Darwin

Broadcast (2010) Earth teems with a staggering variety of animals, including 9,000 kinds of birds, 28,000 types of fish and more than 350,000 species of beetles. What explains this explosion of living creatures, 1.4 million different species discovered so far, with perhaps another 50 million to go? The source of life's endless forms was a mystery until Charles Darwin's revolutionary idea of natural selection, which he showed could help explain the gradual development of life on Earth. But Darwin's radical insights raised as many questions as they answered.

Broadcast (2002) When we think of animals, we think of movement. Surprisingly, the diverse and graceful ballet of animal movement may have started with cnidarians (pronounced "ny-DAIR-ee-ans), a group that includes corals, sea anemones, sea pens and jellyfish. All of these animals, with few exceptions, have nerves and muscles. Because cnidarians are the simplest animals to possess this complexity, their direct ancestors were very likely the first animals to bundle the power of nerves and muscles together, enabling them to move and exhibit discernible behavior. (www.youtube.com)

Broadcast (2002) Behind the beautiful shapes and colors of seashells is the story of how a group of animals called molluscs evolved in order to survive. The wide variety of molluscs includes clams, oysters, snails, mussels, squid, and octopus. The word mollusc comes from Latin meaning "soft," a good description of the group's fleshy bodies. Of course, in an ocean filled with predators, a soft body is easily eaten.

Broadcast (1998) Most of the dry land on Earth sits no more than a few hundred metres above sea level. But in some places mountain belts rise to heights of several kilometres.These regions are often prone to devastating earth tremors. How are mountains formed and what is the connection with earthquakes? The answer may lie in the fluid-like properties of the Earth's outer layers. According to a new theory, mountains may flow up or down when continents collide. In the process they affect the circulation of the planet's atmosphere and change the climate. (www.youtube.com)

The CGI or computer animated drama/documentary takes place on Darwin IV, a planet 6.5 light years from earth, with 2 suns and 60% of Earth's gravity. Having identified Darwin as a world that could support life, Earth sends a pilot mission consisting of the Mothership Von Braun and three probes: Balboa, Da Vinci, and Newton. This robotic fleet is responsible for finding and assessing any life forms on Darwin IV. Initially, the expectation is to find microscopic life, but the probes soon find themselves in the middle of a developed ecosystem teeming with diversity of life of all sizes.

UMBC History Professor Emerita Sandra Herbert talks with host Dr. Joe Tatarewicz about her career as a Darwin scholar and her most recent book, "Charles Darwin, Geologist."

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