Mini Monsters of Amazonia
Episode available within Canada only. Video help?
Please note: online streaming is not available.

The astonishing biodiversity of our planet is the result of perpetual evolution - in which species have had to adapt themselves to often hostile environments. The complex relationships between species and their environments, the pressure of natural selection and spontaneous mutations, between chance and necessity, have fashioned the living world in a multitude of forms, beyond our imaginations. And although scientists and biologists have already made great strides towards illuminating the extent and variety of the web of life, our knowledge of certain species is still very limited, in particular those that are isolated or difficult to access.

A scientific adventure documentary, Mini Monsters of Amazonia reveals the astonishing and complex relationships between the Neotropical insects of the family Membracidae - the treehoppers, also referred to as "mini-monsters." These species and their environments have fashioned the living world in a multitude of living forms beyond our imaginations. Adventuring to the Amazon headwaters, Mini Monsters of Amazonia introduces viewers to these membracids, tiny masters of disguise, strategy and survival.

Evolutionary marvels, membracids have been around for 40 million years, avoiding predators by mimicking leaves, branches or even deadly fungus. Turning our macro lens on these diminutive creatures, most no longer than 6 mm, we see them living placidly, robustly, in groups, with their protectors - ants. A team of "bug" scientists reveals the mating sounds of these minute creatures and the many unique evolutionary traits of the mini monsters. Living amid one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, membracids give vital insight into an ecosystem so mysterious most people don't even know that it exists.

While they may appear to be bizarre mini-monsters to some, they are absolute masterpieces of biodiversity to others. Some of the most incredibly complex and longest living survivors that nature has ever produced, they are still poorly understood by the world's scientific community, and now under the threat of extinction.

With impressive structures projecting from their backs and heads, treehoppers are truly living sculptures. Quirks of nature or expert mimics, the extravagance of these somewhat "baroque" insects is a feast for the eyes - rarely before seen, and looking like they've stepped straight out of a science fiction movie. Here for the first time, a group of researchers takes us on a journey to the Amazon to capture what seems not to exist, observe what has never been seen, listen to unreal sounds, and reveal a few of the unexplained mysteries of nature.

Mini Monsters of Amazonia is produced and directed by Mike Fuller, Thierry Berrod and Quincy Russell for Breakthrough Films& Television /Mona Lisa Productions in association with CBC and Arte.


CBC Shop

Purchase Nature of Things merchandise.

CBC Shop

Also on CBC