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Dr. Joy Reidenberg discovers the evolutionary secrets of the giant squid.
Courtesy of Windfall Films
Dr. Joy Reidenberg discovers the evolutionary secrets of the giant squid.

Airs Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

They’re back! The intrepid scientific team from INSIDE NATURE’S GIANTS returns with two new episodes exploring the evolutionary secrets and anatomical mysteries of two of nature’s strangest animals — the giant squid (June 20th at 10 p.m.) and the camel (June 27th at 10 p.m.). Shot on location in Australia and New Zealand, INSIDE NATURE’S GIANTS brings together these skilled specialists — comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg, veterinary scientist Mark Evans, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and biologist Simon Watt — for more wildlife adventures. (NOTE: The animals dissected in INSIDE NATURE’S GIANTS died naturally in the wild or in zoos, or were from officially sanctioned culls.)

Highlights of INSIDE NATURE’S GIANTS include a man vs. camel skill challenge from Simon Watts, Dr. Joy Reidenberg’s face-to-face meet up with a giant Pacific octopus, and a visit to a champion camel-jockey and trainer. Richard Dawkins provides context on how these alien beasts have developed environmental adaptations to enable them to survive and, in the camel’s case, thrive in the harsh desert landscape. The series also reveals amazing facts about the bizarre sex lives of the camel and the giant squid, both of which would rank high on the list of nature’s weirdest mating rituals.

"Giant Squid" - The team travels to New Zealand to examine one of the most deeply mysterious creatures on Earth — the giant squid. Thought by many to be the stuff of legend, it was only in the late 19th century that the giant squid was first officially recorded by scientists, after one leviathan squid washed up on a beach in New Zealand.


With anatomy that seems ripped from the pages of a science fiction novel, the giant squid has a razor sharp beak, teeth on its tentacles and tongue, a throat that dives through the middle of its brain and three hearts that power blue blood through a muscle filled jet-propulsion cloak. Related to slugs and snails, this monster from the deep, along with its cousin the colossal squid, is the largest invertebrate in the world. It has never been filmed in its natural habitat hundreds of meters down, but occasionally specimens are brought to the surface by deep-sea trawlers.

Since little is known about how giant squids behave, Dr. Reidenberg dons a wet suit to meet its shallower water cousin, the giant Pacific octopus. Embracing this startled animal, she discovers what it’s like to hold a boneless, jet-propelled beak with eight arms.

Simon Watt investigates how octopus and squid are masters of disguise and survive underwater warfare using camouflage, ink jets and spectacular light shows. During the dissection, the team pieces together how giant squid hunt, how they jet through the water, how their quick-fire beak pulverizes food and why it has such enormous eyes. They also discover the brutal truth about giant squid sex, surely one of nature’s most unusual and complex reproductive systems.

Past episodes include "Sperm Whale," "Giant Python," "Great White Shark" and "Big Cats."

INSIDE NATURE’S GIANTS is produced by Windfall Films in association with Channel 4. Additional funding from National Geographic Channels and Wellcome Trust.


Dr. Joy Reidenberg is on Facebook. Mark Evans is on Facebook, and you can follow @MarkEvansTV on Twitter.