Evolution, Show 2: Great Transformations

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Video Description

Show 2: Great Transformations

What underlies the incredible diversity of life on Earth? How have complex life forms evolved? The journey from water to land, the return of land mammals to the sea, and the emergence of humans all suggest that creatures past and present are members of a single tree of life.

Chapter 1. Prologue (2:56)

Introduction to the show's theme: key transformations in the development of life

* Human connections to all animal life

* Following the tree of life back four billion years

Chapter 2. The Evolution of Whales (13:43)

The mystery of whale evolution, solved by fossil research

* Understanding human evolution through the study of whale evolution

* Brief definition and history of mammals

* How did land-based mammals return to the sea?

* Fossils from "transitional species" trace whale evolution

* Studying whale movement to see evolutionary relationship with land mammals

Chapter 3. From Water to Land (10:27)

Understanding the transition from water to land-based life

* Paleontological research into early tetrapod fossils

* Which came first: leaving the water or developing legs?

* The transition from fins to limbs; an evolutionary survival strategy

Chapter 4. The First Animals (5:27)

Exploring the origins of animal life

* The Cambrian explosion, the sudden appearance of animal life

* The Burgess Shale and its rich fossil record

* Trilobites, an extinct arthropod and relative of crabs, insects, and spiders

* Pikia, perhaps the earliest ancestor of modern vertebrates

Chapter 5. The Mechanism of Change (14:31)

The search for evolution's genetic mechanism, and the simplicity of the answer

* Fruit fly research into evolution and genes

* Embryo development and its clues to evolution

* The theory that genes are the architects of the body, and a universal set of genes builds all animals

Chapter 6. The Transformation of Humans (9:26)

The crucial transition to bipedal movement

* Human abilities are remarkable, yet we are built from the same genes as all animals

* Studying primate movement to understand human ancestors and evolution

* The existence of homo sapiens was not inevitable

Documentary Description


Series Overview

Evolution determines who lives, who dies, and who passes traits on to the next generation. The process plays a critical role in our daily lives, yet it is one of the most overlooked -- and misunderstood -- concepts ever described.

The Evolution project's eight-hour television miniseries travels the world to examine evolutionary science and the profound effect it has had on society and culture. From the genius and torment of Charles Darwin to the scientific revolution that spawned the tree of life, from the power of sex to drive evolutionary change to the importance of mass extinctions in the birth of new species, the Evolution series brings this fascinating process to life. The series also explores the emergence of consciousness, the origin and success of humans, and the perceived conflict between science and religion in understanding life on Earth.

The Evolution series' goals are to heighten public understanding of evolution and how it works, to dispel common misunderstandings about the process, and to illuminate why it is relevant to all of us.

Evolution Series Show Descriptions

Show 1: Darwin's Dangerous Idea (two-hour)

Why does Charles Darwin's ''dangerous idea'' matter more today than ever, and how does it explain the past and predict the future of life on Earth? The first show interweaves the drama of Darwin's life with current documentary sequences, introducing key concepts of evolution.

Show 2: Great Transformations
(one hour)

What underlies the incredible diversity of life on Earth? How have complex life forms evolved? The journey from water to land, the return of land mammals to the sea, and the emergence of humans all suggest that creatures past and present are members of a single tree of life.

Show 3: Extinction! (one hour)

Five mass extinctions have occurred since life began on Earth. Are humans causing the next mass extinction? And what does evolutionary theory predict for the world we will leave to our descendants?

Show 4: The Evolutionary Arms Race
(one hour)

Survival of the fittest: Raw competition? Intense cooperation? Both are essential. Interactions between and within species are among the most powerful evolutionary forces on Earth, and understanding them may be a key to our own survival.

Show 5: Why Sex? (one hour)

In evolutionary terms, sex is more important than life itself. Sex fuels evolutionary change by adding variation to the gene pool. The powerful urge to pass our genes on to the next generation has likely changed the face of human culture in ways we're only beginning to understand.

Show 6: The Mind's Big Bang (one hour)

Fifty thousand years ago, something happened -- the modern human mind emerged, triggering a creative, technological, and social explosion. What forces contributed to that breakthrough? Where might our power of mind ultimately lead us?

Show 7: What About God?
(one hour)

Of all species, we alone attempt to explain who we are and how we came to be. This final show explores the struggle between science and religion. Through the personal stories of students and teachers, it offers the view that they are compatible.

Source: PBS


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