The Mating Game (Webrip)

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Nature Documentary hosted by David Attenborough, published by BBC in 2021 - English narration

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Image: The-Mating-Game-BBC-Cover.jpg

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Finding a mate isn't just about love - the survival of an entire species could depend on it. Sir David Attenborough reveals spectacular scenes of courting and companionship.

[edit] Grasslands: In Plain Sight

The grasslands of our planet are some of the most challenging habitats for playing the mating game. They are an open stage where potential partners and jealous rivals can witness your every move and every failure. To win here, a player must give everything. Strategies used by animals here are as plentiful as they are unique - there are show-offs, fighters, scoundrels and cheats, and all are competing for their chance to mate. Where grass is in plentiful supply, so too is the competition, and for those who gather in huge numbers to breed, the added threat of hungry predators looms large. Out here in the open, experience is key. This is a lesson that a young male ostrich on the dry desert grasslands of Namibia is about to learn as he takes his first steps into the mating game. Meanwhile, a mature zebra stallion on the Serengeti must defend his mares from roaming bachelors amongst a herd 30,000 strong. Others rely on sneakier tactics, and ingenuity is common. Birds like the ruff choose a cross-dressing strategy to deceive rivals and sneak up on willing females, whilst the nursery web spider tricks his way to his intended’s heart with offers of worthless gifts disguised as prized treasures. However, success is not always guaranteed, and even after giving it everything, defeat can all too easily overcome a player. Despite having muscles to rival any body builder, a male kangaroo can easily lose his chance to mate to less impressive, sneakier competition. Then there are the ultimate winners, and none are more prolific than the termite queen who, over her 50-year lifetime, will create half a billion offspring. For all who choose to play the mating game out here in the grasslands, there is one ever-present overriding challenge that can affect every outcome: their strategies are on show for all to see.

[edit] Oceans: Out of the Blue

The ocean is where life first began, and where it first experimented with the mating game. All the creatures living here face the same challenge – how to find a partner in the largest and least-populated habitat on earth. To solve that challenge, marine animals have developed some of the most ingenious breeding strategies of all. The waters off Hawaii are witness to the largest courtship battles on the planet. Each spring, humpback whales from across the blue emptiness of the northern Pacific arrive, looking for mates. A single female can attract 20 or more males, and she is the one to determine who becomes her mate by leading them in a spectacular chase. Only the strongest and most aggressive stay the course. In a scene never witnessed before, the violence of the chase ends with moments of surprising tenderness as she allows the winner to take his hard-won place by her side. Meeting places are hotspots for marine creatures looking for passion, and few more so than coral reefs. The ways by which animals reproduce here are just as varied as the animals themselves. Clown fish families are ruled by a sex-changing female and have a strict hierarchy where bullying keeps everyone in their place. Flamboyant nudibranchs are both male and female at the same time. And flatworms determine who fertilises whom by penis fencing! The colourful reef also has a dark side - one that forces huge schools of fish to breed away from the reef, where hundreds of predatory sharks hunt and reef mantas gather in extraordinary numbers to feast, before they too court by dancing. From long-term love affairs where males become pregnant to the winner-takes-all warfare of a sea lion beach, this programme reveals the bizarre, beautiful and breathtaking behaviours of those that play the mating game in the ocean.

[edit] Jungles: In the Thick of It

Jungles and rainforests are home to 80 per cent of all species on earth, but they cover just two per cent of our planet’s surface. To win the mating game here, you need to be able to stand out from the crowd. For some it’s all about putting on a show, whereas others must fight for their chance of victory. And for a few creatures, working together is the key. Chimpanzees are notorious for their brutality and violence, and for most this is the simplest way to secure a mate. Dominant males can fight off rivals and impress the ladies. But for one younger male, forging long-lasting relationships through care and attention has proved to be an incredibly fruitful method of currying favour with the female chimps. The abundance of food in the jungle means that many species can focus much of their attention on breeding. In Papua New Guinea, a MacGregor’s bowerbird has spent his life collecting sounds and building a castle, all in the hope of attracting a partner. And for the first time ever in the wild, the courtship display of the great argus pheasant is laid bare for all to see. Whilst some animals might prefer a more subtle approach to mating, one jungle creature has his desire to breed written all over his face. A mandrill, the largest and heaviest monkey in the world, wears his blue and red face like a badge of honour. Only the strongest males can wear such bright colours, so he’s hoping that his face alone will be enough to warn off any rivals to his throne. When it comes to winning the mating game, a potential player can’t afford to lose his head. Unless, that is, his intended partner is a cannibalistic mantis. Sometimes, giving everything is the only way to win. Whatever the strategy, when it comes to mating in the jungle, there are few taboos.

[edit] Freshwater: Timing is Everything

Freshwater covers only a tiny fraction of the earth’s surface, but it is a vital meeting place for many animals - the stage on which millions gather to find a mate. Yet with so little of it available, and often only briefly, the challenge for most individuals is how to overcome intense competition when your rivals are just as dependent on the precious freshwater for their success. Whether it is from melting ice, torrential rain or shrinking wetlands, the cycle of freshwater is the trigger for spectacular mating rituals and fierce combat. The start of the rains in South Africa triggers a violent battle between male giant African bullfrogs. Rare hooded grebes in Patagonia perform one of nature’s more comical dances to seduce their partner, and a male cichlid fish builds a home for his harem from old snail shells, but a sneaky dwarf has the last laugh there. The mating season for animals that live in freshwater is often determined by when is best for their new offspring - even if that moment is far from ideal for the parents. In the wetlands of Zambia, female lechwe antelope search for the strongest males while contending with drought, and in the Pantanal of Brazil at the end of the dry season, caimans congregate in huge numbers around the last remaining water to perform their spectacular displays. For all those dependent on the cycle of freshwater to breed, timing is everything.

[edit] Against All Odds

One basic need connects all life on earth - the need to breed. But for a few creatures, the odds of success are overwhelmingly stacked against them. Some must find a partner when there are none to be found, while others must find a way to succeed without breeding at all. And some must try to adapt in a world unrecognisable from when they were born. These are animals that have evolved some of the most extraordinary mating strategies of all, and now they face a new challenge in the most successful breeder of all: us. The deep ocean is home to perhaps the most bizarre mating game of all. It’s the largest and least populated habitat on earth, and most of the creatures here spend their lives alone and in total darkness. So when a male fan-tailed anglerfish is lucky enough to stumble across a female, he clings on for dear life - and that ends up being the price he pays, as his body fuses with hers and his sole purpose becomes the fertilisation of her eggs. He gives so much of himself to her that when she dies, so will he. Toad-headed agamas spend their lives on the sand dunes of southern Russia. They need burrows in which to lay their eggs, but this isn’t easy when their homes can be swallowed up before their eyes in the ever-shifting sands. Meanwhile, for one laysan albatross, finding a place to breed isn’t so much of a problem, but finding a partner is a real struggle. Laysan pair for life, but when there are not enough males to go around, different tactics are required. And for another iconic bird, an abundance of males leads to perhaps the most remarkable strategy of all. On the plains of Texas, dominant wild turkey males are aided by their less impressive brothers, who will help to keep rival males at bay whilst the top turkey secures as many mates as possible. In North America, thousands of creatures have been hiding underground for 17 years for their chance to play the mating game. Periodical cicadas emerge from the ground in immense swarms to overwhelm predators and ensure the next generation of ground-dwellers. But a lot can change in so long a time, and their parents could not have predicted how different the world would be for their offspring nor the challenges they would face in this brave new world. This is just one of the ways in which the breeding success of humans is impacting the natural mating game of others. As a consequence of our success, we face a mass extinction event like no other in human history. But there is hope. Scientific breakthroughs have led to extraordinary solutions in helping other species to reproduce. In a United States federal government facility in Colorado, an incredibly precious animal may be the key to secure the future of her species. And the successful conservation of perhaps the most iconic endangered animal on the planet, the giant panda, has proved that humans can be a force for good.

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[edit] 1080p version

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main@L4
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 22 (~2736Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128Kbps CBR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 58 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 5
  • Part Size: 1.16 GB (average)
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

[edit] 1440p version

  • Video Codec: x265 CABAC Main10@L5
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 21 (~7722Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 2560x1440
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: HE-AAC
  • Audio Bitrate: 256Kbps CBR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 8
  • Run-Time: 57 mins
  • Number Of Parts: 5
  • Part Size: 16 GB (total)
  • Source: Bluray
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

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