Video Details

Nature

Grade Levels: 6 - 12
Website: http://www.uen.org/emedia
Usage rights: Download and retain personal copies in perpetuity.

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Episodes:

  • Nature: Triumph of Life, Ep.2 - The Mating Game

    Sex is everywhere. Bees do it and birds do it -- and so do lizards and bacteria. In its simplest form, sex is the process of mixing genes from two parents into a new offspring. This gene swapping ensures that each generation is just a bit different from the one that came before, and that each individual is a bit different from others. This variation gives the species a better chance of surviving changing conditions. A few individuals, for instance, might be able to survive a deadly new virus and carry on the species, while the rest die. Eventually, the virus-resistant newcomers might even evolve into a new species. Just because sex is everywhere, however, doesn't mean that all organisms do it the same way. Evolution has produced virtually every conceivable combination of mating behaviors, as THE MATING GAME shows.

    Length: 00:56:16
  • Nature. Triumph of Life Episode 01-The Four Billion Year War.

    The Four Billion Year War explains how both conflict and cooperation have helped shape the species that today populate our world. And it profiles the winners and losers in this epic evolutionary contest -- from the massive dinosaurs who disappeared long ago to the humble bacteria that have survived for billions of years virtually unchanged. Nobody knows exactly where the seeds of life came from. Some believe the chemicals essential to life were brought here by meteorites, while others believe they arose naturally in the early oceans and atmosphere. But most researchers agree that carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen eventually linked up to form the basic molecules of life. Then, they slowly assembled into more and more complicated structures that could reproduce themselves. That set the stage for the blossoming of life.

    Length: 00:56:16
  • Nature. Triumph of Life Episode 03-The Eternal Arms Race.

    On some ancient battlefield, an early human soldier realized that a sharpened stick could become a deadly spear that would send the terrified enemy scrambling for safety. In response, the defeated soldiers came up with their own innovation: wooden shields that blunted the spears and suddenly turned the tables. It was then up to the attackers to devise another new weapon that could defeat the shields and restore their advantage. An arms race was born. But it was far from the first. For billions of years, life on Earth has been engaged in its own Eternal Arms Race, the subject of Part 3 of Nature's Triumph of Life. As predators became better hunters, their prey also evolved better defenses.

    Length: 00:55:54
  • Nature. Triumph of Life Episode 04-Winning Teams.

    Life may be a contest in which only the fittest individuals survive, but cooperation has also played a key role in evolution. WINNING TEAMS takes a close look at the alliances that animals have forged -- with others of their own kind and very different organisms -- in a bid to stay alive. In fact, teamwork occurs everywhere, from flocks of birds and herds of wildebeest to colonies of ants and termites. For some animals, the motivation for joining together is defense. A flapping, pirouetting flock of birds, for instance, can make it harder for a hungry falcon to home in on a single victim. Similarly, a thundering, shifting herd of wildebeest can be an intimidating -- and confusing -- sight to a hungry lion. And in both cases, there are more eyes to keep on the lookout for attackers. There is, indeed, safety in numbers.

    Length: 00:55:54
  • Nature. Triumph of Life Episode 05-Brain Power.

    Hearts, eyes, flippers and wings -- evolution has forged many remarkable body structures. But none is more amazing than the brain, that bundle of nerve cells that allows us to sense our surroundings, sort out information, and make decisions. Indeed, the great importance of BRAIN POWER to evolution is the subject of this week's installment of Nature's Triumph of Life series. Brains are not essential to life. Many organisms, from algae to jellyfish, get along just fine without a central information-processing center. But there is no question that a brain gives many animals an edge. For in the struggle for survival, brawn often gives way to a brain that can outthink a competitor, as Brain Power shows.

    Length: 00:56:16
  • Nature. Triumph of Life Episode 06-The Survivors.

    Nearly five billion years after it was born of a dusty cloud drifting in space, our planet has become home to a remarkable variety of life forms, from microscopic bacteria to majestic redwoods. But life's triumph hasn't always been smooth. Evolution has been marked by progress and retreat, success and failure. Indeed, as shown in The Survivors -- the final chapter in Nature's six-part Triumph of Life series -- creative destruction is a central force in evolution, as older life forms die out and give way to newcomers better adapted to changing conditions.

    Length: 00:56:35

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