From a primate that’s no bigger than a mouse to a chameleon that can fit on your fingertip, the natural world is full of fantastically small animals. Biologist Patrick Aryee explores the fascinating secrets behind these miniature marvels and shows that they’re not the underdogs you might think they are.
Firstly, he reveals the huge benefits that being small can bring. There’s the little lemur whose diminutive frame helps it to exploit a unique gap in the ecosystem, the tiny hummingbird that uses its size to outmanoeuvre the competition, and the world’s smallest seahorse, which never has to leave home. He also explores why small animals are proportionally the strongest in the world and introduces a peanut-sized beetle that can pull over a thousand times its own weight.
Next he explores the challenges that animals face when they shrink in size and the ingenious ways they overcome them. We find out how the smallest armadillo in the world manages to control its temperature in the searing desert sun and how the world’s smallest fish can survive in nothing more than a puddle.
Patrick meets a secretive hippo that lives in the dense jungle, as well as some of the world’s smallest snakes that give birth to enormous babies. He also meets a scientist that studies how really tiny spiders have a surprising trick that enables them to travel 40 miles per day, using almost no energy.
Then there are the animals that refuse to be pigeonholed as small and manage to punch way above their weight. He puts some astonishing invertebrates to the test to see how they work together to become much bigger than the sum of their parts and meets a pint-sized predator that takes on some of the largest and most dangerous creatures on the planet, getting hands-on to discover how its build helps it to be brave.
Finally he uncovers the incredible lengths that deep sea anglerfish go to in order to be big and small at the same time, and he has an endearing encounter with a tiny carnivore that manages to be small in just one direction.