Life on Earth: The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Life on Earth: The Greatest Story Ever Told

Life on Earth: The Greatest Story Ever Told

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The age of the dinosaurs is explored, and Attenborough surmises that it may have been climate change that led to their abrupt demise. This explained the mechanism by which physical characteristics are passed from one generation to the next. The skin is rich in pigment cells, which provide effective means of camouflage, and the chameleon is a well-known example. The boa, puff adder and sidewinder demonstrate methods of locomotion, the egg-eating snake has an extreme example of a hinged jaw, and the lethal diamondback rattlesnake is described as the most efficient at despatching its prey. To illustrate the motion of bats' wings in flight, a slow-motion sequence was filmed in a wind tunnel.

Our subject would be not only natural history in the sense that those two words are normally used, but the history of nature. All these advances in knowledge and many more will be mentioned in the appropriate places in the text that follows. Here on the islands, where there was little vegetation, one species fed on seaweed and clung to rocks among the surging waves with unusually long and powerful claws. Since that time, the theory of natural selection has been debated and tested, refined, qualified and elaborated.

However, it had claws on its wings and there is only one species alive today that does so: the hoatzin, whose chicks possess them for about a week or so. Were these merely eddies in the mud on the bottom of the primeval seas, or could they have been formed by living organisms? David Attenborough is one of the most influential and respected broadcasters and naturalists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The series is available in the UK for Regions 2 and 4 as a four-disc DVD set (BBCDVD1233, released 1 September 2003) and as part of The Life Collection. The best remembered sequence occurs in the twelfth episode, when Attenborough encounters a group of mountain gorillas in Dian Fossey's sanctuary in Rwanda.

He also addresses the urgent issues facing our living planet: climate change, pollution and mass extinction of species. No one could be sure and the shapes were given the noncommittal name of stromatolite, a word derived from Greek meaning no more than ‘stony carpet’. The life cycles of creatures are explained with reference to the Darwinian ideas of natural and sexual selection.If rocks lie in layers, and are not grossly disturbed, then the lower layer must be older than the upper.

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