The Rules Of Life

Landmark natural history examining what makes the difference between life and death in the wild.

From across the world, zoologist Aubrey Manning observes life at the cutting edge of survival.

Episodes

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0101Life Before Birth2005112120060124

Landmark natural history examining what makes the difference between life and death in the wild.

From across the world, zoologist Aubrey Manning observes life at the cutting edge of survival.

Aubrey Manning discovers that the dye is cast even before birth - it makes a big difference who your mother and father are and whether they are comfortable in their environment.

0102Early Days2005112820060131

The first few hours or days of life are crucial to an animal's future survival.

Even at this vulnerable stage there choices to be made and obstacles to be overcome.

Aubrey examines the early days of young creatures as diverse as seals, bees, chickens and baboons.

0103Going Independent2005120520060207

When does an infant stop being dependent on its mother and break out into the world alone? Depending on the animal and the type of system it lives in it can be very traumatic.

As in humans, learning to go it alone can be difficult and painful for many animals - there is just so much to know and understand.

Adolescent male elephants are sexually mature in their late teens but probably won't breed until their thirties; they are kept firmly under control by a dominant bull.

Male Bower birds spend the first seven years of their life looking like females before they change into their male plumage - they are learning what females really like.

And groups of young magpies need asboS putting on them!.

0104Pairing Up2005121220060214

Attracting and keeping a mate is not that easy, as many young lovers will affirm.

For many animals it is all down to the males to battle it out and show off to attract females, often at great cost to themselves.

At the end of the October rut, red deer stags are exhausted, underweight and often injured.

In some species it is a free for all, garter snakes in Canada have mass orgies when spring arrives but some male snakes may find that the female they are trying to mate with is actually a cross-dresser!

And the females? Well, even if they have matings forced on them, many species can select the sperm they want to use inside their bodies, rejecting - even ejecting - the sperm of undesirables.

A trick even the humble chicken can perform to perfection.

0105Happy Families2005121920060221

Being a parent is challenging, but for animals to truly succeed they must breed and pass their genes onto the next generation.

Professor Manning discovers how Reed Warbler parents can end up rearing a monster cuckoo chick that is nothing to do with them.

But in other animal societies, such as meerkats, mum and dad have numerous helpers who collect food and care for their young.

0106Food Is Not For Free2005122620060228

Feeding is a very dangerous activity for many animals.

If your attention is on eating then it isn't on predators that may sizing you up for dinner! Spiny lobsters screech like a violin to scare off predators, while meerkats keep lookouts posted.

Small migrant birds travel many thousands of kilometres over the Earth in search of the richest food supplies, often at great danger to themselves.

In contrast, sea otters become sea food specialists in one area, concentrating on one type of shellfish to eat, passing on their fishing knowledge down the generations.

0107The Twilight Years2006010220060307

Aubrey Manning explores the twilight years out in the wild. What dictates how long an animal lives? Does a long life bring respect and wisdom out in the wild? Plus, why poor old male antichinus from Australia literally die from too much sex.

0108 LASTChanging The Rules2006010920060314

How humans have changed the way animals behave, often inadvertently. Fishing for Horseshoe crabs has had a devastating effect on migrating wading birds; and killing zebra and wildebeest for food in poor areas of Tanzania has caused lions to become man-eaters.