Life on Ice: Episode 7

Emperor penguins and wood frogs have remarkable adaptations to survive the most challenging of conditions.

Life on Ice

In this episode we explore the remarkable adaptations of two creatures that have evolved to survive the most challenging of conditions and seem to defy the laws of nature.

Attenborough on Emperor Penguins

Emperor Penguin

The emperor penguin is the only animal able to breed during the harsh Antarctic winter.

Having been discovered only 60 years before Captain Scotts's two famous expeditions to the Antarctic, it fell on Edward Wilson, the expedition's naturalist and doctor, to lead the research of this hardy creature.

It was thought that the emperor penguin was a prehistoric bird and the embryo may hold evidence of a dinosaurian lineage. After extensive study of the emperor penguin colony, WIlson made it his mission to get his hands on one of their eggs and find out once and for all.

Attenborough on Wood Frogs

Wood Frog

The tiny wood frog survives the winter by freezing solid and thawing back to life in spring.

This seemingly supernatural method of surviving the winter confused scientists when it was first discovered.

When ice crystals form in the body they rupture and irreparably damage the cells, something which explorers know as frostbite. How does the wood frog tolerate this being a thin-skinned amphibian? First we need to uncover what happens chemically within the body of this very special frog.