Evolution, Show 4: The Evolutionary Arms Race

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Video Description

Show 4: The Evolutionary Arms Race

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.

Chapter 1. Prologue (2:23)

Introduction to the show's theme: the "arms race" between predator and prey as a driving force in evolution.

* Example where a microbe is predator, humans are prey

* Russian prisons have spawned a deadly microbe

* If we harness evolution, can we reach a truce with this enemy?

Chapter 2. Newts, Snakes, and Co-Evolution (7:33)

Biological forces driving species' evolution

* Why is the rough-skinned newt so poisonous?

* Garter snakes' high resistance to toxicity and the evolutionary benefits and costs

* Predators evolving to defeat prey, and prey evolving to evade predators

Chapter 3. Microscopic Predators (3:02)

Infectious diseases and the invention of antibiotics

* Disease-causing microorganisms are modern humans' only predator

* The development of antibiotics in the early 20th century

* The mistaken belief that science had defeated infectious diseases

Chapter 4. The Tuberculosis Epidemic (13:57)

The rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Russia

* Overcrowded Russian prisons: ground zero for a new tuberculosis (TB) epidemic

* What is tuberculosis? How is it contracted?

* Two personal stories of TB: a prisoner and a young medical student

* The evolution of drug-resistant TB strains and scientists' efforts to fight back

* Are we prepared for an epidemic? Using DNA "fingerprints" to track the global spread of TB

Chapter 5. Domesticating Germs (5:24)

Understanding and harnessing the power of microbe evolution

* Can we drive microbes to evolve in ways that benefit us?

* The connection between a microbe's harmfulness and its transmission

* South America's cholera epidemic: an example of evolution in action

Chapter 6. Survival of the Wild Cats (6:52)

Studying resistance to Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and parallels to HIV

* Domestic cats suffer from FIV

* Virus-resistant mutations and why wild cats are safe from FIV

* Are there humans with HIV-resistant mutations? Resistance and the bubonic plague

Chapter 7. Symbiosis and Leafcutter Ants (10:11)

Cooperation as a driving factor in evolution

* Definition and examples of mutualistic symbiosis

* Symbiosis in the rainforest: leafcutter ants and their cultivated fungus

* Parallels between ant and human agriculture and pest management

* Microbes: the base of the world's complex ecosystems

Chapter 8. Good Germs (7:08)

Microbes helping, not harming, humans

* Are too-clean environments harming our immune systems?

* Humans evolved surrounded, and supported, by microbes

* Humans, the only species aware of evolution and its history

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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