Human Influence • 2017 • episode "2/6" Mysteries of Evolution

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When did we start riding horses? When did dogs become man's best friend? Answering questions like these help us understand our impact on other species' evolutionary journeys - a crucial step toward ensuring our survival doesn't necessarily come at the expense of their own.

Mysteries of Evolution • 0 • 6 episodes •

Amazing Head Adaptations

Why are vultures bald? Why do some orangutans have big cheeks? And if giraffes have long necks to help them reach the highest leaves, why do they mostly eat low-lying shrubs? Embark on a whirlwind tour around the world as we explore some of nature's most-fascinating evolutionary wonders.

2017 • Nature

Human Influence

When did we start riding horses? When did dogs become man's best friend? Answering questions like these help us understand our impact on other species' evolutionary journeys - a crucial step toward ensuring our survival doesn't necessarily come at the expense of their own.

2017 • Nature

Internal Adaptations

Clownfish can change genders, male seahorses carry their young, and some snakes have remnants of leg bones--but why? Discover how significant evolutionary changes inside these creatures have equipped them for survival.

2017 • Nature

Incredible Eye Adaptations

From penguins whose salt-removing eye glands shield them from the harsh ocean to caterpillars whose fake facial markings are meant to mimic a snake's, animals have evolved in amazing ways to see and be seen. Meet these creatures and see how they use eyes and illusions to their advantage.

2017 • Nature

Animal Social Lives

Bees and ants work selflessly toward a common goal. Bonobos maintain social harmony through sex, while meerkats organize themselves with military-level discipline. What do these creatures all have in common? The basic recognition that their survival hinges on an ability to work and live together.

2017 • Nature

Ancient Species

The older a species, the better it is at adapting to change. From the ancient lineage of sharks, who've evolved into perfect predators, to the living fossil known as the bichir, get a closer look at some of nature's enduring evolutionary masters.

2017 • Nature

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Future Frontiers

In the culmination of this 1,000km scientific expedition aboard the Alucia, Liz Bonnin and the team of scientific experts journey south to visit the oldest islands in the Galapagos to see first-hand the impact that humans have had on this pristine wilderness. Back on the larger island of Isabela, where her journey first began, Liz descends into a spectacular vertical lava cave. Deep inside, she discovers how this hidden world could even provide an answer to how it might be possible to inhabit other planets. On her last land-based stop, on Santa Cruz, Liz comes face to face with the effects of man as she explores the magical misty scalesia forests and meets scientists who are tracking the invasive species spreading throughout the islands. It is here that she also checks in on a giant tortoise population whose ancient migration pathways have come under threat from the largest human population on the archipelago, and meets a man on a mission to protect this iconic creature. Finally, Liz dives into the deep blue waters to witness the birth of a brand new island. Coming full circle, Liz and the team are able to reflect on the importance of their missions which will help to protect the Galapagos and its extraordinary wildlife in the future. In an ever-changing world, what we learn now from these incredible living natural wonders and what we can pass on to future generations has never been more important.

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Plants

Plants' solutions to life's challenges are as ingenious and manipulative as any animal's. Innovative time-lapse photography opens up a parallel world where plants act like fly-paper, or spring-loaded traps, to catch insects. Vines develop suckers and claws to haul themselves into the rainforest canopy. Every peculiar shape proves to have a clever purpose. The dragon's blood tree is like an upturned umbrella to capture mist and shade its roots. The seed of a Bornean tree has wings so aerodynamic they inspired the design of early gliders. The barrel-shaped desert rose is full of water. The heliconia plant even enslaves a humming bird and turns it into an addict for its nectar.

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Living Together

Examining some of the weird relationships that develop between species, from birds that relieve clients of hangers-on to hermit crabs that enlist stinging anemones to repel octopuses.

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Living With Us

In this fourth episode, Iolo Williams explores how birds in Wales have adapted to living alongside us, making use of our buildings, parks and gardens and even the waste we throw away. One of the most notorious urban birds is the gull and Iolo explains why these very adaptable and intelligent birds are doing so well in Cardiff

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Challenges of Life

In nature, living long enough to breed is a monumental struggle. Many animals and plants go to extremes to give themselves a chance. Uniquely, three brother cheetahs band together to bring down a huge ostrich. Aerial photography reveals how bottle-nosed dolphins trap fish in a ring of mud, and time-lapse cameras show how the Venus flytrap ensnares insect victims. The strawberry frog carries a tadpole high into a tree and drops it in a water-filled bromeliad. The frog must climb back from the ground every day to feed it. Fledgling chinstrap penguins undertake a heroic and tragic journey through the broken ice to get out to sea. Many can barely swim and the formidable leopard seal lies in wait.

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Born Equal

The second episode of Andrew Marr's exploration of Darwin explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on society and politics. Darwin’s first port of call on the Beagle was Salvador in Brazil – then a major port for the international slave trade. His experience there confirmed his enlightenment views of liberty and progress and his hatred of slavery. But his theory of evolution that began to take root on that epic voyage would describe a world of conflict, ruthless competition and struggle. It would be taken up and abused by some of the most reactionary movements of the late-19th and 20th centuries. The phrase “survival of the fittest” would help propel Darwin’s theory as a scientific justification for eugenics, enforced sterilisation and genocide. But after the Second World War, Darwin’s theory finds redemption in the United Nations statement on race which confirms Darwin’s long-held view that all humans are members of the same race and deserving of equal treatment. This is further reinforced in the extraordinary work of a small Jewish community in New York who used DNA testing and a voluntary and anonymous form of selective breeding to eliminate a debilitating disease from the Jewish community. DNA testing is the final frontier of Darwin’s Dangerous idea. But the lessons from history suggest that the new choices we face about what to do with the knowledge Darwin has given us when combined with genetics and DNA testing remains a major social and political challenge.

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