In this episode, our Paleo-investigator travels back 300 000 years in time, to find out what the cave-man ate. He visits the oldest Hungarian prehistoric site called Vertesszolos. In 1965 professor Vertes discovered a complex prehistoric settlement here: fireplaces, bones, and stone tools. Nearby, the excavators also found footprints of ancient animals, like saber-tooth cat and rhinos. Also some well preserved leaves were discovered stuck in lime mud. The most sensational finding was a human skull-fragment. It was a skull of a 30-40 year old male. The workers named him “Samu”. This site was a settlement of a group of Homo Heidelbergensis hunting bison and deer. After the research he prepares a prehistoric dish, full of roots, insects, meat and seeds, and he eats it.
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A warm summer sunset on the Danube river, close to Budapest, the capital of Hungary. No one would think that the bridge over the river soon becomes a slaugterhouse.
Under the bridge, peculiar insects appear on the river: tens of thousands of Danube mayflies
surface from the water. The swarm grows to the hundreds of thousands and flies straight towards the bridge. It’s as if the lights on the bridge held the insects spellbound: the entire swarm is trapped over the road. The mayflies are laying their eggs onto the road and having fulfilled their life’s purpose: perish. But the eggs would only survive in the water. Because of the bridge, millions of mayflies have laid their eggs in vain. Their corpses and egg batches cover the road at the end of the swarming…
But this year, 2016 Ig Nobel prize winner György Kriska and his colleagues decide to prevent the massacre: applying their latest results in hardcore biophysics and a bit of tinkering they do their best to ensure the reproduction of the mayflies.
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The movie entitled “The Bait” offers a fundamentally new approach to the conservationist issues explored within the Helicon LIFE+ project. It depicts poisoning and saving imperial eagles through a fictional story made up of intensive nature images and animation without dialogue or narration; its effect is enhanced by the hand-picked music. The movie can reach a non-professional audience who are less informed in the topic, and can bring them closer to these protected birds of prey.
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Today birds rule the heavens. They soar anywhere between the ground and six thousands meters above. Their perspective on our world is like nobody else’s. All routes from Northern Europe lead through the Carpathian basin on the way towards the southern wintering territories. A multitude of various natural habitats with their own microclimates make it possible for hot and cold adapted, wintering and migrating birds to thrive here. This is what makes the Carpathian basin a truly unique place. A security guard of the Museum of Natural Sciences while doing his job is also watching over 300 webcams, There are some showing nesting birds, others a siege of herons in the middle of the reeds, or a bird of prey, a kind which normally never lets you closer than a hundred meters, like the rare Imperial eagle. The intent of the conservationists is to acquaint the public with this fantastic bird of prey and shed light on the commonly held misbeliefs about the imperial eagle. Without national parks and protected areas, the imperial eagle wouldn’t have a chance to prevail. We have managed to preserve a marvelous number of species from the original bird fauna of Hungary. What conservationists have been doing over the years is more than a huge ornithological success. From above things look quite different so sometimes we have to go airborne. Some correlation can only be glimpsed from the up there. The world reflected in the bird's eye view is a different world that we know.
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In the middle of the Indian Ocean lies an Island. Mauritius was born by a series of elementarily strong, volcanic movements of the Earth and was then entrusted to the care of the waves of the ocean. The Ocean surrounded the piece of land with a coral ring, thus enclosing the shallow lagoon like the trench encompasses the fortress.
Then, slowly, from the sea and from the air seeds of plants arrived to the island. Lizards, tortoises, birds, and bets came traveling with the wind and on branch rafts. They settled down in the ebony forests where, for lacks of natural enemy, through millions of years they developed into species typical of this island only. Slowly, a paradise emerged on the small piece of land in the immense sea.
However, one day man appeared on the verge of the horizon and drew the Island on their map. The Dutch, the English and the French settled on the island and soon the dog, the rat, the monkey were introduced. Europe’s greed for ebony, the rabbits and goats and the heavy downpours led to the destruction of the rich vegetation on the round island 150 years ago.
Of the unique and harmless fauna only a few species have remained, reminding of the perishability of Paradise: the golden bat, the echo parrot, the Mauritius falcon, and the pink pigeon. The legendary Gerald Durrel and several environmental protection organisations have done a lot for the survival of these endemic species and now it seems that the population is stabilized.
Today the islands where environmental protection takes place cannot be visited. With a special permit the camera now reveals the field research undertaken to preserve these species. Biologists, environmental scientists talk about their expertise, experience and about the incredible effort that prevention requires.
The film is a perfect illustration of the constant controversy between nature and human impact. What was created in millions of years, was destroyed in only a few. And it is an incredible battle to preserve these remaining jewels in their original form.