May 19

In an unforgettable television event, Discovery Channel turns the lens toward its homeland and captures a land where life collides with hostile, untamed wilderness in the most diverse, deadly environment on Earth.”

Photo of bison in snow

Bison struggle to survive in the unforgiving winter climate

After more than three years in the making, the Discovery Channel’s eagerly anticipated, seven-part series – ‘North America’ – airs tonight at 9pm ET/PT.

Promising never-before-seen sequences, the first five episodes will tell of the struggle for survival in the continent’s most extreme habitats and weather conditions. Hair-raising head-to-head battles, stunning time lapses, dramatic aerial views and astonishing animal behaviour are all to be expected. The remainder of the series features a ‘making of’ episode, and an exploration of the top natural North American destinations.

Close-up of jaguar

The series will show never-before-seen footage of the elusive desert jaguar in Mexico

The series will explore habitats from the sub-zero Canadian tundra right down to the tropical rainforests of Panama, following up-close-and-personal stories of animals fighting for survival along the way. Discovery promises to bring us the Yukon Territory, Rocky Mountains, barren deserts and lush rainforests.

If you think you know North America, you can think again.

Described as an unforgettable television event, the series will be narrated by award-winning American actor Tom Selleck, who said, “I’ve been a fan of Discovery’s nature programming for years, and I am truly honoured to be narrating their next great series. I think people will be captivated by North America.”

Photo of brown bear catching salmon

Caught on camera: spectacular footage of grizzly bears diving in over 20 feet of water, hunting for salmon

We hope you are as excited about this new series as we are. In depth information on many North American species expected to feature throughout the series can be found here on ARKive.

Sneak previews and an episode guide can be found on Discovery’s North America page.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

May 13

Narrated by American actor Tom Selleck, the Discovery Channel’s captivating new series ‘North America’ is due to air on May 19th, promising spectacular, never-before-seen footage of one of the world’s most diverse landscapes. To show our excitement, we’ve put together a list of our top ten North American species.

1.      Wood frog

Photo of wood frog

Wood frogs are able to freeze and thaw with their surroundings as a way of coping with cold temperatures

This widely distributed frog has a range that extends further north than any other North American amphibian. Often identified by a black mask that extends from the nostrils across each cheek and through each eye, this species is an explosive breeder, laying all its eggs in a matter of days. The wood frog is often found in or around damp woodland.

2.      Brown bear

Photo of brown bear

Brown bears can dive head first to depths of six metres

Just one of North America’s most iconic species, the brown bear is also one of the largest carnivores on Earth. The largest subspecies of this bear is known as the Kodiak bear, and it can weigh up to 780 kilograms! During hibernation, the brown bear can survive for over half a year without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating.

3.      Grey wolf

Photo of grey wolf howling

Grey wolves can track their prey for many miles

The grey wolf has a wide variety of coat colours, ranging from grey, red, brown and black to practically pure white. Its long legs and sensitive ears and nose make it a highly efficient and deadly predator, able to pursue its prey for extremely long distances. The grey wolf is a highly social and intelligent animal, hunting cooperatively to bring down prey that is ten times its size.

4.      Bighorn sheep

Photo of male bighorn sheep

During a fight, male bighorn sheep can launch themselves at each other at 32 kilometres per hour

The spiralling horns of a male bighorn sheep can grow to over a metre long and weigh up to 14 kilograms. Unlike that of most sheep, this species’ coat is made up of fur rather than wool. The nimble-footed bighorn sheep is able to bound between rocks, and up or down almost vertical rock faces, a skill that often enables it to escape predators. Its mating period is known as a rut, during which time males will take part in impressive battles for dominance and the chance to mate with females.

5.      Mountain lion

Photo of female puma with juveniles

Mountain lions are the only big cats able to purr

Also known as the puma, panther or cougar, the mountain lion has the largest range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Active at dawn and dusk, but rarely during the day, this agile species feeds mainly on hoofed mammals such as elk and domestic cattle. Although adult mountain lions are the same colour all over, kittens are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.

6.      Wolverine

Photo of wolverine

The wolverine’s fur is thick and oily, making it resistant to frost

Despite belonging to the weasel family, the wolverine has an almost bear-like appearance. With a reputation for being a particularly aggressive animal, this species is powerfully built and well adapted to survive in wintery conditions. The wolverine’s coat has two types of fur: soft, dense underhair that helps to insulate its body against the cold, and coarse, long, protective guard hair.

7.      Giant sequoia

Photo of a giant sequoia

The bark of the giant sequoia can be up to 60 centimetres thick

Believed to be the largest living thing on the planet, the giant sequoia tree does not reach maturity and produce any cones for around 20 years. This tree generally benefits from wildfires, which remove competitors and ensure that the soil is rich enough for seed germination. The heat from the fires also causes the tree’s cones to open by drying them out, allowing the seeds to fall and germinate. The giant sequoia is more or less indestructible due to its size and thick bark, which conducts fire poorly.

8.      Moose

Photo of a moose feeding

There is debate as to whether or not the moose and the Eurasian elk are the same species

Growing antlers that can span over 1.8 metres, the moose is the largest of all deer species. Only males grow antlers, which are shed during the winter and are re-grown over the summer. Due to its impressive height (1.5 to 2 metres), this species has difficulty feeding from the ground, instead browsing on higher grasses and shrubs. The shape of its hooves enables this large, heavy animal to walk on soft snow and muddy ground, much like snowshoes work for humans.

9.      California condor

Photo of California condor in flight

A California condor may range over 200 kilometres in a day

With a huge wingspan of almost three metres, the California condor was worryingly declared Extinct in the Wild in 1987 when the last eight birds were taken into captivity. Following an intensive captive breeding programme, the first condors were released into the wild in 1992. Conservation of the California condor is ongoing and the population is continuing to increase, with the success of the programme being an inspiration to many.

10.      Bald eagle

Photo of a bald eagle

A bald eagle can carry up to 2.3 kilograms when in flight

As the national emblem of the United States, the majestic bald eagle is instantly recognisable. Believed to pair for life, mating pairs reinforce their bond by taking part in magnificent acrobatic displays in the air. When juvenile bald eagles, or eaglets, are about four months old, they often appear to be larger than their parents because their wing feathers are longer at this age. These flight feathers act as stabilisers when a juvenile bird is learning to fly.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

Aug 4

To further celebrate Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, we’ve come up with five great shark videos with five great facts for you.

Great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran)

Like some other shark species, the great hammerhead locates prey using an electro-sensory system that detects the weak electric field that all living organisms produce. The bizarre head shape of the hammerhead is thought to increase sensitivity to electronic signals, although a recent study suggests it may enable binocular vision and an impressive 360 degree vision!

Oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus)

A formidable predator, the oceanic whitetip shark preys on bony fishes, sea turtles, sea birds, squid and mammalian carcasses to name but a few. At food sources it will dominate other species of shark competing for the same food.

Shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus)

The shortfin mako is the fastest shark in the world, able to reach speeds of up to 35 kilometres per hour. It’s thought this is aided by an ability to keep its body temperature warmer than the surrounding seawater – a trait it shares with the great white shark.

Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus)

At 10 metres long, the basking shark is the second largest shark species, outsized only by the whale shark. This benign giant filter-feeder feeds on zooplankton that it strains through the five massive gill slits as it slowly swims through the water.

Tawny nurse shark (Nebrius ferrugineus)

Most sharks have to keep swimming in order to get water moving through their gills. Unlike most other shark species, nurse sharks are able to pump water through their gills while settled on the ocean floor – this has given them a reputation for being docile and lazy.

There are many, many more shark videos on ARKive so do check them out!

Eleanor Sans, ARKive Media Researcher


RSS is the place for films, photos and facts about endangered species. Subscribe to our blog today to keep up to date!

Email updates

Sign up to receive a regular email digest of Arkive blog posts.
Preferred frequency:

Arkive twitter

Twitter: ARKive