The discovery of biological evolution is among the most significant scientific findings of the last 200 years. It has lead us to thousands of new discoveries and is greatly expanding our understanding of the natural world.
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
Gunda provides a glimpse into the raw and simple power of nature through mesmerising encounters with farm animals, the eponymous Gunda, a mother pig, two ingenious cows and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken. Film-maker Victor Kossakovsky reminds us of the many lives that share this earth with humans and their value. From the first steps of piglets to the roaming joy of freed cows, Gunda: Mother, Pig draws a connection between human and animal, and the planet that we share with creatures great and small.
2021 • Nature
With a million species at risk of extinction, Sir David Attenborough explores how this crisis of biodiversity has consequences for us all, threatening food and water security, undermining our ability to control our climate and even putting us at greater risk of pandemic diseases. Extinction is now happening up to 100 times faster than the natural evolutionary rate, but the issue is about more than the loss of individual species. Everything in the natural world is connected in networks that support the whole of life on earth, including us, and we are losing many of the benefits that nature provides to us. The loss of insects is threatening the pollination of crops, while the loss of biodiversity in the soil also threatens plants growth. Plants underpin many of the things that we need, and yet one in four is now threatened with extinction. Last year, a UN report identified the key drivers of biodiversity loss, including overfishing, climate change and pollution. But the single biggest driver of biodiversity loss is the destruction of natural habitats. Seventy-five per cent of Earth's land surface (where not covered by ice) has been changed by humans, much of it for agriculture, and as consumers we may unwittingly be contributing towards the loss of species through what we buy in the supermarket. Our destructive relationship with the natural world isn’t just putting the ecosystems that we rely on at risk. Human activities like the trade in animals and the destruction of habitats drive the emergence of diseases. Disease ecologists believe that if we continue on this pathway, this year’s pandemic will not be a one-off event.
2020 • Nature
Professor David Scheel takes an octopus into his home to learn about its intelligence and the extraordinary relationship he and his daughter develop with the creature. Named Heidi, the octopus is seen unravelling puzzles, recognising individual humans and even watching TV with the family. The film also looks at the remarkable behaviour of other octopuses around the world, from those that can change their colour and texture in a split second to the octopus that carries around its own coconut shell to hide in.
In the second episode; India is a subcontinent surrounded by mountains. We explore the little-known Western Ghats at the edge India's south. Here are Monsoon hills covered in lush forests and tea gardens which shelter some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. But far to the north lies the mighty Himalayas - so vast they drive the climate by capturing the monsoon winds and protect India from the northern chill. It's a unique world full of life.