Find Life, Planet Earth and many more breathtaking documentaries in our brand new BBC Earth store.
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 armoured 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
The series begins with "A Winning Design", which distinguishes mammals from other living organisms. This episode follows marsupials, and hence spends most of its time in Australia. There is some wonderful footage of the duck-billed platypus, perhaps the most bizzare mammal alive today. From here, the next three episodes deal with small herbivores as David charts the development of mammals by examining animals of greater and greater evolutionary complexity. Spectacular later episodes include "Meat Eaters", in which large cats and dogs are compared, and "Life in the Trees", in which David is hoisted to the top of the rainforest canopy to observe the astounding gibbons, who move from branch to branch with breathtaking speed and agility. There is also the amazing "Return to the Water". David stands inside a life-size computer-generated blue whale, and states that the ancestors of these giants were "deer-like creatures" - a fact that surprised me! The last two episodes then examine man's pre-cursors in social monkeys, baboons and finally man himself.
This series, along with the Blue Planet, must rank alongside David's finest work. Fortunately, he shows no signs of slowing down, although one can only wonder if there is any creature he has not yet filmed, or if he could add to what he has produced here.Read more ›
Since I can remember, David Attenborough has been involved in some truly awe-inspiring projects - The Natural World, Living Planet, Life in the Freezer, etc etc. What unites the various programmes is the obvious dedication and love of the subject matter from all involved.
Beautifully shot, edited and narrated, The Life of Mammals is an epic study of some fascinating wildlife. Starting with the Platypus, surely the oddest of all mammals, and moving gracefully and majestically through countless other species, the series ends with a fascinating treatment on Humans themselves.
Attenborough's chosen subdivisions of the group makes the large volume of material easier to digest - Chisellers, Meat Eaters, Water Dwellers, Opportunists, Tree Dwellers, Insect Hunters - they're all equally interesting, endearing and lovable.
As with any Attenborough project, there's a fair share of groundbreaking technology used to give a new insight into the natural world. Luckily this new technology is used sparingly, and with obvious benefit where it is.
There's rarely a dull moment's viewing in this series, or in any other Attenborough - BBC collaboration. Lovers of nature documentaries will not be disappointed.
This product's forum
Search Customer Discussions