Monday, October 02, 2006

Evolution on film   posted by agnostic @ 10/02/2006 08:00:00 PM

At his ScienceBlogs site, Razib has asked for suggestions for movies about evolution, other than your basic evolution vs. creation fare. I can't think of anything that has that grand of a theme, so I tried thinking of movies that highlighted a particular aspect of evolution that doesn't get taught much (whereas "we have a common ancestor with chimps" is commonly taught). At my personal blog, I wrote it up in more detail, but I thought Alien was pretty illuminating. Its plot is driven by one of the most important but least emphasized phenomena of recent evolutionary history: a population encounters an infectious organism that it has had no time to evolve a defense to, and which has apparently evolved in an arms race against some other population, and so faces damn near extinction. You might be exposed to this idea if you take a college course in history (then again, maybe not), but it's not given the importance it deserves, like being drilled into high schoolers.

What other movies are there like this, which purposefully or not showcase an important evolutionary dynamic in a way that even those who couldn't handle college-level courses could understand clearly?