Sir David Attenborough has vowed to ditch his ‘woe is me’ attitude towards climate change in his newest show and instead focus instead on the power that colour has on the natural world.
His latest series details the importance of colour across the animal kingdom and provides an incredible insight on how various species of animals use different hues in their daily lives.
BBC One’s Life in Colour, which starts on Sunday at 7pm, uses new camera technologies which will allow viewers to see colours and patterns usually invisible to human eyes, including the wing patches of the male blue moon butterflies, usually only visible in the ultraviolet spectrum.
The 94-year-old will explain how mammals don’t have good colour vision, because back in the Cretaceous era mammals were nocturnal and never developed colour vision in the dark.
Sir David Attenborough, 94, pictured with a toucan in Costa Rica for his new two-part BBC1 series Life In Colour, has explored the vital role colour plays in the daily lives of many species – from winning a mate, to fighting off rivals and warning enemies
The Odontodactylus scyllarus, commonly known as the peacock mantis shrimp (pictured), have 12 types of colour receptors – four times as many as humans. Mantis shrimp see the visible spectrum in the same way as humans, as well as ultraviolet light and polarised light
Indian peacocks’ magnificent tail feathers have evolved to impress females. The males with the most ornate feathers have over the years attracted the most mates, meaning those with the showiest displays have passed on their genes over the generations
The poison dart frog, native to tropical Central and South America, boasts elaborate and colourful designs to ward off potential predators by sending them the message that they are some of the most toxic animals on Earth in a process called aposematic coloration
The poison dart frog’s bright colours are to warn of their toxicity. Despite the frogs being no more than six cm long, the animals have enough poison to kill 10 grown men, needing only two micrograms to kill a human adult
Sir Attenborough first wanted to make a series about colours in animals in the 1950s – but it wasn’t possible in a time of only black and white TVs.
Now, with television sets offering far more realistic pictures, Sir David Attenborough has finally been able to fulfil his vision.
Speaking to the Radio Times, Sir David said: ‘I think a lot of people think we’re spending all our time saying, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, what a catastrophe faces us’, which is perfectly true.
‘But this series is about what it says it’s about, which is colour and, yes, just being able to rejoice in it.’
The 94-year-old also explained that he is doing enough ‘woe is me’ programmes at the moment so wanted to take a moment to appreciate nature.
A magnificent bird-of-paradise is pictured displaying to a female in West Papua. The species’ extravagant mating ritual involves spanning out their wings while showing off their eyes and breast plate and dancing around until the female is suitably impressed
A magnificent bird-of-paradise in West Papua, pictured. They tend to favor tropical and subtropical terrain and breed only once a year. Breeding occurs between the months of July and December
Flamingos get their pink colours from their diet. Flamingos wade into deeper water than most other birds to look for food, and consume a large amount of beta carotene, a red-orange pigment found in brine shrimp algae, and larvae, which turns them pink after being broken down by the digestive system into pigments absorbed by the skin and feathers
Andean flamingos are pictured dancing on the salt pans in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The animals spin around and put pressure on the area in a bid to force its favourite food, the artemia salina, from the mud
The first episode, which airs on Sunday, focuses on the various ways creatures use colour to attract a mate or fend off any enemies.
The second then reveals how some animals, including the Bengal Tiger, use colour to hide and disappear into their surroundings.
Breathtaking photos from the series range from a species of mantis shrimp with four times as many colour receptors as humans, to the male mandrill monkey which base their status within the group on the intensity of the red and blue colours on their face.
One photo shows how we see a blue moon butterfly, but when pictured using a UV camera it reveals bright UV patches which other insects can see.
Brighter UV colours are more attractive to females because they are a ‘sign of health and fitness’.
Pictured, a Fiddler crab in Darwin, Australia. The Leptuca puguilator are able to change their colouration within 15 minutes, becoming a lighter colour when they are exposed to warm temperatures, becoming darker when they are exposed to colder temperatures
The male hypolimnas bolina, otherwise known as the Blue moon butterfly, has secret UV colours invisible to the human eye. ‘Mammals don’t have good colour vision, though primates like us are better than most,’ says Sir David in the show
The Lemon damselfish is native to the tropical western Pacific Ocean and have patterns on their faces invisible to the human eye which act as a secret communication channel. As the fish matures their bright yellow coloration will begin to diminish slightly
Mandrills live in troops headed by a dominant male, with the blue and red face colours of male mandrills signalling their status. The more testosterone the animal has, the brighter the colours on his face, with females breeding with only the most colourful males
Sir David says in the first episode: ‘UV colours are part of the spectrum which insects can see and we cannot.’
Another picture shows a lemon damselfish as we see it, but a second photo which has been taken with a UV camera shows patterns on the fish that humans cannot see.
The programme also features the Fiddler crab, which can see polarised light in a way that we cannot.
The crabs stand out better against the polarised mudflats so it’s easier for them to detect potential mates or rivals.
A photo of a Mantis shrimp shows how they see polarised light and use it to communicate with each other.