eaters can live almost anywhere, and the desert-dwelling kangaroo rat uses its cheek pouches to transport its supply back to its burrow. A family of beavers is shown in Wyoming. Their construction skills have enabled the building of a dam, which has given them a lake so they can safely swim and forage in the nearby woodland. Infrared cameras are installed in their lodge during winter and a pair of muskrats are revealed to be sharing it. Many rodents are nocturnal, and a porcupine is shown warning off a young leopard. The naked mole rat is a burrower that, like bees and ants but unlike any other mammal, lives colonially with castes of individuals. Rats and mice are the largest group of rodents, comprising some 1,300 species. They reproduce rapidly: a female house mouse can become pregnant at five weeks old, and a plague of the creatures is shown exploiting a grain store. The world's largest rodent is the capybara, a semi-aquatic animal from South America.
S07E05 Meat-Eaters 00/00/0000 This programme is devoted to carnivorous mammals. Attenborough starts in the English countryside, where, besides humans farming sheep, a stoat chases and catches a rabbit. Meat is one of the most energy-rich foods there is, and there are several groups that eat it exclusively. Among the most prolific to do so are cats and dogs. Canine adaptations are varied, and are illustrated by the differences between fennecs and Arctic foxes. Meanwhile, the biggest concentration of meat occurs on the plains of Africa, and African hunting dogs are shown capturing a wildebeest with efficient teamwork. However, the largest wild canid is the wolf, and Attenborough successfully communicates with a pack of them in North America before they embark on an exhausting hunt for elk. Back in Africa, infrared cameras are used to examine the nocturnal activities of lions, which bring down a zebra. During the day, a solitary cheetah — the fastest animal on four legs — swiftly overtakes an impala and despatches it. One of the most adaptable of the big cats is the leopard, and infrared technology is again used to spot one of them as it searches an Indian village for domestic goats. As it does so, it comes dangerously close to the hut where Attenborough sits with his observation equipment. Finally, Attenborough visits the frozen North to witness the animal kingdom's most powerful predator, the Siberian tiger, albeit one that is held in captivity.
S07E06 The Opportunists 00/00/0000 The next instalment deals with those mammals that are omnivorous. Attenborough goes to a zoo in Atlanta to see the giant panda. He contrasts its restrictive diet of bamboo with the less selective forms of nutrition favoured by other species. The raccoon is among the most successful: its sensitive hands and inquisitive nature have enabled it to become extremely adaptable. To the other extreme, one of the scarcest omnivores is the babirusa, a kind of pig found in Indonesia. A good sense of smell is vital for such creatures and wild boars have become expert foragers. Foxes have gained a reputation for killing more chickens than they need to: in fact they demonstrate foresight by burying surplus food to eat later. Skunks visit a cave of bats and cross a carpet of guano to seek out the young that fall from the ceiling. The most formidable opportunists are grizzly bears, and Attenborough observes them fishing for migrating salmon in Alaska. Their feeding habits in the lead up to hibernation are discussed in detail. The replacement of natural habitats by modern cities and the extravagance of their human occupants have provided a rich source of sustenance for many. Raccoons, bears and foxes have all become well adapted to an urban lifestyle. However, in this regard, it is the brown rat that has become most abundant. Finally, Attenborough points out that it is the opportunistic traits of humans that have enabled them to dominate the world.
S07E07 Return to the Water 00/00/0000 This episode concentrates on marine dwellers. Astride an elephant, Attenborough highlights their love of water, before moving on to those that are completely at home in it. In proportion to their size, sea otters probably have the biggest appetites of any mammal, and Attenborough swims with them off the Californian coast. Their adaptations include webbed feet, which in one way or another (as flippers) are common to all sea-going mammals. Sea lions are shown leading their young into the water for the first time, and navigating entangling beds of kelp. In Antarctica, the differences between true seals and sea lions are illustrated: the former don't have the external ears or the mobility on land of the latter. Meanwhile, in the Arctic, ringed seal pups are prey to polar bears. Other pinnipeds shown include hooded seals and harbour seals. The manatee is a grazer descended from land-living herbivores and spends its entire life in the water. Near south-eastern America, there live dolphins that specialise in synchronically 'herding' fish on to the river banks before feeding. With the aid of computer animation, Attenborough walks the length of a blue whale — the largest creature on the planet — to demonstrate its vast physiology, and then travels alongside one in the open ocean. Whale song, and particularly that of humpback whales, is examined. The tumultuous breeding habits of southern right whales are shown off the shores of Patagonia.
S07E08 Life in the Trees 00/00/0000 The next programme surveys arboreal mammals. Attenborough's introduction takes place in the close company of meerkats. They work as a team, and one will always act as a lookout. For this it climbs to the highest point nearby, which in this instance proves to be Attenborough's shoulder. Up in the canopy of the tropical rainforest, there is a greater variety of food than anywhere else in the natural world, so it is unsurprising that many animals exist there. Sloths and coatis exemplify the skills needed to move around in such a habitat. Especially suited to ascending tree trunks are sun bears and tamanduas, the latter possessing a prehensile tail, something it has in common with the woolly monkey. The flying squirrel can leap a distance of 15 metres by virtue of the fur membrane between its wrist and ankle. A five million-strong colony of fruit bats is also shown, and little impact is made on their numbers by predatory eagles and crocodiles. Infrared cameras are again employed to study nocturnal lorises and lesser bushbabies. Their ancestral relatives reached the island of Madagascar, where they diversified and are known as lemurs. They are particularly adept at jumping, and their technique is analysed. They are hunted by the fossa, a kind of mongoose, which is a match for them athletically. In the forests of Southeast Asia can be found the "supreme tree-traveller", the fastest flightless inhabitants of the canopy in the world: gibbons.
S07E09 The Social Climbers 00/00/0000 The penultimate instalment focuses on monkeys. Together with apes (which includes humans), monkeys are part of the most social group of mammals. Their habits are rooted in relationships with others of their kind and a natural intelligence and inquisitiveness. Capuchins display all these qualities as they search for food. The differing face colours of the saki denote seniority within its group. The only nocturnal monkeys are douroucoulis and being active at night enables them to share the food resources of others in the same area. Pygmy marmosets, the smallest monkeys in the world, are captured feeding at the tops of trees and gnawing away on tree trunks to feast on the gum inside. Different tamarin species are shown co-operating to alert each other to the presence of a common predator, a tayra. Monkeys have good colour vision, and howler monkeys use it to select non-toxic leaves to eat. Attenborough travels through the African jungle with an alliance of species: several types of monkey and even mongooses combine to watch out for danger. They have a different alarm call for each enemy and Attenborough demonstrates this by placing a stuffed leopard nearby. In Sri Lanka, the naturalist also spends time with a troop of toque macaques — one of the most studied groups of monkeys in the world. It has been discovered that the creatures are born into a class system, in which position brings privileges. When the world's climate changed 10 million years ago, some monkeys ventured into open grassland, and they are illustrated by some of the most resourceful: baboons and geladas.
S07E10 Food for Thought 00/00/0000 The final episode studies apes and the evolution of human society to its current state. In Borneo, rescued orangutans that have spent time with humans have learned to imitate their activities, and have done so entirely on their own initiative. They are shown hand-paddling a canoe, washing socks, and using a hammer and saw. In Africa, Attenborough encounters a group of orphaned chimpanzees that are being prepared for their return to the wild. Again, they display a great capacity for gaining knowledge and passing it on. A different chimp culture exists in Uganda, where a large concentration of rival males lives in an uneasy alliance that, in rare cases, can lead to extreme violence. In Tanzania, Attenborough examines some of the earliest footprints to have been left by man's upright-walking ancestors. In the Kalahari Desert, indigenous bushmen undertake a persistence hunt. It provides an illustration of how early man pursued his prey with no weapons. The domestication of cattle led to farms and then to villages. With vastly increased food supplies, the number of human beings multiplied. Ritual and the arts flourished, and villages became towns. Attenborough visits Tikal, the capital of the Maya people, who achieved sophisticated advances in architecture, mathematics and astronomy. However, the Maya couldn't sustain their population — and, Attenborough warns, we may be precariously close to a similar catastrophe.
S08E01 Invasion of the Land 00/00/0000 The first episode tells how invertebrates became the first creatures of any kind to colonise dry land. Their forerunners were shelled and segmented sea creatures that existed 400 million years ago. Some of them ventured out of the water to lay their eggs in safety, and Attenborough compares those first steps with today's mass spawning of horseshoe crabs off the Atlantic coast of North America. Some animals abandoned the oceans altogether when the land became green with algae, mosses and liverworts. The earliest ground-dwellers were millipedes, which were quickly followed by other species. Springtails are shown to be smaller than the head of a pin and, for their size, can jump immense heights. The velvet worm hunts nocturnally and has scarcely changed over millennia, while the giant centipede can kill instantly and is shown hunting bats in Venezuela. Mating habits are explored, including the unusual ritual of leopard slugs and the meticulous nest maintenance of the harvestman. The arrival of earthworms was of great importance since they changed the nature of the soil, leading to a proliferation of plant life. Despite their aquatic ancestry, many invertebrates, particularly those with no exoskeleton, need a moist environment to keep themselves from drying out. Finally, a creature that has adapted to a desert habitat, the scorpion, is shown as it pursues its dangerous courting dance, followed by the birth of up to fifty individuals.
S08E02 Taking to the Air 00/00/0000 The next programme deals with flying insects. It begins in Central Europe, where the Körös River plays host to millions of giant mayflies as they rise from their larval skins to mate. — the climax of their lives. Mayflies and dragonflies were among the first to take to the air about 320 million years ago, and fossils reveal that some were similar in size to a seagull. Damselflies are also looked at in detail. One species, the rare cascade damsel, inhabits waterfalls, while another, the helicopter damsel, lives away from water (unlike all the others in its group) and is also the biggest. Several types of butterfly are shown, but all have common habits, and Attenborough describes their physiology. Together with moths, they possess the largest wings, and this surface area gives ample opportunity to display for partners or warn off predators. In cold weather, bumblebees must warm themselves to prepare for flight: they 'disable' their wings, enabling them to exercise their muscles without taking off. The vestigial rear wings of flies and crane flies are used for navigation, and arguably the most accomplished insect aviator is the hoverfly, which makes continuous adjustments while in the air to remain stationary. Beetles that are capable of flight have to keep their wings below covers, and a specimen of the largest, the titan beetle, is shown. Attenborough attempts to entice a male cicada, only to have it land on his ear (causing laughter from the camera team).
S08E03 The Silk Spinners 00/00/0000 The third instalment examines the spiders and others that produce silk. Attenborough visits New Zealand's Waitomo Caves, which are inhabited by fungus gnats whose illuminated larvae sit atop glistening, beaded filaments to lure their prey. The ability to spin silk developed early in the invertebrates' history, being first used as an adhesive. The female lacewing still applies it in this way, to suspend its eggs from plant stems. Spiders first employed it as a sensitive trip line to detect movement, and Attenborough illustrates this by encouraging a trapdoor spider. The speed with which it appears causes the presenter to jump in surprise. The webs spun by orb-weavers are complex and can comprise up to 60 metres of silk and 3,000 separate attachments. A time-lapse sequence reveals their intricate construction. The largest are made by Nephila and can be several metres across. The venomous redback spins three-dimensionally, and fixes vertical lines that suspend its unlucky meals in mid-air. Meanwhile, the bolas spider swings a length of silk with a sticky blob on the end, with which to snare passing moths. Argiope exemplifies the dangers of mating that are faced by some male spiders: unless they are careful, they can be consumed by the females. The courtship of the wolf spider, though less risky, is one of the more elaborate. Its nesting habits are discussed, along with the eventual birth of its young, which cling to their mother's back.
S08E04 Intimate Relations 00/00/0000 The penultimate episode focuses on the relationships between invertebrates and plants or other animals. It begins with ants and aphids: the former 'herd' the latter and protect them in return for secreted honeydew. The activities of gall-inducing insects are described, using the example of the oak tree. Many plants recruit insects to aid pollination, offering nectar for doing so, and some predators have adopted camouflage to take advantage of this, such as the crab spider. Stick insects rely on ants to hide their eggs underground for them in safety. In the Californian desert, the blister beetle's larvae congregate on a stem and, by releasing a pheromone, attract a male digger bee on the lookout for a female. They climb aboard their visitor and eventually transfer to its mate, which will in turn unwittingly deposit them in its nest — providing sustenance. An orchard spider is shown enduring a parasitic wasp grub, which injects its host with a hormone that deranges it and halts the spinning of webs. The grub then sucks the liquid from the spider's body and uses the remaining silk to form its cocoon. Fairy wasps are so small that they can lay their eggs inside those of water beetles — and can even mate while inside them. The tiger beetle larva ambushes ants by plugging its burrow with its head and pouncing. However, this doesn't work with Methocha, an ant-like wasp, which avoids the jaws of the beetle larva, paralyses it with a sting, and lays its eggs on the host. After dragging the paralysed larva deeper into the burrow, the entrance is carefully plugged and concealed.
S08E05 Supersocieties 00/00/0000 The final programme looks at the superorganisms formed by bees, ants and termites. Attenborough reveals that their colonies, whose individuals were once considered purely servile, are "full of conflict, power struggles and mutinies." They evolved when such creatures moved away from a solitary existence and started building nests side-by-side, which led to a collective approach to caring for their young. There are about 20,000 species of bee, and a queen bumblebee is shown starting a new nest. As it grows, the inhabitants all help to maintain it and bring nectar and pollen. However, anarchy erupts when the queen starts to destroy eggs laid by her workers: she is stung to death and the colony ends. Ants live in bigger societies, which can make them vulnerable, but Attenborough goads a nest of wood ants into demonstrating their defence: formic acid. In Australia, a nest in a mangrove swamp has to be continuously rearranged to escape the tides. Meanwhile, desert-dwelling harvester ants block up nearby nests in an effort to maximise their food pickings. A bivouac of army ants is explored: they prove to be one of those most regimented organisms, where the action of each individual is for the good of the million-strong colony. Attenborough investigates magnetic termites, whose slab-like mounds are all aligned to account for the movement of the sun. Finally, a full-scale battle between termites and matabele ants is depicted in close-up.
S09E01 The Cold Blooded Truth 00/00/0000 The first episode discusses the keys to success of reptiles and amphibians, looking at thermoregulation, parental care and the time-scales on which reptiles operate. Attenborough begins in the Galápagos Islands, using thermal imaging to demonstrate how marine iguanas warm their bodies by basking in the sun before feeding. Meanwhile, the lizard inhabitants of a Minorcan island have a relationship with its indigenous dead horse arum plants. Attenborough visits Dassen Island to witness one of the world's greatest concentrations of tortoises — around 5,000 of them. Few reptiles are active at night, but crocodiles can rely on water that retains much of its daytime temperature. Conversely, amphibians' moist skin would be damaged by the sun and so most are nocturnal. An exception is the waxy monkey leaf frog, which can deal with sunlight by covering its body in a wax secretion. A puff adder illustrates the relative inactivity of reptiles compared to mammals: one large meal can last up to a year. When it hatches at the onset of winter, the young painted turtle stays underground, near frozen until the spring when it can emerge. Attenborough wonders if the dinosaurs' immense size allowed them to maintain warm blood. The largest living reptile is the leatherback turtle and indeed is able to do so because of insulating body fat. Under the Skin looks at the hunt for the pygmy leaf chameleon, filmed in Madagascar.
S09E02 Land Invaders 00/00/0000 The second programme explores the world of amphibians, of which there are some 6,000 known species. Attenborough visits Australia to illustrate how they became the first back-boned creatures to colonise land: the lungfish, which is capable of breathing air, and whose ancestors became the first amphibians. The largest of them is the Japanese giant salamander and two are shown wrestling for territory. In North America, the marbled salamander spends most of its life on land, yet is still able to retain the necessary moisture in its skin through the damp leaf litter. A female caecilian is filmed with her young, whose rapid growth is discovered to be the result of eating their mother's skin — re-grown for them every three days. The most successful amphibians are frogs and toads. Their calls are most active during the breeding season: females are impressed by both volume and frequency. However, gestures are sometimes needed and the poisonous Panamanian golden frog uses a conspicuous form of 'semaphore'. Most other frogs rely on camouflage and the South American red-eyed tree frog is an example. An African bullfrog is shown defending its exposed tadpoles by digging a canal for them. Meanwhile, the male marsupial frog keeps its young moist by carrying them in its skin pouches. Under the Skin examines the filming of the last population of Panamanian golden frogs, which is threatened by a fungal disease.
S09E03 Dragons of the Dry 00/00/0000 The third instalment takes a look at the immense diversity, social skills and displays of the lizards. While they are highly adept at camouflage, occasionally there is a need to break cover in order to ward off rivals. Attenborough holds up a mirror to an anole and causes it to extend its colourful throat flap as a warning sign. Madagascar is host to over 60 species of chameleon but one of the largest, Meller's chameleon, is native to Malawi and two rival males are shown jousting. A female South African dwarf chameleon demonstrates its ability to change colour when communicating to a potential mate, and the chameleon's muscular tongue is depicted lassoing its prey. In southern Australia, Attenborough uses a baited fishing rod to attract the attention of a rare pygmy bluetongue skink, thought to have been extinct for over thirty years until it was rediscovered in 1992. Shinglebacks are among the most devoted lizards and breeding pairs can reunite each year for up to two decades. Alongside South Africa's Orange River, large groups of flat lizards feed on the swarms of black flies, but the males also use the occasion to indulge in social squabbling. The Mexican beaded lizard is one of the few with a poisonous bite, but males do not employ it when wrestling each other. Finally, Attenborough comes face to face with a perentie, Australia's largest monitor lizard. Under the Skin focuses on filming in Australia.
S09E04 Sophisticated Serpents 00/00/0000 The fourth episode focuses on the most modern reptiles, the snakes, exploring how they have managed to become successful despite their elongated body shape. Attenborough explains how they evolved from underground burrowers to surface hunters, losing their limbs in the process. With the aid of infrared cameras, a timber rattlesnake is shown lying in wait for a mouse and sensing its repeated path before despatching and eating it. A snake's constantly flickering tongue is used to gather and evaluate the molecules of its surroundings, and Attenborough visits Carnac Island to witness a population of blind tiger snakes, which feed on the chicks of nesting gulls. He also confronts a Mozambique spitting cobra, which quickly sprays venom over the presenter's protective face visor. The similarities in colouration between the harmless kingsnake and potentially lethal coral snake are highlighted. An example of a snake that can tackle unusual prey is the Queen snake, which almost exclusively hunts newly-moulted crayfish. A pair of rival male King cobras are seen battling and infant cobras are shown hatching: their venom is immediately as fatal as that of their parents. In Argentina, a yellow anaconda evades nearby caimans to give birth to live young. Finally a turtle-headed sea snake feeds not on fish, but on their eggs laid on a coral reef. Under the Skin discusses the filming of timber rattlesnakes during inclement weather.
S09E05 Armoured Giants 00/00/0000 The final programme covers the most ancient of the reptiles: the crocodiles and turtles. In the Galápagos Islands, among the giant tortoises, Attenborough explains how the creatures came to develop their shells as a defence against predators. This is demonstrated by the eastern box turtle, whose shell includes a hinged 'drawbridge'. The aquatic pig-nosed turtle is unusual in that its eggs need to be submerged before hatching, whereas those of other species would drown; Attenborough illustrates this by dropping an egg into a jar of water: it immediately hatches. In the open ocean, male sea turtles attempt to separate a rival from its mate by attacking and overwhelming the pair, stopping them from taking in air. In northern Australia, Attenborough observes a large gathering of crocodiles at a flooded coastal road: they time their arrival to ambush migrating mullet. The complex communication and body language of the American alligator is investigated and in Argentina, the calls of young caimans help their mother locate and lead them to a nursery pool. The mother's maternal instinct extends to releasing unhatched babies by gently crushing their eggs in its jaws. In Venezuela, a female spectacled caiman in charge of an entire crèche leads the infants from a drying river bed on a trek to permanent water. Under the Skin explores filming on the Galápagos Islands and Attenborough's meeting with Lonesome George.
S00E01 The Making of "Life on Earth" 00/00/0000
S00E02 The Making of "The Living Planet" 00/00/0000
S00E03 The Making of "Trials of Life" 00/00/0000
S00E08 The Making of "Life in the Undergrowth" 00/00/0000

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