David Attenborough is to front a new BBC1 documentary charting an ongoing quest to find what could be the biggest animal that ever walked the earth.
Waking Giants will tell the story of one of the “dinosaur finds of the century”, according to the BBC, when 200 bones from seven giant creatures were unearthed after lying undiscovered beneath the South American desert for 100 million years. One thighbone alone measures 2.4 metres and could belong to the largest animal to ever grace our planet.
The dig, which started in February, is still ongoing and Attenborough will fly out to record the programme early next year as the scientific team seek to locate the rest of the bones and erect a skeleton.
“It is quite possible that they may find another 200 bones in another part of the dig site and if they do it would be the largest dinosaur discovery in history,” producer and director Charlotte Scott told RadioTimes.com.
Filming will begin in November for a scheduled broadcast either at the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.
Before that, BBC2 will show Paradise Birds, a documentary about one of Attenborough’s lifelong passions: birds of paradise.
The veteran naturalist was one of the first people to film many of their bizarre displays and has spent a lifetime tracking them over the jungles of Indonesia.
He said: “For me birds of paradise are the most romantic and glamorous birds in the world. And this is a film I have wanted to make for 40 years.”
The one-hour programme will also explore how these birds have captivated explorers, naturalists, artists, filmmakers and even royalty as well as the myths surrounding their discovery 500 years ago, including the past belief that they were heavenly creatures who had come down to earth.
Another new commission is Big Birds, a one-hour film about some of the world’s odder bird species including ostriches and kiwis.
The programme announcements were made by BBC director-general Tony Hall at the BBC’s Radio Theatre.
Hall also formally launched the renaming of all the BBC’s science and natural history programmes under the umbrella title BBC Earth. This rebranding exercise was undertaken, in part, to boost the BBC’s profile in the United States and other countries, according to BBC sources.
The launch includes a new BBC Earth website offering guides, images and video, as well as behind-the-scenes access to BBC productions.
“No-one does natural history like the BBC,” said Hall. “We’ve got the best back catalogue in the world and an exciting future ahead of us.”
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