James Cameron is known for great cinematography in such films as Titantic and Avatar. He has continued to use his skills and the latest technology to help bring the fascinating reality that is nature to viewers everywhere. Now Cameron takes us on a journey to explore the secret powers and super senses of the world’s extraordinary animals in National Geographic’s Super/Natural on Disney+.
What Is Super/Natural?
Super/Natural is a nature documentary series narrated by award winning factor Benedict Cumberpatch. The season consists of 6 unique episodes, all of which premiere on Disney+ starting Wednesday, September 21st. Super/Natural is produced by Earthship Productions and Plimsoll Productions for National Geographic. Executive producers are James Cameron, Maria Wilhelm, Martha Holmes, and Tom Hugh-Jones with Matt Brandon and Bill Markham as showrunners. Let’s take a look at each episode:
This episode looks at how plants and animals interact with each other in unique and interesting ways. In a forest, small wildlife work together to warn each other about a Goshawk that is looking to score an easy meal. In another location, flying squirrels communicate with ultrasonic sounds and have glow-in-the-dark bellies which radiate light in a spectrum not visible to humans or their predators. Travelling to Africa we observe a tree that puts out a sound like swarming bees to deter elephants from eating or breaking it. Then viewers are treated to fireflies that flash their lights until they are all in synch.
‘The Mating Game’
The drive to reproduce is life’s most powerful instinct. We span the globe to reveal the hidden forces that animals and plants have harnessed to find, seduce and even kill for a mate, from supersensitive elephant seals that detect their love rivals through the sand to vampiric jumping spiders with a lust for blood. If you think love is blind, you aren’t looking in the right place. Watch bird mating dances, devil rays leaping out of the water and smacking down to attract mates, a flower that reflects bat sonar and attracts them to help pollinate, and a tree that acts like a woodland dating app for bears.
Animals go to extraordinary lengths to secure the survival of their bloodlines. In the face of predators, famine and climatic extremes they’ve evolved mysterious abilities to protect and provide for their young. River turtles join forces to predict the future; amphibians poison their young in the name of love; and a mother elephant introduces her calf to the family while it’s still in the womb. There are even tiny shrimp that have a colony similar to bees or ants inside a sea sponge that defend their colony by snapping their claws.
In a fiercely competitive world, animals face their enemies in the fight for food, family and home – employing hidden skills and extraordinary powers to win. Fearsome fish duel with ultraviolet weapons; cunning birds use incredible imitation to deceive their rivals; and lovable insects unveil their superpower in the heat of battle.
‘Eat or Be Eaten’
Predators and prey are in an evolutionary arms race. Hunters use surprising super-skills to catch a meal; while the hunted must use seemingly magical forces to escape and survive. Extraordinary footage of previously unseen behaviors reveals how unexpected powers are employed to win in nature’s most exhilarating hunts. A stonefish hides with camouflage and then creates a suction with mouth to suck in fish as prey. A lizard that has tiny air bubbles trapped in water resistant scales that combine at its face so it can breathe the air and stay submerged until predators are gone. Watch a hognose snake in Arizona with scent sensors on both tips of its forked tongue which allow it it to smell in stereo and find its prey.
The animal kingdom is always on the move. Whether searching for food or striking out into faraway lands, looking for new beginnings or taking the first steps into adulthood, our heroes must survive impossible journeys however dangerous or daunting. We discover how animals rely on an incredible array of super-senses to overcome unimaginable odds. This episode includes ibex scale the side of a near vertical concrete dam to get salt seeping out from it as well as bees who travel long distances to find flowers with nectar and we get to view how they see flowers in the ultraviolet spectrum.
Why You Should See Super/Natural
I am a fan of James Cameron and am always fascinated by his work. Benedict Cumberpatch does on excellent job narrating this series as well. I can’t believe the series of programs National Geographic has been creating for Disney+ and their incredible quality. By using special cameras, Super/Natural shows things our eyes cannot see. However, when viewed through light outside of our human visual spectrum, there are many hidden patterns and scenes that animals and insects can see and help them navigate to food or each other. While the visuals and cinematography are amazing, I really enjoyed the content. Each episode is packed with many different animals and their natural super abilities. I had never known how some of these animals function and survive and learned so much about our natural world. Not only did I really enjoy viewing each and every episode, I can’t wait to show excerpts from this series in the life science class I teach. I know my students will be amazed and engaged. I highly recommend Super/Natural even if you don’t think you like nature shows. I guarantee you will be both entertained and educated at the same time.
Be sure to watch Super/Natural when it begins streaming on Disney+ on Wednesday, September 21st. Here is a trailer for the series.