|2002 UK The Life of Mammals|
A thorough and entertaining overview of one of evolution's greatest success stories, the series is loosely structured to follow the development of mammals, beginning with the basics in "A Winning Design," which clarifies what makes a mammal different from reptiles and birds--no, it isn't egg-laying: both the platypus and the echidna are egg-laying mammals; it's their ability to adapt. And it's this adaptability that becomes the crux of the remainder of the series.
"Insect Hunters" focuses on mammals who have specifically adapted to eating insects, from the giant anteater and the armored armadillo to bats, which have evolved into complex and effective hunters.
"Plant Predators" demonstrates the particular (and often peculiar) adaptations of herbivores, while "Chisellers" is about those mammals who feed primarily on roots and seeds, ranging from tree-dwelling squirrels to opportunistic mice and rats.
"Meat Eaters" talks about the evolutionary arms race that exists between predators and prey, and the unique adaptations of both individual and pack hunters.
Omnivores are explored in "Opportunists"--mammals like bears and raccoons, whose varied diet allows them to occupy nearly any environment. "Return to the Water" discusses those mammals such as whales, seals, and dolphins that have left behind life on dry land and adapted completely to life in the sea, existing at the top of the food chain.
The last three episodes--"Life in the Trees,""Social Climbers," and "Food for Thought"--take the viewer through the development of primates, eventually culminating in that most successful mammal: man. --Robert Burrow