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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

Kingdom of Plants Life in the Wet Zone

   2012    Nature    3D
Written and presented by David Attenborough, who said: 'One of the most wonderful things about filming plants is that you can reveal hidden aspects of their lives, you can capture the moment as one plant strangles another, and as they burst into flower. But whilst time-lapse photography allows you to see things that no human being has ever seen before". David begins his journey inside the magnificent Palm House, a unique global rainforest in London. Here, he explores the extraordinary plants that are so well adapted to wet and humid environments and unravels the intimate relationships between wet zone plants and the animals that depend on them. It was in the wet zones of the world that plants first moved on to land and in the Waterlily House David reveals how flowers first evolved some 140 million years ago. Watching a kaleidoscope of breath-taking time-lapses of these most primitive of flowers swelling and blooming in 3D, he is able to piece together the very first evolutionary steps that plants took to employ a wealth of insects to carry their precious pollen for the first time. David discovers clues to answer a question that even had Charles Darwin stumped: how did flowering plants evolve so fast to go on to colonise the entire planet so successfully?
Series: Kingdom of Plants
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature
The Human Body
The Human Body

   1998    Medicine
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole

   2011    Science
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle

   2018    History
Earth, the Power of the Planet
Earth, the Power of the Planet

   2007    Nature
Engineering the Future
Engineering the Future

   2020    Technology
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History

   1997    History