Inside Nature's Giants - Animal Autopsy
Running Time: about 47:00 min. each
Edition: 2009 - 2010
Mark Evans presents a science series uncovering the anatomical secrets of some of the animal kingdom's most extraordinary species. Also features professor and author Richard Dawkins.
Animal Autopsy will delve under the skin of the world's largest animals to reveal their unique anatomy and unravel their evolutionary secrets. Most wildlife documentaries show you how animals behave, but by exploring inside nature's giants we emerge with a deeper understanding of how these animals work. We will discover how elephants are able to consume so much food; why crocodiles have such an incredibly strong bite; why giraffes have such a long neck and why the closest living relative of the whale is a hippo. This is Natural History as you have never seen it before - from the inside out.
Ep 1 Title: The Elephant
This programme looks at how evolution has overcome the challenges of being as big as an elephant.
Elephants feed on plants with very little nutritional value for 18 hours a day, so evolution has given them vast intestines as well as huge teeth and jaw muscles - and an equally gigantic head. But this produces another problem: how to reach food on the ground.
The solution is the most versatile limb on the planet - the trunk. Capable of everything from picking up berries to ripping a tree from the ground, the trunk is a wonder of evolution. It's a Just So Story for the Darwinian age.
Ep 2 Title: The Whale
In this episode experts dissect a 65-foot, 60-ton fin whale - second only in size to its 'cousin' the blue whale - that has died after being stranded off the coast of Ireland. It's a race against time as whale anatomist Joy Reidenberg flies in from New York before the animal's decomposition causes it to explode on the beach.
Veterinary scientist Mark Evans helps investigate why the animal died and explores its extraordinary anatomy. Using whale-size machinery, Joy and the team set to work amidst gale force winds, driving rain, blood, intestines, evil smells and freezing conditions. Meanwhile, advancing tides threaten to engulf the whale, as the team struggles to complete the operation.
Beneath the blubber, the whale's unique anatomy holds vital clues to its evolution. Using a combination of dissection and computer graphics, the programme discovers an animal whose closest living relative is the hippo.
Meanwhile, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains why the whale's ancestors may have taken to the water and the evolutionary problems that had to be overcome to transform a land-based mammal into an animal that swims among fish.
Ep 3 Title: The Crocodile
Experts in anatomy, evolution and behaviour dissect a crocodile and discover the cold-blooded predator possesses an intricate digestive system. Meanwhile, Professor Richard Dawkins explains how little the reptile has changed since the age of the dinosaurs.
Ep 4 Title: The Giraffe
Experts in anatomy, evolution and behaviour examine a giraffe.
For Professor Richard Dawkins, the evolution of the world's tallest animal, which is equipped with only seven vertebrae despite its size, provides some of the best evidence in favour of Darwinian natural selection. Last in the series.