Nature is awesome, and fascinating, and sometimes maybe even a little scary. The unique ways that different creatures and organisms have evolved, and the amazing—albeit sometimes quite odd—adaptations they develop to allow them to function and thrive in their environments is mind-blowing.
Nat Geo reveals some of the distinctive capabilities of various creatures in a new series called “Super/Natural.” The series—produced by James Cameron and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch—combines cutting-edge filmmaking 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 series, and what he hopes the audience will get from watching it. Hugh-Jones explained, “If you were to just take a step into a forest or wherever it was in the natural world, there’s all sorts of things going on that you wouldn’t appreciate. I think it’s easy to cast off animals and plants as kind of primitive or basic, but the more you look into them, you understand they have a kind of almost alien-like intelligence—that they’ve got these abilities that are way beyond that .”
He continued, “We wanted to show people things that they wouldn’t immediately be able to see or understand and kind of lead them and look into these superpowers—these hidden powers of animals.”
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 mean 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 broken natural laws. Occam’s Razor would suggest that perhaps these phenomena are, in fact, part of the natural order and operate within the bounds 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 life evolves to adapt traits and capabilities uniquely suited for survival. For many, the coincidence of these unique features implies some level of intent by a higher being—an intelligent design.
I prefer the explanation provided by Stephen Hawking in the book “The Grand Design.” I am paraphrasing, but it essentially boils down to evolution and natural selection being all the explanation you need. The reason we find amazing creatures with fascinating and strangely unique capabilities and adaptations is not because someone or something designed them that way—it’s because that is 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 awesome. Nat Geo does an impressive job—as always—capturing nature on film and narrating it in a compelling and engaging way. You can check out “Super/Natural” on Disney+.