Darwin's theory of biological evolution helps us understand how simple life forms can give rise to complex lifeforms, but how did the first reproducing creatures come about? The origin of life needs its own explanation.
Issues of genetics and DNA are constantly cropping up in the news from food production and health, to legal cases and ethics. We hear about DNA in movies like Jurassic Park and X-men, we learn bits and pieces about it from TV shows like Dexter and and CSI, but what exactly is DNA, and how does it work?
Biologists teach that all living things on Earth are related. Is there any solid evidence to back this claim? Join us as we explore the facts! We start with a close look at the origin of whales from land mammals, and then touch on the origins of several other critters, including our own species.
The Miller-Urey experiment was the first attempt to scientifically explore ideas about the origin of life. Stanley Miller simulated conditions thought be common on the ancient Earth. The purpose was to test the idea that the complex molecules of life (in this case, amino acids) could have arisen on our young planet through simple, natural chemical reactions.
2015 • Nature
Following the success of Helen Macdonald's bestselling novel of the same name, H is for Hawk: A New Chapter is an intimate and personal journey. After the loss of her father, Helen trained the hardest bird in falconry, a goshawk. The cathartic experience helped her to grieve and now she is ready to do it again, but this time she hopes it will be her wings to somewhere new. In this beautiful and moving film, Helen trains a new bird and follows a wild goshawk family at the nest, getting closer than ever before to these fiery eyed birds of prey.
Professor Richard Fortey journeys high in the Rocky Mountains to explore a 520-million-year-old fossilised seabed containing bizarre and experimental lifeforms that have revolutionised our understanding about the beginnings of complex life. Among the amazing finds he uncovers are marine creatures with five eyes and a proboscis; filter-feeders shaped like tulips; worm-like scavengers covered in spikes but with no identifiable head or anus; and a metre-long predator resembling a giant shrimp.
As the waters of the Amazon and its tributaries reach their lowest, torrential rain begins to beat down with brutal force. In a few months’ time, the forest will be submerged under almost thirty meters of water: enough to swallow up a ten-storey building! The youngest animals are dealing with the deluge for the first time in their lives. We follow them all: the sloth, terribly vulnerable; the opossum, the only marsupial outside Oceania; the harpy eagle, one of the greatest in the world; the shy, solitary armadillo; the squirrel monkey, a treetop acrobat… and many other inhabitants of a gleaming, transfigured world shown in this way for the first time. This documentary tells their tale: a story of competition and dangers, unease and courage; a story that will inspire every viewer and remain engraved in their memory for a long, long time...
2016 • Nature
They are among the most hated and feared animals on the planet - only few people recognize their beauty. This documentary features some of Europe's most stunning species, like the European adder, the nose-horned viper, the dice snake, the ringed snake and the Aesculapian snake. So watch out next time you're walking in the park. After a winter safe in burrows, sometimes in bundles of hundreds, the spring's warmth brings them back to life.
2016 • Nature
The first programme of Darwin's Dangerous Idea explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on religion and morality. Andrew Marr discovers that an important part of the Beagle’s mission was to return three natives to their homeland, Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of Argentina. Years before he reached the Galapagos, they raised questions in his mind about the fragility of civilisation and what it really means to be human. Marr explores how Darwin developed his ideas when he returned to Britain and finally unleashed his theory of evolution by natural selection on the world. Darwin’s ideas are taken up by many of the major thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. We discover that his ideas helped motivate the Kaiser’s army in the First World War and would also help convince the United States government to drop its isolationist policy and enter the conflict. In the 20th century, we discover a growing backlash against Darwin’s ideas among fundamentalists from the world’s major religions. At the same time science has been showing that Darwin’s theory of natural selection holds sway over our behaviour - including our morality - as much as it does over the evolution of our bodies. There is significant scientific evidence that suggests that Darwin has returned humanity to nature, in all its wonder, its glory and its danger.