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What Darwin Didn’t Know

26 Jan What Darwin Didn’t Know

Just watched “What Darwin Didn’t Know” with Armand Leroi as part of the BBC Darwin season. I was looking forward to it but it was a little disappointing. The tone was too sleepy and Victorian. There was some but not enough on what Darwin didn’t know, which was odd given the title. Modern evolutionary biology, the sort of topics you might see in journals were only first mentioned 40 minutes into an hour program. This included trees, evo-devo, and genomics. I would really have liked a program about the enormous pervasive splendour of modern evolutionary biology, rather than having a big section showing the same stuff again about bloody peppered moths.

On the bright side there was an almost embarrassing amount of time spent discussing cichlids. Nice! Unfortunately it was scattered with odd stuff, a couple that I remember are below.

‘Malawi was colonised about 2 million years ago’. Well the evidence indicates that the diversification occurred about 4.5 mya (Genner et al 2007).

‘Evolution of cichlids ran twice; Malawi and Tanganyika’. Hmmm probably 4 times (Tanganyika, Malawi, Victoria and palaeo-Makgadikgadi).

Didn’t they consult anybody on this stuff?

He mentioned the evolution of evolvability, but possibly meant something entirely different? That wasn’t very clear to me.

Oh well, it was quite nice visually, and not that bad really, but given the cool title I was hoping for more.


Genner, M.J., Seehausen, O., Lunt, D.H. Joyce, D.A., Carvalho, G.R, Shaw, P.W., & Turner, G.F. (2007) Age of cichlids: new dates for ancient lake fish radiations. Mol. Biol. Evol. 24: 1269-1282. PDF

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