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NATURE: Moment Of Impact

Airs Sunday, April 4, and Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: This two-part series takes an innovative look inside the bio-mechanics of animals using the latest state-of-the-art imaging technologies. The chameleon (pictured) uses its fast, telescoping tongue to catch an insect meal.

The natural world is filled with “moments of impact” – the split seconds when animals come into contact with each other and the world around them. Previously many of these moments were too fast or too hidden for us to see. But now new camera technologies reveal what’s behind these remarkable moments, and cutting edge animations illustrate the “inside story” of animal bioengineering that allows each moment of impact to take place.

Episode 1: "Hunters & Herds"

They are the scenes of some of the largest concentrations of predators and prey on the planet – the vast tracts of grassland and savannah found on every continent but Antarctica. Yet survival in this kind of open, horizontal world is far from easy, with few places to hide, a scarcity of vegetation, drought, fire and the threat of attack by some of the world’s fastest and most powerful hunters.

Lion and wildebeest computer graphic. As long as wildebeests maintain a 50-yard safety zone from the lions, their risk of becoming lunch is greatly reduced.
Enlarge this image

Above: Lion and wildebeest computer graphic. As long as wildebeests maintain a 50-yard safety zone from the lions, their risk of becoming lunch is greatly reduced.

From Africa’s Serengeti to California’s grasslands, some of nature’s most dramatic moments are caught, examined and “fractured” into their unique parts … within creatures great and small … to reveal the amazing abilities that give each animal the instinct, intelligence and brute prowess to survive. From elaborate impact sequences that spin around animals caught in a “frozen moment” to animations that go inside their bodies – a unique view of animals’ amazing biomechanics is revealed. Watch a preview.

Episode 2: "Jungle"

Teeming with creatures in every shape and form, the jungle is the most diverse habitat on the planet and home to nearly half of the world’s plant and animal species. Rising hundreds of feet from the dark depths of the tropical forest floor, through layers of twisting branch and canopy full of life – this vertical landscape pushes the limits of animal engineering.

Computer graphic of a bat. Using the latest state-of-the-art imaging technologies, this episode examines how a bat uses sonar to hunt at night.
Enlarge this image

Above: Computer graphic of a bat. Using the latest state-of-the-art imaging technologies, this episode examines how a bat uses sonar to hunt at night.

The jungle’s layers are peeled back to dissect more amazing moments of impact. Stealth and ambush reign in the jungle and survival depends on highly tuned senses and ingenious defenses. From ninja ants to flying snakes, cameras dive underwater, sail through trees and penetrate fur, feathers, skin and bone to reveal the science of some amazing animal engineering hidden deep in the jungle. Watch a preview.

"Moment Of Impact" premieres over two Sundays, April 4 and April 11, 2010.

Video

Video Excerpt: Moment Of Impact: Lion And Wildebeest

Above: From Africa’s Serengeti to California’s grasslands, some of nature’s most dramatic moments are caught, examined and “fractured” into their unique parts … within creatures great and small … to reveal the amazing abilities that give each animal the instinct, intelligence and brute prowess to survive. From elaborate impact sequences that spin around animals caught in a “frozen moment” to animations that go inside their bodies – a unique view of animals’ amazing biomechanics is revealed. "Nature: Moment of Impact" premieres over two Sundays, April 4 and April 11, 2010.