The first episode looks at how birds first took to the skies in the wake of the insects. It begins in Mexico, where Sir Attenborough observes bats being outmanoeuvred 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 Sir 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 takahē is extremely rare, and high in the mountains of New Zealand, Sir 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.
Category:Nature Duration:50:00 Series: The Life of Birds
After eight grueling years of hunting in the hot, wind-scoured desert of central Africa, an international team of researchers has uncovered one of the most sensational fossil finds in living memory: the well-preserved 7 million years old skull of a chimp-size animal, probably a male, that doesn't fit any known species. According to paleontologist Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France, whose team reported the find in Nature last week, there is no way it could have been an ape of any kind. It was almost certainly a hominid — a member of a subdivision of the primate family whose only living representative is modern man.
Take a dino's-eye view of life in the prehistoric past as cutting-edge filming techniques and hard science. When White Tip, a female velociraptor, loses the rest of her pack, she must struggle to survive on her own. In time, she locates a new pack, as well as a mate, only to find that her hardships are just beginning in the harsh desert environment.
Category:Science Duration:48:23 Series: Dinosaur Planet
The great mountain ranges are some of the planet's most spectacular landscapes, but they are unforgiving places to live in, and only a few animals have what it takes to live at extreme altitude. Mountain animals are amongst the most elusive in the world, and this film provides unique and intimate glimpses into their secretive lives. Witness the moment four snow leopards come together when a mother and cub become trapped between two rival males. Join grizzly bears as they dance against trees to rub off their winter fur and soar with golden eagles hunting amongst Europe's snow-capped peaks.
Category:Nature Duration:58:09 Series: Planet Earth II
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