What on Earth...? 2009

Watch the year's highlights from the BBC's exploration of the planet's hidden corners and rarest creatures: from the turquoise seas of the South Pacific to the Lost Land of the Volcano.

With animal behaviour often centre stage, there have been some memorable presenter/wildlife interactions with amorous parrots and territorial hippos, but the spotlight has shone elsewhere too. We've followed the seasons in Yellowstone and across the UK, retrodden old paths for a last chance to see some of our most endangered wildlife, and even helped in the discovery of species new to science.

Whether you like your wildlife homegrown or exotic, take the 2009 grand tour and find out where the wild things really are.

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7 video clips in this collection

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View all 7 video clips

Animals in this collection

  • Head of a African bush elephant African bush elephant

    African bush elephants are the largest living land mammals and the second tallest after...

  • Portrait of a black bear Black bear

    Black bears are found only in North America...

  • A giant cuttlefish breeding male on seabed Giant cuttlefish

    The Australian giant cuttlefish is the largest of the world’s hundred or so species of...

  • Black-throated diver on water Black-throated diver

    Black-throated divers are the only member of the diver bird family to have a white patch...

  • A Bornean orangutan Bornean orangutan

    Bornean orangutans live high in the tropical canopy of Borneo's forests, where they...

  • Grizzly bear standing in river looking for fish Brown bear

    Brown bears are some of the largest carnivores on Earth.

  • Cape dwarf chameleon in a tree at night Cape dwarf chameleon

    Cape dwarf chameleons are only to be found in the grasses and shrubs of South Africa's...

  • Close-up profile of cape gannet's head Cape gannet

    Cape gannets breed on islands off the coast of Nambia and South Africa.

  • A bait ball of sardines Herring and sardine family

    Herrings and sardines form the family of fish called clupeids.

  • A shoal of striped catfish Eeltail catfish

    Eeltail catfish can be found in both marine and freshwater.

  • Close up of a honeybee European honey bee

    European honey bees have been introduced to nearly all parts of the world by humans, but...

  • Starling on a tree branch (c) Ian Mitchell Starling

    Although seen in their millions in the spectacular winter aerial displays, starlings...

  • Hippopotamus standing with a calf next to water Hippopotamus

    Hippopotamuses are found in Africa where they require habitats with water deep enough to...

  • Two chimpanzees sitting together Great apes

    Great apes including humans are all in the same primate family, called the Hominidae,...

  • Curious humpback whale calf Humpback whale

    Humpback whales migrate seasonally...

  • A kakapo in the forest Kakapo

    Kakapos are very unusual parrots.

  • Woolly rat in undergrowth Woolly rats

    Woolly rats are found in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, usually in mountain forests or...

  • Mosquito on a blade of grass Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes are a family of insects encompassing over 3,500 recognised species.

  • A bess beetle Bess beetles

    Bess beetles, or passalidae, are a family of beetles mostly found in the tropics.

  • Red deer stag in the mist (c) James Morris Red deer

    Red deer are the largest of the UK's resident deer species.

  • Red fox checking for danger (c) Richard McManus Red fox

    Red foxes have overtaken grey wolves as the most...

  • Knots feeding at low tide Knot

    Knots, known as red knots in America as a result of their lovely red summer plumage, are...

  • Short beaked dolphins jumping out of the water Short-beaked common dolphin

    Common short-beaked dolphins are the most numerous dolphins in the world, and can be...

  • Alert stoat on woodland floor (c) Judi Mahon Stoat

    Stoats are completely white in winter, except for the black tips of their tails.

  • A Siberian tiger amongst green foliage Tiger

    The magnificent tiger, largest of the big cats, is a heavily muscled, powerful predator...

  • Tufted capuchin monkey Tufted capuchin

    Tufted capuchins are relatively common in the forests and rainforests of south America.

  • A white rhinocerous White rhinoceros

    White rhinos are named after a corruption of their Afrikaans name 'weit' (meaning wide),...

Plants in this collection

  • Common sundew with its sticky tentacles extended Sundews

    Sundews are a genus of carnivorous plants which usually live in wet habitats where the...

  • A cluster of common sundews Sundew family

    Sundews and their relatives are a family of plants that, in addition to a few hundred...

  • Close-up of a venus flytrap Venus flytrap

    Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants native to a small region of wetlands in the...

Habitats in this collection

  • A desert sand dune landscape in Namibia Desert

    Desert and dry scrubland describes any area that receives less than 250mm of rainfall a...

Adaptations in this collection

  • Spotted hyena tearing at an impala carcass Carnivorous

    Carnivores are animals whose main method of getting food is to kill and eat other...

  • A group of termite workers with two soldiers Eusocial

    Eusocial describes species with a very highly developed social structure.

  • Arctic tern in flight Adapted to flying

    Flying, in its true sense, is the ability to move through the air under your own power...

  • Eyespots of the silkmoth caterpillar facing camera Mimicry

    Mimicry is when an animal or plant resembles another creature or inanimate object,...

  • Adult timber rattlesnake coiled around its young Ovoviviparous

    Ovoviviparous animals produce eggs inside their body, but then give birth to live young.

  • Cat fleas amongst cat fur Parasitic

    Parasitic organisms have a close relationship with another organism, which they use...

  • Wildebeest walking with a newborn calf Active at birth

    Active at birth, or precocial, describes species that are physically mobile and able...

  • Long-beaked common dolphins circling a sardine baitball Predator

    Predators are creatures that catch and kill other animals for food.

  • Venom dripping out of a prairie rattlesnake Venomous

    Venomous organisms inflict poisonous wounds by actively biting, stinging or scratching...