About the series

From the team that produced David Attenborough’s triple-Emmy award-winning series First Life (BBC 2010), patient Rise of Animals is a landmark series about the astonishing evolutionary advances that created the dazzling diversity of vertebrates which now dominate our planet – including fish, order amphibians, reptiles, birds and, ultimately, mammals like us. This animal group has produced the largest, the fastest and the most intelligent creatures the world has ever seen.

David Attenborough’s 500 million year journey takes us around the world to the sites of the latest key discoveries including his first filming trip to a region that has become the modern frontier of paleontological research, China.

David uses animal encounters and new science to unpack the crucial evolutionary turning points leading to the rise of vertebrates, including the first spine, where fingers and toes come from, why we became warm-bloodied, and much more – specialities that have led to the stunning success of the vertebrates. The journey reveals how humans are the heirs to a magnificent evolutionary heritage stretching back to the first steps of life.

Rise of Animals uses a special collaboration between Emmy-winning company ZOO-VFX and top scientists to create eye-popping CGI. This, combined with stunning natural history filming and the world’s greatest natural history filmmaker, David Attenborough, tells the story of our ancient animal ancestors and connects them with the incredible life that we find on Earth today – including ourselves.

Episode 1: From the Seas to the Skies

David Attenborough uses new fossil evidence to unlock nature’s most extraordinary story – the incredible ascent of the animal group that now dominates our planet: The vertebrates. The origins of the vertebrates lie in primitive fish that once swam in ancient seas but remarkable advances allowed them to make the radical move onto land, and then take to the skies with the advent of flight. Brand new discoveries of fossils – ancient and living – combined with stunning CGI and cinematography enable David to chart their unexpected journey out of the water to populate all corners of the globe.

Episode 2: Dawn of the Mammals

David Attenborough continues his journey in China to chart the rise of the animals that dominate our world today – the vertebrates.  In this episode, he reveals the fascinating story of the mammals, from their humble origins as tiny nocturnal forest-dwellers to their astonishing explosion in diversity and domination following the death of the dinosaurs. New discoveries of fossils – ancient and living – combined with stunning CGI and cinematography enables David to unlock the meteoric rise of mammals that led to an astounding diversity of life and laid the foundations for the ascent of man.

Read our Q&A with Sir David Attenborough