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The Incredible Human Journey: Australia

   2009    History
Dr Alice Roberts looks at our ancestors' seemingly impossible journey to Australia. Miraculously preserved footprints and very old human fossils buried in the outback suggest a mystery: that humans reached Australia almost before anywhere else. How could they have travelled so far from Africa, crossing the open sea on the way, and do it thousands of years before they made it to Europe? The evidence trail is faint and difficult to pick up, but Alice takes on the challenge. In India, new discoveries among the debris of a super volcano hint that our species started the journey much earlier than previously thought, while in Malaysia, genetics points to an ancient trail still detectable in the DNA of tribes today. Alice travels deep into the Asian rainforests in search of the first cavemen of Borneo and tests out a Stone Age raft to see whether sea travel would have been possible thousands of years ago, before coming to a powerful conclusion.
Series: The Incredible Human Journey

The Jungles

   2011    Culture
The rainforest is home to more species of plants and animals than any other habitat on the planet. But for humans, life there is not as easy as it looks. Life in the trees requires great skill, ingenuity and sheer bravery. The Matis of Brazil carve 4-metre-long blow-pipes to hunt monkeys - in near total silence. Deep in the Congo forests, Tete defies death by scaling a giant tree using nothing more than a liana vine, and he must then negotiate an angry swarm of bees - all to collect honey for his family. Three children from Venezuela's Piaroa tribe venture deep into the jungle to hunt tarantulas - to toast for lunch! In West Papua the Korowai tribe show-off their engineering skills by building a high-rise home 35 metres up in the tree tops. Most memorable of all, in Brazil we join a unique monitoring flight in search an un-contacted tribe...
Series: Human Planet

The Power of Flowers

   2012    Science
In the second episode, Professor Iain Stewart discovers how flowers have transformed our planet. He journeys to the remote islands of the South Pacific to track down the earliest flowers. In the deserts of Africa and rainforests of Vietnam, he sees how they brought brilliant colour to the most barren landscapes and sculpted the earth itself. And he learns how they drove the evolution of all animals - kick-starting our human story.
Series: How to Grow a Planet

The Private Life of Plants: Travelling

   1994    Nature
Sir David Attenborough reveals plants as they have never been seen before - on the move and dangerously devious. About the major problems of life - growing, finding food, reproduction - and the varied ways plants have evolved to solve it. Filmed from the plant's point of view, using computer animations, fibre-optics and unique time-lapse photography. 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-species Alsomitra macrocarpa 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. The tropical sea bean Entada gigas has one of the biggest fruits of all plants and is dispersed by water streams. 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.
Series: The Private Life of Plants

Empire of the Tsars
Empire of the Tsars

   2017    History
Meet the Romans
Meet the Romans

   2012    History
One Strange Rock
One Strange Rock

   2018    Science
Art of Spain
Art of Spain

   2008    Art
The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury

   2013    Art
Building Giants
Building Giants

   2019    Technology
Magic Numbers
Magic Numbers

   2018    Science
The Crusades
The Crusades

   2012    History