Attenborough's Ark - as seen on TV

Sir David reveals the 10 weird or wonderful creatures he would save. 

Attenborough 60 Years in the Wild publicity image

Sir David reveals the 10 weird or wonderful creatures he would save, in conversation with Ben Hoare.

"When I was working on this Natural World special, I was anxious that my choices shouldn’t appear worthy. I didn’t want it to be just a list of species in danger and in the headlines – I picked less-well-known animals that interested me for their natural history or beauty.

It turned out that the 10 creatures were nearly all endangered, but that was coincidence.

Take the Venus’ flower basket. It’s one of the glass sponges, and breathtakingly beautiful. It lives in deep seas (though I filmed specimens preserved in London’s Natural History Museum).

A sponge is one of the simplest forms of animal life. Yet I find it amazing that if you put one through a mincer and reduce it to a mush of cells, it can still regroup and reform to create a complete sponge, which will begin to operate as normal. How? We don’t know.

I gave this little-understood marine species a ticket to my ark to remind me that there’s a hell of lot we still don’t know about the natural world.”



1 Black lion tamarin Fewer than 1,000 of Sir David’s favourite monkey survive.

2 Sumatran rhino The most ancient (and rarest) of all five living rhino species.

3 Hispaniolan solenodon This elusive insectivore is a clue to what the first mammals looked like.

4 Olm An amphibian that lives for up to a century, and can go 10 years without eating.

5 Marvellous spatuletail One of the rarest hummingbirds, with a spectacular courtship display.

6 Darwin’s frog Darwin discovered this unusual frog, the male of which gives birth.

7 Sunda pangolin The ‘walking pine cone’ has peculiar scaly armour made of keratin.

8 Priam’s birdwing butterfly One of the largest and most beautiful butterflies on Earth.

9 Northern quoll A charismatic marsupial at risk from introduced cane toads.

10 Venus’ flower basket This marine marvel’s body is made entirely of silica.


TAKE A LOOK See inside our exciting Attenborough issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.


DON'T MISS IT Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild, a three-part series and the Natural World special programme,

See a preview of Attenborough's Ark.  The programme will air on 9 November 2012 at 9pm on BBC Two. 

Go back to the Attenborough home page

Enjoy more photos of Sir David in action here.


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