Journey over the lands of South Africa. From mountains forged billions of years ago to mines full of riches, and from landscapes formed by Shaka Zulu to the Ubuntu philosophy, experience the beauty and spirit of this remarkable nation.
This episode reveals how mammals developed from tiny nocturnal forest dwellers to the dominant form of life on the planet following the death of the dinosaurs. David explains how the meteoric rise of mammals led to an astounding diversity of life and laid the foundations for the ascent of man.
Steve finds out how washing our clothes is harming our marine life. Why has the fish and chips supper changed? And which lobster is making a comeback? Plus why is one man fascinated by 'the Christmas Tree fish of the sea? Chris finds out. Presented from Herne Bay in Kent .
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.
Take a trip through the spectacularly diverse terrain of the Waterberg--a South African land so old it was formed before terrestrial life itself. Today, its sprawling grasslands are home to some of the most eclectic wildlife on Earth, all sustained by the region's abundant water supply.
The human eye is an amazing mechanism, able to detect anywhere from a few photons to a few quadrillion, or switch focus from the screen in front of you to the distant horizon in a third of a second. How did these complex structures evolve? Joshua Harvey details the 500 million year story of the human eye.