What Darwin Never Knew

After watching “What Darwin Never Knew” I really liked how in this episode they read some of Darwin’s dairy. I was very interested on Darwin’s thought of evolution! I had no idea that fish evolved into humans, or ever think that we had some sort of fish DNA in us. Though I’m kind of disappointed in the fact that we lost our gills, I think it would be cool if we could breath under water!  What also shocked me was in the video they talk about how embryo’s all look the same but through time and growth they show differences. When they showed the scene of the four different types of embryo (human,chick,fish,bat) I paused the show to see if I can guess which embryo is which. I thought that each embryo had a unique look to them where I can tell which embryo belonged to which species. I was totally off on my guesses I guesses. Then it got me thinking, what makes animals/humans evolve? I know in the video it talks about DNA, and how DNA doesn’t stay the same or having a mutation, but I really want to know what triggers us, or animals to start to evolution? I know that there are some issues between religion and Darwin’s idea of evolution, but in my opinion evolution involves both religion and Darwin’s idea.  I also find it really interesting on how snakes and whales have the bone structure to forms arms and legs. Though in my opinion I don’t know why its called an evolution if they lost something. Wouldn’t a whale swim faster if he has hind legs/fins? Wouldn’t snakes move faster as well? I also like how the video covered what causes the “switch” in the DNA. I really learned a lot about DNA and evolution and how difficult it is to find each DNA coding.  I am still surprised on how close we look to different species when we are in the embryonic stage. I guess we are closer to animals then I thought.



What Darwin Never Knew

When watching,  “What Darwin Never Knew” there was so many new and interesting things to process.  In High School, I never learned about Darwin’s theories.  In my classes the teacher mentioned who he was and that he came up with something called “the theory of evolution”. But because my High School was a Catholic school, that is all we learned about Darwin. The school wanted to keep the value that God made all things in His likeness and everything perfect, as the Bible portrays it. But I wondered, as Darwin did, “why are there so many different types of animals in the world?” This film clarified and explained so much more. It explained variation and that species change and adapt to their environment and these changes accounting for the slightest difference in beaks to the color of the animal. Now it can be explained with the discovery of the switch in DNA and the mutation of DNA. The switch allowing choosing when and when not to use some genes just four molecules, GATC, can make up the 2 million plus living animals on this earth. It is just amazing.


This brings me to the next part of my post, thankful.  I am thankful for the mutations and molecule pairs that I did get. I am thankful that the human species doesn’t live in an “eat or be eaten” world, as other animals do. If we did, I would have been eaten a long time ago. Not only am I not competitive, in which case, I would have starved to death but I have very poor eyesight which makes finding food or getting around difficult. Being human, I can make my mind up about things like choosing not to eat animals. I feel it is wrong to eat an innocent animal, yet if I was a lion and chose not to eat meat I wouldn’t be the “King of the Jungle” but the “village idiot” and would most likely die. But there is one thing that I am incredibly thankful for and that is, thumbs. The Glorious thumb, without thumbs things would be so much more different from they are today. This is the key human anatomical part. It allows us to do so many things. BY being able to touch all of our fingers with just the thumb. I guess our brain is important too. The brain makes humans unique and not still in “the Wild” with Natural Selection.

Thank you mutation and thank you thumbs!




What Darwin Never Knew

In “What Darwin Never Knew”, the topic that I found most interesting was what is considered to be “human” as well as what makes us different from most animals in our planet? Some of the main points are how we create and build new technology, and understanding math problems and sciences (DNA, medical, biological studies, etc.). It was amazing to see all the physical traits we have in common with animals, yet we all have different brains (how we think, process thoughts, etc.)

I was always fascinated and curious of how animals and humans communicate amongst each other. How were we able to understand one another without feeling confused? For example, when I call my puppy—Marley—I would call his name or even whistle. He knows what it means and would be by my side as soon as he hears me. There was this one time when I was watching a cartoon when my puppy started to get my attention by sitting in front of me and wave his paws at me in a begging motion. At first I thought he wanted some food, but I noticed him jump down at a particular spot near the sofa. He gave me this “stern” look and yipped a little. I became curious and kneeled down and noticed his bone was caught underneath. How was he able to know that I could understand him and know it was the bone he was looking for? How did he figure out that I wouldn’t be able to understand his speech and use a different method of communication?


I still don’t understand how animals think besides acting on mere instinct. I’m would like to learn how they can process and understand ways of being able to communicate amongst each other. I do believe animals have a lot more knowledge than what humans realize—we still don’t yet understand their potential.


On What Darwin Never Knew

The documentary, ‘What Darwin never knew’ provided insight into the leaps and advances in the field of genetic mapping, and the search for knowledge regarding our ancestry. Being exposed to these things early, I found it easier to accept that we came from apes and fish, than many other students during the days of my primary education. Watching this video made me realize, and rekindle much of the lost mysticism gathered back in the day, between the exhibits of dinosaurs and fighter planes at the local museum.

The genetic mapping of segments within our DNA intrigued me most. The true magic, for myself, lies within the sudden exposure to all the possibilities this research might hold. Keeping closer to the track, though, the video highlights the similarities we share with our genetic cousins on the face of the planet. Human embryos, with gills; the imagery, however bizarre, cannot be disproven as of yet.  It truly makes you wonder, if history took a different turn, if the earth had developed differently, if our ancestors never left the water…the possibilities go on and on.

As a science fiction geek, and a physics classroom veteran, these ideas and developments opened an infinite spectrum of doors; a peephole into the infinite possibilities and forms life could have taken in our world. So, all in all, the video was knowledgeable, simplified so that those, lesser versed in the field of genetics like myself, would be able to understand the concepts with ease.

My father stressed the importance of history throughout my entire life. ‘A successful future is built on the lessons of the past’, and while this is partially the ongoing rambling of a middle aged man, I wish to sign off this post with the simple thought, that the work of looking into the past, and understanding how our race got to where it currently is, will perhaps solve some of the greatest mysteries and problems that plague us today.

And, as for the title ‘What Darwin never knew’, even though it is clearly a façade, I enjoyed feeling smarter than Charles, even for just a second.

Please enjoy a photo of a spider monkey, (Courtesy of National Geographic)



Link: http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/007/cache/spider-monkey_719_600x450.jpg

What Darwin Never Knew

While I was watching “What Darwin Never Knew,” I became very interested in what makes us human and sets us apart from the other animals. Some of the key differences that were mentioned in the video are a desire for justice even if it doesn’t directly relate to us, the ability to create music and art, an understanding of math and science (if I remember correctly) and the practice of religion. I find it fascinating that we can share so many physical traits with animals—even gills in a manner of speaking. I never knew that! —and yet have such vastly different brains.

I am really curious about what animals think of some of the strange things we do, specifically anything related to the arts and music. For example, my pet dog responds every time I play the piano by coming into the room and lying down to listen. He gets up and leaves if I play certain styles of music, and also has favorite composers (we share a love of Chopin, if anyone is interested.) I understand how a dog, with his sensitive ears, would find some notes painful to listen to, but how can he enjoy my other music if he doesn’t understand it to some extent? If animals can understand music, can they register anything more than the most basic information about visual art? How much do they comprehend of all the other apparently “human” things?

I don’t know much about how non-human creatures think, although I know they act mostly on instinct. It’s definitely something I’ll be checking out in the future. I think humans are really special creatures and I am also a huge animal lover, so I would love to compare how their very different types of brains work.

What Darwin Never Knew

I found it very interesting that Darwin made the observation that human embryos have what appear to be gill slits when they are developing. They later turn into the inner bones of our ears, while in fish they turn into gills. I was curious as to if this would only add to aquatic ape theory. I found it interesting that the video ddn’t mention our bipedalism as one of the key differences between humans and other animals. I’d really like to see what the differences in our genes and that of other animals lead to our ability to stand up right and walk. Another thing I found quite fascinating was how the genes that effect the development of our brains were so similar to other animals, but drastically different at the same time. Like how a broken gene that would normally lead to muscle disease is a key factor in the development in our brain. This same gene, complete and un-broken in chimps, helps develop the muscles of the jaw that restrict the expansion of the brain-plates in the skull. It is interesting to me how a genes sequence and timing can be so key in the major differences that occur between us and other animals.

I also really loved how humbling these discoveries were. To find out that humans have about 23,000 genes, while an ear of corn could have double that if not more. Image

What Darwin Never Knew


I find it phenomenal how that we all came from one fish, or just one animal, and yet many of us lack compassion for life and the animals we live with. We may not understand the extent of these animals “consciousness”, but they must share some type of the same perceptions we do.

Related too, is how similar are genetic code is, is there one language of  genetics. One language for creating all of life on earth? If so, why was the genetic language for life on earth created, this specific way? Is it the way our atmosphere and elements combine together? What are the possibilities of creation? What are they limited by?

I had no idea the extent of which we’ve progressed in genetics. The idea that we can isolate genes and implant them in other animal embryos is phenomenal. The future of genetics is, and will absolutely be part of our future. Will we be able to scan growing babies for gene mutations, and is that right? For me at least, I can’t imagine why not, especially in sever cases of retardation or other disabilities. But who would be able to pay for these treatments, would this cause class warfare?

What Darwin Never Knew: The Why’s and If’s

After watching the documentary, “What Darwin Never Knew,” I had a few questions: What caused the development of our brains? There is a specific gene that was talked about in the end of the documentary that allowed our brain cavity to expand, in turn allowing our brains to grow; but why? What was the gene that caused it and where did it come from?

In addition humans are said to be one of the few animals that lack natural instinct. The only known instinct all humans share is a fear of falling, yet humans will go out of their way to experience this thought skydiving and other past times. Even with the development of a large brain what caused the loss of these natural instincts?


I think of myself as a very open person, in fact I have a personal motto that states, “Everything is possible,” this leads me to believe that everything in the documentary has some truth to it, even though the theories of evolution are still being worked out. In accepting such a motto it led me to think of my current fascination, mermaids.

My attention was caught with the mention of the slits on human fetus’ necks that become the bones of our inner ear, but those similar slits become gills on fish. I was curious to know what everyone’s ideas were on theories such as the Aquatic Ape Theory and similar ideas suggesting that a form of aquatic humanoids have developed to live in the deep regions of the ocean?

I understand the controversy on the subject, but things that are mythological still hold the ‘ if ’ factor that science is built on. I don’t expect people to share this fascination; I only care to see people ideas on why it’s impossible.



Post by: Stephanie Creeley

Class Today–August 26th, 2013


Hi Class!

As we talked about last week, I am in Alaska for a work event and am not able to be there physically at Ringling.  I still have class planned however and I recommend you to use your time wisely and get your work done during our regularly scheduled class time.

Here is what you need to do:

1) Post a comment to this post to indicate you are “present” in class.  Please answer this question, “What animal would you most like to see in the wild?”

2) Watch “What Darwin Never Knew”

Streaming from the PBS website (free)


3) Write a blog post on your thoughts on one aspect of the film.  Were you most interested in the history of Darwin, genetics, evolution, genetic manipulation?  Which ever topic strikes you as interesting, write your blog post about it.

Blog post must be completed before we meet for class again (Sept 9th).  If you have problems, questions and concerns,  please ask them before Sept 9th.  You have two weeks to complete this assignment.

Posts must be about 300 words and must include a relevant image.