Origins of Us

2011 ,    » 137 Comments

Origins of UsDr Alice Roberts reveals how your body tells the story of human evolution. The way you look, think and behave is a product of a 6 million year struggle for survival.

We have uncovered the secrets of the atom and traveled to the moon. But how did humans come to be so successful? This series explores the anatomical changes that have given us, and our ancestors, the edge.

Everything from the way that we walk, to the shape of our jaw and even the way our thumbs move connects us intimately to the struggles and triumphs of our ancestors.

Yet many of those changes have come at a surprising cost and the problems we face now are a direct consequence of our evolutionary journey.

As much about our bodies today as about our bodies 6 million years ago, Origins of Us will change the way you see yourself.

Bones. In the first episode, Dr Alice Roberts looks at how our skeleton reveals our incredible evolutionary journey.

Guts. In this second episode Dr Alice Roberts charts how our ancestors’ hunt for food has driven the way we look and behave today – from the shape of our face, to the way we see and even the way we attract the opposite sex.

Brains. In the final episode Dr Alice Roberts explores how our species, homo sapiens, developed our large brain; and asks why we are the only one of our kind left on the planet today?

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 3 hours)

Ratings: 8.31/10 from 59 users.

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137 Comments / User Reviews

  1. RickRayFSM

    Well done ! Without all the scientific jargon. I believe this doc would be a very good teaching tool for elementary and high school students. The ordinary, common, layman who still has doubts about evolution could use this to perhaps spark their inquisitiveness about our origins on earth.

  2. Charles Alderson

    Watching this made me want to marry this woman. I don't even know why.

  3. Matt Kukowski

    Brilliant, Amazing, Clear, Rational... a must see.

  4. drinker69

    This is utter nonsense. The baby Jesus made us and the wise men showed us how to live refined by introducing the first humanoids in the manger to gold, frankincense and murr. Then they swaddled us in sheep wool to show us how to be warm and showed us how to build fires so we could party at night and stay warm. Baby Jesus made the wine for the party and had fish and bread snacks for the hungry drinkers, usually eaten at 2am when the wine was finished. The birth of tradition and humans in a nutshell. Thank you wise men and baby Jesus. You are far greater than Nicola Tesla, Marconi, Edison, Newton and the guy who invented the hair dryer.

  5. Lary9

    "Origins Of Us" is exceptionally good instruction in physical anthropology----so good in fact, that I'm tempted to describe it as both infectiously personable and charmingly edifying. Dr. Alice Roberts, a peripatetic presenter in baggy workday khakis, is so perfectly evolved herself that half the time during this three hour documentary, in addition to the stimulating anthropology, I was thinking about breeding with Dr. Alice. This has never happened to me even once with Prof. Richard Dawkins and it brings a surprising, new dimension to my journey through the fascinating world of biological evolution.

  6. Janet Taylor

    I'm assuming you’re being facetious, at least I hope so. But is it really necessary? No religious nuts have vomited any spiritual nonsense just yet. Why don’t we save the rhetoric for when they arrive.

  7. thenesteamonster

    regarding attenborough's docs: i just realized that old people are not ment to be seen, but to be read, at most to be heard! this doc's narrator/ producer is something else hehe, maybe one of atteborough's interns

  8. drinker69

    I don't know what 'facetious' means JT but i'm assuming it means baby Hay zeus is the best.

  9. His Forever

    "Facetious" is a mild form of sarcasm. JT was being polite; I'd just call you an ars, wholly.

  10. Sieben Stern

    i LOVE that word! XD

  11. Bruno Maiorana

    brilliant, insightful, must watch!

  12. Sieben Stern

    Loved the docu!

    The only thing was at the end when she was talking about childbirth - it's so hard on western women now because in a hospital they make you sit or put you in stirrups, which in a unnatural position.

  13. dewflirt

    Don't know where you are and how it is there but here in the uk you can please yourself. Don't know anyone that has been asked to use stirrups, or even stay on the bed - unless there are complications.

  14. Mad

    It was amazing, she was amazing host too btw

  15. Bob Webb

    She is a stooge giving the flawed Darwinian theory of evolution to the masses when there is so much evidence that Darwinism is NOT the truth by far.
    I sent a question to her about the star child skull but she also failed to address that issue at do ALL experts.
    Larger brained being are well documented throughout history also but the mummies and skeletons found have ALL DISAPPEARED from where they were.......all Human history we are taught as fact is FALSE and people like Dr Roberts are part of this continuation of misleading the public to FACTS of the habitation of this planet.
    Personable, as Dr Alice Roberts comes across as she fails on so many occasions to address so many of the issues of our biology such as the reptilian area of the brain and the major one for me is:If we are evolved from apes, [remembering that evolution is for the purpose of a species survival]. then why are apes still around in the same form as we are led to believe that we came from.
    It does not make sense and NONE of the SO CALLED experts EVER address this MAJOR issue.

  16. over the edge

    @Bob Webb
    "then why are apes still around in the same form as we are led to believe that we came from.
    It does not make sense and NONE of the SO CALLED experts EVER address this MAJOR issue. " can you point me to where evolution states that? thanks

  17. ThePhilhw

    Sorry, but total nonsense.
    Read a bit of Dawkins and apply an open mind.
    If you don't like Dawkins, try Darwin.
    You will be more than biblically amazed by the results, and power, of evolution and natural selection.
    The two go hand in hand.

    Forgot, exactly where and what is the evidence that refutes Darwin and principles of evolution ???

    I challenge you to show it.

    If you don't believe in either, I suggest you look at the history and development of that household pet, the dog.
    ( maybe my Labradors will, in a few million years, inherit the world and possibly do a better job than us humans)
    Or how various viruses develop resistance to medicines.

  18. dewflirt

    The star child skull is human.

  19. Ariel Hemat-Siraky

    @Bob Webb
    I'm with over the edge. Your argument is a straw man. No one is "led to believe" that the apes still around now are in the same form they were at the time when our common ancestor with them lived. Not a single scientist suggests this; YOU are the one suggesting it and then claiming it to be a "MAJOR issue"
    Such a text book example of a straw man

  20. modaud

    The reason why you are asking that question is because you are an ignorant without common sense.. Aparently you did not go to school..You must study every aspect and the full theory to be able to understand ,By the time I was 10 years old I started to notice that the world and consecuently the universe do not work with magic as in a magical God from a fairy tell.The Universe works with it's natural laws and evolution of humans is nothing but a part of the evolution of the universe--- go back to an University if you only have a high school only and then come back and discuss theories here with intelligent people

  21. over the edge

    the first part of my post was a quote from another person.someone else made that statement all i did was ask them to back it up.

  22. KooKookaChoo

    With regards to having a "reptilian area of the brain" please look up lungfish and how this species is important to our understanding of how life evolved out of the water onto land (all terrestrial life came from the oceans, we are actually evolved from fish!)
    Also, there is a very simple explanation for your "major" issue: a group of apes was separated through time and space from the original group and eventually (like hundreds of thousands of years) these two groups became different species. Bam! one goes on to become human and one could "stay" (relatively of course) similar to the original group from whence we came. Easy breezy... and supported by the fossil record. So what was the problem?

  23. modaud

    Go to school and study the whole trheory and then come back and discuss the issue with the intelligent people here

  24. modaud

    Think -------I hope you have a brain ----If Adam and Eve were black as from people in the Republic of Congo in Central Africa ----Then how come your skin is white ---Or ask the question in vise versa . If Adam and Eve were white like you ???????? Can you answer me with your stupid common sense ?????????

  25. Maiju Kirppu

    dear over the edge, "then why are apes still around in the same form as we are led to believe that we came from", the answer is very simple.
    we did not come from the apes of today, we just share a family tree with them. we had a common ancestor ages ago and then we humans developed on our own way and the apes theirs. that's what it says on the video too, btw. it's just like all the felines: we have a domestic cat, a lion and a tiger etc. they share a common ancestor and then they developed on their own ways.

  26. over the edge

    @Maiju Kirppu
    you are the second to try to answer a question i did not ask. i guess it is my fault i will be more clear in the future. all i was asking was for the person who made the statement to provide what he/she considers proof of that statement. i have studied evolution extensively and i agree with you , but i asked for his/her proof because i am tired of educating these ignorant (usually religious) people and decided to get them to either justify their statement or realize they are wrong on their own

  27. magarac

    And to think that all of this progress happened in just 6500 years. Amazing!

  28. dewflirt

    6500 years and 7 days :)

  29. modaud

    I can only laugh at your ignorance and stupidity ...Go back to school ,There are others like you ,I know !!! but they are the least .Most people that I have met in life are intelligent

  30. Chad Aaron Leach

    Sry but your comment made me lol, where you being serious or just trolling?

  31. Sieben Stern

    I'm in the US - I saw a brit docu about the easiest way to give birth was standing/ squatting in warm water? gravity helps you, the position is better, the woman was calm, and ploop, no crying screaming, anything, just out came the baby. it was crazy!

  32. dewflirt

    Back in the middle ages and until the early C20 they used to use birthing chairs. They had horseshoe shaped seats and were low to the ground so the woman would be in a comfortable squatting position. I'm told they are making a bit of a comeback. Water births are very common, even for home births :)

  33. Sieben Stern

    i've seen those! i wonder why it changed to the bed/stirrups? From what I've seen/read about that might actually make it more dangerous and difficult...

  34. KooKookaChoo

    there is a story that king Louis XVI wanted to watch the birth of his son and so the queen (Marie Antoinette) was made to deliver on her back. I have no idea how true this is, it seems rather far fetched -- I mean, so the queen did it once in France and now it's the norm? The other reasons might have to do with tearing and epidurals. Water births are supposed to be the most calming for the baby and helps the mother with pain and discomfort (well, a little anyway!) -- I think if you have an option, water births are the best.

  35. KooKookaChoo

    ahh, you have so much more patience than I do! I can only handle to give basic overviews of concepts like evolution to people who are so obviously denying themselves knowledge. Well done!

  36. John Jacquard

    "I think the mind is a product of the brain" now if it takes 1/3 of the brain's processing power just to process vision and make sense of it, then factor in the rest of the senses, now add the rest of the body processes how much are you theoretically left with for the "mind"?

  37. robertallen1

    You have been fortunate.

  38. robertallen1

    I've noticed that you haven't responded to the intelligent and informed answers you have received. Is it because you're ashamed of yourself as you should be.

  39. Sieben Stern

    I've never heard that before XD but for some reason I can kind of see it - stuff trickled down from court, like fashion, and technology, it might be part of the story.

    I know these days they do it so the doctors have better access, though if birth were less difficult, would they even be required for any but the worse situations?

    If i hadn't seen the home birth docu i would never have believed that was safe! whoda thought!

  40. Charles Horatio Merriweather

    Oh, for heaven's sake, woman! That is not how you pronounce "food"! It should be mandatory for BBC presenters to recieve regular phonetic therapy.

  41. Earthwinger

    Personally, I think that Dr Alice has a lovely Bristolian accent.

    I have some issues with the BBC myself, but when it comes to documentaries, I think their approach is absolutely right. They tend to concern themselves with finding presenters that have the right credentials and genuine passion for the subject matter, and they worry less about regional accents.

    The British Isles has a myriad of colourful accents, and they're nothing to be ashamed of. If her accent bothers you *that* much, and it seems that it does, then no one's forcing you to watch it. ;)

    I think this is an excellent series, and Dr Alice, a wonderful presenter.

    10 out of 10 :)

  42. Karen Rose

    what a lot of tosh

  43. robertallen1

    Is this the sum total of your intelligence and knowledge?

  44. Epicurus

    lol name ONE part that would be "tosh"...could you try to do that?

  45. Epicurus

    dont worry man. just look at her other

  46. Guest

    Just finished watching the first part, it is very interesting and well done.
    Someone made a comment about the accent of the woman, i think she sounds a bit melodic like Brian Cox and she is young, cute and passionate, great host.
    I will be watching the rest for sure.

  47. Guest

    At near 5minutes, part 2, she says..."30 million years ago there were no humans, no apes but there were monkeys". Did i hear that right?

  48. robertallen1

    Yes, you did. She also seems to make a distinction between monkeys and apes which I never thought existed. In other words, as I understand it, monkeys are in the ape family. Some enlightenment would be in order.

  49. over the edge

    i will try to explain what i think she meant. i apologize in advance if i seem confusing haven't tried to explain this in a while. the "great apes" or hominids are one of the two subdivisions of higher primates (hominids roughly meaning tailless primates) while monkeys belong to the second subdivision monkeys (further broken down to old and new world monkeys) and almost always have tails. the problem arises because of multiple uses of the word ape by science and also the slang or misuse (technically) by the rest of us. wow i think i confused myself lol

  50. robertallen1

    Thank you.

    I understand what you mean by common or "incorrect" versus scientific use, e.g. parokeet, bison, parrot, raven and for the creationists, theory.

    But are there tailness monkeys just as there are legless lizards?

    At one point, she stated that monkeys came before apes. Does this mean that apes are simply a diverging branch of monkeys which at some point in time lost their tails?

  51. over the edge

    your welcome
    "But are there tailness monkeys just as there are legless lizards?"
    yes there are "Barbary macaque" ( i had to look that up lol) is one example.
    "Does this mean that apes are simply a diverging branch of monkeys" no " go to timeline of human evolution"(wikki) and read the chart you will see apes listed five times ( six if you count "great apes")starting with "Haplorrhini" and by default five different starting points (impossible i know) the confusion again is the multiple meaning of words but if you mean are we descended from the monkeys we see in the zoo then no

  52. robertallen1

    I realize that in no way are we descended from the current monkeys, but rather from some extinct ancestor. My point is that the narrator stated that monkeys preceded apes which makes sense, for it is conceivable that as monkeys became more terrestrial and less arboreal, a new series of tailess species arose. However, if I understand you correctly, the evolutionary tree seems to zig zag.

  53. over the edge

    the last part of my post was to save a future argument with a possible creationist reading my post. i realize that you already know we didn't come from monkeys.

  54. over the edge

    darn you got the reply in before i corrected myself.
    "if I understand you correctly, the evolutionary tree seems to zig zag" no i am sorry i am a bad teacher (i realize it is me not you) just that the emergence of apes can be at different times depending on what is meant by "apes" that is why i wish science would always use the technical or proper names/words at all times (i would have to pause often to look up meaning lol). but when she said apes i am pretty sure she meant "great apes " or "hominids" at that point she would be correct. please see "timeline of human evolution" wikki to see how confusing this is lol

  55. robertallen1

    As you point out, the confusion comes with the scientific versus the colloquial. But as this documentary is obviously geared to a lay audience (of which I'm a member), I think she should have clarified her statement (but again this is playing Monday morning quarterback).

  56. dewflirt

    Is monday morning quarterback, like sunday league football, amateur ? I like that.

  57. KooKookaChoo

    I don't know if this helps (it's been a while, but I have my study notes -- I'm a geek, I know):

    primates diverge at the strepsirrhini (wet, curled nosed = lemurs, tarsiers and loris) and the haplorrhini (dry nosed primates) suborder

    haplorrhini then diverges into platyrrhini (flat-nosed, new world monkeys) and catarrhini (downward-nosed, old world monkeys and the Hominoidae)

    Hominoidae is made up of the "higher primates" including gibbons, which the great apes are thought to have a common ancestor with. This group can be referred to as Hominoids

    the great apes are Hominidae and include: orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans. This group is called Hominids.

    Humans are more closely related to the more gracile bonobo than to chimpanzees but this is a relatively recent classification and may not be represented in most material on the subject.

    there, regurgitation of Physical Anthropology 101 successful! now the question is: did any of that make sense? lol


  58. robertallen1

    The information is much appreciated; however, perhaps I should state my inquiry more clearly.

    As I understand it, flighted birds evolved from flightless ones, i.e., the relatives of the emu go back further than those of the macaw. In other words flighted birds took on an attribute lacking in their flightless ancestors. Now, in the documentary Dr. Roberts states that monkeys were the ancestors of apes. If the difference between a monkey and an ape is in essence the tail, this means that while the flighted birds gained something through evolution, the apes lost something through the same process. Therefore, I was wondering how accurate Dr. Roberts' statement is. This might seem a trivial point, but I'm curious.

    You mention lemurs, but from what I read, they are not really monkeys although distantly related as are all living things. About how long ago did they diverge from what is ostensibly a common ancestor with other primates or do we have any information on this? By the way, aye-ayes are really cute, but I wouldn't want one as a pet.

    Another question: can bonobos mate with chimpanzees? I don't believe so, anymore than they can mate with seamongs, but I may be wrong, considering how close bonobos and chimpanzees are to each other Any light you can shed on this would be greatly appreciated--again I am curious.

  59. Epicurus

    that was all perfectly accurate. well done.

  60. Guest

    This little monkey got the whole zoo talking....lolololol
    Thanks for the information.

  61. robertallen1

    Enjoyed the clips, short as they were. Thanks for the reference.

    With respect to chimps and bonobos, I can't find a definite answer to my question. About a year ago, I left messages at several zoos to contact me regarding this issue, but no one had the courtesy to return my calls or e-mail me.

    Another question: As I understand it, a species is defined as the closest interbreeding unit within a genus. That is why all dogs are canis domesticus and all horses are equus caballus (literally horse horse). However, in a number of instances, the system seems to break down. Try to imagine a St. Bernard mating with a poodle or a Clydesdale with a shetland. On the other hand, what about cross-breeds such as the mule or the liger? In this regard, each type of macaw seems has been given its own separate species, yet cross-breeds such as the Calico are common (whether they're sterile, I don't know). Could you or someone possibly explain this inconsistency to me.

  62. KooKookaChoo

    I can't access this paper: Hybrids between common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and pygmy chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) in captivity. H. Vervaecke, L. van Elsacker, Mammalia 56, 667 (1992); but the abstract says that out of five hybridization events, two did not survive and three did, and these are currently being studied. I looked for a long time and that is all I could come up with, even though the study was done in 92. :( Great question though, really thought provoking.

    I think the reason why some breeds of a species cannot interbreed would be due to size/morphological differences. A great dane and miniature poodle would not produce viable offspring because organs would either not work properly (tiny heart in a massive body) or not fit (massive heart in tiny body), or biochemical pathways may not function properly (not enough insulin being produced to break down sugars to fuel cells), that kind of thing. When looking into the chimp/bonobo hybrids, there were a lot of papers discussing specific parts of these animals that would need to be similar, like cranial size -- I think that same idea applies to really different breeds of the same species. I think. lol

    and I absolutely LOVE aye ayes - I did a lot of research (not scientific, just personal interest) on them and scared a lot of people with pictures of babies!

  63. dewflirt

    I did once see a falabella stallion mount a 15.2 mare, he put her in a ditch. No foal, would have been interesting to see.

  64. robertallen1

    Once again, thank you for attempting to answer my inquiries. I appreciate all the information and your efforts to provide it. However, my question concerning whether a chimpanzee can mate with a bonobo remains sadly unanswered as does my question about classification of species--and I can't ask Linnaeus..

  65. Epicurus

    im in my biological anthropology class right now and the professors specialty is genetics so hopefully he will know. i will try and ask him and see what he says. hopefully i will have an answer later today.

    species are something that can interbreed and have offspring that could also interbreed, so the tiger and lion are not the same species but they are close enough that they could breed but have sterile children. just like horse and donkeys making mules.

    im pretty sure a st bernard an a poodle could mate. hell a st bernard and a jack russel terrier could mate genetically. the problem is their body size. but if we artificially inseminated them, the offspring would be normal.

    hope that helped.

  66. KooKookaChoo

    ahhh, I think I read your question wrong about classification. hmmm, now I am really thinking...that could be bad LOL!
    I'll have to mull that one over and talk to some peers- you have really piqued my interest!

    from what I gleaned from the ONE paper on the hybrids (that I could not access, lol) is that bonobos and chimps could mate, maybe not very successfully (3/5 under lab conditions), but they are not generally found together in nature and so would not have an opportunity (plus would two troops fight if they met, probably I think). I think I read their common ancestor lived about 2 million years ago, which surprisingly is relatively recent - so I think physically, yes the two can mate with some success (producing sterile offspring probably) -- it just doesn't happen in nature.

  67. robertallen1

    Thanks for the response and thanks ahead of time for consulting your professor. My two main issues are: (1) can bonobos and chimpanzees mate; (2) are there points at which the current toxonmical system breaks down, e.g., macaws, as I mentioned in my last post? These are questions which have gone unanswered for some time, so I would appreciate whatever assistance you can provide.

    Thank you again.

  68. robertallen1

    No harm, no foal.

  69. robertallen1

    Thank you. You're the first to provide me with an answer.

    And yes, it does raise the possibility that you mention which is why I wonder if these hybrids are sterile.

  70. robertallen1

    Thank you. I'm particularly interested in bonobos and chimps because genetically they are so close to each other and, as you have pointed out, the evolutionary divergence is relatively recent.

    What I am getting at in my layman way is how far apart genetically two similar creatures have to be before they can no longer produce offspring. In short, is there a general demarcation or does it vary with the genus?

  71. Epicurus

    my professor said yes they would be able to mate based on their genetic similarity and the relatively recent time that they have split from one another. he used the example of humans and neanderthals mating.

    he also told me to remember that species will also be classed as different if they are geographically far away enough that they wont interbreed just due to distance.

    bonobos and chimps would never mate in the wild because they would never come across each other in the wild.

  72. robertallen1

    Thank you for taking the trouble to ask your professor, but you've raised a few more questions.

    1. By humans, do you mean hominids such as homo erectus, homo habilis, etc? In this vein, do we have evidence of neanderthals mating with other hominids?

    2. Geographical consideration for classification of species is a new one on me. Macaws are found all over South America and while some species are confined to one basic geographical area, a number of them are considerably more peripatetic. Many photos taken of these creatures in the wild reveal fraternization among species. Perhaps I'm wrong, but as I understand it, bonobos and chimps are relatively close to each other geographically. I guess what's a little jarring to me is geography used as a basis of taxonomy because this seems to be ignoring the concept of potential procreational ability. Again, I'm probably missing something and whatever englightenment you could provide would be appreciated.

    P.S. Just about every time you see a "chimp" in the movies, especially the older ones, chances are its a bonobo. As a rule, they're gentler and easier to handle.

  73. KooKookaChoo

    I whole heartedly agree with your statements about not using chimps and bonobos for testing. But I'm sure the university of western ontario has a primate research facility that is kept very low key (for obvious reasons). This is based on hearsay (but pretty credible hearsay to me), so I could be wrong - I hope I am wrong; it caused me to be greatly disappointed in my Alma mater

  74. robertallen1

    I'll say it's complicated--but again so is life. But from what you have written, this complexity seems to have given rise to some major inconsistencies in the taxonomic criteria.

    Yes, macaws can produce hybrids. Look up hybrid macaws on the internet and you will see photos of four of five of them such as the shamrock and the calico, both of which are sold as pets.

    The few chimps and bonobos I have seen share one trait in common: they like to show off, so why not put it to good use? It does no harm to the animal--as a matter of fact it brings out the best--and as long as proper care is exercised, I see nothing wrong with using them in movies. Besides, you can't make a Tarzan film without them?

  75. robertallen1

    Do you have any objection to the use of Guinea pigs in scientific testing?

  76. Epicurus

    i hope you are wrong also. im at the University of Toronto and never heard of that. I have a friend who is at Western for microbiology. maybe she will know something.

    I know the Toronto Zoo (who i hope to work for this summer) have a primate research facility but of course its for their benefit not ours.

  77. Epicurus

    lol oh the taxonomy of many species is certainly very convoluted. mostly because we have a few different ways to group organisms.

    we use the phylogenetic nomenclature today over traditional classification. that might help if you are looking stuff up.

    the problem with chimps and bonobos in films is that they are NOT treated well. they are kept in cages and often they are drugged up with benzodiazepines. chimps and bonobos are incredibly strong so they are sedated and kept confined. they may appear to like to show off but they are just doing what they have been trained to do to receive an award.

    lol and we can make a tarzan film these days without them. did you see rise of the planet of the apes? that was great, and all CGI

  78. Epicurus

    with macaws im seeing there are a number of species with groups of sub-species within them. when they breed hybrids do you know if they are within the species group just a different sub-species?

    the examples you gave are both crosses between two within the same species categorization ie the Ara. now whether the Ara and the Primolius, for example could mate, i dont know but if im correct then they shouldnt be able to because they are a different species of macaw.

    the shamrock are a cross between the Ara macao and Ara militaris, and the Calico is a cross between the Ara chloroptera and the Ara militaris.

    Ara = genus
    militaris, chloroptera, macao = sub-species

    also look up ring-species. perhaps they exist in that group.

  79. robertallen1

    And it's this variety of ways of grouping organisms which results in inconsistences, but, as I wrote, life is too complex to be conveniently sliced with a bread knife--I sure wish fundamentalists and creationists could grasp that, then maybe they'd go the way of the mastodon and the horrocks which they seem to resemble in intelligence.

    I don't consider drugging and making these animals cage-bound anything close to proper care and I would not like to think this was done at MGM during the Weismuller days--but they drugged Judy Garland, so who knows? A few decades ago, I had spent a while observing these creatures at the L.A. Zoo and they do like to show off and have a good time, especially after feeding. Notice their behavior around Dr. Roberts. They're innocence and resemblance to us makes them adorable, but I wouldn't want one as a pet.

  80. Epicurus

    next time you get a chance to look at a biology text book look how confusing the chapter on species is. i wish i could scan my text book and show you. its insane.

    but ya when you see apes at a GOOD zoo or in the wild acting like that, that is good. that is their natural behaviour. but when forced to act they dont like it at all.

    also apes dont like being stared at in the eyes. so if you are in the zoo try not to stare one down. its very mean. they perceive it the same way we do. and imagine being in a pen all day with people staring at you? very psychologically damaging. but zoos these days are much better than what they used to be.

  81. Solitare Macabre

    I have to go and search fooor somme fooooood. A little strong on the accent.

  82. Guest

    The San Diego zoo is much better. I believe a lot of research is done at the zoo and at the wild animal park in Escondido. They have a live cam on the pandas. They should have a few on the apes...would be great fun to watch.

  83. robertallen1

    Although the group primolius refers to mini macaws, the hahn's macaw, the smallest of the macaws (and a good bird to start off with as a pet) receives its own classification, arini diopsittaca, yet it is close to the noble macaw (dipsittaca nobilis) and the nearly extinct illiger macaw (primolius maracana). Perhaps part of the problem can be eliminated by taking species to mean subspecies, but even this solution seems unsatisfactory. I think we need a new classification system for macaws--but again, who am I to be suggesting this?

    And now you complicate matters further by bringing in ring species with their controversial taxonomy--well, that's life. You just can't pin it down.. Wonderful, isn't it?

  84. robertallen1

    I haven't been to the San Diego Zoo since I was a teenager, but it is so large that it is impossible to tour it in one day. At one time, it was the largest zoo in the world. By the way, Escondido is not far from it.

  85. robertallen1

    P.S. As a matter of fact, life is too complex for any Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu god to have created it.

  86. Guest

    I lived in Poway for quite a few years and went to both the zoo and wild animal park several times a year with my kids.

  87. Guest

    It is my understanding that Buddhists do not have a god.

    "Do Buddhist believe in god? No
    There are several reasons for this. The Buddha, like modern sociologists and psychologists, believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origin in fear."
    The Buddha says:
    "Gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains,
    sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines".


  88. Samuel Morrissey

    Which leads me nicely to my favorite Einstein quote :

    'The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.
    The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.
    Immortality? There are two kinds. The first lives in the imagination of the people, and is thus an illusion. There is a relative immortality which may conserve the memory of an individual for some generations. But there is only one true immortality, on a cosmic scale, and that is the immortality of the cosmos itself. There is no other.
    -- Albert Einstein, quoted in Madalyn Murray O'Hair, All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American Atheists (1982) vol. ii., p. 29

    Regards, Sam.

  89. Guest

    I certainly can resonate with this my own way.

  90. dewflirt

    Twycross, we used to go there when I was little, beautiful old silverback named Joe was the star of the show with the gibbon house at feeding times a close second. Noisy buggers.

  91. KooKookaChoo

    *sigh* I don't know how to answer to that.

    I don't want to see any tests done on any living creature that causes it pain and discomfort (makeup, chemicals, medical, etc.) - which includes giving animals diseases-- because you can say their pain is managed, but how do you really know? And what about stress? Living conditions? Are social/solitary needs of an animal met? How accurate are the studies being done when the test subjects are so far removed from natural conditions -- how can you be sure the stress of confinement isn't skewing your results? (stress is a huge factor in an animals life: there is a recent study by Dr. L. Zanette and song sparrows that illustrates this concept -- but there again, animals are being used in some way that causes discomfort)

    ...but no one can deny that progress has been made at the sacrifice of those who had no choice. Some of these tests are not just for our sole benefit either. But at what cost? And whose estimates? I know there are ethics boards and studies have to pass certain regulations before being approved.....ahhhh! see, I'm talking in circles!

    I guess the best answer I have regarding animal testing is that we should be doing the minimum we possibly have to, and we should always try to develop other technologies that make animal testing obsolete with the hope that some day it will be entirely unnecessary.

    I can dream....

  92. KooKookaChoo

    LOVED that! thanks for sharing!!

  93. robertallen1

    At least you're honest.

  94. Samuel Morrissey

    You are welcome.


  95. robertallen1

    Thanks for directing me to ring species.

    While from what I know and from what I've learned, I do not believe that macaws are an example--again, I'm nowhere near an ornithologist, biologist or taxonomist. So my conjecture is pretty much worthless.

    As a side benefit, your suggestion that I look into ring species has opened up a mathematical question for me. As used in elementary set theory, the principle of transitivity stands for the proposition that if a=b and b=c, a=c. However, with ring species, a can mate with b and b with c, but a cannot mate with c. In short, nature has provided a striking counterexample, causing me to wonder if a mathematical system can be designed on the principle of nontransitivity.

    Your thoughts.

  96. Epicurus

    oh goodness. i try to avoid math at all costs lol.

    i guess if A=B and B=C A can still be so different from C that A=/=C

    but this is based on genetic differences that accumulate over time which i dont know how we apply that to sets.

    again. i hate and avoid math at all costs. (because im so bad at it)

  97. robertallen1

    I'm no mathematical genius myself or for that matter, even a budding mathematician. Most people try to avoid math at all costs--and I think it is largely because of the way it is taught. However, I'm sure you agree that not only is it indispensable to science (try to practice radiometrics without it), but beautiful in itself, a true work of art.

    At its most basic level, mathematics is an abstraction of certain aspects of the world around us. For example, Euclidean geometry accepts the parallel principal--and this works fine when the objects being dealt with conform to it, but fails when the objects don't, such as outer space for which non-Euclidean geometry with its lack of parallel principle works quite well. The same concept applies to ring species. The principle of transitivity is elemental to set theory, but now there's something in nature to which goes against this principle. Therefore, in light of non-Euclidean geometry, I'm wondering if it is possible to develop a consistent mathematical system for which this principle is false, assuming one has not already been developed.

    But let me ask you a biological question, again about ring species. Let's say we have a group of four, a, b, c, d. B can mate with c and c with d. Extending this concept, it seems that at some time, b and c genetically drift so far apart that they can no longer mate, resulting in a new division, b1, such that the sequence changes to a, b, b1, c, d with b able to mate with b1 and b1 with c, thus creating an expansion of or greater division within the ring. Am I correct? Also it seems that the end points always remain the same. Again, am I correct or can something happen to change them? Also, it seems that where by strict definition b and c were once the same species, the intrusion of b1 has rendered each a separate species--well, so much for taxonomy. It's amazing how simple set theory (even minus the transivity principle) backs up evolution.

    Your response would be appreciated.

  98. Epicurean_Logic

    There are many component parts to being able to mate with. It is not a 'single thing' like is greater than or is equal to. Mating is complex and has many constituent parts. Does that make sense?

    The transitive property doesn't hold in the following system either.

    'Nothing is better than gold' and 'dried bread is better than nothing' therefore 'dried bread is better than gold'.

    The reason is different from your evolution example.

  99. robertallen1

    I'm merely concentrating on whether two entities have the ability to mate, not what constitutes this ability.

    I never stated or implied that ring species were a unique counter example to mathematical transitivity. Your example, however absurd and test tube, established that they are not.

    I'm indebted to you for your suggestion that I look into ring species, for I have another inquiry: As all forms of life are related, could life itself be one big ring species (or perhaps a series of them)? At least this might be a step towards explaining many of the taxonomical difficulties. If not, then what determines the end points?

  100. robertallen1

    Pardon me, but I don't understand what the first line of your response relates to.

    Also pardon me for not being able to couch my questions in appropriate biological terms, but my background is not in the sciences.

    Taking into consideration the preceding paragraph paragraph and your concluding sentence how are the end points of a ring species determined?

  101. ja martin

    just caught that film a few days ago...that 'quote' is superb!!! I do relate and confirm

  102. Epicurus

    the first line was incase you suspected epicurean_logic of being me. because in your response to him you also thanked him for pointing out ring species.

    the end points will be determined based on the genetic and morphological differences in the animals.

  103. robertallen1

    Sorry, but I'm sure you can understand what was behind the confusion.

    Is there anything that you can recommend for a layman which discusses these criteria?

  104. robertallen1

    Thank you. Will watch.

  105. robertallen1

    Thanks a lot. Do you think you can convince Vlatko to put both documentaries on his site in their entirety? I was just beginning to get into the second one--but then it was over.

    However, I'm unclear about something: Is the narrator saying that at one time the endpoints could breed but that as more divisions (mutations) came about through time, they now cannot or is he saying that the endpoints never could breed? Please bear in mind that I have no background in biology.

  106. Ossama Nahdi

    Alice Roberts is the female version of Brian Cox!!

  107. GrosererMensch

    i just rage-faced all over this dumb chicks email,if you watch this docu WILL miss-inform you, just watch any documentary on genetics and you may see where this dumb lady tries to contradict scientific fact. Or you could take some good advice from me and watch something thats not this, dont even give this film a thought, you would save yourself many lies....

  108. over the edge

    you stated "i just rage-faced all over this dumb chicks email" does that seems like a rational response to something you clearly disagree with to you? could you please back up with facts the claim of "this dumb lady tries to contradict scientific fact." thank you. and please provide peer reviewed sources to back up any refutations

  109. GrosererMensch

    Oh-Geez! Well, what i meant by rage-faced is that i intelligently assaulted her for her lamarckist claims! peer-reviewed facts eh? ANYbody who knows ANYthing about genetics or lamarckism will KNOW that this lady is FULL of UNEDUCATED MISS-INFORMATION. Lamarckism is inconsistent with the findings of 20th-century genetics, and MANY of her statements and claims are Lamarckist. If you watch this docu and do not understand which claims are lamarckist or why they are lies, then here is an educated reading suggestion for you: "The Triumph of the Darwinian Method" by Michael T. Ghiselin. If your like most of the ignorant people on this site who probably wont or cant read....then just go watch ANY documentary on genetics dated after 08.

  110. over the edge

    i an going to give you the benefit of the doubt and watch doc again. now i know that lamarckism has been mostly rejected but i don't remember her supporting these claims. but i find it annoying that you make a claim i ask you to back it up and instead you assume what my education level on the subject is and insult me. now i have said before insults don't bother me as long as the person throwing the insults can also back up their claim. you sir as of yet cannot

  111. Epicurus

    you sir, might want to go look up Epigenetics.

    also could you point out the parts in the video where she makes lamarckian claims?

  112. GrosererMensch

    im sorry idont want to go back and watch this docu again right now, maybe another time when i feel like learning NOTHING, lol, but i distinctly remember multiple lamarckist claims and/or references if you keep lamarckism in mind while you watch im sure you will notice, and ty but i am well studied in epigenetics, im unsure why you think i should study them further, i happen to know that although epigenetics in multicellular organisms is generally thought to be a mechanism involved in differentiation between species i.e. evolution, epigenetic patterns generally "reset" when organisms reproduce, or are gradually lost through generations, so if you think this relates to evolution you are sadly mistaken and should further research it YOURSELF. AND AS FOR Over the Edge.... i did not insult you directly, i merely said "if" you were like the others.....and also, back up my claim? what do you want from me? links? if you want the truth do some god-damned research and find it yourself, if you do im SURE you WILL find that i am right...

  113. over the edge

    ok i did watch again. not only was it enjoyable but unless you take her statements out of context or if you do not have a clear enough understanding of evolution.what she says is in accordance with evolution. now try to remember that this doc is not a lecture and is intended for audiences that span the spectrum of knowledge of evolution and the scientific terms. with that in mind sometimes the words used can have multiple meanings but within context makes perfect sense. i have watched multiple docs by Dr Roberts and i have no problem with her views.

  114. Ardit Begolli

    i bet 95% of ppl commenting this are either americans or ppl related to anglo-saxon culture...the rest of us that are willing to listen beg you to shut the f..k up.

  115. Epicurus

    instead of trying to copy paste the wiki article on epigenetics in your own words you should actually go learn about it. and why didnt you include the entire paragraph you copied from?

    "Although epigenetics in multicellular organisms is generally thought to be a mechanism involved in differentiation, with epigenetic patterns "reset" when organisms reproduce, there have been some observations of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (e.g., the phenomenon of paramutation observed in maize). Although most of these multigenerational epigenetic traits are gradually lost over several generations, the possibility remains that multigenerational epigenetics could be another aspect to evolution and adaptation."

    and yes if you make claims you need to back it up with sources. you dont just get to make claims an expect everyone to run around trying to find out if you are right.

    you dont want to watch the doc again because you know nothing in it had anything to do with Lamarckian evolution.

  116. Blarghsauce

    I want to sit down with Alice Roberts and let her enlighten me even further on human evolution in her glorious accent as I ask her prying questions about the course of human evolution. I am envious of Dr. Roberts' colleagues who get to have intellectual communion with her on a regular basis. This kind of infectious enthusiasm for the ultimate trip that is science is a rare commodity even in the scientific community, and it takes someone as stimulating as Dr. Roberts to arouse the scientific passions within all of us.

  117. Winston Smith

    Gosh, Roberts is beautiful - Inside & out!

  118. cricbran

    no very good explanation.

  119. cricbran

    I like your style Epicurus. GrosererMensch is sadly uneducated to be on this blog with you and over the edge. Enjoying the dialogue.

  120. cricbran

    Unfortunately your ignorance is fatal.

  121. cricbran

    Are you still in school? What are you majoring in?

  122. Epicurus

    yes I am. I am currently majoring in anthropology.

  123. Gns Otz

    good story..well filmed..

  124. Leofwin

    Anglo-Saxons invented the internet & television, and the English language which you're choosing to speak right now.

    Take your Anglophobia somewhere else, bigot.

  125. Strange2

    It only comes off as Lamarckian to somebody who doesn't know enough about the subject. Dr. Roberts states many times in this doc that those who were clever enough and had the proper adaptations to survive were those who passed on their genes. That doesn't sound like Lamarckism to me. Now if she said those who acquired adaptations during their lifetime were the ones who passed on these acquired traits through their genes, that would be perceived as Lamarckism. She doesn't say anything even close.

  126. Hannah Rath

    A bigot against people of English descent, that has to be the most ironic person in all of history.

  127. bruce thomas

    discriminate while claiming discrimination ?

    You know what Mom used to say, "if ya dont have nothin nice to say... pz of."

    An if ya dount liyk it leaive it, n so on.

    Chill, get old or join MMA?
    A dif in opinion is good for science, name calling is weak.

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