Triumph of Life

Despite overwhelming obstacles, life on Earth has evolved from the most humble of beginnings to a level of diversity that challenges human comprehension. The fittest have indeed survived — even in places where no living creatures could be thought to exist. NATURE’s six-part series TRIUMPH OF LIFE presents the remarkable story of evolution and its survivors.

About the Series

In a stunning six-part miniseries narrated by stage and film actor Liev Schreiber, Thirteen/WNET New York’s NATURE series presents a compelling new vision of the epic forces that have shaped every aspect of existence on our planet, in TRIUMPH OF LIFE.

More than three years in the making, TRIUMPH OF LIFE combines dramatic storytelling with powerful, groundbreaking scientific ideas in a sweeping story about survival and the survivors — the winners, for the moment at least, in an eternal battle.

Life on this planet has fought a ceaseless battle for survival since it first appeared some four billion years ago.

Yet out of this eternal conflict has emerged the overwhelming richness and diversity we see around us. Exploring this paradox, TRIUMPH OF LIFE begins with a penetrating look at the process of evolution and the driving force behind it — genes.

Sex is the key to the immortality of genes, and any tactic necessary will be deployed in the cause of reproduction — even if it’s suicidal to the participant. This episode explores many of the most ingenious, complex, and dramatic methods that animals employ to ensure the continuation of their genetic line.

Since the dawn of life, an evolutionary arms race has imbued predator and prey with ever more sophisticated weaponry. Teeth and jaws are merely the low-tech side of the struggle. Bats have evolved sonar, and moths have devised a way to jam it; squid create smoke screens, caterpillars concoct poisons, and the race escalates from eon to eon.

It’s not always a dog-eat-dog world. The struggle to survive has spawned a remarkable array of cooperative relationships involving families, extended families, and even entire communities.

In this episode, viewers get a glimpse of the virtues and rewards of cooperation as a path to survival, as animals team up to hunt, dodge predators, and build homes.

The growing study of animal intelligence — from the use of tools by chimps to the apparent abilities of many species to communicate among themselves in ingenious ways — casts a vibrant new light on the evolution of the mind. The development of brain power, in fact, has been one of the most fascinating and successful innovations in the history of evolution.

Some 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs were wiped out when their gene machines failed to cope with the cataclysmic changes that followed a comet’s collision with Earth. But with extinction came new life, and surviving mammals evolved to seize the territory left vacant by the vanquished. The concluding episode explores the factors that make winners and losers in the game of life, and poses the question: who will triumph in the long run?

Online content for Triumph of Life was orginally posted January 2001.

  • gokhan diler

    ok here is the exsample. put on the table difrent colours of paints , brushhes and a piece of paper and wait 65 billion years for those things will draw a Mona lisa… imposible isnt it? then evolition is just can be funny

  • Brian Webb

    Wow, what a compelling argument. You mean to tell me that things that are not alive, the paints and the paper, can’t evolve? That is incredible, you have completely negated Darwin’s argument for the evolution of species! Get your facts straight before you write. The theory of evolution does not describe how life came to be on this planet, it describes how life changes over time. In my opinion this is a great video series. It demonstrates the predator/prey factor of evolution especially well.

  • Kevin Spragg

    I remember watching parts of this in a college class. I now teach 8th grade science and would be interested in using it in class. Does anyone know where I can get a copy of this program?

  • Joan Pence

    Yes – you can buy them in VHS both new and used from I teach high school biology and can’t imagine teaching this subject without these tapes. Especially check out the episode “The Four Billion Year War”. Have fun!

  • Mark Goodson

    If the picture above is any indication, I am sure your movie contains a lot of beautiful cinematography. Also, the notion that natural selection weeds out the less fit is a respectable position and I am sure your movie does a good job of illustrating this process. At the same time, there are reasons to believe that Darwinian paradigm has its shortcomings.

  • Chuck

    Please tell me how to get these on DVD. My VHS tapes are wearing out and I’m worried either the tapes or player will fail. These are very valuable in the classroom!

  • Gökhan Diler

    The bird must be perfect combination for fly , and more complicated machine than any A380. Darwinism says its become perfect at the enviroment. But the reality is must be perfect in first day of life for enter the envoriment. That is paradox. Time period is lie. Exsample. if the sperm has no enzyme of enter Egg , in first day of first breed it cant enter and no life. No time for evoliotion period . Everything Must be Perfect in first day of life other wise will not breed. and no time for time prosess.that is paradox

  • nicholas kinyua

    is said,the living is developing but where is it leading us to.

  • sears carpet cleaning discount

    magnificent put up, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not realize this. You should proceed your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

  • Jason

    It seems that the DVD is not available in the US (go figure!) but it is available in the UK through NatGeo (go figure again!)

    If anyone has any friends in UK that would be willing to ship this I’d like to have a copy sent to me!

  • norman

    Well, i am very interested in the information you’ve showed. But how can i be sure that it is true that everything in this world evolved?Does that mean we are just a product of chance random processes?if its so,we can’t be sure what we are thinking now.Am i right?you also have your own biases and opinions abut this.Thanks.

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