What Darwin Never Knew

The planet Earth is filled with a vast collection of species, with over 9,000 types of birds, 28,000 types of fish, and more than 350,000 species of beetles. It’s Charles Darwin’s brilliant theory of evolution that explains how the 1.4 million different species that have been discovered have adapted and changed over time. The theory has been called the best idea anyone ever had but there is one big problem with it, how does it actually work?

The origin of life’s seemingly endless number of adaptations was a profound mystery until biologist Charles Darwin brought forth his revolutionary idea of natural selection. However, Darwin’s insights were ahead there time and seemed to raise just as many questions as they answered. What actually drives evolution and morphs one species into another? To what degree do different animals rely on the same genetic toolkit? And how did we evolve?

This NOVA special What Darwin Never Knew offers us the answers to some of the riddles that Darwin himself was unable to explain. Through a number of scientific breakthroughs one of which is coined “evo demo” this film links the enigmas of evolution to another one of nature’s great mysteries, the development of the embryo.

From a journey that begins on the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic, and from the explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today. Scientists are finally beginning to crack the code which defends some of nature’s biggest secrets at the genetic level. The results of which are confirming the brilliance of Darwin’s insights while revealing clues to life’s breathtaking diversity in ways the great naturalist could scarcely have imagined.

Directed by: Serena Davies , Rushmore DeNooyer

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