They go from expected to extraordinary in the blink of an eye.
You're awestricken. They transform themselves to something that you've never seen before.
They swagger and serenade. They dance and display.
They're unlike any creatures on earth and one of the most astounding phenomena ever witnessed. The Birds of Paradise.
Found here in the nearly impenetrable mountains and valleys of the island of New Guinea, in the greatest remaining tract of rainforest in the entire Asia-Pacific region; they exist nowhere else on earth.
The vast, vast majority of the land around here has no road access. You're just looking up into a wall of steep slope and you can tell that this is just Ridge after ridge and valley upper valley...
Evolutionary Biologist, Ed Scholes and Wildlife Photographer, Tim Laman have spent the better part of a decade trekking into this isolated wilderness in pursuit of all 39 species of these miraculous birds.
"The only way to see a King Bird-of-Paradise is to climb up into the trees where they live so, I'm heading up to my platform."
They've been photographing, analyzing, and recording their every move, every behavior in an attempt to comprehend their secrets.
And in doing so, revealing extreme examples of the miracle of evolution.
"Birds-of-Paradise represent one of these singular events of evolution that stand out that are extraordinary. They're something that's without precedent, something that have evolved that's so unique and so exceptional that you're driven to to say you know, 'Why ?' or you know 'How did that how did that happen how did that come to be?"
The Birds-of-Paradise are remarkable not only further exceptional beauty and almost otherworldly appearance, but as veritable living textbooks on adaptation and sexual selection the females are looking at this whole package and can discern something about him by minor variation.
The more complex it is the harder it is to make it look right you know, if one little feature is out of whack you're gonna be able to tell.
What about New Guinea has led to these birds evolving here and nowhere else? What function do their outrageous plumes and ornaments play? And what exactly are they doing?
"For me it always goes back to the original driving question you know and that's how did it happen? How did the birds-of-paradise come to be?
Witnessed diverse strategies of evolution at work and experience one of nature's most extraordinary hidden wonders up close.
A world where beauty and behavior are intertwined.
A spectacle not possible any other place on earth.
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