Segments in this Video

An Ingenious Code (01:58)


An expert reflects on the appearance of life in different environments. DNA is a common thread through all living things. Humans have decoded the DNA of creatures on nearly every branch of the tree of life.

Reading the Genome Sequence (04:14)

DNA holds the key to how human life began. Dr. Kristjánsson studies the hot springs of Iceland. Archaea may have set the stage for multi-cellular life. Humans and Archaea share 200 genes. EEF1 Alpha 1 is in every living thing.

Time of Evolution (02:54)

Steve Jones believes we all share certain genes in the deep processes of life. He discusses the time line of evolution. Complex cells appear suddenly in evolution. Viewers compare human cells.

Kick Starting Complex Life (02:52)

Dr. Lane explains the evolution of complex cells; the merging of Archaea with bacteria. Bacteria provides energy to the host cell. Sequencing the human genome shows that 200 genes originate from Archaea and bacteria.

Origin of Vertebrates (05:07)

Experts believe that Amphioxus holds the clue to vertebrate development. Decoding DNA shows a four-fold pattern of an older genome that quadruples in size. An expert discovers a peak in the length of genomes.

Genome Amphioxus Sequence Finished (03:20)

An expert discusses the remnants of the four-fold multiplication of genomes. The same handful of genes determines how many vertebrae a human and a snake have. The difference is in when and where they are expressed.

Hierarchy of Genes (03:29)

A doctor compares the human skull with other animal skulls. He discusses how natural selection builds suitable animals for their environment.

Chromosomes: Accidental Copies (04:48)

Many changes of evolution are huge whole cell changes. The 46 chromosome copies from parents are not exact. Geneticists study the structural changes of chromosomes. An expert discusses the development of color sense.

Fossil Genes (04:38)

Scientist find remnants of old genes that have been selected out of existence. Experts show how the genes for smell have been fossilized over the years, OR7D4. A scientist compares human and chimpanzee senses and enzymes.

Meiosis (04:23)

Prof. Donnelly discusses the divergence of humans and chimpanzees. Meiosis allows recombination. A recombination hot-spot requires a particular sequence of 13 base pairs, CCGCCGTATCCTC.

Answer to Divergence? (02:19)

Prof. Donnelly identifies that the gene PRDM9 controls where hot-spots occur. He believes this is part of the divergence process from humans and chimpanzees. Genomes show that humans are invariant.

Genetic Similarity Versus Individual Diversity (06:47)

Our DNA reveals that all humankind originates from a very small population of humans. Our DNA differs by a fraction of 1%. Scientists in South East India perform pioneering genetic surveys and find that the caste system influences Indian's genomes.

Understanding Human History (01:10)

Every genome reveals history. The message in DNA is profound. Every one of us is the result of a journey that has taken nearly 4 billion years.

Credits: The Book of Life: Genetics and Evolution (00:03)

Credits: The Book of Life: Genetics and Evolution

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The Book of Life: Genetics and Evolution

Part of the Series : The Gene Code
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



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 multicellular 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.

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL44891

ISBN: 978-1-62102-186-5

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Recent discoveries in genetics and evolutionary history are presented clearly and enthusiastically in this well-done and accessible film.... Suitable for high school classes and for college courses in physical anthropology, evolution, and genetics, as well as general audiences. Highly recommended.”  Anthropology Review Database

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.

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