What to expect from Planet Earth II’s jungle episode: Tree top dolphins, spider monkeys and fierce glass frogs

Sir David Attenborough will introduce us to the mysteries of the world's jungles

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We have seen a baby iguana harrowingly crushed to death by a pack of snakes, grizzly bears dancing rhythmically against their favourite trees and a bobcat face-plant into a snowdrift.

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But now we are heading into the jungle for episode three of Planet Earth II – and there are plenty more creatures to meet beneath the canopy.

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Jungles cover less than 6% of land, but they are home to over half the plants and animals on Earth who are packed in tightly together away from the sunlight. Sir David Attenborough and his team will be taking us to the jungles of Brazil to meet “jungle dolphins that swim in the tree tops”, to Costa Rica where frogs fight huge wasps, and to Madagascar to visit the jumping indri. 

Here’s what to expect…

Unusual jaguars on the Amazon River in Brazil

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“We wanted to film the unusual way that some jaguars here have learned how to hunt,” says Emma Napper, Jungles Episode Producer.

For their size, jaguars have the most powerful bite of any cat. They like to come down to hunt by the river, where the team caught footage of a large male jaguar pouncing on a caiman – a relative of the crocodile that can reach up to 10 feet in length – and sinking his teeth through the surprised reptile’s skull. “It was a pretty brutal scene,” says Napper.

Glass frogs taking on giant wasps in Costa Rica

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Male glass frogs are only the size of a fingernail, but don’t underestimate these tiny creatures.

The male guards his eggs for two weeks on the underside of tree leaves, and he is a very good guard: when attacked by wasps, he puts himself in danger to kick the wasps away.

Tree-hopping indri in Madagascar

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The indri is the largest lemur in Madagascar and, along with the spider monkey, serves as one of the cutest animals in this episode. Unfortunately, the indri is becoming increasingly rare. But the Planet Earth team headed to a reserve where there is a family of indri who have developed a close relationship with the scientists who have studied them for the last decade.

“Most of the time they move and sit about 20 metres above our heads, difficult to see and impossible to film, but every so often they would come down a little and then treat us to a good look at their elegant bouncing through the jungle,” says Napper.

One of the young lemurs is named David after Sir David Attenborough – though this David is actually a female.

Spider monkeys in Guatemala

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We are not talking about a Frankenstein’s Monster-style arachnoid-primate hybrid here (thankfully).

Spider monkeys are well adapted to spending their whole lives up in the trees, where agility is key – and so they have long limbs and a prehensile tail with an impressive grip.

“Strange jungle dolphins that swim in the tree tops”

The team went in search of Araguaia river dolphins in Brazil’s Cantão Park. These oddly shaped dolphins occupy the flooded forests, swimming in the tree tops and foraging for food in the wet season. Much of their life cycle remains a mystery.

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Planet Earth II continues on Sunday 20th November at 8pm on BBC1