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Cauldron of Life

Series 1 - Episode 1 Cauldron of Life



“Imps of darkness” is how Darwin described the marine iguanas of the Galapagos, Liz Bonnin tells us. 180 years after Darwin was inspired by the islands’ wildlife, she is joining an expedition to explore and research these and the archipelago’s other bizarre inhabitants.

In the first programme’s strangest piece of science, we gather that the iguanas appear to have a way of shortening their whole skeletons in response to a shortage of food and lengthening again when supplies recover, “kinda like a lizard accordion” says the world expert on the subject.

Of course, there’s nothing here quite like the unforgettable sequence in Planet Earth II where newly hatched iguanas scampered past racer snakes trying to throttle them, but there are other fine reptiles, including big, old phlegmatic giant tortoises and, tucked away on a remote volcano, the recently discovered pink iguanas that look as if they were designed by a 1980s punkette.


Liz Bonnin joins a research expedition across the Galapagos Islands, the vast archipelago where evolution has proceeded at an extraordinary pace. The journey begins on the west side, home to a richly diverse wildlife scene, where Liz and the scientists journey into the clouds above the islands' tallest volcano on a hunt for the endangered pink iguana. Liz also travels to one of the most remote locations in the Galapagos in search of giant tortoises, and boards a submersible to dive for a new species.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Liz Bonnin
Editor Dominic Lester
Series Producer Anthony Geffen