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Filmography - Evolution: Home

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of June 2012

Filmography - Evolution

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of June 2012.

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible.  All DVDs listed below are located in Media Services on the Lower Level of Bender Library. To search the library’s complete videos holdings on evolutionary topics (including VHS tapes) keyword searches in the library catalog will be necessary:

Over 800 videos on biology subjects (too numerous to list here) are available streaming through Films On Demand:

Films-On-Demand titles are password-protected and will require a login for students and faculty who wish to access them from off-campus.

After Darwin: Genetics, Eugenics, and the Human Genome. 1999.  1 streaming video file (95 min.). From the promise of eliminating genetic disease to the threat of eradicating human diversity, the potential of genetics to benefit humankind is matched only by its capacity for harm. Using interviews, archival footage, and period film clips, this insightful program traces the history of genomic research and its dark offspring: behavioral genetics, eugenics, and the commodification of children. Spotlighting topics including the Human Genome Project, gene patenting, cloning, fertility clinics, genetic testing, and the discriminatory practices of insurance companies, Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson, Dr. Leroy Hood, and numerous other experts examine the potential of the biotechnological revolution and the moral and ethical issues it raises. (2 parts, 49 minutes and 46 minutes). Streaming video


Airborne life takes to the sky. 2004.  1 streaming video file (51 min.). This program analyzes how flight evolved not once but four times, in very different ways. Presenting a number of theories, the program examines how insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats each took to the sky. Bug wings that may have evolved from larval gills into pond-crossing sails; flight feathers that could have begun as soft down on small dinosaurs; and bat wings that probably developed from the webbed paws of gliding rodents are considered. Convergent evolution and echolocation are also discussed. Original BBCW broadcast title: Airborne. (51 minutes). Streaming video


Alien faces. 2008.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). In this program, scientists, astrobiologists, and astronomers combine scientific fact and a little imagination to create five lines of extraterrestrial evolution and explain how creatures on the surface of Earth can offer a helping hand to understanding life on other planets. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. A part of the series The Universe. (45 minutes). Streaming video


Alien underworld The search for the smallest living organism. 2002.  1 streaming video file (54 min.). Since Darwin, solving the mystery of life's origins has been the quest of scientists in fields as diverse as astrobiology and zoology. This riveting program presents a fascinating glimpse into what might-or might not-be the smallest, most primitive living organisms. The program also serves as a case study in applying scientific method to advance radically new propositions, from initial discovery through hypothesis to funding and commercial applications. Dr. Philippa Uwins, a geologist who discovered these nanobesin rock samples, defends her findings against the criticism of such fellow scientists as Professor Kenneth Nealson of NASA. (54 minutes). Streaming video


Allan Wilson Evolutionary. 2008.  1 streaming video file (41 min.). Allan Wilson, a groundbreaking researcher and a lightning rod for controversy, revolutionized science and galvanized the scientific community through his quantitative biochemical approach to the history of evolution. Drawing upon the insights and recollections of those who knew Wilson best, this program-narrated by paleoanthropologist Tim White, codiscoverer of the hominid Lucy-correlates milestones of his remarkable career with his enduring contributions that range from molecular phylogenies of multiple species to an understanding of mechanisms underlying the mode and tempo of organismal evolution. Commentary by David Wake, professor emeritus of zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, and many others is featured. (41 minutes). Streaming video


The anatomy of crying. 2003.  1 streaming video file (49 min.). Humans may be the only species to shed tears. Does that make crying a strictly human act? This program explores the deep well of animal instinct that, shaped by eons of evolution, still informs our expression of grief, fear, anger, and even joy. Focusing on the development of distress signals in early hominid infant behavior, the program investigates differences in crying between adults and children, men and women, and Western and non-Western cultures. The three varieties of tears-basal, irritant, and emotional-and their chemical makeup are identified, evoking a link between emotional release, the secretion of certain proteins, and the human body's metabolism. (49 minutes). Streaming video


Aquatic biomes. 2002.  1 streaming video file (19 min.). Ranging from rivers and lakes, to wetlands and intertidal zones, to coral reefs and kelp forests, aquatic ecosystems are as diverse as the life-forms that inhabit them. This program introduces students to a variety of the world's aquatic biomes. The characteristics of saltwater and freshwater environments are clearly described, as are the plants and animals that call these watery regions home. The importance of evolution and adaptation for aquatic species is emphasized. A viewable/printable instructor's guide is available online. A Cambridge Educational Production. (19 minutes). Streaming video


Are we still evolving? 2011.  1 streaming video file (50 min.). Assume, for the sake of argument, that our species has created everything it needs-all the comfort and protection that technology can provide. Does that mean our biological evolution has come to an end? Not necessarily, says anatomist and anthropologist Alice Roberts. In fact, technology may be driving human evolution, and at breakneck speed. Dr. Roberts meets scientists who are detecting and analyzing recent changes in the human genome and visits other researchers who have been able to, in effect, alter the development of some plant and animal species. In addition, the program examines the highly significant role of disease in evolution and the possibility that humanity could evolve into two distinct species. A BBC Production. (50 minutes). Streaming video


Back to the beginning. 2004.  1 streaming video file (60 min.). This program explores how the colossal, mind-boggling forces of the early universe made it possible for habitable worlds to emerge. The clues begin with a race among scientists to capture lingering echoes of the big bang's ferocious energy in a microwave "whisper" from deep space. The race pits underdog astronomer Tony Readhead and his improvised detector in the high Andes against NASA scientists and their state-of-the-art satellite probe. Host Neil deGrasse Tyson shares his excitement with viewers as computer animation of the big bang's echo emerges on the screen. It's as close as we can get to a "photograph" of the primordial universe. Here we glimpse the seeds from which all the galaxies, stars, and planets eventually grew. Part of the series Origins: 14 Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Distributed by PBS Distribution. (60 minutes). Streaming video


The blind watchmaker The evolutionary ideas of Richard Dawkins. 1987.  1 streaming video file (49 min.). British biologist Richard Dawkins is blunt in his support for evolutionary theory as opposed to special creationism.This program, inspired by Dawkins' book, allows each side to present its best arguments-with some bias toward Darwinian evolution. The evidence is well-organized and current. Creationist ideas are vividly contrasted with contradictory data through observation, computer simulations, robotics, experiments, and close examination of designs in nature. The central argument here is that the diversity we see in such complex adaptations as the eye and insect mimicry can best be explained by cumulative natural selection over long periods of time. A BBC Production. (49 minutes). Streaming video


The book of life Genetics and evolution. 2011.  1 streaming video file (60 min.). Likening the beauty and complexity of DNA to an epic poem, this program revolves around the idea that we all carry the story of life on Earth in our genes, and that the similarities between species may play a more significant role in that story than previously thought. A visit to Iceland's hot springs reveals heat-, acid-, and salt-resistant organisms called Archaea-primordial versions of which may have set the stage for multi-cellular life. Moving to more advanced species, the film looks at bone-development genes in boa constrictors that are comparable to those of humans. Such parallels, the program says, indicate not only shared genetic origins but also the notion that particular clusters of genes are focal points of evolutionary importance. Produced by the Open University. A part of the series The Gene Code. (60 minutes). Streaming video


The brain The Last Enigma. 2002.  1 streaming video file (51 min.). Are the brain and the mind one and the same? How big a role does environment play in cognitive development? Does consciousness have a physical location? This program explores these and other fundamental questions concerning the evolution and function of the human brain. Computer graphics and commentary from an array of leading international neuroscientists provide insights into the human brain's development and the nature/nurture debate. The program also examines how the study of syndromes and mental illness has furthered the understanding of the brain, particularly the creation of various brain maps, including Penfield's Motor Homunculus. (51 minutes). Streaming video


Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life. 2009.  1 streaming video file (52 min.). Marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, this program shows how Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution and explores its ramifications in today's scientific community. Renowned natural history interpreter David Attenborough travels the globe, examining fresh evidence for Darwinian thought and illustrating why it is more relevant than ever. Viewers encounter findings from a wide range of disciplines, including paleontology, biogeography, anatomy, and embryology, as well as early controversies surrounding the study of plate tectonics. Spectacular wildlife footage reveals fascinating animal behavior and helps depict the theory that changed the world's thinking. A BBC/Open University Co-production. (52 minutes). DVD 7171 and Streaming video


The chemistry of life Milestones in Genetics. 2009.  1 streaming video file (52 min.). Cells are, in a sense, just tiny bags of chemicals-so what instructsthem to divide and function? This program shows how biologists addressed the question during the 19th and 20th centuries. Starting with Friedrich Miescher's discovery of nuclein, or DNA, the film examines Theodor Boveri's work with sea urchins, which clarified the role of chromosomes, as well as Thomas Hunt Morgan's study of inheritance in fruit flies and his introduction of the term gene. The contributions of Frederick Griffith, Maurice Wilkins, and the under-recognized Rosalind Franklin are held up as milestones on the path to the Watson-Crick double-helix model. Walter Gehring's mutation studies are also featured. Original BBC broadcast title: The Chemistry of Life. A part of the series The Cell. (52 minutes). Streaming video


Chronobiology The time of our lives. 1 streaming video file (58 min.). This program examines the biological evolution of our internal timekeepers, examining the conflict between the time in our bodies and brains and the time on our wrists. It looks at the fish with the most accurate pacemaker known to science; shows how cell cycles are being tracked and biological clocks transplanted; reveals the novel ways in which human biological clocks are being reset; and explains why Greenwich is where time starts, how conversations can be set to music, why some people are larks and others owls, and what causes the Monday morning blahs. (58 minutes). Streaming video


Classroom challenge Debating Darwin in the 21st century. 2005.  1 streaming video file (23 min.). As the controversy over intelligent design and science education heats up, open-minded discussion about the issue can be in short supply. This ABC News program sorts through arguments on both sides, examines the debate in the context of America's larger political climate, and explores its fundamental questions: Are evolution and I.D. incompatible? Is exposure to both ideas harmful or beneficial to schoolchildren? Does fossil evidence make evolution immune to challenge? Astute commentary from ABC News' George Stephanopoulos sums up I.D.'s implications for students, teachers, and parents. (22 minutes). Streaming video


Clever and greedy Wealth-building, 8,000 BC to 650 BC. 2000.  1 streaming video file (51 min.). Beginning with a concise overview of brain evolution in early hominids and what appears to be barter behavior in chimps, this program traces the rudiments of the human wealth orientation as it developed at Wadi Faynan, a prehistoric agrarian settlement; at the ancient town of Catal Hoyuk; and at Uruk, a major Sumerian trading city. Host Peter Jay; Cambridge University's Nicholas Postgate; Hans Nissen, of the Free University of Berlin; archaeologist Steven Mithen; and others consider the transformative effect of farming, the commercial impact of obsidian, and the invention of proto-cuneiform as an accounting tool. A BBC Production. (51 minutes). Streaming video


Cosmos. 2000.  1 videodisc (120 min.). In a 13 part series Carl Sagan discusses the relationship between man and the universe. Part 2: A cosmic calendar makes the 15 billion year history of the universe understandable and frames the origin of the Earth and the evolution of life. Presents evolutionary steps from microbe to humans and ventures to other worlds for imaginative speculations on what forms life might take elsewhere in the cosmos. Part 3: Historical re-creation of the life and time of Johannes Kepler -- the first modern astronomer, providing insights into how the moon and the planets move in their orbits and ultimately how to journey to them. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 4271-4277


The creationist argument. 92.  1 streaming video file (26 min.). Luther Sutherland presents what he considers scientific-rather than philosophical or religious-inconsistencies in Darwin's theory which provide, he says, the scientific basis for discrediting the theory of evolution. (26 minutes). Streaming video


Cutting and splicing DNA. 1 streaming video file (24 min.). This program presents a brief history of genetic science, from Darwin's theory of evolution through the discovery of DNA and the invention of gene splicing. Darwin hypothesized a theory, but understood nothing of the mechanism of evolution. The program follows the history of scientific understanding of the nucleus, chromosomes, and the location of hereditary information; explains the work of Gregor Mendel and Thomas Hunt Morgan; and features exclusive interviews with James Watson, who unravelled the secret of DNA's structure, and Stanley Cohen, who first spliced the gene and created contemporary cloning techniques. Spectacular computer animation displays the beautiful simplicity of the DNA molecule, and reveals how the gene was spliced. (24 minutes). Streaming video


Dangerous ideas How Darwin's theories took root. 2008.  1 streaming video file (58 min.). What gave Charles Darwin the confidence to finally make his radical ideas on evolution public? Presented by well-known science interpreter Jim Doherty, this program explores Darwin's research during the years leading up to his publication of On the Origin of Species. Doherty explains and reconstructs several experiments that Darwin undertook on the grounds of his English estate. These include the immersion of plant seeds in salt water to support the idea of transoceanic species dispersal; the weed patch experiment, which strengthened Darwin's awareness of predation and death as major evolutionary factors; and the survey of a nearby meadow where the great naturalist discovered startling biodiversity. Original Open University broadcast title: Dangerous Ideas. (58 minutes) Streaming video


Darwin's dangerous idea. 2001.  Evolution.  1 videodisc (120 min.). This episode interweaves the drama in key moments of Darwin's life with documentary sequences of current research, linking past to present and introducing major concepts of evolutionary theory. It explores why Darwin's "dangerous idea" might matter even more today than it did in his own time, and reveals how science might be used to explain the past and predict the future of life on earth. DVD 5721


Darwin's evolution. 2002.  1 streaming video file (20 min.). As a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, a Royal Navy survey ship charting the coast of South America, Charles Darwin encountered evidence on the Galapagos 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). Streaming video


Darwin's theory today. 92.  1 streaming video file (26 min.). Since Darwin's day, explanations for the causation of evolution have come and gone, Lamarckism, mutationism, and the existence of a built-in mechanism driving to perfection all dismissed for lack of evidence and the proofs of molecular biology. Ernst Mayr examines and evaluates the modifications and adaptations to Darwin's theory of natural selection, to determine whether the resulting synthesis is indeed still Darwin's theory. (26 minutes). Streaming video


The day the universe changed. 2009.  1 videodisc (110 min.). This series traces the major advances in knowledge in Western civilization since the Greeks, and demonstrates how our view of the world changes as our knowledge develops. What the doctor ordered. This program looks at the rise of modern medicine and its surprising relationship with the invention of statistics, which doctors used to validate the efficacy of diagnoses and treatments. It examines how bacteriology put the patient on a microscope slide and brought about a world in which even healthy human beings were reduced to statistics. Fit to rule. This program examines the mid-nineteenth century emergence of the theory of evolution and its affects. It reveals how Darwin's writings undermined the concept of an orderly, unchanging universe and the belief in the biblical theory of creation. DVD 8611-8615


The day we learned to think The evolution of language and cognition. 2003.  1 streaming video file (51 min.). Was there a big bang in human language and cognitive development, or did speech and abstract thought evolve slowly-perhaps across 200,000 years or so? Surveying prehistoric burial sites and other archaeological finds, including what might be the world's oldest work of art, this program attempts to locate the junction of creativity and communication at which human intelligence was born. Leading anthropologists-such as Christopher Henshilwood of Cape Town's African Heritage Research Institute, Alison Brooks of George Washington University, and Randall White of NYU-are featured, along with their findings. Original BBCW broadcast title: The Day We Learned to Think. (50 minutes). Streaming video


Death of the dinosaurs. 98.  1 streaming video file (50 min.). The demise of the dinosaurs remains a mystery. One theory is that a violent series of volcanic eruptions led to periodic mass extinctions of animal life throughout the Cretaceous period. Viewers follow scientists as they trace the evidence deep into the earth's core of molten metal and learn why these deadly eruptions were so vital to the progress of evolution. A BBC Production. (50 minutes). Streaming video


The demonic ape. 2004.  1 streaming video file (50 min.). By turns charming, alarming, and poignant, this program questions the accuracy of the human evolution theory. Chimpanzees show signs of sophisticated language, advanced social behavior, and other traits thought reserved only for humans-even empathy. No one knows this better than the legendary Jane Goodall: her pride and joy, Frodo, grew up in front of film cameras in Gombe in Tanzania for over 30 years. But Frodo's killing of a child in May 2002 prompted huge debate amongst scholars about whether the origins of aggressive male human behavior can be traced back to our shared evolutionary ancestry with chimps. A BBCW Production. (50 minutes). Streaming video


Designer plants. 1 streaming video file (24 min.). We may not recognize the plants and animals our children eat. But the real issue is whether the power of the gene will be wisely used, or will it be diverted to the personal ends of those seeking financial profit or political power? Biotechnology is all that stands between a burgeoning world population and starvation. Already, ordinary milking cows are a disappearing species, plants are genetically matched to growing conditions, and plants are being engineered to kill the caterpillars that attack them. This program shows how this is done and explains its benefits, while warning of the dangers inherent in this and other efforts to alter natural evolution. (24 minutes). Streaming video


Did cooking make us human? 2010.  1 streaming video file (52 min.). The use of heat and utensils to process food may be more than a by-product of human evolution. According to theories presented in this program, cooking began much earlier than previously thought and ignited a series of changes that shaped our physical and mental abilities. Viewers visit South African caves containing evidence, including tools and charred bone material, that pushes back the timescale during which proto-humans began to hunt and tame fire. Meanwhile, several noted anthropologists share other ideas concerning the evolution of the human jaw, stomach, and cranium-asserting that the digestion of cooked meat instead of raw helped our ancestors build bigger brains. A BBC Production. (52 minutes). Streaming video


Did Darwin kill god?  2009.  1 streaming video file (52 min.). In this program, philosopher and theologian Conor Cunningham argues that only extremist viewpoints-Creationism and ultra-Darwinism-make evolution and religion mutually exclusive. Experts from across the gamut of opinions frame the debate and trace its origins, including Father Gregory Tatum of the Ecole Biblique; University of Oxford historian Pietro Corsi; Darwin scholar Nick Spencer, author of Darwin and God; Answers in Genesislecturer Terry Mortenson; Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project; philosophers Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse; Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine; and University of Cambridge paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris. A BBC Production. (52 minutes). Streaming video


Discussions with Richard Dawkins The four horsemen. 2007.  1 videodisc (120 min.). On the 30th of September 2007, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens sat down for an unmoderated 2-hour discussion.    In this conversation the authors, all having received media attention for their writings against religion, trade stories of the public's reaction to their recent books, their unexpected successes, criticisms and common misrepresentations. They discuss the tough questions about religion that face the world today, and propose new strategies for going forward. - from website. DVD 3896


DNA and the evidence for evolution. 88.  1 streaming video file (23 min.). This program shows the structure and replicating processes of DNA and the effect of genetic mutation; demonstrates the Lederberg Experiment; and recapitulates the evidence provided by fossils and structural and biological homologies that the process of adaptation and the selection of adaptors rests on a wide range of genetic variability. After viewing the program, students should have a general understanding of the general structure and functioning of DNA and of the Lederberg Experiment and its significance, and should be familiar with the range and types of evidence for evolution presented in the review section. (20 minutes).  Streaming video