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Life of Mammals

David Attenborough    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Life of Mammals + Life of Birds (Full Screen) [3 Discs] + Life in the Undergrowth
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Product Description

In ten parts, the award-winning David Attenborough (2002 Emmy winner for The Blue Planet: Seas of Life; The Life of Birds) introduces us to the most diverse group of animals ever to live on Earth, from the smallest - the two-inch pygmy shrew, to the largest - the blue whale; from the slowest - the sloth, to the swiftest - the cheetah; from the least attractive - the naked mole rat, to the most irresistible - a human baby. The Life of Mammals is the story of 4,000 species that have outlived the dinosaurs and conquered the farthest places on earth. With bodies kept warm by thick coats of fur and their developing young protected and nourished within their bodies, they have managed to colonize every part of the globe, dry or wet, hot or cold. Their adaptations for finding food have also had a profound effect on the way they move, socialize, mate and breed.


David Attenborough and the BBC have a well-earned reputation for producing some of the greatest nature programs, but The Life of Mammals could well be Attenborough's magnum opus. Much of the footage shot for this series had never been seen before, and is presented with the respect and reverence for the natural world that Attenborough has made his trademark. It never ceases to surprise: the sight of a lion taking down a wildebeest on the African savannah has almost become a cliché of nature programs, yet in The Life of Mammals the cameras keep rolling and the viewer witnesses the fallen animal's herd coming to its rescue and driving off the lion. It's a moving sight and just one of many remarkable scenes.

A thorough and entertaining overview of one of evolution's greatest success stories, the series is loosely structured to follow the development of mammals, beginning with the basics in "A Winning Design," which clarifies what makes a mammal different from reptiles and birds--no, it isn't egg-laying: both the platypus and the echidna are egg-laying mammals; it's their ability to adapt. And it's this adaptability that becomes the crux of the remainder of the series. "Insect Hunters" focuses on mammals who have specifically adapted to eating insects, from the giant anteater and the armored armadillo to bats, which have evolved into complex and effective hunters. "Plant Predators" demonstrates the particular (and often peculiar) adaptations of herbivores, while "Chisellers" is about those mammals who feed primarily on roots and seeds, ranging from tree-dwelling squirrels to opportunistic mice and rats. "Meat Eaters" talks about the evolutionary arms race that exists between predators and prey, and the unique adaptations of both individual and pack hunters. Omnivores are explored in "Opportunists"--mammals like bears and raccoons, whose varied diet allows them to occupy nearly any environment. "Return to the Water" discusses those mammals such as whales, seals, and dolphins that have left behind life on dry land and adapted completely to life in the sea, existing at the top of the food chain. The last three episodes--"Life in the Trees," "Social Climbers," and "Food for Thought"--take the viewer through the development of primates, eventually culminating in that most successful mammal: man. --Robert Burrow

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Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another GORGEOUS BBC production June 22 2010
I've said it in other reviews, but Sir David Attenborough thoroughly deserves his knighthood for what he's done for nature documentaries. He's not some fool running around picking up dangerous animals for kicks, he's not some show-boat doing fake scenes with domesticated animals or posed wild animals- he's the real deal. Granted, he has an enormous team of very talented film makers, coordinators, and biologists/researchers to back him up. But that's entirely sensible, in fact, it's what you'd want from a good documentary. The Life of Mammals continues the BBC series of plants, insects, reptiles, and birds. It's an indepth look at how mammals make their living. It doesn't cover quite the depth that Life of Birds does, which addresses each part of the life of birds (e.g., a show on feeding, a show on flying, a show on mating, etc.). Instead, this series is broken down into types of mammals, with examples from each group. These are:

A WINNING DESIGN - an overview of mammals, with some great footage and info on "primitive" mammals like echidnas or platypuses

INSECT HUNTERS - features insectivores like bats, ant-eaters, pangolins, etc.

PLANT PREDATORS - Sir David's opening lines are clasic, and put into context what really is a war between plants and mammals

CHISELLERS - mostly deals with rodents, the most diverse group of mammals

MEAT EATERS - is what you expect, about carnivores. While flashy, there's still a lot of substance here.

OPPORTUNISTS - this is about omnivores, and it highlights the adaptability of this flexible group of mammals

RETURN TO THE WATER - features sea otters, seals, dolphins, and whales. The segment on blue whales is amazing!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great BBC series Feb. 16 2009
The BBC always does a wonderful job at presenting nature in action. The Mammal series is no exception. With amazing photography you see the animals in there natural environment with extraordinary close ups. Even those animals that think they can hide under the cover of darkness as they venture out would be surprised to learn that they are being filmed without them knowing.

As you see in the description, the titles are divided into categories so it is not about one particular animal but a group of creatures that have common characteristics and how each species deals with the same problem.

I bought my copy many years ago and I have watched it many times and always enjoyed it. If you like documentaries and nature videos you will not be disappointed. This is learning made fun. This is what school should be presenting but is not. Parents; if you think that your kids are watching to much crap on TV, then this video will add a bit of knowledge to their Saturday morning. But be aware, they don't hold back punches. You see the hunter and the hunted. If you cant run fast enough your eaten. As far as I can remember, I don't remember any animals having sex, though courtship rituals do play a part in the series.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendously Good Feb. 10 2004
This four disc, ten-episode series is probably the best nature documentary ever produced in DVD format. In fact, Life of Mammals is reason alone to buy a DVD player if you don't have one.
Here are a few reasons why I think people should shell out the money for this set:
- David Attenborough's enthusiasm for his work. Watching him respectfully approach a poor-sighted anteater from downwind or barely able to contain his delight when floating a few meters away from a blue whale, Attenborough's love for the animal world is totally infectious.
- The images are of IMAX quality. This is one of the most visually stunning films I've ever seen.
- The soundtrack is top notch.
- The Buffalo versus the Lions. This brief segment is mentioned in the Amazon reviewer's description - it has all the emotion and energy of the Cavalry Charge in 'The Return of the King.' It literally brought tears to my eyes.
- Swimming Elephants. 'nuff said.
- Kids love it. These films will keep kids (even as young as 2) quiet and totally absorbed in ways that no Blue or Builder Bob video can approach.
- David keeps it light and entertaining. Each segment is short enough (40 minutes) and has plenty of amazing footage and humorous anecdotes so that it is nearly impossible to get bored of it all. Just don't watch more than one per day or you will spoil yourself.
I give this series the highest recommendation. Even if you are not a nature buff (and chances are you will be after seeing this), it is certainly worth bringing into your home.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both fantastic and a little dissapointing... Sept. 18 2003
By C. Moon
I will not shirk Attenborough's knighthood. He certainly deserves the title, probably far more than a plenty of others. I can't pick a series of his that I haven't enjoyed, but having now watched this series through a couple times, I'm struck with a sense that I've seen all this before.
And, well, maybe I have. Back in seventies, Attenborough and his team were given apparently limitless funds and some seven years or so to make the most amazing nature documentary possible--and they did. Life on Earth redefined the scope of what you could do with with a science program. It was something like the Citizen Kane of nature shows, covering the evolution of life on earth (all 3.5 billion years!)
The only problem is what do you do for an encore...well, you do The Living Planet, Trials of Live, The Life of Birds, Life in the Freezer, Secret Life of Plants, etc. etc. And of course, The Life of Mammals. And not a one was I dissapointed with (though there are two I haven't seen yet), yet everyone felt a little lesser than the original 'Life on Earth'. At least with 'Life of Plants' he's mostly covering new material (and hence this is one of his stronger outings, but with Mammals, we have what is more or less a rehash of material already covered extensively in Life On Earth and Trials of Life (and probably Living Planet, but I haven't seen this one yet.)
That isn't necessarily a bad thing since Sir Attenborough has all new equipment this time round, a gorgeous soundtrack and as always a top notch crew that is both talented and dedicated in their filming of animals from all over the world. The question however is if the new footage justifies a new series. And...well...I'm not really sure. I love owning these DVDs and I really enjoy watching them.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Life of Mammals - wonderful
Fascinating look at another world. Beautiful color photography, excellent narration. A presentation that will be viewed more than once by many family members.
Published 8 months ago by Pamela A. Francis
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a treasure
I have watched this one on Netflix, because the Blu-ray doesn't exist anyway. Of course, the picture quality was poor, low in resolution and much compressed. Read more
Published 17 months ago by tornitons
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful series
An excellent series by David Attenborough. The mammals are grouped logically in each feature. The video is breathtaking and the narration first class. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2009 by Ted Sues
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great BBC hit
As with the other BBC series (Planet Earth - Blue Planet etc) this is a beautifully filmed and informative series. Read more
Published on March 29 2009 by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution is fact, creationism is fiction!!
Evolution is fact, creationism is fiction!!
Published on Nov. 10 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent BBC nature documentary series...
In my home, we're all big fans of nature documentaries, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, etc. Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by P. Summersgill
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!! Stupendous.
I have not yet watched Attenborough's other series, but the 9th movie in this series (_The Social Climbers_) was so outstanding it made me beg for the others. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by RR
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lesson In The Reality of Evolution
As a high school science teacher, I was thrilled with Life Of Mammals. This DVD collection will prove very useful in outlining for my students, in a graphic and illustrative way,... Read more
Published on May 1 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars What to expect from the BBC
Charming, enduring, creative, pretty good for a goverment susidized publication. What everyone says about Sir Attenborough is true, he is great to watch and listen to, his... Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2004 by Adam Carr
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECTION ACHIEVED
the commentary at the top of this list is so mind poisoning, i am now a dumber person for reading it. i think perhaps ma and pa kettle put that one together. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2004 by "jasonmoore10"
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