Australia

The epic journey of the world’s most arid continent has driven the evolution of its bizarre pouched mammals , until Australia has become the realm of marsupials.

Produced by NHNZ

Millions of years ago Australia was covered in lush rainforests…but it wouldn’t last because the continent was on the move. Drifting north, it became arid and today only a few rainforests are left. But between these extremes an unlikely group of heroes thrive. Marsupials evolved to cope with the variety of climates. Some perished along the way, but ingenious mutations allowed others to survive.

Tasmanian Devils are carnivores, armed with bone crunching jaws. Their haunting screams pierce the mountain forests as they scavenge a carcass in the dead of night. Lethargic Koalas spend their days eating and sleeping high up in eucalyptus trees. Amazingly, the leaves they eat are toxic to other animals. The tiny male Antechinus only lives for one year. His life culminates in a testosterone rampage… he mates so vigorously for so long – it kills him. The males are dispensable: survival of the species taking precedence over individuals.

Bizarre, amazing strategies allow each of the different marsupials to dominate Australia, but one habitat has pushed evolution to the limits.

Almost half of Australia is desert. Few animals can survive here, but one marsupial calls it home – the iconic Red Kangaroo. This creature is a pinnacle of evolution, equipped with an arsenal of adaptations to survive the desert. From its giant hop to its unique reproductive strategy, Australia’s Red Kangaroo demonstrates the power of evolution.

But this year is different. It is even more extreme than usual. This is a story of a mother Kangaroo, trying to breed in one of the harshest droughts in decades. How did this creature get here? How does she survive in such an extreme, Mars-like environment? And can she keep her family alive until the next rainstorm?

Episodes From This Series

Borneo

48 minutes / 2014

Japan

50 minutes / 2010

Brazil’s Cerrado

50 minutes / 2010

Australia

50 minutes / 2010

New Zealand

50 minutes / 2010

Costa Rica

48 minutes / 2014

Africa’s Albertine Rift

1 hour / 2014

China – Roof of the World

1 hour / 2014

Western Ghats and Sri Lanka

1 hour / 2014

The Arid Namib

1 hour / 2014

Madagascar

1 hour / 2010

Africa’s Rift Valley lakes

1 hour / 2010