Nature is amazing, fascinating, and sometimes even a little terrifying. The unique ways 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 environments 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 film technology and the latest scientific innovations to reveal the super-senses and “secret powers” of extraordinary creatures.
I spoke to Tom Hugh-Jones, executive producer of ‘Super/Natural,’ and asked him to explain the motivation behind the series and what he hopes audiences will get from watching it. Hugh-Jones explained, “If you were to take a step in a forest or anywhere in the natural world, all sorts of things happen that you wouldn’t appreciate. I think it’s easy to dismiss animals and plants as primitive or basic, but the more you look at them, you understand that they have a kind of almost alien intelligence, that they have these abilities that go way beyond that. .”
He continued, “We wanted to show people things that they couldn’t immediately see or understand and guide them and look at these superpowers, these hidden powers of animals.”
The title of the series is a play on supernatural words. 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 do not assume that things that appear to be supernatural have defied or broken natural laws. Occam’s razor would suggest that perhaps these phenomena are, in fact, part of the natural order and operate within the confines of the laws of nature, but simply exceed our limited understanding of those laws.
I am constantly intrigued by the diversity of creatures and organisms in nature and the ways in which life evolves to adapt traits and abilities especially suited to survival. For many, the coincidence of these unique features implies some level of intent on the part of a higher being: intelligent design.
I prefer the explanation provided by Stephen Hawking in the book “The Grand Design”. I’m paraphrasing, but it essentially boils down to evolution and natural selection being all the explanation he needs. The reason we find amazing creatures with fascinating and strangely unique abilities and adaptations is not because someone or something designed them that way, but 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 will agree that these creatures and their abilities are amazing. Nat Geo does an impressive job, as always, capturing nature on film and narrating it in a compelling and engaging way. You can watch “Super/Natural” on Disney+.