Nature is impressive and fascinating, and sometimes maybe even a little scary. The unique ways in which different creatures and organisms have evolved, and the amazing, if sometimes quite strange, adaptations they develop to allow them to function and thrive in their environment are mind-boggling.
Nat Geo reveals some of the distinctive abilities of various creatures in a new series called “Super/Natural”. The series, produced by James Cameron and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, combines cutting-edge cinematic technology and the latest scientific innovations to unveil the super senses and “secret powers” of extraordinary creatures.
I spoke with Tom Hugh-Jones, executive producer of “Super/Natural,” and asked him to explain the motivation behind the show, and what he hopes audiences will get from watching it. Hugh-Jones explained: “If you were to take a step into a forest or anywhere in the natural world, there are all sorts of things happening that you wouldn’t appreciate. I think it’s easy to dismiss animals and plants as some kind of primitive or basic, but the more you examine them you realize that they have a kind of almost extraterrestrial intelligence – that they have these abilities that are far beyond. .”
He continued, “We wanted to show people things that they wouldn’t immediately be able to see or understand and guide them and lean into those superpowers, those hidden animal powers.”
The title of the series is a play on the word “supernatural”. The word is used to describe things like ghosts or extrasensory perception and is used by many to refer to something that defies or exceeds the laws of nature.
In my opinion, the operative part of the word “supernatural” is the “natural” part. I don’t assume that things that appear to be supernatural have defied or violated natural laws. Occam’s razor would suggest that perhaps these phenomena are, in fact, part of the natural order and operate within the limits of the laws of nature, but are simply beyond our limited understanding of those laws.
I am constantly intrigued by the diversity of creatures and organisms in nature and how life evolves to adapt traits and abilities uniquely suited for survival. For many, the coincidence of these unique characteristics implies some level of intent by a higher being – intelligent design.
I prefer the explanation provided by Stephen Hawking in the book “The Grand Design”. I’m paraphrasing, but it basically boils down to the fact that evolution and natural selection are all the explanations you need. The reason we find amazing creatures with fascinating and oddly unique abilities and adaptations isn’t because someone or something designed them that way, it’s because that’s the only way they could be and continue to survive and thrive as a species.
Regardless of what you believe or why, I think most would agree that these creatures and their abilities are impressive. Nat Geo does an impressive job, as always, of capturing nature on film and telling it in a compelling and engaging way. You can check out “Super/Natural” on Disney+.