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  • Evolution Game – North Star Games (2014)

    Evolution Game – North Star Games (2014)

    The concept of evolution is one of the central themes in Nature Documentaries. A review of games designed to teach evolution in Nature Magazine prompted a search for other endeavors. Among the three games reviewed Evolution was evaluated as by far the best. There has been quite a few attempts to introduce evolution in game format. One game called “Life as a Lizard” is adapted as a role play in classroom setting. Another game also explores major tenets of evolutionary […]

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  • Evolution Timeline (John Kyrk)

    Evolution Timeline (John Kyrk)

    [This video has no sound] Timelines are useful organizing tools to facilitate learning of highly detailed linked processes. The interactive timeline provides a gateway to understand one of the most progressive concepts in recent human history: Evolution. This screen capture video makes a quick introductory summary of cosmological, geological and biological evolution. Significant events since the very beginning of our universe are demonstrated in a chronological order. Evolutionary timeline by John Kyrk is a collaborative effort. Interactive website is constantly […]

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  • Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) – Biosphere 2

    Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) – Biosphere 2

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. -Samuel Beckett- Biosphere 2 started as quite an ambitious challenge. It crammed five biomes into 3 acres of sealed facility and tried to create a mesocosm experiment. It was a “ship-in-a-bottle” style miniaturization of ecosystems; a tiny little man-made Hawaii in the Arizona desert (Hawaii is the only place on our planet where all biomes of the world, excepting Arctic Tundra exist). Biomes of the Biosphere 2 were […]

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  • Coelacanth: The Fish That Time Forgot – PBS NOVA (2001)

    Coelacanth: The Fish That Time Forgot – PBS NOVA (2001)

    Coelacanth morphology and genome has been extremely informative in understanding tetrapod evolution. Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer was the curator of a natural history museum in East London. In 1938 a local fisher brought a curious fish specimen which was to become a major discovery in evolutionary biology. Latimer described the fish as Latimeria chalumnae. The fish was over 1 m long, bluish in color. Most interestingly it had fleshy fins that resembled the limbs of terrestrial vertebrates. The discovery was a hugely interesting […]

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  • The Cuckoo – Artur Homan (2013)

    The Cuckoo – Artur Homan (2013)

    In the James Bond movie Spectre there’s a reference to the cuckoo bird in two scenes. The evil villain Spectre leers: “I see you! Cuckoo!” when he detects Bond in the classic evil assembly room scene. In the other scene towards the end of the movie Spectre reveals why he considers Bond as a cuckoo. In order to understand the reference we must know the biology of the Common cuckoo bird (Cuculus canorus). The European common cuckoo is a well […]

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  • Secrets of the Hive – Why Puerto Rico’s Killer Bees Stopped Killing – Smithsonian Institution (2015)

    Secrets of the Hive – Why Puerto Rico’s Killer Bees Stopped Killing – Smithsonian Institution (2015)

    Secrets of the Hive is a Smithsonian Institution documentary directed by Dennis Wells. It focuses on the decline of the honeybees and reviews potential solutions to restore pollination service provided by these important domesticated insects. A major emphasis of the documentary is on the Africanized honeybees. These bees are a result of a failed experiment that started with good intentions in Brazil. Researchers in 1950s wanted to introduce the genetic vigor lost in honeybees due to domestication. Trials to selectively […]

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  • DNA transcription as the First Step of the Central Dogma of Biology | HHMI (2015)

    DNA transcription as the First Step of the Central Dogma of Biology | HHMI (2015)

    What reads the information stored in our genes? How is it read? DNA transcription is the first step. Transcription is an amazingly beautiful process that take place in every (every!) living cell. In this animation produced by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – HHMI you can see how a multi-part enzyme called RNA Polymerase II reads and re-writes the information stored in DNA into RNA. This is the first step of the Central Dogma of biology. RNA polymerase is a […]

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  • Planet Ant – Life Inside the Colony BBC (2012)

    Planet Ant – Life Inside the Colony BBC (2012)

    Self-organization skills of ants are impressive. How do they achieve such large-scale project management? Without central control individual behavior of each worker ant contributes to the collective emergent behavior. Once they discover a resource they are extremely efficient in utilizing it. We have a lot to learn from them. This documentary is quite unique in its approach. It documents an entire leafcutter ant colony (Atta cephalotes) re-organize itself from scratch in an artificial nest purposefully built to observe colony-scale behavior […]

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  • How Did Life Begin? – The Economist (2015)

    How Did Life Begin? – The Economist (2015)

    Does life exist outside of our planet? If so, are there intelligent life forms out there? How did life get started on our World? The Economist makes a quick tour of scientists who have been working on such questions. Frank Drake in his famous 1961 “Drake Equation” stated that the number of life-bearing planets must be a function of their host stars. How many planets have formed around those stars, what fraction of those planets are suitable for life, on […]

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  • What Caused the Cambrian Explosion? – The Economist (2015)

    What Caused the Cambrian Explosion? – The Economist (2015)

    It was a big curiosity for early geologists. For roughly 90% of the Earth’s history it appeared as if there was no life. After this long static period at about 542 million years from present life forms as we know of today began to appear bursting over a relatively short time (over 20 million years). Colloquially, this time period is called “Cambrian Explosion”. All of these life forms were of course aquatic: Annelids, arthropods, brachiopods, echinoderms, molluscs and ancestors of […]

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  • The Shape of Life: Sponges – PBS (2002)

    The Shape of Life: Sponges – PBS (2002)

    Evolutionarily, sponges are considered to be the oldest and most ancestral surviving species of the multicellular animal lineage going back to more than 750 million years ago. They are notorious filter feeders. Famous German zoologist Ernst Haeckel quite accurately illustrated many sponges as early as 1872. They have an extraordinary capacity to filter dissolved nutrients through a specialized group of cells called choanocyte. Encrusting sponge tissues are made of choanocytes forming canals that converge at the openings called oscula where […]

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  • Crippled Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) (2014)

    Crippled Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) (2014)

    Crippled Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor). Recorded on August 9th 2014, Georgia State Botanical Garden, Athens, GA, USA. The genus Tipularia has three species. Crippled cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) is the only species found in North America. The other two species are Asian found in the Himalayas and Japan. Tipularia discolor grows in organic humus-rich soils of closed canopy oak-pine forests in the Eastern United States. It is protected as Threatened, Endangered, or Rare in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania. […]

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  • How Chameleons Change Color? (2015)

    How Chameleons Change Color? (2015)

    Long projectile tongue, independently movable eyes and rapid color change. Chameleons are indeed very interesting animals (see the detailed account of Aristotle at the bottom of this post). Main video is a concatenation of all five supplementary materials associated with the a study demonstrating color change in Chameleons. You can view them individually below. The following video by The Economist makes a successful summary based on the same material: Reproductively mature chameleon males rapidly switch on bold threatening colors when […]

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  • The Origin of Birds – Dan Lewitt – HHMI (2015)

    The Origin of Birds – Dan Lewitt – HHMI (2015)

    The Great Transitions is a three part documentary covering evolutionary origins of land vertebrates tetrapods, birds and Humans. In this second installment of the series, paleontologist Julia Clarke tells how birds evolved from dinosaurs. When the first Archaeopteryx fossil was discovered in a quarry in Germany in the early 1860s it created a lot of excitement. The discovery came only a few years after the publication of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Since then dozens of Archeopteryx fossils […]

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  • Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 1: One Small Step For Man (2009)

    Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 1: One Small Step For Man (2009)

    Beagle: In Darwin’s Wake is a commemoration of 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s book “On The Origin of Species”. Almost 180 years after Charles Darwin’s journey circumnavigating the world, a crew of authors, artists, and scientists follow in his footsteps. Journalist and presenter Lex Runderkamp, biologists Dirk Draulans and Sarah Darwin (who is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin), the artist Anthony Smith and the writer Redmond O’Hanlon are accompanied by a number of invited guests whose backgrounds are […]

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