Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life
David starts his journey in Darwin’s home at Down House in Kent, where Darwin worried and puzzled over the origins of life. David goes back to his roots in Leicestershire, where he hunted for fossils as a child, and where another schoolboy unearthed a significant find in the 1950s. And he revisits Cambridge University, where both he and Darwin studied, and where many years later the DNA double helix was discovered, providing the foundations for genetics. At the end of his journey in the Natural History Museum...
Darwin’s Secret Notebooks
Using Darwin’s own diary and field notes as a travel guide, retrace Darwin’s expedition beyond the Galapagos to uncover the forgotten evidence that inspired his revolutionary work. He wasn’t a mathematician. He wasn’t an inventor. He was just a 20-something guy who liked to poke around in the dirt. Yet, Charles Darwin developed a theory of evolution so significant that it forms the bedrock of biology, and so radical it is still controversial in some circles today. In 1859, when he was 50, Darwin...
Posted in: Evolution, Science
The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestors
Meet “Ida,” the small “missing link” found in Germany that’s created a big media splash and will likely continue to make waves among those who study human origins. In this documentary paleontologist Jorn Hurum, who led the team that analyzed the 47-million-year-old fossil seen above, suggests Ida is a critical missing-link species in primate evolution. The fossil, he says, bridges the evolutionary split between higher primates such as monkeys, apes, and humans and their more distant relatives such as...
Growing Up in the Universe
Growing Up in the Universe was a series of lectures given by Richard Dawkins as part of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, in which he discussed the evolution of life in the universe. The lectures were first broadcast in 1991, in the form of five one-hour episodes. To start off part one, Dawkins discusses the amazing capabilities of the human body and contrasts these with the limited capabilities of computers and other man-made machines. He uses a small totem pole (which is used in ancestor worship) to...
Posted in: Evolution, Nature, Society
Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus
Flock of Dodos examines the disagreements that proponents of intelligent design have with the scientific consensus position of evolution. The evolutionarily famous dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is a now-extinct bird that lived on the Island of Mauritius, which is approximately 500 miles east of Madagascar. When Portuguese sailors arrived on the island, the possible combination of over-hunting and introduction of new predators (i.e. pigs, macaques) seems to have led to its extinction by approximately 1700. Due to its...
Oliver The Chimp
In January 1976 news broke of a phenomenon. Pictures showed an upright bald ape called Oliver, who appeared to be a cross between a human and a chimpanzee; What scientists refer to as a humanzee. Oliver’s photographs shocked the world, and in the media frenzy that followed he became an international celebrity. In Japan his human-like behavior earned him cult status. In New York some journalists described him as the missing link. Others dubbed him Bigfoot. Oliver gradually faded from the spotlight and...
The Real Neanderthal Man
42,000 Years ago, the only humans in Europe made clothes, educated their young, made tools. But they weren't the same as us. Now the very latest technology can reveal exactly how they lived, the dangers they faced and the communities they made in the Neander valley in Germany. We all know the word "Neanderthal" to be an unflattering qualifier for some of our more uncultured and dim-witted fellow humans. But was the real Neanderthal man truly such an intellectual dunce? The Real Neanderthal Man looks at modern...
Posted in: Evolution, Science
The Four-Winged Dinosaur
In 2002, the discovery of a beautiful and bizarre fossil astonished scientists and reignited the debate over the origin of flight. With four wings and superbly preserved feathers, the 130 million-year-old creature was like nothing paleontologists had ever seen before. In this program, NOVA travels to the Chinese stone quarry where the fossil was discovered (a famed fossil treasure trove) and teams up with the world’s leading figures in paleontology, biomechanics, aerodynamics, animation, and scientific...
Pedigree Dogs Exposed
Pedigree dogs are suffering from genetic diseases following years of inbreeding, an investigation has found. A BBC documentary says they are suffering acute problems because looks are emphasised over health when breeding dogs for shows. The programme shows spaniels with brains too big for their skulls and boxers suffering from epilepsy. The Kennel Club says it works tirelessly to improve the health of pedigree dogs. Pedigree animals make up 75% of the seven million dogs in the UK and cost their owners...