Beyond Human – UWE Bristol graduate explores super senses of animal world for new BBC series

Issue date: 19 August 2014

MSc Science Communication graduate and biologist, Patrick Aryee, in his first presenting role will reveal how animals sense their world in ways far beyond our human capabilities, in the first of a three part series – Beyond Human – to be broadcast on BBC Two on Tuesday 19 August at 21.00.

Produced by the Bristol-based Natural History Unit, Patrick and co-presenter, physicist Helen Czerski, take science out of the lab, travelling five continents to conduct an array of demonstrations and experiments out in the wild to reveal the amazing 'super senses' of the animal world.

Each episode will focus on a central theme: sight, sound and scent. The opening episode explores the extraordinary sense of sight in the animal world. Helen and Patrick will reveal how caribou use UV light to avoid wolves, how seeing in slow motion lets dragonflies make a kill in the blink of a human eye and show how one animal can see in pitch-darkness – without using its eyes.

For the last five years, Patrick Aryee has been working in wildlife filmmaking at the BBC Natural History Unit. He combined his work with achieving an MSc in Science Communication at UWE Bristol in 2013.

The episode on sound sees Helen and Patrick reveal great insight into animals' abilities to hear both the highest and the lowest frequencies. The team converts a 1960s camper van into a giant speaker, giving off sounds too low for humans to hear, which Patrick uses to 'talk' with elephants, while in Puerto Rico, Helen discovers how a tiny frog the size of a two-pence piece is capable of producing ear-splitting sounds – with a call so loud it should deafen itself.

And in the episode focusing on the power of scent in the wild, Helen jumps into shark-infested waters off the coast of the Bahamas, with only a small pouch of liquid as her defence. Releasing the 'smell of death' into the water – the sharks quickly flee – demonstrating an incredible new technology in shark repellents. And Patrick experiences first hand why skunks smell so bad, and the lengths that predators will go to to avoid them.

Describing the show, Patrick adds,"There were so many moments of disbelief throughout our filming, turning a camper van into a giant speaker, walking alongside a six-tonne African Elephant, being mesmerised by the unsuspecting Golden Mole and defying gravity with the power of sound. The way animals sense their environment is, more often than not, beyond our human perception, but I feel we've managed to capture a glimmer of this beautiful and alien world.”

Beyond Human airs on BBC Two this Tuesday 19 August at 21.00. For more information and previews, see: Beyond Human.

Find out more about studying an MSc/Postgraduate Diploma Science Communication at UWE Bristol.

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