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This is...Deadly 360.
The show that pits three of the world's deadliest predators
against their prey.
Examining both their hunting strategies
and their escape tactics from every angle.
By delving beneath the fur and the feathers
we find out why a hunt succeeds...
..and why they sometimes fail. One thing's certain...
prey animals are anything but sitting ducks.
Their defensive strategies keep them alive.
And push predators to the limits.
Prepare for Deadly 360.
This is Deadly 360 Mission Control...
where all of today's action and analysis takes place.
From here, we have access to some of the most enthralling hunts
that have ever been caught on camera.
I've recreated three of the most exciting and analysed them
from a variety of angles and perspectives
in true 360-degree style.
The predators we're looking at have to find and catch food
or they just won't make it. In the wild world,
simply managing to survive is the greatest challenge of all.
I present to you...
In today's line-up...
..we'll be looking at the world's largest lizard,
capable of hunting prey ten times its size.
It's the Komodo dragon.
We'll also be entering the tokay gecko's upside-down world.
A gravity-defying lizard.
And the Jackson's chameleon.
An arboreal assassin armed with a hidden weapon.
With a range of hunting techniques,
lizards are truly formidable reptiles.
They look invincible
but there's a continual arms race going on in nature,
which ensures that prey animals are always evolving spectacular ways
of taking care of themselves.
We'll see how the praying mantis goes about evading capture.
Well, if we can find it.
And we'll find out whether size really does count
with the water buffalo.
One tonne of moody muscle.
And finally the moth,
an evasive insect in night flight.
Three different prey, each with a novel way to escape their stalkers.
So I've introduced you to all of our contenders,
now it's time to meet our first deadly duo going head to head.
This is the Jackson's chameleon.
A hidden hunter with many secret skills.
And up against it is this.
It's a master of disguise, the praying mantis.
But which animal has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
This is the final stage of the hunt.
The chameleon has spotted the praying mantis' movements
and has locked on with his rotating eyes.
The mantis has some of the best vision in the insect world.
The question is, can it escape in time?
Well, based on size alone,
you'd have to say it looks like the prey is done for.
But don't give up hope just yet. It's very rarely as simple as that.
Let's rewind to the start of the hunt and begin our investigation.
The first battle takes place here in East Africa.
And more specifically, a forest on Mount Kenya.
It's a shady place,
providing cover for our chameleon as he prowls in search of insects.
But the insects' camouflage makes them thoroughly hard to find.
So, that's our location.
But what sort of attributes do our predator and prey have,
that will give them an advantage in this kind of environment?
With unique, twisting eyes,
the chameleon's first capability is its vision.
And it avoids being spotted with superb stalking skills.
But it has one rather grotesque device - its tongue.
But more on that later.
I think it's clear, we're dealing with another well-equipped predator.
But how's our prey going to try and neutralise the threat?
Like the chameleon,
the praying mantis uses eyesight to catch its prey
and look out for danger.
Add to this, crafty camouflage...
and the gift of flight
and the praying mantis stands every chance of survival.
Right, back to the hunt.
And the first thing the chameleon has to do
is get to where the mantis lives - high up in the forest canopy.
This could be quite tricky,
so how does the chameleon make tree-climbing look so easy?
It does this with a combination of its very specialised tail and feet.
Let's get a look at the feet first.
So you can see that, at the front, it has three toes pointing in
and two toes pointing out. And at the back, this is exactly reversed.
This makes grasping onto tiny twigs and branches an absolute doddle.
The chameleon's slow, swaying movement
means he can stalk into striking distance completely unnoticed.
This means he can concentrate on looking for food with those flexible eyes.
Chameleons can see nearly 360 degrees
whilst standing perfectly still.
By not moving their body,
they're far less likely to get spotted by their prey.
And for its size, it has some of the best vision in the vertebrate world.
The chameleon can't see all 360 degrees at once, though.
It needs to move those eyes around independently
until it finds its prey.
Then it'll lock both eyes onto its target
and orientate its head towards the potential meal.
Now, this is the really clever bit.
It can actually zoom in on its target
and bring it into sharp focus.
But the best way to explain the chameleon's hunting ability
is to see it in action.
This is a male Oustalet's chameleon, they come from Madagascar.
It's standing absolutely motionless.
The only part of its body that's moving at all is the eyes.
Just moving around, checking out its environment.
You can see, if you look at them close up,
the iris is continually moving, clenching and opening up
to allow differing amounts of light into the eye
and also to change where it's focusing on.
Once the chameleon's locked onto its target,
both eyes will swivel round and focus on it
and this is what happens next.
Here he goes, both eyes, and...
How quick was that? Absolutely extraordinary!
All over and done with 20 times faster than we can blink.
So fast, in fact, that you can barely take it in.
So let's see it slowed down.
Oh, that is just wonderful. I could watch that all day long.
But to truly understand what's going on,
let's delve beneath the scaly skin.
That tongue is a muscular tube,
concertinaed around a rod of cartilage.
The chameleon checks the distance
before muscles explode into action, launching the tongue forward.
Chameleons produce two types of saliva,
one normal and the other very sticky,
which it uses to coat the ridged pad on the end of the tongue.
As the tongue hits, it covers the target in sticky saliva
and the ridged pad curls round it and grips it.
The tongue then recoils like a rubber band.
Right, back to the hunt.
And whilst the chameleon's busy searching for his meal,
let's see how the praying mantis avoids becoming lizard lunch.
The praying mantis can spot the movement of a potential threat
from 15 metres away, much further than the chameleon can spot IT.
If it senses danger, it can do one of two things.
Number one - some species of mantis are able to fly.
Once they can take to the air, obviously, the chameleon has no chance of catching them.
But the second thing that every species of praying mantis can do
is just to sit still and blend into their environment.
Which is what the perfectly camouflaged mantis is doing.
And remember, the chameleon needs movement in order to spot its meal
and will slowly but surely walk on by
so long as the mantis doesn't break its crafty cover.
And you can see that camouflage in glorious effect right here.
Some green leaves and a very real praying mantis.
At the moment, the abdomen is up high and the head is just here.
You can see those two sensitive antennae sticking out to the side.
But it's the shape of the head that I think is most interesting.
It's a very neat triangle and with massive, massive compound eyes.
A tiny little neck behind it which can swivel pretty much 180 degrees
and gives this animal an extraordinary field of vision.
In between the two main compound eyes
are three, small, simple eyes called ocelli.
They're fantastic at discerning the difference between light and dark,
which is very, very useful if you're looking out for predators coming from above.
They're also very good at telling movement.
So you'll quite often see this animal
as it's moving towards its prey,
just swaying its whole body so that it can triangulate
all of the various senses on potential food.
And I'm really hoping to show you that now.
OK, he's moving downwards
but let's see if introducing a prey item can catch its attention.
He's just reaching out towards it.
Oh, my goodness! That was quick!
Look at that!
Just snatched out with those raptorial forearms,
snatched a hold of it
and is already starting to eat it with those fierce mouthparts.
There's no doubt that the mantis is a superb hunter,
but, today, it's being hunted.
Right, this is the last part of the hunt.
The mantis has seen something
but it's not the prowling Jackson's chameleon.
It's a meal. An impressive strike,
but that movement has just blown its camouflage cover.
The sharp-shooting chameleon locks on to the mantis
and calculates the distance.
But it's too far away, it needs to get closer.
The mantis is so busy eating,
it's completely unaware of the danger stealthily creeping up on it.
At the last minute, the mantis spots the chameleon.
But there's no time to fly away.
In just 1/15th of a second, it's all over for the mantis.
The chameleon's elastic tongue has done its job.
Jackson's chameleons are remarkably efficient hunters.
In fact, once they've unleashed that tongue,
they're successful in 85% of hunts.
The mantis was defeated despite its vision, its camouflage
and the fact it can fly. The chameleon's stealthy walk,
and sticky tongue all came together for a successful hunt.
Now on to our next pair of hunters locked in a battle for survival.
Armed with sheer size and bite - it's the Komodo dragon.
And up against it is this.
The mighty, moody, water buffalo.
But which has the edge in the race for life?
It's time to go Deadly 360.
We join the action at the critical moment in the hunt.
The Komodo dragon hasn't had a proper meal for over a month.
And that mouth has some truly frightening teeth.
However, weighing in at over a tonne,
the water buffalo is ten times its size
and comes well armed to defend itself.
Each horn is one and a half metres long
and could easily kill the dragon.
But driven by hunger, the Komodo dragon has no option
but to risk trying to tackle this huge animal,
despite the water buffalo's vast weight advantage.
But even in a hunt like this, there are still a lot of factors in play
and to find out why the hunter succeeds or fails,
we need to wind back and build up the entire hunt,
right from the beginning.
So where in the world do they go head to head?
Well, this is Indonesia, and, more specifically, Komodo Island,
where these giant lizards get their name.
Komodo and just a few islands around it
are the only place in the world
where you can find these real-life dragons.
Trapped here and with no natural predators or competition for food,
the Komodos have grown to massive proportions.
And being big means they can take on huge prey.
So, that's the arena for our gladiatorial contest.
What weapons and defences do the two animals doing battle have?
First up, the Komodo dragon's claws.
They help grip their prey when tearing chunks off it with their second deadly weapon.
60 sharp, serrated teeth that saw through flesh with ease.
And the dragon's most important weapon - spit.
But more on that in a bit.
All of that makes our predator a pretty scary prospect.
What does our prey have to counter?
Well, those huge curved horns
are certainly enough to damage anything that tries to attack.
And weighing in at over a tonne,
this muscular beast has a massive size advantage.
And they can also hit speeds of over 30 miles an hour,
much faster than a Komodo.
Which means they're certainly no pushover.
So, this is shaping up to be a superb contest,
let's get straight back to the action.
The hungry Komodo is miles away from the water buffalo
and certainly can't see it, but he knows he's hot on its trail.
So how does that work? Well, it uses this.
Its half-metre-long tongue.
You can see the dragon's head is already very low to the ground
but it's flicking out that long, forked tongue
right down into the leaf litter,
trying to pick up the chemical cues that have been left behind by its prey.
This is almost like smell and taste but it's subtly different
and it's called olfaction.
It uses a remarkable organ called the Jacobson's organ.
You can see that the tongue goes out relatively slowly
but it comes back really quickly,
with the forked ends of the tongue curled up slightly,
carrying as much scent back with them as they can possibly gather.
These smells are then pressed into pads inside the Jacobson's organ
and then the scent cues are carried back to the brain for it to process.
Depending on which side the most strong scents have come from,
the Komodo can move in the direction of its potential meal.
The water buffalo's scent is getting stronger
but it's still a couple of miles away.
Driven by severe hunger, the Komodo has to keep on walking.
It has a typical reptilian gait
but holds its body well off the floor when walking large distances.
But it's certainly not going to win the title of the fastest animal on earth.
In fact, when it's wandering like this,
it's probably going at about the same speed as a human does when it's walking.
In fact, it's going to take it quite a long time to even reach the buffalo.
But that gives us a perfect opportunity
to find out what the water buffalo has in its armoury.
I guess the cow family has a reputation for being slow moving,
perhaps a bit dopey, certainly not aggressive.
Well, that definitely isn't true of a wild water buffalo.
This is a massive animal, they can weigh well over a tonne
and look at the size of those horns.
The record length for each horn was almost two metres.
That's longer than I am tall.
This animal is capable of using those to great effect to defend itself.
This is certainly an animal that shouldn't be taken lightly.
Let's see how the Komodo dragon will deal with them.
The Komodo dragon now has a visual on its target
and the buffalo's strong scent has stimulated an interesting reaction.
Just look at its mouth, it's absolutely dripping with saliva.
Many animals, including us humans,
start producing saliva when we know there's a meal coming,
because there are proteins called enzymes in it
that help break down food.
But in Komodo dragons, this saliva has a few more special ingredients -
over 50 strains of deadly bacteria.
These are crucial for its hunt to work
so saliva production goes into overdrive and it starts dribbling.
But that lethal saliva is no use whatsoever,
unless it can be introduced to the prey's bloodstream
and to do that, it's got to make a hole in it.
So how does it go about doing that?
I vividly remember the first time I ever saw a Komodo dragon up close.
I can remember looking at it from no more than a few metres away
and it opening its mouth and then feeling very, very silly
that I'd allowed myself get that close
to such a spectacular set of teeth.
There's about 60 inside the jaw
and they are the equal of any shark's tooth.
Each one is viciously sharp and serrated and curves backwards.
They're fantastic at tearing and ripping chunks of flesh
but not very good at chewing,
so it has to take massive gulps down of every bite it's taken.
The Komodo also has another very special tool at its disposal.
Inside its mouth is a saliva that contains a mild venom.
When the Komodo bites another animal,
this venom prevents their blood from clotting.
And that allows the virulent bacteria that live inside the Komodo's mouth to go to work.
This means that even the smallest of bites could eventually become fatal,
so our water buffalo has to make sure
it doesn't allow the Komodo to land any bite whatsoever.
Right, we're in the last stages of the hunt.
The water buffalo can clearly see the dragon
but it's choosing not to run.
Perhaps it's overconfident due to its massive size advantage.
But underestimating the largest venomous animal in the world
could be a fatal mistake.
To avoid the buffalo's horns,
the Komodo sneaks round the back to try and attack from behind.
Horns now avoided, but those hooves too could kill
if the buffalo lands a kick to the head.
The Komodo just needs the water buffalo to drop its guard
for a split second.
It's closing in.
And with a final burst of speed,
the Komodo lands a bite onto the buffalo's ankle.
It might look just like a small flesh wound
but, in time, that little bite will kill it.
The venom stops the wound healing,
and the bacteria will eventually cause blood poisoning.
But it could take weeks for the buffalo to die,
so the Komodo will just have to follow it until that happens.
The Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth,
kills with a mighty, venomous, bacteria-laden bite.
But, for this time at least, it's going to have to wait for its meal.
The buffalo had huge defensive horns
and a size advantage, but didn't use its superior speed.
The Komodo's sense of smell,
together with a swift burst of pace,
and teeth covered in toxic saliva
meant it landed that all-important bite.
This is our last deadly duo locked in a battle for life or death.
This is the tokay gecko -
a gravity-defying ninja of the reptile world.
And up against it is this -
an agile, acrobatic moth.
But which animal has the edge in the race for survival?
It's time to go 360.
We join the action at the crucial moment.
The gecko is hunting down a juicy moth
but the gecko can't fly
and it doesn't have a massive tongue like the chameleon,
so it relies on fast reactions and patience for an ambush attack.
Any second now, the moth is going to have to land and, when it does,
it better hope the gecko isn't within striking distance.
So, if we freeze the action at this crucial moment,
who do the odds favour - the predator or the prey?
Well, to find out, let's take it back to the start
and build up the entire hunt, right from the beginning.
We're heading to Thailand for the final hunt.
And, more specifically, a busy restaurant in Bangkok.
Tokay geckos are predators in the wild forests of southeast Asia
but have adapted their hunting to take full advantage of urban havens.
Towns and cities provide shelter and, most importantly,
a steady supply of the gecko's favourite food, moths.
So, we've set the scene.
But how do these animals operate in this environment
and what attributes do they have, in particular,
that might tip the balance in their favour?
The tokay gecko is a truly impressive lizard.
It can stick to almost any surface.
It also has some of the best night-vision
found in the reptile world
and, add to that, loads of needle-like teeth to catch its prey,
and you've got one awesome predator.
An impressive line-up of hunting skills.
But, as ever on Deadly 360,
our prey animal is armed with some pretty impressive means of defence.
They might seem pretty instantly vulnerable
but moths have great vision,
superb senses and flight muscles to avoid danger.
Right, back to the hunt.
The moth is unaware
that a deadly night stalker is trying to hunt it down.
The key to the gecko's hunting strategy is stealth and timing
to ambush the insects it eats.
But when the moth is flying,
it's perfectly safe from the gecko's attack.
But sooner or later, the confused moth is going to land
and when it does, the gecko needs to be right beside it.
But there's one sizable problem.
To get to where the moths are likely to land,
the gecko needs to traverse its way up vertical walls,
which are kind of like cliff faces and overhangs,
so how on earth is it going to do that?
The gecko is one of the finest climbers of all animals,
and you can see it here in an absolutely superb threat posture.
Look at it arching its back, opening its mouth.
It really is putting on a big show
but it's also showing you why it's such a spectacular climber.
In a truly wild environment, they live in the trees,
and at the end of every single one of these toes is a curved claw,
which is easily enough to hang onto the imperfections in bark.
But on a very smooth surface like this, that's simply not enough.
To understand how that works,
you have to look at the toes under an electron microscope.
If you were to zoom in using a microscope to each one of those toes,
you'd find a whole bunch of plates called lamellae.
Go in even further
and you find hundreds of thousands of hairs, called setae.
Even further, and you find spatulate structures,
of which there are about half a million on each foot.
By engaging those, it can cling to the slipperiest of surfaces,
even by just a single toe.
And you can see that as the gecko walks,
it has to unpeel each and every toe off the surface
because it has such a firm bond to it.
Let's see how all of that is put into effect.
'Those grippy feet are like Velcro,
'sticking to anything in its path
'as it closes down the distance to the moth.
'And check that out. 'It can even leap large gaps
'and cling on with its entire body weight hanging off a single toe.
'It's thought if every one of those microscopic hairs were touching the surface,
'a gecko could hold on with 133 kilograms off its back.
'That's like me hanging upside down
'with eight elephants dangling off me!
'The gecko's in position.
'All it can do now is sit and wait for a chance to strike.
'Geckos can see perfectly in dim moonlight,
'so this bright light bulb makes things easy.'
But as the predator has such outstanding night vision,
how on earth is the moth going to avoid being eaten?
So, a moth has pretty good eyesight,
but really what it's going to be relying on is its flight.
And the flight of moths is extraordinary.
These wings are actually transparent.
They almost look like cling film
but they're covered in loads of tiny scales,
dust-like scales which give them their colouration.
It does mean that the wing is very, very lightweight
but it's broad and can drive the animal along at great speed.
If this animal's in the air, the gecko is going to stand no chance.
Let's see how the battle continues.
'So this is the last stage of the hunt.
'The moth may have super-light wings
and well-developed flight muscles to keep away from the gecko,
'but that light bulb is now its biggest enemy.
'It's thought that moths use the moon to help them navigate,
'and the light bulb confuses them.
'The moth is now getting tired.
'The gecko on the other hand has learnt
'that instead of moving around to catch its food,
'if it sits in wait by a light, the meal will come to it.
'The moth lands for only a short time to rest.
'The gecko snaps up its reward.'
That was so quick, I think we should see it again.
There you go. All over in a tenth of a second!
A large gecko is going to need to eat more than one moth
in a night to satisfy its appetite. Perhaps most interesting, though,
is that these animals have learnt to use us
and our artificial light sources to entice their prey to come to them.
'The moth had fantastic senses,
'potent flight muscles and efficient wings,
'but confused by the light, it got tired and landed by its enemy.
'So the gecko, with its superb vision,
'gravity-defying grip, 'and ambush attack
'emerged victorious this time.'
Our analysis of the hunting abilities of lizards
has taken us all over the world.
It's shown us the largest lizard that exists today
and two more modestly-sized lizards
that have hunting capabilities well beyond their size.
I think, really, they have to qualify as animal superheroes!
That's all we've got time for.
Join us next time as three more pairs of animals go head to head
and we analyse the action, Deadly 360-style.