Life (2009)

Season 1 Episode 1

Primates

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Aired Friday 8:00 PM Dec 07, 2009 on BBC
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Primates
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Intelligence, curiosity and complex societies have enabled primates to exploit many different habitats. In Ethiopia, male Hamadryas baboons restore discipline after a skirmish with a rival troop. In Japanese macaque society, only those members from the correct bloodlines are permitted to use thermal springs in winter; others are left out in the cold. Examples of primate communication include a silverback gorilla advertising his territory though vocalisations and chest-beating, and the piercing calls of spectral tarsiers which help keep their group together. In Thailand's rainforests, lar gibbons use song to reinforce sexual and family bonds. By contrast, ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar broadcast sexual signals using scent glands. A young orangutan's upbringing equips it with all the skills it needs to survive in the forest, including finding food, moving through the canopy and building a shelter. On South Africa's Cape Peninsula, chacma baboons forage kelp beds exposed by the lowest tides for nutritious shark eggs and mussels. White-faced capuchins collect clams in Costa Rica's coastal mangroves, but lack the powerful jaws to pierce the shells. Their solution is to beat the shellfish against trees or rocks, which eventually exhausts the muscle that holds the shell closed. Life on Location follows camerawoman Justine Evans to Guinea to film tool use in chimpanzees. Dextrous hand movements enable them to dip for ants and termites using plant stems. They have also learned to crack nuts using precise and efficient blows with a stone. One male chimp is filmed sharing his stone with a female.

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