I have just finished watching last Sunday’s episode of Wonders of Life, the new series from Professor Brian Cox – courtesy of the i-Player. It is somewhat misleadingly titled ‘Expanding Universe’ because although it does touch on Hubble’s astonishing discovery in the early part of the twentieth century that our Milky Way was just one of billions of galaxies, the main part of this episode (episode two) deals with how animals evolved.
In particular, Cox tackles the evolution of the mammalian ear and the eye. It is wonderfully intelligent film-making and makes you very grateful that we have the BBC! There really is a lot of splendid footage in this episode and as many reviewers have pointed out, Cox has a very infectious enthusiasm for his subject that encourages you to persevere even when he is explaining some tricky concepts.
In light of my recent series of posts on evolution, it worth pointing sceptics of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the direction of this episode because as Cox points out, all mammals have evolved the same set of bones which they use for hearing, including humans. This is an important point because it is common to hear some Muslims argue that they believe in the evolution of all animals, except for human beings.
Update: Actually, I have realised I was wrong about the title of episode 2. ‘Expanding Universe’ does indeed make sense if looked at in the context of creatures evolving eyes and hearing. Sorry for being dim!