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Complete program description for educators
  Series Overview |  Show 1 |  Show 2 |  Show 3 |  Show 4 |  Show 5 |  Show 6 |  Show 7
Show 4: The Evolutionary Arms Race

57 minutes, 8 DVD chapters

  Chapter 1. Prologue (2:23)  

Introduction to the show's theme: the "arms race" between predator and prey as a driving force in evolution.

  • Example where a microbe is predator, humans are prey
  • Russian prisons have spawned a deadly microbe
  • If we harness evolution, can we reach a truce with this enemy?

  Chapter 2. Newts, Snakes, and Co-Evolution (7:33)  

Biological forces driving species' evolution

  • Why is the rough-skinned newt so poisonous?
  • Garter snakes' high resistance to toxicity and the evolutionary benefits and costs
  • Predators evolving to defeat prey, and prey evolving to evade predators

  Chapter 3. Microscopic Predators (3:02)  

Infectious diseases and the invention of antibiotics

  • Disease-causing microorganisms are modern humans' only predator
  • The development of antibiotics in the early 20th century
  • The mistaken belief that science had defeated infectious diseases

  Chapter 4. The Tuberculosis Epidemic (13:57)  

The rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Russia

  • Overcrowded Russian prisons: ground zero for a new tuberculosis (TB) epidemic
  • What is tuberculosis? How is it contracted?
  • Two personal stories of TB: a prisoner and a young medical student
  • The evolution of drug-resistant TB strains and scientists' efforts to fight back
  • Are we prepared for an epidemic? Using DNA "fingerprints" to track the global spread of TB

  Chapter 5. Domesticating Germs (5:24)  

Understanding and harnessing the power of microbe evolution

  • Can we drive microbes to evolve in ways that benefit us?
  • The connection between a microbe's harmfulness and its transmission
  • South America's cholera epidemic: an example of evolution in action

  Chapter 6. Survival of the Wild Cats (6:52)  

Studying resistance to Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and parallels to HIV

  • Domestic cats suffer from FIV
  • Virus-resistant mutations and why wild cats are safe from FIV
  • Are there humans with HIV-resistant mutations? Resistance and the bubonic plague

  Chapter 7. Symbiosis and Leafcutter Ants (10:11)  

Cooperation as a driving factor in evolution

  • Definition and examples of mutualistic symbiosis
  • Symbiosis in the rainforest: leafcutter ants and their cultivated fungus
  • Parallels between ant and human agriculture and pest management
  • Microbes: the base of the world's complex ecosystems

  Chapter 8. Good Germs (7:08)  

Microbes helping, not harming, humans

  • Are too-clean environments harming our immune systems?
  • Humans evolved surrounded, and supported, by microbes
  • Humans, the only species aware of evolution and its history

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