A fresh look at some of the most supreme predators in the animal kingdom. A grizzly bear, a gannet and a chameleon compete to earn the title of Best Weapon.
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Welcome to Natural Born Hunters,
where three of the world's top predators
go head-to-head in a race to eat.
To be the fittest, the healthiest and at the top of their game,
they all need food.
Without it, they'll die.
We compare how they hunt
and why eating today really does matter.
But even for top predators, meal times aren't always guaranteed.
Success and failure hangs in the balance.
Three will hunt, but only one will be crowned
today's Natural Born Hunter.
The question is, who are you backing?
-And I'm Barney.
We'll be commentating on all the action you're about to see.
It'll be tough to pick a winner, Barney.
They all have special weapons to catch a meal.
Brilliant. My kind of show. Some hi-tech hunters.
Techno-predators with impressive weapons.
These three use their bodies in extraordinary ways
-with some of the best weapons on the market.
-It's gonna be amazing!
But dinner's no guarantee.
Their prey aren't sitting ducks. In the race to feed first,
who has the best weapon?
-Wow, is that a bear behind?
-Yes, this monster is the grizzly bear.
Anyone getting in the way of these guys will come a-cropper!
Grizzlies have many special weapons to help them catch their dinner.
But as weapons go, those claws are something special.
I bet they'd rip anything to shreds with those monster nails!
Grizzlies' claws aren't just for slicing.
They use them for digging, fishing, even prising things open.
If something is worth eating, the claws mean the grizzly has a chance.
There's more to them than I thought. Who's next?
Our second contenders are the Red Arrows of the bird world.
They don't look like fearsome predators.
Looks can be deceiving. Any fish spotted by one of these guys
is about to get harpooned.
When they lock onto a target, they smash into the water at 60mph!
Their bodies are the perfect design for plunge diving.
The most dangerous time is the point of entry when the bill carves
a hole in the water before grabbing as many fish as possible.
It's one formidable weapon.
Time for our final contender.
I recognise that guy! He's a chameleon.
That's right, a Jackson's chameleon from East Africa.
-Not difficult to spot those three weapons!
-They're not for hunting.
Our third contender has one very big and special weapon.
But he's keeping it hidden. ..Oh, no he's not!
Look at that! That tongue is nearly twice the length of his body
-and is his most impressive weapon.
It is weird. And it's one way of getting a mouthful.
His tongue's a mouthful on its own!
That is one very big, if a little slimy, weapon.
OK. Those are our three contenders.
The grizzly bear, the gannet and the Jackson's chameleon.
Very different hunting techniques,
all with special weapons. What do you reckon, Barn?
Well, the grizzly bear's claws look pretty mean
so I think he's got the best chance.
But a bird with a bill like an arrow and a lizard with a lasso tongue,
-it's hard to call.
-They've all got to eat different amounts.
To help you and everyone at home,
this fuel gauge will show you how each hunter is getting on.
The first contender to hit full is our winner.
We'll find out as we recreate a day in the lives
of our natural born hunters as they battle for the title of best weapon.
So, who's our first contender?
Well, this is our young grizzly bear.
He's four years old, but big enough to look after himself.
He's got a lot of weight to put on before winter.
-In the next three months, he needs to double his weight.
-Why so big?
-Now it's late summer and there's loads of food around.
But in winter it's extremely cold, and food is very hard to find.
So he needs to eat six months'-worth of food in just three months.
-What happens if he doesn't?
-If he doesn't feed up now,
-he won't survive the winter.
-Sounds serious. Hang on a minute,
-what predator eats grass?
-Bears are actually omnivores.
-So he eats omnis?
-Actually, it means they kind of eat anything.
Animals, plants, like us. He'll eat whatever he can find.
But now he's after some juicy roots.
-Juicy roots don't sound full of energy.
But roots and berries are easy to find
and don't take much energy to dig out.
To gain the weight he needs to survive winter,
he needs ten kilograms of high-energy food today
-and preferably meat.
-That's like 90 beef burgers!
But in a place this big, it's not as easy as going to the Drive-thru.
For our boy, it's time to get moving.
This is Bass Rock in Scotland,
-where our gannet family lives.
Not just hundreds, there are thousands.
-150,000, to be precise.
-Why so many in one place?
With no predators on the island, it's a safe place to raise a family
-so they come back year after year.
-Looks a bit cramped, Steve.
-What if you get rowdy neighbours?
-It may not look like it,
but the nests are spaced out just beyond pecking distance
to stop the majority of fights.
This is our gannet family.
That's our mum and her little baby chick.
Talk about ugly ducklings! Not much to look at.
It's hard to imagine they grow into these beautiful birds.
But in a few years, she'll look just like our mum.
To complete the family picture, here comes Dad!
Who's attacking Mum!
This is Mum and Dad being affectionate to each other.
Gannets mate for life, building strong bonds over nearly 20 years.
Bill waving like this is a bit like a kiss and a cuddle.
-How much food does our family need?
-Enough to feed all three of them.
Mum and Dad only share their food with the chick, not each other.
The chick needs three meals a day, so they have to hunt in a tag team.
While one's away, the other protects the chick, then they swap places.
This is the first time I've seen parents hunting together.
Now that Dad's here, he can feed the chick the meal he's brought.
Where are the fish? I can't see... Oh, no, he's not! Oh, he is.
-Warm sushi may not be our idea of a nice breakfast,
but to a chick, it's perfect.
She has to grow 75 times bigger than when she hatched, in three months!
Fish are packed with the oily energy our chick needs.
But she needs a lot of them.
My dad said I ate like a gannet. Now I know why!
Yes, and our chick still needs another two meals today.
Let's catch up with our chameleon.
This is our male Jackson's chameleon.
How do you know he's a male?
Those three horns are the big give-away.
I see. Only the males have them. He's like a mini triceratops!
Well, they are kind of related to dinosaurs.
He has a lot of feeding to do. Meals have been hard to come by.
He's two years old, not big enough to get the best feeding spots yet.
-How much does he need?
-He's after ten meals today.
Ten?! That's lots. I don't fancy this guy's chances.
He hardly seems in a rush.
No. Chameleons use stealth to creep up on their prey.
It's then down to waiting for the right moment
to use that lightning-quick tongue.
Now you know how much food each contender needs.
Got any ideas who might win?
The bear and the chameleon need a lot of food.
I'm tempted to say the gannets.
They're ahead at the moment, but as you know, anything can happen!
Time to head back to our grizzly bear.
Our young bear may only be four,
but he's got a pretty old head on his shoulders.
And he needs it because he's got a lot of food to find.
How does he know what to eat and where to get it?
He spent the first couple of years with his mum
learning what to eat, how to find it and importantly, how to catch it.
But our boy's now old enough to look after himself. It's now down to him
to find the food he needs. So he follows his nose.
Another special weapon?
Yes, he can smell rotting flesh from ten miles away! He'll scavenge
rather than hunt if he can as that means more energy from less effort.
But there's a meal that's very much alive on the menu today.
-Look at them all.
This time of year, the river is swimming with them
and they're packed with energy.
Four of these fish weigh ten kilos
so that's how many our bear needs today.
But bears are very territorial.
When it comes to prime fishing spots, adults rule the roost.
-They look seriously dangerous.
He'll have to try his luck a mile further downstream.
-Who's that, Steve?
-That's his mum, teaching her two new cubs to hunt.
-He can get some food from her.
-That's not gonna happen.
Grizzly mums are very protective of new cubs.
This food isn't for our boy, it's for the youngsters.
-Mum lets him know he's not welcome.
-So he's on his own.
These cubs are the only ones who'll benefit from Mum's expert hunting.
She's taught him all she could. Life for a bear is tough.
Our boy can only look on as his mum looks after her new family.
Time to check out the gannets.
Dad's just fed the chick her first meal of the day.
Now it's Mum's turn to bring back meal number two
and conditions look perfect.
She must have amazing eyesight to see fish from up there.
Sharp eyesight is critical if you're a gannet.
She can spot a meal from 30 metres above the water.
And something's caught her eye.
Look, she's caught some.
She's grabbed what she can, but not enough to head home with.
She needs to fill her belly, which can take quite a few dives.
Here she goes. Schoom!
It really is like a torpedo, isn't it?
Still not enough, though.
Time to head back into the air and look for more.
In Africa, our chameleon's found the perfect place for a spot of hunting.
He needs ten insects today.
I've got to say, Steve, he looks pretty cool.
Did you see that?
That was out of this world!
And the fuel gauge is going up.
In just one sixteenth of a second,
-he's got meal number one.
I've never seen anything like it. He's amazing.
It's only meal number one out of ten.
With that tongue, it won't take long.
The tongue is one of the greatest in the animal kingdom.
It explodes into action at 15 metres per second,
faster than an Olympic athlete. The tongue has ridges to grip the insect
but he also has two types of saliva,
one normal and one very sticky, just for the tip,
meaning any insect sticks to it like glue
before the tongue folds back into its mouth like an accordion.
There it goes, number two.
Amazing there's room for an insect as well as that tongue!
While the chameleon's busy chomping down his second meal,
-let's go back to our bear.
-He's found a spot to do a bit of fishing.
Not a great one, though, because the fish are harder to catch here.
But with less bears around, there's more chance of keeping his catch.
A mile upstream is where the real action is
and the big boys are wasting no time in getting stuck in!
It looks difficult. How do they know which one to go for?
Just lots and lots of practice.
There's no such thing as a free meal. You need to earn your salmon,
which is what our youngster is trying to do a mile downstream.
I think he may need a few more lessons!
It's not his hunting that's bad, it's the river.
Down here, the salmon's defence is working - sheer numbers.
There are so many, he doesn't know which one to pick!
What does he need to look for?
He needs to pick out the tired, the weak,
-and the ones trapped in small pools.
-He's not getting the hang of this!
Well, it's really no laughing matter.
He has to pile on the pounds. If he doesn't,
he won't make it through winter.
He's got the weapons to catch them,
he's watched Mum's expert hunting
and needs to put the lessons into practice.
I can see what's gonna happen here. Sticky tongue!
Another demonstration of that incredible tongue!
Steve, how does he know his tongue's gonna reach?
Well, practice comes into it.
Once he knows how long his own tongue is,
he needs to judge distances.
The best weapons for doing that are his eyes.
Are they moving in different directions?
Yes, so he can cover twice the area that we could.
But that doesn't help judge distances.
You need both eyes focused on the target. Binocular vision, like us.
The clever part is that he can magnify the image
for a precise distance check.
If he gets it wrong, the seconds needed to reset the trap
are enough for the insect to get away.
Not this time. That was number four.
-His eyes and tongue are a lethal combo.
-They're excellent weapons.
But our chameleon needs a lot more meals to win the race.
Time to check the state of play with our contenders.
There's our bear. After a snack on roots for breakfast,
he's found the river with all the fish, but hasn't caught any yet.
-He still needs four big salmon.
So feeding is the top priority for him right now.
Our gannet chick had a meal from Dad earlier.
But she still needs another two for the day.
Mum's busy hunting, but she needs more fish
before she can head back with meal two.
The gannets do have spectacular weapons,
but that chameleon's tongue is awesome.
He could give the other contenders a licking!
The fuel gauges show the gannets are just ahead of the chameleon.
Mum has a race against time.
The fish won't be around long so she needs to catch as many as possible.
Once she uses that bill to punch a hole in the water,
it becomes a grabbing machine.
Diving down to 30 metres, she can hold her breath for a minute,
giving her time to catch as many fish as possible.
Then she's out of the water and into the air ready for another hunt.
She doesn't mess about. That bill is quite some weapon.
Yes, but she also has a lot of other weapons
to make hunting a whole lot easier.
She cruises round using her incredibly powerful eyesight
to scour for shoals of fish. A good indicator
of the best feeding spots are where the others are hunting.
She locks onto the target from 30 metres up,
tucks her wings back and drops out of the sky.
A tenth of a second before impact, she folds her wings back completely.
Wow! Talk about split-second timing!
One false move and she could break her wings or even knock herself out.
But as she folds her wings back, she uses another nifty trick
to help her on impact.
She inflates air sacs in her neck and shoulders.
-She's got her own air bags!
-Not only that,
-she also has a very thick skull.
-Like a crash helmet?
so she's protected against the huge impact
and can then start the job of grabbing the fish.
She has all the fish she can carry.
Any more and she won't be able to take off.
Time to get out of the water and on her way home.
-How are Dad and chick doing?
Dad's doing his bit protecting her.
But she's hungry and so Mum had better get back soon.
Then Dad can head out to get the last meal of the day.
Now, our young bear hasn't had much luck at this part of the river.
Looks like he's forgotten what his mum taught him
and is confused by all the salmon.
-Like a big fish-based system overload!
-So our bear
needs to snare a fish using those big claws as fishing hooks.
He's spotted something. Look at him go!
He's making a lot of a splash but not a lot of result.
He's stopped. He can feel something. See it in his face. He's got one.
You're right. But what is it?
Hang on, that's not even a salmon. It looks like a flatfish!
Come on! That river's stocked with salmon. You can do better than that!
Look - he's got competition as well.
It's taken him hours to get that fish
and now some brute thinks he can just take it! That's not fair.
Our youngster's got a lot to learn.
But he's learned to stay away from the big guys if they want his food.
OK. Four meals down, but our boy still needs another six to win
so he's not wasting any time.
His precision shooting and perfectly still poise
gives insects little chance of spotting him before it's too late.
He just moved. What tongue action!
Five meals now. Thank you very much.
-Oh. Another meal?
-No, he's hiding!
And that's why. This is an African harrier hawk.
-He's looking for a lizard lunch.
-So the hunter is now the hunted.
Our chameleon is about 20cm long, around the size of a banana.
So he's an easy meal. But hiding behind these leaves and not moving
I don't think he's been spotted.
Simple yet effective.
It's just enough. With the bird gone, he's back on the hunt.
It's not long before he gets meal number six!
Oh, look at him go!
Only another four. See his fuel gauge. He's racing ahead.
Gannet mum is on her way back to the nest
with a belly filled with fish.
It's taking her longer, but she's almost back.
It looks like her chick could do with another meal. And soon.
Here she is. Mum is back. Just time for a quick hello with Dad
and time to feed the chick
-some more warm sick sushi!
-It's not any easier watching it again!
Why does she almost have to swallow the chick?
The chick makes Mum bring up the fish by pecking at her throat.
I know it looks pretty grim,
but Mum can carry far more fish in her stomach than in her beak.
So it's the most effective way to feed her.
-Shouldn't Dad be off hunting now?
-Yes. But this intruder
seems to be holding him up.
-I thought they stuck to their own nest.
-This guy doesn't have a nest,
and with little space left, he's trying to steal our gannets' home.
-Dad has to defend his patch.
-But he still has another meal to catch.
The intruder has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If he wins, it's disaster for our whole family.
This is brutal! He's got him right round the neck!
Oh, no, he's fallen! Tell me that's not our dad!
No. That's the rival male.
He's been seen off by Dad.
We won't see him again around these parts.
No, but that's used up some of Dad's energy and, worse, his time.
He'd better get cracking to grab the last meal of the day
before the light fails. Let's catch up with our chameleon.
And number seven. Thank you very much.
This guy is steaming ahead. He's an insect-eating machine!
Yep. And it's all down to those super weapons and that tongue.
And he's grabbed another one!
-Was that number eight?
-It was meal number eight.
He's almost there, look.
-Hang on a second - is he changing colour?
-Chameleons can change colour through special cells in their skin.
They're constantly changing depending on light and temperature.
-But this time, it's down to his mood.
-That won't help.
An angry chameleon? He should be a karma chameleon!
Oh, Barn! This is phase one of a chameleon fight.
There's another male who wants to take over these feeding grounds.
Our boy is telling the other guy he's not welcome.
And that's what this colour show is about. Phase two.
Our boy switches back to his brilliant bright colours
and shows off those three impressive weapons
as they size each other up. But the intruder fancies his chances
and is matching every move.
-Time for the third phase.
-Those horns look dangerous.
These weapons are only used as a last resort.
-No - he's been knocked off!
-And he's lost the best feeding place in town.
Switching back to dark is like waving the white flag of defeat.
Surely that's not it for our chameleon?
I'm afraid so. He was almost there, but now he has to find a new tree.
That'll take until sunset and then he won't be able to hunt any more.
He was just two meals away from winning! Poor guy.
Don't worry. Eight meals is better than he's had for a long time.
And plenty to keep him going until tomorrow.
One down, two to go.
For the bear and the gannet, the battle continues.
Our young bear still needs four salmon in order to eat enough today.
After a very light breakfast of roots and grass,
he managed to catch a fish after hours of trying
only to lose it to a bigger bear!
Our gannet family got off to a great start.
Dad dropped off breakfast mid-morning
with Mum bringing a late lunch.
But a tangle with an intruding male has put Dad behind schedule
for the last meal of the day.
OK. Dad's found some fish with that razor-sharp eyesight.
-He looks set to start hunting.
-No time to waste. The light is fading.
-How does he not swallow water going in?
The bill stays firmly shut and he doesn't have any nostrils.
-He doesn't need to smell the fish.
Eyesight is his chief weapon.
He's straight back out
to start another smash and grab hunt while conditions are good.
With no luck in his fishing spot,
our bear has moved a mile downstream to the beach.
What about the salmon upstream?
He's switched tactics. He's an omnivore and eats almost anything.
He knows that there are other meaty treasures to be found here - clams.
Very posh. Time for those special weapons to come into action.
Exactly. He uses his claws to dig into the sand to find them.
He's making short work of that!
Doesn't take long to dig a hole with 15-centimetre claws!
True! Brilliant, he's found some.
-But clams' shells are tough to crack.
-Does he smash them?
No. His claws can be both spades or lock-pickers.
There's a real knack to getting in to clams.
His claws may be big, but he's very nimble
and can use them very precisely.
Look, his fuel gauge is going up.
And where you find one, you find lots of others.
So, back to our gannets.
Dad needs just two more good dives
and he'll have all the fish he needs to feed the chick his last meal.
It's amazing seeing those weapons
-come together in a hunt.
-Just one more hunt and he can head home.
He'd better do it quickly. There's a storm brewing. A big one.
Hope rain doesn't stop play.
The gannets are so close to winning.
Yes, but our boy's been busy feasting on clams
and he's polished his technique for opening them up.
-Look at his fuel gauge!
-With no more clams around
he needs to head upstream and catch one big salmon to win.
But that means facing up to the big adult bears.
He'd getter move quick. The gannet only needs one more feed.
Here he goes. And he's got it.
The last meal.
Look at those waves!
All that water's running down into the nest!
He has to get back or that chick's in big trouble.
Our young bear's made it back to the prime fishing spot.
-Look at all those bears!
-What will he do about those guys?
I'm hoping the bigger bears will have had enough to eat by now.
They've fished all day. They're full.
Here he comes.
He's missed that one.
Come on, fella. Patience!
And he's missed another.
Come on, Mr Bear!
There are thousands of fish. He's got to have a chance.
So this is a serious race against time now.
Dad has to get back to Mum and our chick.
Look at the weather - it's awful!
But isn't he designed for life on the stormy seas?
He is - but get a load of this guy! This is a Great Skewer.
They're after a free lunch.
But they can't take them off him. He's eaten them.
That's part of the trick of the Great Skewer.
He's coming in after the gannet and nipping at him,
forcing him to try and throw up that food.
And he's just dropped something.
Yeah, and the skewers have tucked in to it.
So he's got to hunt another time?
-Back with our bear. And ooh!
-That was so close!
-Come on. Eyes on the prize!
-Good things come to those that wait.
But we don't have much time to wait!
Look at those waves!
Our gannet is battling conditions and he needs to hunt one more time
to try and get that last fish!
His chick's getting cold. He's depending on him. Come on, Dad.
Come on. You can do it.
Look at this. There's so much salmon there.
-Yes! He's got it.
-He's got it!
That's the one he needs.
If he can only get that fish down.
There's the fuel gauge. It's going up. We have our winner!
The grizzly bear. I thank you.
OK. Commiserations to our losers.
Our chameleon's day ended after he lost a fight with a rival male.
He'll be back tomorrow, putting that impressive tongue to good use.
The storm delayed the gannet's last hunt,
but once it's clear, he'll head back to the nest
to make sure their chick doesn't go hungry.
And our young grizzly bear battled the odds
and used those incredible claws in a variety of ways.
He's our deserved winner, earning the title of best weapon.
Join us next time when we'll watch three more contenders
battle to earn the title of Natural Born Hunter.
-Until then, see ya!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
A grizzly bear, a gannet and a chameleon compete - when it comes to catching their dinner, they have the coolest weapons around, with some unbelievable animal gadgets. It's jam-packed with action as they race to fill their fuel gauge first and earn the title of Best Weapon. Steve Backshall and Barney Harwood commentate on all the action.