Segments in this Video

Common Ancestry of Apes and Humans (02:49)


Evidence suggests that a very long time ago, primates and humans had a common ancestor. Three skulls are examined and compared. There are many gaps in the family tree for which there is no fossil evidence.

Argument for Divine Creator (02:53)

In the early 1800s, a churchman named William Paley wrote a book about the origin of life. He maintained that the complexity of life argued for a divine creator. He asserted that all things were perfect and never needed to change.

Age of Fossils (01:50)

Geologists challenged prevailing religious beliefs when they argued that certain rock formations must have taken millions of years to create. Within the rocks are fossils from the Jurassic Period.

Importance of Animal Characteristics (01:13)

New discoveries of evolutionary change challenged religious suppositions. A French biologist theorized that characteristics developed during a lifetime pass on to the next generation.

Charles Darwin (02:07)

When a Royal Navy survey ship, the HMS "Beagle," prepared to leave for South American, Darwin became the ship's naturalist. The voyage lasted five years and took Darwin around the world.

Darwin's Finches (04:00)

Darwin’s observations on the Galapagos Islands played a critical role in his ideas of evolution. His collection of finches revealed that finches with certain characteristics survived better and passed these characteristics on to future generations.

"The Origin of Species" (01:54)

Darwin, inspired by another young naturalist, was motivated to write "The Origin of Species." Darwin was convinced that humans, like all animals, evolved. He particularly noted the similarity between apes and humans.

Common Ancestry of Apes and Humans (01:37)

Darwin needed proof that humans and apes shared common ancestry. He predicted that human evolution began in Africa and that fossil evidence would one day back his theory. Darwin's theory outraged the Church.

Credits: Darwin’s Evolution (00:26)

Credits: Darwin’s Evolution

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Darwin's Evolution

Part of the Series : Big Questions: The Nature of Scientific Inquiry
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $99.95
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3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



As a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, a Royal Navy survey ship charting the coast of South America, Charles Darwin encountered evidence on the Galápagos Islands and elsewhere that encouraged him to question the biblical story of creation. This program explores the intellectual journey he undertook as a result. Presented by British scientist Adam Hart-Davis, the film invokes specimens in Great Britain’s Natural History Museum, especially “Darwin’s Finches,” that were of fundamental importance to the naturalist’s ideas; the two major components of his theory, common ancestry and natural selection; Darwin’s sudden urgency regarding the publication of On the Origin of Species after Alfred Russel Wallace presented similar breakthroughs; Darwin’s gradual confidence that evidence supporting The Descent of Man would one day surface in the fossil record; and the genetic discoveries (which also emerged after Darwin’s death) that explained how characteristics are passed from one generation to another. Part of the series Big Questions: The Nature of Scientific Inquiry. (20 minutes)

Length: 20 minutes

Item#: BVL43674

ISBN: 978-1-61733-640-9

Copyright date: ©2002

Closed Captioned

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