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
For thousands of years, humans have believed that there were once flying monsters. But did they really exist beyond our nightmares? 220 million years ago dinosaurs were beginning their domination of Earth. But another group of reptiles was about to make an extraordinary leap: pterosaurs were taking control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastical than any fiction. In Flying Monsters 3D, David Attenborough the worlds leading naturalist, sets out to uncover the truth about the enigmatic pterosaurs, whose wingspans of up to 40 feet were equal to that of a modern day jet plane. Attenborough works with scientists to understand the incredible story of the evolution of the pterosaurs, a story that unfolds in such stunning locations as New Mexico, the Jurassic Coast of Lyme Regis in Britain, an ancient pterosaur landing site in Southern France and a fossil pit in Germany where near perfect pterosaur specimens have been found. The central question and one of the greatest mysteries in palaeontology is: how and why did pterosaurs fly? How did lizards the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies? Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough starts to unravel one of sciences more enduring mysteries, discovering that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today. Flying Monsters 3D is a groundbreaking film that uses cutting-edge 3D technology and CGI to bring the story of giant flying monsters and their prehistoric world to life. Audiences of all ages will be in awe as they enter the world and experience, as never before, REAL Flying Monsters in 3D.
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