A new four-part Channel 4 science documentary series is set to uncover the anatomical secrets of some of the animal kingdom’s most extraordinary species.
Made in co-operation with the Royal Veterinary College, Animal Autopsy (w/t) will use dissection, CGI and wildlife photography to demonstrate from the inside out how millions of years of evolution have enabled four species – the elephant, giraffe, crocodile and whale – to thrive in their environmental niches.
The series is believed to be a first for British television and features experts in anatomy, evolution and animal behaviour from around the world who join a team from the Royal Veterinary College, the oldest and largest veterinary college in Britain. Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins also contributes.
The experts explore such questions as whether the giraffe’s neck evolved to help them feed on higher leaves or as a weapon of courtship and how crocodiles developed a low profile to help them lie in wait for their prey with just eyes and nostrils above the water.
The series, made by leading independent production company Windfall Films, also includes an extraordinary on-location dissection of a 16-tonne, 65-foot fin whale.
Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Science, David Glover, said: “Traditional wildlife films tell you how animals behave and how they fit into their environment – but they stop short of revealing the changes that have taken place inside their bodies to allow that behaviour in the first place. This series offers an alternative take on natural history, giving viewers a unique chance to see for themselves how evolution has shaped the anatomy of some of nature’s most magnificent animals.”
Professor Alun Williams, Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases at the Royal Veterinary College, who appears in the series, added: “These distinctive animals came to the college for the purposes of post-mortem examinations, which gave the opportunity to study their anatomy in detail. In working in partnership with other experts from around the world, our examinations gave an added dimension to our teaching. As the UK’s largest veterinary school, the RVC has always taken a pioneering approach to teaching and research in veterinary science and to encouraging public interest in our work.
“The programmes help to demonstrate why wild animals are so fascinating and what can be learned for future research that can improve their lives and their environments. Maximising the educational value of the post-mortems through the series will help in extending the knowledge of anatomy and pathology for those in the veterinary and science sectors, for animal keepers and for the general public.”