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The Insatiable Appetite

   1998    Nature
The next instalment 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 Galapagos 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 Sir 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.
Series: The Life of Birds

What is the Right Diet for You 2of3

   2015    Medicine
It is time to see if personalised dieting will work in normal life. The volunteers have been given one of three diets to follow - based on their genes, their hormones and their psychology. But now they are back at home, trying to stick to their personalised diets with all the stresses and temptations of real life. Dr Chris van Tulleken and Professor Tanya Byron discover how our genetic makeup can make temptation difficult to resist, how understanding the brain reveals what makes us comfort eat and what science can tell us about why we make disastrous food choices.
Series: What is the Right Diet for You

The Big Freeze

   1993    Nature
As almost all animal inhabitants of Antarctica are forced to migrate north, the sea underneath the frozen ice still provides a home to many specially adapted fish whose cells are protected from freezing through an 'antifreeze' liquid. Many of them feed on the faeces of other animals. The most notable larger animal that does not migrate north is perhaps 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. This episode also describes 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. It details the life of the Emperor Penguin, 'the only birds to lay their eggs directly on ice'. While other animals retreat, Emperors migrate not just to the ice, but into the Antarctic continent. The females lay eggs which are incubated by the males under the harshest conditions on Earth (huddling closely together for warmth), while the females return to the sea.
Series: Life in the Freezer

Earthlings

   2005    Nature
A feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called 'non-human providers'. With an in-depth study into pet stores, puppy mills and animals shelters, as well as factory farms, the leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment industries, and finally the medical and scientific profession, the film uses hidden cameras and never before seen footage to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. Powerful, informative and thought-provoking, EARTHLINGS is by far the most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation between nature, animals, and human economic interests. There are many worthy animal rights films available, but this one transcends the setting.

Growing

   1994    Nature
The second episode 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.
Series: The Private Life of Plants
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

   2014    Science
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
Superstructures: Engineering Marvels
Superstructures: Engineering Marvels

   2019    Technology
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens

   2014    Culture
Galapagos with David Attenborough
Galapagos with David Attenborough

   2013    Nature
The Big Think
The Big Think

   2017    Technology
Senna
Senna

   2010    Culture