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NOVA
Mystery of Easter Island

 

A remote, bleak speck of rock in the Pacific, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, has mystified the world ever since the first Europeans arrived in 1722. How and why did the ancient islanders build and move nearly 900 giant statues, or moai, weighing as much as 86 tons each? And how did they transform a presumed paradise into a treeless wasteland, bringing ruin upon their island and themselves? NOVA explores controversial recent claims that challenge decades of previous thinking about the islanders, who have been accused of everything from ecocide to cannibalism. Among the radical new theories is that the islanders used ropes to “walk” the statues upright, like moving a fridge. With the help of an accurate 15-ton replica statue, a NOVA team sets out to test this high-risk, seemingly unlikely theory – serving up plenty of action and surprises in this fresh investigation of one of the ancient world’s most intriguing enigmas.

 

NATURE
Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem

 

This “thug of the savannah” is one the most fearless animals in the world, renowned for its ability to confront grown lions, castrate charging buffalo and shrug off the toxic defenses of stinging bees, scorpions and snakes. Little is known about its behavior in the wild or why it is so aggressive. This film follows badger specialists in South Africa who take on these masters of mayhem in ways that must be seen to be believed.

 

NATURE
Love in the Animal Kingdom

 

Animals dance, sing, flirt and compete with everything they’ve got to find and secure a mate. For many, the all-important bonds they share as a couple are what enable the next generation to survive. Can we call these bonds love‌? In this delightful, provocative look at the love life of animals, watch the feminine wiles of a young gorilla, the search for Mr. Right among a thousand flamingos, the open “marriages” of blue-footed boobies, the soap opera arrangements of gibbons and all the subtle, outrageous, romantic antics that go into finding a partner.

 

NOVA
Vaccines: Calling the Shots

 

Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago – including whooping cough, measles and mumps – are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. Go around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations and discover the risks of opting out.

 

NOVA
Inside Animal Minds: Bird Genius

NOVA Inside Animal Minds: Bird Genius

 

Today, researchers are discovering that some creatures have mastered skills purportedly restricted to humans. Many are bird brains. Meet a cockatoo with a talent for picking locks; a wild crow on a mission to solve an eight-step puzzle; and a tame raven who can solve a puzzle box so quickly that his performance has to be captured with high-speed photography. Are these skills really evidence of high intelligence or just parlor tricks, the result of training and instinct?‌ To find out, NOVA tests the limits of some of the planet’s brainiest animals, searching for the secrets of a problem-solving mind.