The best David Attenborough documentaries and where to watch

Sir David Attenborough is considered a national treasure for good reason. His documentaries are not only educational, but visually stunning, and sometimes filled with edge-of-your-seat action (anyone remember the baby iguana being chased by racer snakes?). All of this is delivered with his trademark soothing voiceover.

So, if you’re in the mood to have your mind blown by the extraordinary species that live on our planet, read on to find out where you can watch some of Attenborough’s most incredible documentaries.

7 of the best Sir David Attenborough documentaries

Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough

One day, 66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula and changed the course of life on Earth. The impact all but wiped out the dinosaurs, leaving room for the mammals to rise, and eventually leading to the evolution of humans.

Palaeontologists have long studied the period after the asteroid hit – think millions of years – but one remarkable archaeological site shows something incredible: the very day of the impact.

A top-secret site at Tanis, North Dakota, contains creatures that were entombed by falling ejecta, including a fossilized egg containing the bones of a baby pterosaur, a turtle skewered by a wooden stake, and an entire leg from a Thescelosaurus dinosaur.

In this documentary, Sir David Attenborough reveals, in a never-seen-before detail, what happened on that final day.

Attenborough’s Life in Color

In the animal kingdom, color plays a vital role, whether that’s a flamingo’s pink color helping to prove its worth as a mate or a tiger’s orange and black stripes letting it blend into the jungle. But hold on – jungles are green. So how do tigers camouflage?

The answer is that not all animals see color in the same way as we do. Take the mantis shrimp: with 12 photoreceptors, compared to humans’ three, they can see ultraviolet and even polarized light.

For Life in Colorthe team created brand new cameras that allow us to see the world as other animals might, giving a previously unseen perspective on the natural world.

Planet Earth II

Ten years after Planet Earth, Attenborough and co. returned with brand new camera technology, taking us closer than ever before to stunning wildlife from all around the world. On its release in 2016, Planet Earth II spawned several instantly iconic moments, including baby iguanas chased by hungry snakes, a fox diving headfirst into the snow, and bears dropping it like it’s hot in the forest.

Each episode explores a different type of habitat, from islands to jungles to cities, and the cast array of species that call them home.

If you loved Planet Earth and Planet Earth IIyou’ve not got long to wait: Planet Earth III is set to be released in 2022.

Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard

© Windfall films / Julian Schwanitz

When you think mammoths, you probably imagine Arctic tundras and not, well, Swindon. But the UK was in fact home to many Ice Age mammals: not just mammoths, but cave lions, lynxes, aurochs and more.

In 2017, amateur fossil hunters found a mass mammoth graveyard in a gravel quarry in Swindon. Alongside the remains, they found stone axes made by Neanderthals.

In Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyardyou can watch the team excavate the site and try to work out what happened there: was it Neanderthals that killed the mammoths?

A Perfect Planet

Our planet is truly unique: we don’t know of anywhere else in the Universe with the exact set of features that would allow life even to exist, let alone thrive. Thanks to this one-in-a-billion combination of sunlight, volcanoes, oceans and weather, every habitat on Earth is teeming with life.

Each episode takes one of these factors and explains how life on Earth could not exist without it.

Seven Worlds, One Planet

Planet Earth is split into seven continents, and life exists on each one – even Antarctica, despite its inhospitable environment. But why are the species so different in different areas of the world?

In Seven Worlds, One PlanetAttenborough and team explore the life unique to each continent – and none of them escapes the impact of human activity.

Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet

Attenborough’s documentaries are known for their stunning views into the lives of animals around the world, but that’s not all he’s passionate about. The climate crisis is a threat to our entire planet, and every species that calls it home.

In Breaking BoundariesAttenborough and scientist Johan Rockström examine the science of the climate crisis, including the planetary thresholds we must not exceed if we want the Earth to remain hospitable not just to animals, but also to us.

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