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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.

 

SPY IN THE WILD – A NATURE MINISERIES
Bad Behavior

 

More than 30 animatronic spy cameras disguised as animals secretly record animal behavior in the wild. These “spy creatures” reveal that animals show emotions and behavior similar to humans – a capacity to love, grieve, deceive, cooperate and invent.

 

Bad Behavior
The spy cams infiltrate the underground world of animal mischief, crime and retribution. Spy monkey is caught between crossfires as real monkeys fight over beach bar alcohol. Spy egret is also a waterhole victim when elephants throw mud everywhere.

 

SPY IN THE WILD – A NATURE MINISERIES
Friendship

 

More than 30 animatronic spy cameras disguised as animals secretly record animal behavior in the wild. These “spy creatures” reveal that animals show emotions and behavior similar to humans – a capacity to love, grieve, deceive, cooperate and invent.

 

Friendship
The spycams and their new wild friends rely on each other to look out for predators. A spy meerkat babysits meerkat pups while a spy cobra pretends to attack the mob. Spy crocs witness a convenient partnership between real crocodiles and birds.

 

SPY IN THE WILD – A NATURE MINISERIES
Intelligence

 

More than 30 animatronic spy cameras disguised as animals secretly record animal behavior in the wild. These “spy creatures” reveal that animals show emotions and behavior similar to humans – a capacity to love, grieve, deceive, cooperate and invent.

 

Intelligence
The spycams infiltrate the world of animal intelligence, ingenuity and creativity. Watch our spies disguised as animals observe a gray squirrel stealing Spy Nut, a sea otter cracking open a meal and an orangutan washing with soap.

 

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.

 

FIRST PEOPLES
Europe

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Air date: Wed., July 8, 9:00 pm

 

See how the mixing of prehistoric human genes led the way for our species to survive
and thrive around the globe. Archaeology, genetics and anthropology cast new light on
200,000 years of history, detailing how early humans became dominant.

 

Europe
When Homo sapiens turned up in prehistoric Europe, they ran into the Neanderthals.
The two types of human were similar enough to interbreed – and they were just as
capable of making artifacts. But as more Homo sapiens moved into Europe, there was
an explosion of art and symbolic thought. The balance of power had shifted and
Neanderthals were overwhelmed.

 

FIRST PEOPLES
Asia/Australia

 

See how the mixing of prehistoric human genes led the way for our species to survive and thrive around the globe. Archaeology, genetics and anthropology cast new light on 200,000 years of history, detailing how early humans became dominant.

 

Asia
Discover the ancient humans living across Asia when Homo sapiens arrived. Our ancestors mated with them and their genes found a home within our DNA. More than that, they’ve helped us face down extinction.

 

Australia
When humans arrived in Australia, they were, for the first time, truly alone, surrounded by wildly different flora and fauna. How did they survive and populate a continent? There is a close cultural and genetic link between early Australians and modern-day Aborigines; here the ancient and modern stories intersect as nowhere else. The secret to this continuity is diversity. Intuitively, early Australians found the right balance between being separate and connected.

 

FIRST PEOPLES
Americas/Africa

 

See how the mixing of prehistoric human genes led the way for our species to survive and thrive around the globe. Archaeology, genetics and anthropology cast new light on 200,000 years of history, detailing how early humans became dominant.

 

Americas
As early humans spread out across the world, their toughest challenge was colonizing the Americas because a huge ice sheet blocked the route. It has long been thought that the first Americans were Clovis people, who arrived 13,000 years ago. But an underwater discovery in Mexico suggests people arrived earlier — coming by boat, not on foot. How closely related were these early Americans to today’s Native Americans? It’s an emotive issue, involving one of the most controversial fossils in the world, Kennewick Man.

 

Africa
200,000 years ago, a new species, Homo sapiens, appeared on the African landscape. While scientists have long imagined eastern Africa as a real-life Garden of Eden, the latest research suggests humans evolved in many places across the continent at the same time. Now, the DNA of a 19th-century African-American slave reveals that during the early days of our species, our ancestors continued meeting, mating and hybridizing with other human types in Africa – creating ever greater diversity within us.

 

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.