EVOLUTION (2001) PBS NOVA

Evolution, Show 5: Why Sex?

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Show 5: Why Sex?



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.



Chapter 1. Prologue (2:40)

Introduction to the show's theme: sex and genes, driving behavior and driving evolution

* All living beings are programmed to transmit their genes to the next generation

* From an evolutionary perspective, sex is more important than life



Chapter 2. Lesbian Lizards (5:04)

Asexual reproduction and questioning the importance of males

* A female-only lizard species gives birth without having had sex; each egg has a complete set of her mother's genes

* If a female-only species can thrive, are males necessary?

* The biological imperative to pass on genes



Chapter 3. The Advantage of Sex (9:46)

Exploring the evolutionary advantages to sexual reproduction

* Studying asexual and sexual reproduction in Sonoran minnows to demonstrate the value of males

* The Red Queen theory: when a species stops evolving, it is doomed

* The evolutionary advantages of genetic variability among offspring

* Speculating on the origins of sex

* Descriptions of sperm and eggs: quantity versus quality

* At a deep biological level, males and females want different things



Chapter 4. The Peacock's Tail (8:28)

Male ornamentation and the theory of sexual selection

* Darwin's theory of natural selection explained traits that improved species' survival, but not extravagances like the peacock's tail

* Why are ornaments typically seen on males?

* Ornaments as an indication of good genes

* Male competition and female choice, as seen in peacock mate selection

* In some species, females choose good behavioral traits or good genes



Chapter 5. Songbirds and Monogamy (5:36)

Shared parenting and its evolutionary implications

* Monogamy as a social solution to a biological dilemma

* Female songbirds cheating on mates to give offspring better genes

* Jacana birds and the reversal of male-female roles

* Gender roles determined by who competes for mates and who cares for young



Chapter 6. Chimpanzees and Bonobos (8:13)

Social differences between two closely related species

* Chimpanzee society is patriarchal and violent

* Bonobo society is peaceful, due to female solidarity

* Exploring how a change in feeding ecology influenced chimpanzee and bonobo differences

* Implications for early humans, and humans today



Chapter 7. Sex and Human Behavior (16:44)

Exploring how modern human behavior springs from our evolutionary past

* Evolutionary psychologists' provocative theories about humans and our drive to reproduce

* Research into human scent and genetic compatibility

* Mate selection and the evolutionary roots of attractiveness

* Did brains evolve, in part, to attract mates?

* Humans have gone beyond the biological urge, and will raise children that do not share our genes

Documentary Description


EVOLUTION (2001)



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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