The best David Attenborough documentaries and where to watch

Sir David Attenborough is considered a national treasure for a reason. His documentaries are not only educational but visually stunning, and sometimes filled with edge-of-seat action (remember the baby iguana chased by racer snakes?). All of this comes with his signature soothing voiceover.

So, if you’re in the mood to blow your mind by the extraordinary species that live on our planet, read on to find out where to watch some of Attenborough’s most incredible documentaries.

7 of the best Sir David Attenborough documentaries

Dinosaurs: The Last Day with David Attenborough

One day, 66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Yucatán Peninsula and changed the course of life on Earth. The impact nearly wiped out the dinosaurs, leaving room for the mammals to take off and eventually leading to the evolution of humans.

Paleontologists have studied the post-impact period for a long time — millions of years, think — but a remarkable archaeological site reveals something incredible: the day of the impact.

A top-secret site in Tanis, North Dakota, contains creatures buried by falling ejecta, including a fossilized egg with the bones of a baby pterosaur, a turtle stuck to a wooden stake, and an entire leg of a thescelosaurus dinosaur.

In this documentary, Sir David Attenborough reveals in unprecedented detail what happened on that final day.

Attenborough’s life in color

In the animal kingdom, color plays a vital role, whether it’s the pink color of a flamingo proving its worth as a mate, or the orange and black stripes of a tiger that make it blend into the jungle. But wait – jungles are green. So how do tigers camouflage?

The answer is that not all animals see color in the same way we do. Take the mantis shrimp: With 12 photoreceptors, compared to the three of humans, they can see ultraviolet and even polarized light.

For Living in colorthe team created brand new cameras that allow us to see the world the way other animals can, giving us a previously unseen perspective of the natural world.

Planet Earth II

Ten years after Planet Earth, Attenborough et al. returned with brand new camera technology, bringing us closer than ever before to breathtaking wildlife from around the world. When released in 2016, Planet Earth II spawned several immediately iconic moments, including baby iguanas being chased by hungry snakes, a fox diving headfirst into the snow, and bears dropping him like it’s hot in the woods.

Each episode explores a different type of habitat, from islands to jungles to cities, and the cast of species they call home.

if you loved Planet Earth and Planet Earth IIyou don’t have to wait long: Planet Earth III will be released in 2022.

Attenborough and the mammoth graveyard

The accidental discovery that uncovered a mammoth graveyard in Swindon and inspired the new Attenborough show © BBC/Windfall Films

© Windfall Films/Julian Schwanitz

When you think of mammoths, you probably think of Arctic tundra and not, well, Swindon. But the UK was, in fact, home to many Ice Age mammals: not just mammoths, but cave lions, lynx, aurochs and more.

In 2017, amateur fossil hunters found a massive mammoth graveyard in a gravel quarry in Swindon. In addition to the remains, they found stone axes made by Neanderthals.

In Attenborough and the mammoth graveyardcan you watch the team excavate the site and try to figure out what happened there: were it Neanderthals who killed the mammoths?

A perfect planet

Our planet is truly unique: we don’t know of anywhere else in the Universe with the exact set of characteristics that would allow even life to exist, let alone thrive. Thanks to this one-in-a-billion combination of sunlight, volcanoes, oceans and weather, every habitat on Earth is teeming with life.

Each episode takes one of these factors and explains how life on Earth couldn’t exist without it.

Seven worlds, one planet

Planet Earth is divided into seven continents and life exists on each of them – even Antarctica, despite its inhospitable environment. But why are the species so different in different parts of the world?

In Seven worlds, one planetAttenborough and team explore life unique to each continent – and none of them escape the impact of human activity.

Pushing boundaries: the science of our planet

Attenborough’s documentaries are known for their stunning take on the lives of animals around the world, but that’s not all he’s passionate about. The climate crisis threatens our entire planet, and every species that calls it home.

In Breaking BoundariesAttenborough and scientist Johan Rockström examine the science of the climate crisis, including the planetary thresholds we must not cross if we want the Earth to remain hospitable, not just to the animals, but to us as well.

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