The Trials of Life: A Natural History of Behaviour was a BBC nature documentary series written and presented by David Attenborough, first transmitted in the United Kingdom in October 1990.

A study in animal behaviour, each of the twelve 50-minute episodes features a different aspect of the journey through life, from birth to adulthood and continuation of the species through reproduction.

The Trials of Life: A Natural History of Behaviour - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 50 minutes

Premier: 1990-10-04

The Trials of Life: A Natural History of Behaviour - Ethology - Netflix

Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually with a focus on behaviour under natural conditions, and viewing behaviour as an evolutionarily adaptive trait. Behaviourism is a term that also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually referring to measured responses to stimuli or trained behavioural responses in a laboratory context, without a particular emphasis on evolutionary adaptivity. Many naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour throughout history. Ethology has its scientific roots in the work of Charles Darwin and of American and German ornithologists of the late 19th and early 20th century, including Charles O. Whitman, Oskar Heinroth, and Wallace Craig. The modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun during the 1930s with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and by Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch, joint awardees of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Ethology is a combination of laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to some other disciplines such as neuroanatomy, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Ethologists are typically interested in a behavioural process rather than in a particular animal group, and often study one type of behaviour, such as aggression, in a number of unrelated animals. Ethology is a rapidly growing field. Since the dawn of the 21st century, many aspects of animal communication, emotions, culture, learning and sexuality that the scientific community long thought it understood have been re-examined, and new conclusions reached. New fields, such as neuroethology, have developed. Understanding ethology or animal behaviour can be important in animal training. Considering the natural behaviours of different species or breeds enables the trainer to select the individuals best suited to perform the required task. It also enables the trainer to encourage the performance of naturally occurring behaviours and also the discontinuance of undesirable behaviours.

The Trials of Life: A Natural History of Behaviour - Mating and the fight for supremacy - Netflix

Individual reproduction is the most important phase in the proliferation of individuals or genes within a species: for this reason, there exist complex mating rituals, which can be very complex even if they are often regarded as FAPs. The stickleback's complex mating ritual, studied by Tinbergen, is regarded as a notable example of a FAP. Often in social life, animals fight for the right to reproduce, as well as social supremacy. A common example of fighting for social and sexual supremacy is the so-called pecking order among poultry. Every time a group of poultry cohabitate for a certain time length, they establish a pecking order. In these groups, one chicken dominates the others and can peck without being pecked. A second chicken can peck all the others except the first, and so on. Higher level chickens are easily distinguished by their well-cured aspect, as opposed to lower level chickens. While the pecking order is establishing, frequent and violent fights can happen, but once established, it is broken only when other individuals enter the group, in which case the pecking order re-establishes from scratch.

The Trials of Life: A Natural History of Behaviour - References - Netflix