The Shape of Life

The Shape of Life

Ratings: 8.06/10 from 16 users.

The Shape of LifeThis relatively obscure series (2002) is a real find. 7 hour long episodes tell the story of primarily invertebrates of the sea (sponges, anemones, flatworms, molluscs, arthropods, jellyfish, sea stars, etc...) over the course of time and how we relate and in some cases depend on these seemingly lowly creatures.

Amazing video footage and computer graphics clearly explain everything. The scope of the video is worldwide. This is documentary film-making at its best.

It's a shame it's not more widely known because it is easily as good as (better than, IMHO) PBS/BBC documentaries on the same subject.

It covers the evolution of life on earth by explaining the gradual changes in anatomy (invertebrates to vertebrates, etc).

Fascinating information, first-class photography and graphics, and some of the weirdest-looking creatures you have ever seen!

After seeing this, you will probably have a renewed and more profound understanding of what the animal kingdom represents.

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30 Comments / User Reviews

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  1. shirley Rose

    Thanks for your great help. i will use it in class during science lesson. children will love it. thank you

  2. bgthnkr

    Funny,it seems the evolutionary biologist will "matter of factly" try to put things in some sort of order,but ignore common sense indications within their own reasoning:it is generally accepted that there was a mass extinction,yet what survived?,wuoldn't evolution have to rebuild from whatever survived? are the caucasians evolved from negroes? small ideas come from small minds(eugenics,providence),Neither science nor religion can apply nor gain from what it claims to know in any other fashion than using it as a tool to move minds that think this crap matters.Sleight of hand if you ask me,while the world burns ,you look for a marshmallow,but find only a weiner.

    1. MartinJays

      You are a crazy person, and mass extinction doesn't mean what you think it does bud. You shouldn't use a phrase if you don't understand it.

    2. Suzana Luchesi

      Please go finish high school before talking about genetics. And this time stay awake during Biology class. Evolution is nothing more than selection (be it from environmental conditions, sexual or social pressures, hence my not using the term "natural") acting on genetic mutations that come up randomly due to small flaws in DNA replication that carry on to progeny. And mass extinction does NOT mean complete extinction of all life.

  3. racheerae

    Please do not let capitalists gain the knowledge of early creatures for artificial intelligence. Is there a connection to this science boom?

    If thinking creatures are created they can be used. Money will be involved. Creatures and profit.

    This documentary was great for nature viewing. Quite beautiful, but one can't help but think of the ways the current global system, lead by the west, has harmed nature and animals, including ourselves.

    I am going off topic because I am learning more about coal and coal ash. With burning we accumulate ash and may ship it to another island, lay it on a beach and watch as babies are born deformed.True story. I think it was the Dominican Republic. I am in Southeastern Wisconsin and we sell our coal ash as Landfill Fill. not safe, this is a good way to cause self extinction with poisoned water. A bluff collapsed into Lake Michigan in Oak Creek five miles from the city's water intake pipe in Oct '11. Immediately after the discharge of toxic coal ash, NOAA reported it was a threat to poisoning fish, birds, other wildlife; the last statement on the report said the oak creek water should be monitored and tested. 2 month later WE energies said in a press release the ash was non toxic. The water has never been tested. In caledonia there are Ash pits and they have poisoned the water. WE energies pays for water end in sight. people cannot sell a home without water.

    If you use coal please demand solar and wind subsidies, or buy them if you can. Also, please take seriously the "sun screening" and "solar radiation management" programs/experiments purported to stop atmospheric warming, warming indeed caused by the spraying that's been going on for the past 12 years.* This is reducing the abilities of solar panels.

    The earth is a beautiful place and needs to be protected.

  4. Nate Everts

    This series was broadcast on PBS.

  5. Tara Haghighi

    i really enjoyed it, thank you very much :-)

  6. Alexus Yeardley

    This is an excellent example of nutshelling done right! I learned a bunch of really cool things, and I had the pleasure of explaining penis fencing to my boyfriend :P Some of the later episodes get a little redundant, but this is something I'd recommend for high-school science teachers to show their classes! This is even appropriate for first year bio at university, seeing as how my uni taught pretty much the exact same syllabus as my gr. 13 bio class did, right down to the foetal pig dissection. All in all, a surprisingly un-fluffy modern nature documentary.

  7. GreatBigBore

    The graphics is often pointless eye candy, and the narration is terribly written in places, but the science and the animals are excellent, especially the footage of the starfish forcing its stomach into the mussel in one of the later clips.

  8. Praveen Mayakar

    Hmm... good to know that it was sponges to sapiens. Loved the images, but would have been good if a more detailed look on the whole journey was pictured. Otherwise it seems long to talk just about the sponges.

  9. Naz

    Good Doc, Best site for documentries....

  10. Rick

    What a wonderful series. Couldn't stop watching it. I may never go swimming in the ocean again! Thanks so much.

    1. Naomi

      i watched this series on pbs when i was younger. seeing as i'm icthyophobic, i wonder if this is the cause

    2. Space_Cadet_1952

      You should come to the UK, Naomi. We cover our 'icks' with batter and serve them with chips, or French Fries if you're American. You'd never know they were 'icks'.

  11. Huck

    Lots of seemingly great information, but something smells a little fishy. Who are these people that made the documentary?

  12. JustMe___

    What can I say - a nice story, great images and a very-needed relaxation for the brain. Thanks for sharing!

  13. coyote03

    @ Joe Blow

    There's no propaganda in this documentary.

  14. coyote03

    @ hanselda

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I happen to disagree with yours. If all the tiny details in those 7 hours were common sense to you, well, you are one incredibly intelligent, knowledgeable, and well read individual; bravo to you! As for me, I thought this was absolutely amazing, there was hardly a boring or slow moment in the entire 7 hours, it was all great information and astonishing footage!

    Like Atrophy said, the most amazing part is how they simply explain the incredibly complex process of invertebrate evolution (even the evolution from water to land invertebrates) along with the transition to and evolution of the vertebrates; which is discussed in the last episode. This is truly an amazing series, a must see for everyone!

  15. Joe Blow

    I was enjoying it....until they started to say that carbon dioxide causes global warming.
    That was when I started to see the propaganda starting.

  16. hanselda

    This doc is kind of boring to me. All the information is kind of common sense nowadays, and the pace of the doc is so slow and the useful information points come every 5 minutes, so boring.

  17. Atrophy

    Waiting for the religious comments.... Now they're saying we come from sponges... OMG !
    1st episode in: I like it, It provides some very simplified explanations on how they arrive at their conclusions. Demystifying the process.

  18. afly_on_the_wall

    i love the really loooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg ones
    thanks V (insert heart here)

  19. Dr. Sohini Shukla

    Given very good information ....
    Good for Animal lovers...they will know the details about....their origin....

  20. Lars

    Saw the first hour, really great doc! Thumbs up!

  21. Liisa

    Just finished watching them all. Just amazing. I warmly recommend to everyone.

  22. Achems Razor

    Have seen some of these segments before. Good doc.

  23. Ronaldo Sinigayan

    This is a great documentary! Thanks for having it here. =)

  24. Jessica

    I've seen this, it's one of my favorite evolution documentaries.

  25. isagani

    its ok... long... nice photography!