Saturday, May 14, 2011

1971 Canadian Evolution Video

So, do you remember 1971? Me neither. As I understand it, everyone was on drugs. And in Canada, they were all on METRIC DRUGS!!

This video is a little on the long side for the 2011 sensibility, but is pretty awesome. There are a couple of the things in particular that I like about it. First, most videos that I have seen illustrate evolution by having organisms transform. You know, like you have the fish who swims to the edge of the land, wriggles out, and grows legs. Unfortunately, I think that can reinforce two surprisingly common misunderstandings about evolution: (1) that it involves organisms changing adaptively during their lifetimes, and (2) that it involves a degree of intentionality.

That's not so say that those video makers misunderstand the evolutionary process, just that the most common way of presenting the process to a broader audience lends itself to a particular misinterpretation.

In this video, novel forms arise as offspring, often to the noticeable surprise of their parents. Also, some of those novel forms are adaptive, while others are not.

Here's the second thing. Videos like this always face a challenge: how do you illustrate mating and reproduction without traumatizing the children? This video comes up with some awesome mating procedures, from eyeball things smashing into each other to a system that involves the male blowing into the female's nose.

Confidential to my wife: I've got an idea for later.

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