Nature

NATURE
Snowbound: Animals of Winter

 

Travel across the snow globe with wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan to meet animal survivors of winter, from the penguins of Antarctica to the Arctic fox and polar bear to the bison of Yellowstone. Snow looks magical, but it’s a harsh reality for these animals.

 

 

A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting

 

CEO Message

A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting

 CEO Message: A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting. Ornithologist Auguste von Bayern with a jackdaw
Ornithologist Auguste von Bayern, with a jackdaw, from the NOVA episode Bird Brain

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEO“What a bird brain!” “You’re a Neanderthal!” Not so long ago, these were taunts. But, thanks to recent research by scientists and the fine documentaries on PBS, we know better.

 

And I’m just the person to be thrilled by these discoveries. When I was a kid, my no-nonsense grandmother called me a bird brain every time I forgot my rubber slippers on our neighbors’ porch, which was often. And just last month, a 23andme.com ancestry test turned up Neanderthal DNA in my family.

 

When you sit back and view Nature or NOVA on Wednesday nights on PBS Hawai‘i, you sometimes have a front row seat to myth-busting. In vibrant video, you see that some of the ideas and conclusions printed in our old textbooks have been blown away.

 

As depicted in the recent NOVA episode Bird Brain, birds are far from empty-headed. They make great use of their small neuron-packed brains. They turn pebbles and sticks into tools; they plan multiple steps to solve problems; and some even “read” human faces. Put birds to the test with puzzles – and they can figure out when to defer a reward in order to snag a bigger one later.

 

In NOVA’s Decoding Neanderthals, we learned that these hominoids were not the brutish, knuckle-dragging simpletons we’d conjured. They were powerfully built, yes, but they also had large brains. They were adept at tool-making, and in fact, may have developed the first synthetic product, a type of glue. It was a very tough life in the Ice Age, and it’s unlikely that most Neanderthals lived past age 30.

 

Within the last decade, it’s been confirmed that Neanderthals interbred with their close cousins, homo sapiens. Many of us of European or Asian ancestry carry snippets of Neanderthal DNA. That’s just what my brother’s genetic test showed. In fact, he has more than the average amount.

 

A prevailing theory holds that our homo sapiens ancestors vanquished the Neanderthals. With the recent genetic evidence, another theory merits consideration: Through mating, the Neanderthals – with their smaller populations – were simply absorbed into homo sapiens life. Look for a brand-new PBS program about Neanderthals this month, Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors on Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 pm. [Note: Since publication, PBS has announced that the program has been postponed until further notice.] I suspect there’ll be further re-branding of my ancient forebears.

 

We want to thank Dr. Belinda A. Aquino for generously sponsoring the broadcasts of both Nature and NOVA on PBS Hawai‘i. A retired University of Hawai‘i political science professor, Dr. Aquino is an internationally recognized authority on contemporary Philippine affairs. She tells me that she savors these programs about natural phenomena because they inspire new ways to think about humanity and the world around us.

 

And I’d like to thank you, too, for your support of PBS Hawai‘i’s role of adding new perspectives and context to our collective understanding of history and current affairs. Myth-busting is a byproduct!

 

Aloha nui,

 

Leslie signature

NATURE
Animal Misfits

 

Alongside the fastest, strongest, smartest animals are nature’s misfits, odd, bizarre and unlikely creatures that at first glance seem ill-equipped for survival. Left at the starting line in the race for life, these are the apparent losers in the story of evolution, yet somehow they manage to cling to life and in some cases even thrive. Animals featured include: giant panda, mole rat, three-toed sloth and aye-aye.

 

PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
Voyage of the Hōkūle‘a

 

Witness Hōkūle‘a’s inaugural 1976 journey from Hawai‘i to Tahiti, the preparations leading up to it, and the behind-the-scenes turmoil that threatened to derail the voyage. Rifts are seen among leadership, between leadership and the crew, and among crewmembers. The film by Dale Bell was co-produced by the National Geographic Society and WQED Pittsburgh.

 

SUPERNATURE – WILD FLYERS
Crowded Skies

 

Explore the wonder and science of one of nature’s greatest innovations – the power of flight. Cutting-edge camera technology and computer-generated graphics help explain airborne animals’ remarkable powers and how they work.

 

Crowded Skies
The sky is a crowded world where mammals, birds and insects hunt, escape, mate, defend territory, sleep and even die on the wing. Survival up there depends not just on beating gravity and mastering flight, but also out-flying the competition.

 

NATURE
Soul of the Elephant

 

Ironically, every dead elephant with its ivory intact is a reason to celebrate. It means an elephant died of natural causes, not bullets, snares or poison, and a soul was allowed to be celebrated and mourned by its herd. Award-winning filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert start with the remains of two bull elephants and through a series of key flashbacks, look at the lives they would have led, the dramas they may have seen, their great migrations for water with their families, and their encounters with lions and hyenas. This film, shot over two years, is an intimate look at elephants through the lens of two great storytellers of natural history.

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Domestic Violence: Living in Fear

 

A national ranking of support services offered to domestic violence victims has Hawai‘i among the states at the bottom of the list. INSIGHTS examines the numbers and sheds light on domestic violence in the Islands with this live discussion.

 

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