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Supersocieties

   2005    Nature
Invertebrates don't always operate alone. True society was the last feature to evolve in invertebrates, as recently as the time of Tyrannosaurus. In the last programme see the tensions below the surface in some of the great social structures built by insects, and witness the carnage when an ant colony and a termite colony wage war.
Series: Life in the Undergrowth

Dragons of the Dry

   2008    Nature
About 340 million years ago a brand new family of animals was evolving in the primeval swamps. They were to go one step further than the amphibians who had emerged onto dry and before them. For they would eventually completely cut their ties with water. They were the ancestors of todays lizards. They evolved scaly impermeable skins and moved up into the forests. They diversified into a multitude of different shapes and sizes. They developed signalling systems to communicate with one another. And they squabbled as animals do. For food they hunted insects that were already well established on the land in great numbers. And here without returning to water they produced their families. They powered their bodies not only with food but with the heat that they drew directly from the sun.
As they diversified so they spread into the harshest of the lands habitats. The baking waterless deserts which eventually they would come to dominate. Discover jacky lizards that wave, wrestling beaded lizards and the the world's smallest chameleon, which is no bigger than his thumbnail, and the biggest lizard in Australia.
Series: Life In Cold Blood

Insect Hunters

   2002    Nature
Mammals from tiny shrews, giant anteaters, armoured armadillo to bats have specialised in eating insects. Some have evolved into complex and effective hunters, even pursued their prey into the skies
Series: The Life of Mammals

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

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
Through the Wormhole Season 5
Through the Wormhole Season 5

   2014    Nature
Top Gear
Top Gear

   2012    Technology
The Human Body
The Human Body

   1998    Medicine
A Perfect Planet
A Perfect Planet

   2021    Nature
Bible's Buried Secrets
Bible's Buried Secrets

   2011    Culture
Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places
Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places

   2016    Science
One Strange Rock
One Strange Rock

   2018    Science