How Evolution Works (And How We Figured It Out)

  • Published on: 11 June 2019
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    As a scientific concept, evolution was revolutionary when it was first introduced. With the help of all three of our hosts and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s new Deep Time Hall, we’ll try to explain how evolution actually works and how we came to understand it.

    This episode was written by Darcy Shapiro.

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios:

    Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible:

    Katie Fichtner, Anthony Callaghan, Zachary Spencer, Stefan Weber, Ilya Murashov, Charles Kahle, Robert Amling, Po Foon Kwong, Larry Wilson, Merri Snaidman, Renzo Caimi Ordenes, John Vanek, Neil H. Gray, Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle, Gregory Donovan, الخليفي سلطان, Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, PS, Philip Slingerland, Jose Garcia, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Maly Lor, Joao Ascensao, Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Alex Yan

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    Bowler, P. (2001). History of Evolutionary Ideas: The Modern Synthesis. ELS: Encyclopedia of the life sciences, 1-5.
    Papavero, N., & Santos, C. F. M. D. (2014). Darwinian evolutionism? Contributions of Alfred Russel Wallace to the theory of evolution. Revista Brasileira de História, 34(67), 159-180.
  • Runtime : 12:10
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history Charles Darwin Alfred Russell Wallace common ancestor. finches natural selection Cuvier Lyell Lamarck Malthus microevolution macroevolution heredity Mendel Morgan mutation Wright Haldane Aylmer peppered moths genetic drift gene flow Dobzhansky the Modern Synthesis DNA


  • Tessa T
    Tessa T   1 days ago

    I've been to see the new Smithsonian Exhibit! My son and I met friends their earlier this month. It was really cool! I'd like to go back after the school year starts when we have more time and it is less crowded.

  • Richard Deese
    Richard Deese   4 days ago

    EDICT = Evolution: Diversifying into Infinite Combinations (Theoretically). :o) Thank you! 𝓡𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲 𝓣𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲.

  • Iván
    Iván   1 weeks ago

    Gotta love Biology. 😏

  • Quinceps
    Quinceps   1 weeks ago

    Just say "land" for me (La La Leeeeend).

  • Vincent Telfer
    Vincent Telfer   1 weeks ago

    micro-macro that would involve DNA evolution the micro with macro making it more complicated along with climates and earths evolution

  • Imperial D
    Imperial D   1 weeks ago

    I have a QUESTION. DOes anyone know the answer to this or know a link where they disuss it? --So if all life originated from a very primitive organism. Did that organism, have the DNA of all living things that came after it? Or did tha information evolve?

  • shawty Lane
    shawty Lane   2 weeks ago

    There use to be over 100 different species of kiwis now there's only two

  • snowwhitewitch
    snowwhitewitch   2 weeks ago

    02:07*plays The Greatest Show on Earth by Nightwish *

  • Mami nathan
    Mami nathan   2 weeks ago

    But.. why evolution? Why it helps to survive. Why life wants to survive? not seeking for a philosophical or religious answer. Is it to fight entropy with complexity? If so in what way? I don't think intelligence was planned, we are an accident . Why does survival of life matters?

  • Alina Vorobyova
    Alina Vorobyova   3 weeks ago

    Can you guys do a video on how carnivorous plants evolved? In particular, how is it that plants managed to develop the ability to both capture insects as well as digest them?

  • Edward Foehring
    Edward Foehring   3 weeks ago

    What about cosmic rays they nudge our DNA into different direction s .

  • Sandman
    Sandman   3 weeks ago

    Best channel on youtube. Would be cool if more episodes had alternating presenters like this.

  • niller
    niller   3 weeks ago

    Thank yoyu so much for yet another great video! But: mendel was a german speaking austrian from silesia, which only later became part of the chech republic.

  • Bill Nada
    Bill Nada   3 weeks ago

    Why is Johnny Lawrence teaching about evolution?

  • The Funky Samoan
    The Funky Samoan   3 weeks ago

    Mendel was not Czech but German Bohemian and would have considered himself a German-Austrian. Besides that minor error you guys did a great job. Thank you.

  • TrollBuster
    TrollBuster   3 weeks ago

    I would love to see a collaboration between Eons, Smarter Everyday, and It's Okay to Be Smart. Make it happen!!

  • Alex Simeonov
    Alex Simeonov   4 weeks ago

    You forgot horizontal gene transfer. Nice video though.

  • Juho Lehto
    Juho Lehto   4 weeks ago

    Hello. First of, I have to thank all the people working on PBS Eons content, for they are downright spectacular! I would like to bring up a topic that PBS Eons might want to answer sometime in the future.How it is possible that only primates were able to evolve a species as intelligent as Homo Sapiens? How come no other order, or even class were able to evolve a species with comparable intelligence?In the videos in this very channel, we've been presented with most extreme evolutions and species nobody at a glance could guess are related, but indeed are. So how come genus Homo was alone in developing such intelligence as we have?If ability to make tools and use tools was the primary trigger in evolution of brains to this stage, why do we still have primates that are, well primitive? Shouldn't most of them have evolved higher intelligence by now? After all, they all do have hands to pick up those stones and to make tools with, and eventually discover you can spark a fire if you hit two stones together enough times.In a nutshell, why there are no lizard(wo)men around competing with humans for resources. Cue Doctor Who theme music.

  • Gord Orvis
    Gord Orvis   1 months ago

    The Koch funding is a gross trade off.

  • Hollow Voices
    Hollow Voices   1 months ago

    I'd like to propose a new method of Evolution. Forced Evolution. Basically setting the environment a certain way and grooming a species to adapt to it over x amount of time. Would likely only work easily on species that have very short life cycles.

    EL SCIENCE   1 months ago

    The first guy talking in this video kinda looks like the science teacher from Stranger Things.

  • mermaidfinn
    mermaidfinn   1 months ago

    we learned about this first concept of evolution in my 2nd grade where we were given tongs, tweezers, cups, and other varying kitchen tools and we had to pick up beans from different surfaces - this showed my 8 year old brain that different ecosystems required species to adapt different tools (beaks/evolutions) in order to survive. really thankful i had a cool teacher like that and i love these videos for reteaching me and in more depth.

  • Aro
    Aro   1 months ago

    hahahahaaaaa :)))

  • Solrod
    Solrod   1 months ago

    Silly question, where is that museum? I want to visit it

  • Ryan Allen
    Ryan Allen   1 months ago

    Does this disprove Christianity?

  • Arpitha Mallikarjun
    Arpitha Mallikarjun   1 months ago

    Seems like whole evolution is like Machine Learning technology. This makes me think we might be inside the matrix.

  • Compscript
    Compscript   1 months ago

    I read the comments and notice that the religious nuts are speechless to this video.

  • Hudson Warehouse
    Hudson Warehouse   1 months ago

    Wow. David H. Koch Hall?All Three of You Just Needed a Pay Check. Yeah?

  • Eric Chapman
    Eric Chapman   1 months ago

    that's all great and what not that our theories of new species creation came from 1953 before we knew about DNA... but what now since we know chromosome pairs cant mate. How do you evolve more or less chromosome pairs?? We left out the virus deposition of genes as an evolutionary thing right?

  • Carlos Baez
    Carlos Baez   1 months ago

    Creation not evolution but is a nice history to go sleep