October 1, 2008

Reptiles Reveal True Colours


What: Life In Cold Blood

Where: Prime

When: 8.35pm, Sunday


SIR David Attenborough presents the final chapter of his epic overview of life on Earth as he transforms perceptions of cold- blooded animals in Life in Cold Blood.

"Reptiles and amphibians are sometimes thought of as slow, dim- witted and primitive," says Sir David. "In fact, they can be lethally fast, spectacularly beautiful, surprisingly affectionate and extremely sophisticated."

Sir David first brought viewers Life on Earth in the 1990s. Now, using the very latest in filming technology from the BBC's world- renowned Natural History Unit -- including ultra-high-speed, thermal, miniature and on-board cameras -- Sir David reveals the surprising and intimate lives of cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians, discovering the secret of their success. After all, they have ruled Earth for nearly 200 million years and, today, there are wmore than 14,000 species.

From the largest and most dangerous reptiles, demonstrating tender and sensual courtship, to tortoises and horned chameleons jousting dramatically, flashing anolis lizards and waving jacky dragons, Life in Cold Blood captures previously unseen behaviour.

Tiny scarlet frogs engage in sumo wrestling, baby worm- like caecilians feast on their mother's skin, mother salamanders viciously defend their broods against marauders, and spectacled caiman are filmed taking care of creches of up to 100 young.

After 50 years spent documenting nature and animals, Sir David said he still enjoys the role.

"There is no problem about doing that. It seems to me if you no longer find pleasure at looking at a flower or a bird, you have reached a pretty sorry state. It is the most natural thing to do in the world, and the people you have to be sorry for are those who for one reason or another can no longer do that. But if you can do that and I have been unbelievably fortunate to do so, if you can do that, well, you go on having this pleasure every day of your life."

Does he have a favourite animal?

"No, not really, but I mean for arbitrary sake I could produce you a little list. But I wouldn't really mean it. On that list there would be gibbons, there would be humming birds, there would be dragonflies, so there are too many things, really."

In episode one is -- The Cold Blooded Truth -- Sir David begins the story on the Galapagos Islands, among massed ranks of marine iguanas. Stunning thermal imagery reveals how the lizards bask in the sun till they are as warm as he is, and then pour like hot golden lava into the cold sea as the heat they have accumulated powers their dives.

He then looks at how reptiles can be sensuous, examining the surprisingly sweet courtship of the saltwater crocodile where a five- metre-long male is seen gently caressing the much smaller female while blowing bubbles to reassure her.

By the end of the series, Sir David hopes our perceptions of reptile and amphibians will be forever changed.


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