For preview only. Get it at


2008, Science  -   55 Comments
Ratings: 7.53/10 from 19 users.

It's a tough, violent, and lethal world out there, and it’s been that way since the dawn of time. Roughly 99 percent of all species have become extinct.

What enabled that other one percent to survive the cutthroat competition? Their ability to.... EVOLVE.

Through a stunning combination of dramatizations, computer animations, live action nature footage and lab work, discover the biological and behavioral innovations that have kept us all on this Earth!

1. Eyes - Seeing is believing … not to mention evading, eating and surviving! Learn how the eyeball evolved from ancestors of jellyfish who developed light-sensitive cells to the unique adaptations that allowed primates to better exploit their new habitat, while the ability to see colors helped them find food.

2. Sex - Sex is a necessity for most species to survive. As evolution continues, are we approaching a time when sex will no longer be a necessity? How is this possible?

3. Size - How do we measure up? Understand the amazing processes that gave us vertebrates smaller than a thumbnail (a Cuban frog) and longer than a diesel locomotive (a blue whale). But what are the mechanisms of these adaptations, the evolutionary pressures that effect size, and the physical limits life can attain?

4. Skin - Skin is absolutely amazing, far more complex and versatile than we ever give it credit for. It makes up 16% of your body weight, is the largest organ in the human body, allows birds to fly, mammals to nurse their young, and provides a lifelong defense against predators and parasites alike.

5. Flight - In this high-flying episode, unearth the secrets, and the continuing mysteries, of the very first vertebrate flyer, the pterosaur, which escaped its earthly bounds 220 million years ago. This creature eventually evolved into flying Goliaths the size of small planes!

6. Communications - Communication isn’t just the key to a good relationship; it also goes a long way toward ensuring the success of a species. While humans, comfortable at the top of the food chain, have made the most out of this particular evolutionary achievement, organisms everywhere - from dolphins to amoebae - can be found speaking to one another.

7. Guts - It doesn’t just take willpower to survive. It takes guts. Life needs energy to exist and almost all animals get their energy in the same way – with a built in power plant, a digestive system that turns food into fuel. Take a close look at the role guts have played in shaping some of Earth’s most successful animals: dinosaurs, snakes, cows, and us.

8. Venom - The deadliest natural weapon employed in the animal kingdom has independently evolved in creatures as diverse as jellyfish, insects, snakes, and even mammals. Scientists from around the globe show how evolution adapted venom to fit the needs of the animals who wield it.

9. Speed - The ability to react and move can often mean the difference between life and death in the animal kingdom. Some animals have evolved into championship fliers, swimmers, and runners. What are the forces that create this need for speed, and how do animal bodies adapt to go into overdrive?

10. Jaws - Get ready to pry open some of the deadliest jaws on the planet as we expose this fierce and ferocious anatomical weapon. Sharp, menacing and more than an eating apparatus, the jaws of many animals are key to their survival. Go back along the evolutionary line to discover how various jaws developed in the first place.

11. Shape - Every shape in nature, no matter how bizarre it may appear, evolved as a result of the struggle for survival. Today, animals are shaped in so many different ways and most of them have strange bodies, weird looking. But shape is still vital.

More great documentaries

55 Comments / User Reviews

  1. LoisAnneMT

    I found this documentary very interesting and informative until about the last 7 minutes or so when the anthropologist and biologist started spouting and supporting eugenics masking it as the elimination of disease and choosing what traits your child would best suit you with. The claim that we would have a great diversity in our offspring doesn't cut it. We already have diversity and natural selection eliminates those who won't survive naturally (without medical intervention).

  2. mbenmusa1

    All are affected by the Globe changes. Lots can tolerate and go through, others even couldn’t be exist in there. Evolution has no limits and never give up through the recently events and all over the history of life.

  3. Tricia Petersen

    This is an excellent series.

    1. mbenmusa1

      Right, I love watching it.

  4. Hilary Groom

    there is no final result in evolution the environment is not a chosed system (duh huh)

  5. Aaron

    Do you think we can just take out a microscope and look at the human genome? Its incredibly complex and we still have very little understanding as to what most of it does. Even if there were thousands of mutations in a single gene, chances are we would be oblivious to it until we have a better understanding of the genome and a better way to explore it.
    Also, are you saying that these mutations occur in other animals, just not humans? Thats kind of what I gathered from your argument, because obviously things like antibiotic resistant bacteria are a case of a mutating genome.

  6. realscience

    i dispute the theory of natural selection, only through strife can a species evolve, strife caused by geomagnetic reversals the inevitable ice age theirafter. comet strikes. super volcanoes.
    for 11500 years the human genome has not changed not 1 tiny little fraction. this is the length of time between magnetic reversals, surely in a species only 200 thousand years old such as humans we would see some changes within 1/20th of that time if the theory of natural selection were true, should we see even small changes?, you could take a man from ten thousand years ago dress him and educate him and you would not be able to tell the difference. Lets say the average human life spam is 40 years old as before this century and the last it was infact much less, how many generations of humans is that? and shouldnt we see some slight change some small speck of natural selection. yes it is but a blink of an eye 200 thousand years but consider the complexity of the human machine. in 1/20th of our existence we should see clear concise evidence of a change in the human genome, and yet we see nothing, nothing untill we look before the last magnetic reversal. surely a logical mind could take these 2 facts and come up with a conclusion more or less similar to mine?

    Anyway i thank you for your conversation it has being interesting.

    1. Jack1952

      The genome changes from one generation to the next. That is how we can identify single individuals when we analyze DNA. The aborigine people of Australia have been isolated for 30,000 years. This is still not long enough for them to develop into a new species. Yet, when examining their DNA it can be determined that they are in fact Australian natives. Their DNA is different than that of other people of earth. Given enough time ( hundreds of thousands of years) they may have developed into a new species of humans. That is how evolution works. After a cataclysm, an obscure species that has survived can suddenly multiply quickly due to a decrease in competition. The cataclysm did not cause the emergence of the new species but contributed to the sudden success in its numbers. That would cause the sudden appearance of what seems to be a new species.

    2. Vlatko


      You say: "Their DNA is different than that of other people of earth."

      I'm not sure what you mean but DNA analysis has confirmed that the Australian Aborigines descend from the same lineage as the first modern humans to migrate from Africa.

    3. Guest

      All people today share a relatively modern DNA African ancestry from "Homo Erectus" in Africa 1.8 million years ago, then branched out to archaic humans primarily in East Africa 200,000-150,000 years ago. The final result, us!

    4. Jack1952

      @ Vlatko
      Yes, their DNA shows they are descended from the same lineage as the first humans that migrated out of Africa. It also shows that upon reaching Australia that they have been isolated for thousands of years. This isolation allowed for a unique genetic marker identifying them as Australian natives. The same thing happened to the pre-columbian natives of the Americas. That is the difference in the DNA that I referred to.

    5. Jack1952

      @ Achems Razor
      Like you say, we are the result. However, we may not be the final result.

  7. realscience

    the fossil record does not show progressive evolution. it shows leaps. the natural selection theory would show a plethora of fossils at different stages of evolution. instead it shows 1 type of creature being superceeded by another. it doesnt show a gradual change, it shows and instant and some times extreeme change. however related to the old creature the new one may be, it is still fundamentally far too diferent to have being caused by any natural selection as the changes are sudden, some times these coexist but in most cases they supercede the old creatures. Its my belief that evolutionary leaps are caused by magnetic reversals the weaking of the field and the FACTUAL radiation mutation that occurs. this is real science, proven by the fossil records and the icecore samples over and over. You may call it a theory but it is a theory based upon actual measurements, where are the measurements that show natural selection?
    The human genome has not changed in any way shape or form for the last 11500 years. 11500 years ago we had a magnetic reversal. surely in 11500 years of human genetic history we would be able to prove some natural selection? after all humans have only been around 200000 years, so 11500 years is a pretty big chunk in terms of the natural selection Theory wouldnt you say?

  8. over the edge

    how is natural selection disproven by the fossil record?

    1. a_no_n

      Through the magic of misinterpretation.

  9. realscience

    peer reviewed is meaningless, look at the "global warming" issue. how many peer reviews on that meaningless doctured data?
    all we need to do as human beings with a rational thought process is review the available data that hasn't being tampered with or bent within certain models. and realise a theory isnt truth. and their can and will be other alternatives. natural selection is disproven by the fossil record you told me to
    "go to a museum and see some of the extensive fossil evidence first hand"

    1. a_no_n

      "How many peer reviews"

      I googled it and got over a million results...pick one.

      97% of scientists agree on global warming, the only ones who don't tend to be either cranks or on the koch brothers payroll.

  10. over the edge

    you still haven't given peer reviewed evidence evolution through natural selection is a myth i will not answer any more of your questions till you answer mine

  11. realscience

    As previously stated The sites aforementioned are lists of articles from different scientists around the world all posted under the same URL, inconsistences are and will always be part of the results from different experiments using different tool sets in different area's.

    Evolution is a Fact but not through natural selection, its through mutation, caused by radiation. What kind of natural selective process decided that a black man should have denser bones than a white man and theirfore cannot float? surely that would be a mutation, for what process can you think of would decide, hold on a minute these bones are far too heavy! surely lets select those with the lightest bones and have them breed?

    fossils? really?

    Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) Gould noted, “Gradualism is not a fact of nature. Most new species appear with a bang, not a protracted crescendo.” Fossil records demonstrate that a species remains unchanged for millions of years before abruptly disappearing, “only to be replaced just as rapidly with a species that is, though clearly related, substantially different. Nature does take leaps."

    1. a_no_n

      That's dumb.

      You're saying that evidence disproving your claims is evidence that your claims are correct. It's a circular argument.

      "Black men can't float because of bone density." that's bullsh/t.
      This piece of racist fantasy spawns from the fact that for the longest time black people weren't actually allowed to swim, and were not allowed to swim competitively either.

      so let's see, global warming denialist, evolution denier, and a racist to boot...let me guess, you think vaccinations are a scam and aliens walk among us too right?

  12. over the edge

    @ realscience
    your claim was "evolution through natural selection is a myth" no mention of darwins theory even tho it has stood up to all challenges for over 150 are confusing evolution (the fact) with darwins theory of evolution (the theory) if you want some facts of evolution look at the human body (tailbone, wisdom teeth ,appendix all remnants of evolution)or for observed evolution see the e-coli evolution experiment or go to a museum and see some of the extensive fossil evidence first hand. now i will agree with pole reversals and ice ages occurring near mass extinctions but the site you sent me to doesn't show these pole shifts occurring at 1140 year intervals like the first site you posted. don't you see the sites contradict each other on important issues . finally yes 40km equals approx 60mi but the site states 40km and 60km in two successive articles and that shows to me that the claims aren't consistent and any scientist with a 150% variation would wait for consistent data before claiming a result

  13. over the edge

    evolution is a scientific fact. and for you to claim it is a myth i would expect you to provide some facts to back that up.magnetic reversals are not fixed and i cannot find a scientific study that states that they are anything but random. if i am wrong please point me to a scientific peer reviewed study stating the opposite? established science doesn't deny the movement as you claim but the scientific evidence says it is moving 40km per year (don't feel bad you are only off by 150%). even the site you point out says the same as me. now he claims 40km in one story (4th link down) and 40miles in another(3rd link down). so the site you point out contradicts itself.

  14. debs

    ive kept a bum poo i made five years ago in a jar.. im hoping one day it will transmute into something more advanced.

  15. tupes

    @ Ashish

    You're right that the peahen who wasn't picky might have more offspring in the short term, but the idea is that the male's feathers are an indication of his genetic quality (see QueenBee above), and so the peahen who was picky and waited for the "better" or "fitter" male would have higher quality offspring, which would ultimately have a better chance of surviving and passing on THEIR genes. In other words, the picky peahen would have more "grandkids" and further descendants than the non-picky peahen, and from an evolutionary standpoint that's all that matters. This female emphasis on quality and the male emphasis on quantity can be seen throughout the animal kingdom, and the reason this difference exists is because of the difference in the reproductive role between the sexes. Females only have a relatively small number of eggs and invest a lot of time and energy going through pregnancy and protecting/providing for their young. If a female spends years raising and feeding an offspring that then dies without having offspring of its own, this is a big blow to the female's chances of having descendants. Males, on the other hand, could have produced millions of sperm and had many offspring in that time, so it's not necessarily a huge loss to him. So what evolves is a situation where the males compete for the choosy females. Can anybody think of another species that somewhat follows this trend? (Hint: go to a bar to observe this species' "mating behavior")

  16. QueenBee

    @Ashish: peahens select mates with the most beautiful feathers because it shows that in spite of their handicap they're is still around to reproduce and didn't get dragged out of the air by a hunting kitty (or whatever). And the more symmetrical they are, the better. Symmetry suggests good genes with a minimum of negative mutations. This type of selection is pretty standard across all species. Selection bias isn't nearly as useless as it sounds.

  17. Vlatko

    The documentary is available now.

  18. Ashish

    One thing about evolution does bother me a little. Why would any species develop selection bias. by that i mean why would a peahen look for a peacock with the most beautiful feathers? Surely the individuals who were less fussy are more likely to have more offspring. It appears to me that these characteristics would only come about if life got a bit easy for peacocks and hens.

    Anyway I'd like to hear your thoughts.

    1. Jack1952

      Beautiful feathers can indicate good health and strength. This translates into an excellent mate.

    2. mark

      more likely is that the more flamboyant and flashy the offspring , the more attractive they are to predators therefore the dull and inconspicuous offspring would have a better survival rate.

    3. Jack1952

      It would have developed other strategies to help it survive. It is obvious the flashy feathers have not been detrimental to a species survival (peacock, parrots, canaries). If it was they would have disappeared long ago. All birds would be dull coloured. As a matter of fact, the cardinal has increased in numbers in my area.

      There are many factors in specie survival. Each factor is specie specific and depends on other influences that work together to decide whether an evolutionary strategy is a viable one for that specie. Blanket statements over simplify the process.

    4. mark

      excellent point.

  19. Riley

    they say god cares when a little bird drops from the sky.

    if that's so, he REALLY cares when a pack of wolves bring down a caribou, because that's a lot more entertaining.

  20. john

    sorry people but god died on Thursday 24 November 1859 when the origin of species was published. i guess the religous folk are still hoping for his resurection.

  21. Ashish

    Eagles are HD ready already.

  22. Ashish

    Evolution blows my mind far more than any concept of God.

    1. mark

      way more. i agree. but if you get on the critical thinking bandwagon and subscribe to the pointy headed douchebag control grid it starts to make sense. just remember that something from nothing will always trump other dimensions and unexplained phenomena and you will be sure to get the ivy league reach around.

  23. FoxyMethoxy

    it's interesting how he talks about men preferring women with low body mass index. idk if this is cultural or not but I've never really understood it. I just don't really dig skinny chicks. like a little something to grab onto I guess he he he.

  24. FoxyMethoxy

    "Great Series, well researched and put together. My only unease is the use of the word “Random” , when refering to adaptations."

    well, you're right in that adaptations cannot be random at all. if they were then they couldn't really be thought of as adaptations. the genetic mutations were indeed random. but the mechanisms by which darwin proposed evolutions takes place, namely natural and sexual selection are anything but random.

  25. Epicurus

    lol @DR, what makes you think someone who spends maybe an hour (MAYBE) on comments and a couple on documentaries doesnt get out and be counted? how did you extrapolate that?

  26. Dr. Homunculus

    @ HaTe_MaChIne.... a) your name sums you up b) you should work as a critic in the entertainment world since we all just watched some well crafted entertainment c/o Darwin and you took minutes off your life clock to express your feelings and vocabulary here in this forum. c) think big, get out there, leave this forum and virtual world behind, stand and be counted !

  27. Epicurus

    lol Hate_Machine's satire is just as great as when he is serious.

    love it. now go make a youtube page so i can subscribe.

  28. Tina

    Good stuff!!

  29. HaTe_MaChInE

    siteing = citing...

  30. HaTe_MaChInE

    @Aristotle - Then we have no disagreement…

    I am glad we have satisfied each others requirements for intellectual compatibility. We can now start agreeing with each others unqualified circumlocutory babble. I will start referring to you as "very knowledgeable" and take great offence when someone disagrees with our self (or group in this matter) sustaining delusion. I look forward to siteing useless info on your behalf.

  31. Aristotle

    You believe in other possibilities. Then we have no disagreement...

  32. HaTe_MaChInE

    @Aristotle - You forgot “The Flying Spaghetti Monster”

    FSM is nonsense... I know this because it does not fit within my definition of what is plausible. Since I have no problem acknowledging the factuality of among other things "bad luck", ghosts, alien abduction, spirits in matter that i like to call "consciousness", and that if dogs had lips they would be able to hold a conversation with me.

    I have no problem believing that a man could rise from the dead especially is he had the help of god, or that god could help a man turn water into wine. That is why there is alot of evidence confirming that god created an intelligent designer.

  33. Aristotle

    You forgot “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” and Mengele’s notes from Francis Galton’s writings. Seriously Galton’s writings give some credence to attempting Intelligent Design as do the rambilings.

  34. HaTe_MaChInE

    @Aristotle - What’s the Twilight series??

    Learn to use google... or are you trying to make it seem like you havent read the books false showing ignorance?

  35. HaTe_MaChInE

    Oh yeah I forgot to mention that since billions of species are now extinct we can conclude that an intelligent designer was in fact practicing for some 3.999 billions years just so at the last moment he (obviously a male since men are the ones who work) could get it right and make Adam. I found this theory to be true because my aunt Wanda told me about it. She is a fourth grade english teacher and goes to church ALOT. Thats another educated person that supports the Zeus + Ape = Man theory. I would assume that since me, my aunt, mom and dad all believe in aunt Wandas theory; that the theory has to be correct. They also say that if you disagree with us you are either a different (inferior) race or are a hippy form those ivy league hippy factories like MIT. And you know what they? have been right. The only people I see that are against aunt Wandas theory are "those college people".

  36. Aristotle

    What's the Twilight series??

  37. HaTe_MaChInE

    There are a few problems with evolution through natural selection:

    1: It leaves no room for the fathers of zombie jews. Since Im more special then other animals I need to be created by something special like the zombie jews dad... Or maybe Zeus had sex with primates. That should explain why there is a almost nonexistent gap between man and apes.

    B: It has the backing of all academia. Since all they can do is design H-bombs, Rovers on Mars, Microchips, Heart surgery... They are completely ill equipped to understand the millions of pieces of fossil evidence. Since I saw some fossils on TV I have the right to reject them as evidence.

    last: There is no evidence to prove it wrong. I mean really... If you just open your mind to things besides logic and fact and rewrite the definition of science you will understand that "You dont know everything". Therefor, my Zeus humping apes theory is in fact just as good as sciences' 200 years of skeptical research.

    I knew a guy that saw a dude on TV in a lab coat claim that theories can be wrong... If it can be wrong there is no reason for me to have to prove my theory correct. We can just assume that theories I like are just as good as those that are understood by profession scientists. I do have a 4 year degree in business so I know what I'm talking about.

    Oh and by the way... exactly when did single cell organisms start displaying love... Unless you can prove that Love evolved for bacteria I say this entire line of research including geology is in fact based on nonsense. Your inability to convince me of one point proves that you are either not concerned with the fact that I don't live in reality or that you concede that my 1 point negates all of yours.

    I just pray that you see the light like I do. It makes me nervous when I find people that dont support the random theory that makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. If everyone in that one video I found agreed with me, surly Im right and everyone else really just doesn't understand.

    But Im not going to force you to understand what I think is right because you are the one that is sadder than me. I know you are sad because my therapist says that only sad people prey on weak people like me. Also since I really havent done any research in natural selection I have to just assume that any argument you have is also based on a lack of research. I mean who really actually reads books like the bible or On the Origin of Species. I have been busy reading the entire Twilight series and Im planning on re-reading Harry Potter too. Im just glad Fox News makes it easy for me to regurgitate talking points. If I had to do it myself the sad people would really start picking on me.

  38. Aristotle

    They have they left one huge gaping hole? Primitive single celled organisms reproduce through cell division.

    Is there a primitive single celled organism that used sexual reproduction? The example of a Coral uses a primitive example of insemination still used today by higher order organisms. Are there still organisms that use spontaneous self reproduction and the insemination process, worms??

    When the first coral or other creature developed the need of a sperm and egg to reproduce finding a mate had to be difficult. There is the possibility of self insemination leading to cross insemination.

    What developed first the sperm or the egg? The first to use this system had to be androgynous producing both. Was it the need of a protein to trigger cell division? If so, is there any evidence in the fossil record of just such a creature commingled with its predecessor?

    Statistically there would have to have been both in the same colony in mass numbers for the successful survival of such a process. When was the first cross or self insemination found in nature? What was the evolutionary pressure for such a process?

    The leap from reproduction by simple cell division and/or self regeneration to insemination is huge and precarious. There had to have been many examples found side by side or is it just for us to mentally make the leap.

    Is there a video that explains this evolutionary process?

  39. non serviam

    And what exactly is wrong with an unconscious picture of evolution?

  40. SeekingMind

    Great Series, well researched and put together. My only unease is the use of the word "Random" , when refering to adaptations. I think that we can be ambiguous when it comes to unproven threory's. By implying randomness this doc definitely falls on the side of non- conscious Darwinism. Darwin's theory has it's place but it's not the end all.