Life on Earth
In order to obtain footage of rare and elusive animals, special filming techniques had to be devised. One cameraman
spent hundreds of hours waiting for the fleeting moment when a rare frog, which incubates its young in its mouth,
finally spat them out. Another built a replica of a mole rat burrow in a horizontally-mounted wheel, so that as the
mole rat ran along the tunnel, the wheel could be spun to keep the animal adjacent to the camera. To illustrate the
motion of bats' wings in flight, a slow motion sequence was filmed in a wind tunnel.
Life on Earth: A Natural History by David Attenborough is a BBC nature documentary series about a study of the evolution of life on the planet. The series consists of thirteen episodes and begins with David Attenborough's opening narration: "There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive. This is the story of how a few of them came to be as they are." The first episode is devoted to illustrating the diversity and origins of life on Earth. And then through the next 12 episodes the series looks at the evolution of living creatures including the sea-living creatures, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, primates and humans.
Life on Earth: Episode 01 - The Infinite Variety
This episode begins in the South American rainforest, whose rich variety of life forms is used to illustrate the sheer number of different species.
Life on Earth: Episode 02 - Building Bodies
This episode explores the various sea-living invertebrates. In Morocco, the limestones are 600 million years old, and contain many invertebrate fossils.
Life on Earth: Episode 03 - The First Forests
This episode examines the earliest land vegetation and insects. The first plants, being devoid of stems, mainly comprised mosses and liverworts.
Life on Earth: Episode 04 - The Swarming Hordes
This episode details the relationship between flowers and insects. There are some one million classified species of insect, and two or three times as many that are yet to be labelled.
Life on Earth: Episode 05 - The Conquest of the Waters
This episode looks at the evolution of fish. They have developed a multitude of shapes, sizes and methods of propulsion and navigation.
Life on Earth: Episode 06 - Invasion of the Land
This episode describes the move from water to land. The fish that did so may have been forced to because of drought, or chose to in search of food.
Life on Earth: Episode 07 - Victors of the Dry Land
This episode is devoted to the evolution of reptiles. They are not as restricted as their amphibian ancestors, since they can survive in the hottest climates.
Life on Earth: Episode 08 - Lords of the Air
This episode focuses on birds. The feather is key to everything that is crucial about a bird: it is both its aerofoil and its insulator.
Life on Earth: Episode 09 - The Rise of the Mammals
This episode is the first of several to concentrate on mammals. The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs (in much the same manner of reptiles).
Life on Earth: Episode 10 - Theme and Variations
This episode continues the study of mammals, and particularly those whose young gestate inside their bodies.
Life on Earth: Episode 11 - The Hunters and Hunted
This episode surveys mammal herbivores and their predators. The herbivores began to populate the forests when the dinosaurs disappeared, and many took to gathering food at night.
Life on Earth: Episode 12 - Life in the Trees
This episode investigates the primates, whose defining characteristics are forward-facing eyes for judging distance, and gripping hands with which to grasp branches, manipulate food and groom one another.
Life on Earth: Episode 13 - The Compulsive Communicators
This episode deals with the evolution of the most widespread and dominant species on Earth: humans.