Life then walks through an episode for each major group of creatures on the planet and titles the episode to note their focus — "Reptiles and Amphibians," "Mammals," "Fish," "Birds," and "Insects." Each episode shows the cycles inherent in all living things — from the groupers spreading fertilized eggs in clouds beneath the waves that get eaten by predators to the damselfly's chance to lay eggs interrupted by a leaping frog. Opportunities abound for all creatures in the food chain to do their part to survive.
The series then shifts to "Creatures of the Deep," where photographers manage to show a seal carcass beneath the Antarctic ice providing food for urchins, sea stars, and nemertean worms, proving that creatures big and small will find ways to eat and reproduce even in the harshest conditions. The amazing footage of hundreds of thousands of spider crabs molting in the shallows off South Australia is amazingly bizarre and completely memorable.
In "Plants" we see the other side of the equation, from the forest floor to the canopy, the ocean floor to the desert — flora has also found ways to adapt and thrive in inhospitable places. The exposed roots of the epiphytes in the rain forest canopy trapping water and leaves for nutrients provide a stark contrast to the bristlecone pine trees that can live up to 5,000 years with a six-week growing season and at an altitude above 9,800 feet.
Lastly, the series focuses on the "Primates" — our distant cousins on the evolutionary chart. These intelligent, social creatures — from baboons and macaques using troop dynamics and bloodlines to determine the outcome of disputes to the white-faced capuchins using rocks to break open clams for dinner. It's impossible not to see similarities to the human condition.
Though we weren't able to catch each episode as it aired in the Discovery Channel earlier this year, we were excited to see the series become available on DVD recently. It's another amazing achievement for the BBC Natural History Unit and their dedicated, amazing photography teams scattered around the globe.