Sir David Attenborough
Yep, even the host of Dynasties is a much-deserving member of the Guinness World Records family. Sir David Attenborough (UK) has been on our screens for more than 65 years and counting, which means he holds the record for the Longest career as a TV presenter.
His very first appearance in front of the camera was back in September 1953, on the children’s nature TV show Animal Disguises (BBC). A year later, he would go on to present the more famous series Zoo Quest (BBC), which ran from 1954 to 1963.
Despite now being in his 90s, retirement is clearly not on the agenda for this powerhouse naturalist. He has leant his voice to a new Netflix documentary series – Our Planet – due to be released in April 2019, which will extend his own superlative television career ever further.
Episode one was all about chimps – our Closest-living relatives, along with their cousins the bonobos.
The precise amount of DNA that humans share with these apes is debated from study to study, but it’s generally accepted to be somewhere in the range of 98–99%. Indeed, primate expert and co-director of the Jane Goodall Research Center at the University of South California, Dr Craig Stanford told us that 98.4% is his go-to figure.
Next up, we were taken to the frozen continent of Antarctica – technically the world’s Largest desert.
You have to be made of tough stuff to survive in this hostile environment, where the mercury can drop as low as -89.2°C (-128.6°F) – the Coldest temperature on Earth – and where katabatic winds can gust over 270 km/h (168 mph). One creature that can withstand these extreme conditions is the emperor penguin. Growing to around the same height as an eight-year-old child, this is the Largest penguin species alive today.
Male emperors also fast for several months while incubating their eggs when the females are feeding at sea. One male went 134 days – almost one-third of a year! – between meals: the Longest time without food for a bird.
As a rule, cats are pretty antisocial creatures, leading a solitary lifestyle in remote mountains or dense jungles. Lions – the stars of the third programme – are a rare exception.
As the Most social big cats, they typically live in groups of 15 or so individuals, though 40-strong prides have been documented. The lions filmed for Dynasties are residents of Kenya’s famous Masai Mara.
Another record held by these powerful predators is related to their roaring – one of several ways in which they communicate. Among cats, they produce the Lowest-frequency roars, as low as 34 Hz. Such bass tones travel much farther, enabling them to more easily locate one another across the vastness of the savannah.
African painted wolf
For Episode 4 in the series, we remained in Africa – moving to Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. While the previous week’s show had a feline focus, this one was for dog lovers – or at least one of man’s best friend’s wild relatives.
Just like lions, painted dogs/wolves are social creatures, living in groups of 20–30 individuals. The close bonds between pack members, which look after each other when sick and share pup-rearing duties, are undoubtedly a key factor behind their record as the Most successful predators. Studies have shown that 50–70% of their hunting forays result in a kill. Compare that to a success rate nearer 30% for lions and it indicates just how efficient they are.
For its finale, Dynasties returned to big cats – this time following a family of Bengal tigers in Bandgavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India.
As a species, tigers are the Largest feline carnivores. However, Bengals are not technically the biggest subspecies: that title goes to the Siberian tiger, found in eastern Russia, northern China and North Korea, which averages 3.1 m (10 ft) long and 265 kg (580 lb). That’s not to say that Bengal tigers are small kitty-cats by any means – larger male specimens can reach a similar size to their Siberian cousins.
Results of a national tiger count in India are still pending (due to be released in early 2019), but it’s hoped that their numbers will surpass the 3,000 mark.