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NOVA: What Darwin Never Knew

Airs Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Sean Carroll with hybrid saddleback tortoise. On the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s "On the Origin of Species," NOVA reveals answers to the riddles that Darwin couldn’t explain to find out what actually drives evolution and turns one species into another.

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 Zoo of You: In this interactive, see how closely parts of your body match those in other animals, from sharks to fruit flies. (above: short-tailed fruit bat embryo skeleton)
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Above: The Zoo of You: In this interactive, see how closely parts of your body match those in other animals, from sharks to fruit flies. (above: short-tailed fruit bat embryo skeleton)

Neil Shubin with Tiktaalik fossil.
Enlarge this image

Above: Neil Shubin with Tiktaalik fossil.

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. What actually drives evolution and turns one species into another? And how did we evolve?

On the 150th anniversary of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," "NOVA" reveals answers to the riddles that Darwin couldn't explain. Breakthroughs in a brand-new science --nicknamed "evo devo" -- are linking the enigma of origins to another of nature's great mysteries, the development of an embryo.

"NOVA" takes viewers on a journey from the Galapagos Islands to the Arctic and from the Cambrian explosion of animal forms half a billion years ago to the research labs of today. Here scientists are finally beginning to crack nature's biggest secrets at the genetic level. And, as "NOVA" shows, the results are confirming the brilliance of Darwin's insights while exposing clues to life's breathtaking diversity.

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Video

NOVA: What Darwin Never Knew

Above: Watch a preview of "NOVA: What Darwin Never Knew."

Comments

Avatar for user 'mb1mlw'

mb1mlw | December 31, 2009 at 4:18 a.m. ― 4 years, 7 months ago

It's Not Darwin's Or Wallace's Theory!
Darwin did not originate the idea of natural selection. He and Wallace admitted that Patrick Matthew and William Charles Wells beat them to the idea.(even before Darwin left on the Beagle) In addition,my recent research,shows that none of the ideas in "On the Origin of Species" is novel to Darwin.For more details search Google for "wainwrightscience" and visit the link to the Dakwins website.
Happy New Year,
Prof.Milton Wainwright,Dept.Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,University of Sheffield,UK.

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