In suburban yards and parks near Perth, charming Aussie Mitch shows fellow herpetologist Steve the omnipresence of his country's world deadliest collection of poisonous animals, of which he picks the extremely lethal tiger snake, a close cobra-relative, not the skink lizard. In the ocean, Steve admires the seal bur rather picks the pelican, with its deep air-dive and 13 liter water-holding bag along a record-length beak, the cake going to the dolphin, who out-swims anyone, jumps up to 5 meter and is a s smart as a primate, pulling off very clever collective hunting ...
Fellow herpetologist Jerry shows Steve some deadly reptilians, notably crocodiles an their favorites, poisonous snakes which kill 50,000 Indians a year, including the huge royal cobra, which eats all other serpents, and the small, aggressive saw-scale-viper, which kills even more people. The slothbear's sharp claws kill more people then tigers. The preying mantis, masters in mimicry and lightning-attack, inspired a kung-fu style.
Steve's team searches on horseback for yellow anacondas in the vast marshes of Argentina. One unsuspecting step and Steve's bleeding leg needs medical assistance after a bite from mud-hidden cayman, which also eats prey as large as the capybara. So do groups of piranhas, yet Steve risks feeding them in the water. Finally he lets a wild-caught 'baby' anaconda wind around his hand until it nearly breaks.
Some 150 dog species all ultimately descend from wolves. In Norway, Steve starts with the half-tame dog-sled breed husky, which looks must like wolves and is bred from stamina. The primary canine sense, smell, is the crucial asset for police- and mountain rescue dogs, expertly trained in Britain. Steve visits their ancestors in Transylvania (Romania).
On Madagascar island, Steve admires the world's most unique fauna. In the dry, western baobab forest, a unique feline, the ferret cat, is the most feared predator, but most iconic are its favorite prey, even more masterly climbers, the eldest simians, notably lemurs. In the rain-forest, Steve admires chameleons, color-shifting insectivore, highly territorial reptiles with deadly flashing sticky tongues, other lemurs and a mimicry-expert gecko. Most bizarre and elusive is another nocturnal lemur with squirrel-tail and long, bony claws.
Before Steve's team can leave, extensive preparations are made at BBC Bristol research and in logistics. The production, technicians and actual team face many logistic and other practical problems concerning transport, lodging, clothing, climate, dust etcetera. Frequent discomfort is topped by danger coming trough, as Steve's many wounds testify.
In Namibia, Steve demonstrates how desert species, including predators like spiders, scorpions and ants, like preys such as lizards, cope with merciless sun by hiding, burying themselves in the sand, hunting at night, limiting limb-scorched soil contact and anatomic adaptations. Master killers include rattlers, but also scavengers, such as vultures, whose unique digestion tops their hunter skills, and the marabou.
In Norway, Steve strips to his boxers to demonstrate our skin is inept for the Artic cold as Nordic wildlife's fur enables it to stand up to minus 50 Celsius comfortably. That fits Arctic predators like the lynx, Europe's greatest feline, a snow stealth expert which climbs as masterly as it slays deer, and the polar fox, a canine who prefers digging for lemmings, but also the giant musk-ox, a herbivore but as scary as a stampede.
Steve's team ends another season in the Amazonion forest wetland. By day, its top-dogs are packs of giant otters, who out-swim even piranhas and work together well enough to kill and devour even cayman and anaconda. The black cayman, more lethal to humans, rules at night. After fishing a monitor-like lizard from a wet pit, Steve lets chance present the 60st species on the list, the indigo serpent, not poisonous but huge, slippery and with a terrible bite.
In Philippine waters, Steve is excited to swim with the fox shark. Next the yellow lip, a highly toxic coastal sea-snake which hides in cliff caves. In the mangrove swamp, a kingfisher. In the jungle, a nocturnal primitive primate named tarsier.
Steve starts his Southern African mission in the Indian Ocean, starring shark species such as the socially hunting black-fin. In the Drakenberg mountains, the fatally poisonous African honey 'killer' bee, exceptionally aggressive in huge packs and nesting on steep cliffs. In the air, Steve selects the black eagle.
In Thailand, herpetologist Steve is drawn to a village which breeds, not kills, poisonous snakes, especially cobras. The giant royal cobra, which eats the others, makes the list. From two remarkable felines, he chooses a panther which out-climbs even monkeys and birds to a cat which fishes in dark pools. Finally he demonstrates our inability to rival the insectivore tekoh gecko as wall climber.
In his British home, Steve starts diving for the pike, top of the English sweet-water food cycle, a blitz-stealth hunter. In Scotland, the European sea-eagle rules the coastal skies. Back in the English countryside, spiders are everywhere, killing far more tons of prey (mainly insects) than any other predators, in diverse ways, such as the crab-spider's mimicry and the wheelbarrow's giant web.
Steve visits Uganada, in Equatorial Africa's Great Lakes region, in search of primates, mainly the apes. First in the mountains gorillas, giant and deadly but only when threatened, rather cozy vegetarians. Next baboons, aggressive bands of enterprising omnivores on grasslands. Finally chimpanzees, cleverest and most human-like, also dangerous, preferring social hunt, even on monkeys and antelopes, to their diets' fruit components.
Steve shows some footage of predator species that didn't make the theme episodes. In Namibia's desert dunes, African wild dogs, an erratic crab spider, which builds sands traps, a tiny scorpion, a thorn-bush grasshopper producing a nasty secretion, a giant millipede doing the same and. In Central American jungle, vegetarian ants whose guards' bite a strong enough to close wounds, a fishing bat and the giant earthworm. In Uganda, a rascal monkey. In Baja California, another millipede. In the Philippines, a kingfisher, a ray and a hermit crab.
Steve, who physically exposed himself to repeated sting risks throughout the series, compares some killer species with redoubted poisons, notably from four important families. With scorpions, big pincers mean mild venom, unlike comparatively big darts. Serpents are his favorites, with various modes of toxin use. Spiders are by far the most abundant poisonous killers. Finally insects, starring ants and a sinister wasp.
Steve shows in a natural museum how crucial the predators' bones are for their general anatomy and physical performances. Basic models are often around since the dinosaur age, such as sharks and crocodiles. Skeletons can be extremely different, from the heavy crocodile - to the featherweight bird skull.
Steve starts with a tame fish eagle, Bono, who however immediately attracts territorially rivaling attention from a wild relative. Steve shows clumsily how hard catching fish in flight is. On the road, a web wheel spider. Next we get a lesson is the art of stealth and sprint hunting the leopard and cheetah way, and the wild dog tenacity alternative.