Great Voyages of Discovery (02:01)
Discovery of the Americas is an important event in human history. Explorers arrived in the New World convinced that they were special, set apart from the rest of nature. This attitude gradually began to change thanks to Irish doctor Hans Sloane.
Natural Medicines (02:05)
In 1687 Hans Sloane arrived on the island of Jamaica as personal physician to the governor. His passion for botany and hands on approach allowed him to document Jamaica's amazing diversity.
Fascination with All of Nature (02:07)
Interest in nature wasn't confined to botanists like Hans Sloane. In nature, particularly in plants, lay the foundations of imperial power. Traders began to bring home produce from Jamaica. Documented diversity began to clash with the theory of creation.
The National Museum (02:55)
By the time Hans Sloane died in 1753 he had amassed the world's greatest collection of natural objects. The majority of which survive today. The collection was so vast it was moved to a new type of institution beginning to appear across Europe.
Subterranean World (03:00)
Directly beneath Paris lies a network of stone quarries linked by a series of tunnels. People began to take an interest in the items they found in the rock, but it wasn't until the 18th century that people understood that fossils were once living things.
Discovery of Extinct Species (04:40)
Many of France's fossils ended up in the hands of Georges Cuvier, largely regarded as the world's leading animal anatomist. He dissected skeletons and compared them to one another. He applied his knowledge to mammoth remains found in Russia.
Birth of Geology (03:45)
In the 18th century a French aristocrat set out to determine the precise age of the Earth. His inspiration for the experiment came from the idea that the world had started off as a red hot lump of iron.
Geological Evidence of Slow Change (03:43)
Across late 18th century Europe men armed with small hammers began to search for the Earth's most hidden secrets. They soon began to notice strange anomalies in the landscape that pointed to the Earth being at least millions of years old.
Progressive Change in Nature (02:33)
The emergence of geology allowed the concept of deep time to take root. The question, "how did we get here" was forced by the industrial revolution in Europe. Belief in progress was one of the defining characteristics of the Victorian Age.
"Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" was one of the most controversial books of the Victorian age. Author Robert Chambers made efforts to remain anonymous. He introduced transmutation, the idea that species were not fixed.
"Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" (02:42)
Evolution emerged out of a world of progress and brought the realization that Earth was almost immeasurably old. It also forced people to confront the uncomfortable question, "How did we get here?" Darwin picked up where Chambers left off.
"Origin of Species" (01:53)
According to Darwin life was one long struggle for survival. Just as industry involved competition between manufacturers, nature was driven by competition between individual organisms. He called this natural selection.
German meteorologist Alfred Wegener proposed a radical and controversial new theory. Inspired by work in the Arctic Circle he said that Earth's seven great continents had once been clumped together in one super continent.
Continental Drift (04:43)
During the Cold War both the U.S. and Soviet Union found themselves beneath the ocean in need of an accurate picture of the underwater landscape. Scientists discovered the sea floor was made of tectonic plates floating on molten rock.
Great Driver of Evolution (02:28)
Continental drift causes tectonics plates to collide, resulting in volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, which can spawn tsunamis. The violence of the planet has been central to the creation of new life on Earth.
"How Did We Get Here?" (01:52)
Continental drift has played a major role in Earth's climate changes, which have forced animals to adapt in remarkable ways or become extinct. Humans are just the latest in a long line of lucky survivors.
Credits: How Did We Get Here? A History of Evolutionary Science (00:31)
Credits: How Did We Get Here? A History of Evolutionary Science
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