Planet of Life [VHS]
VHS | Box Set
|Additional VHS Tape options||Edition||Discs||
|New from||Used from|
(Mar 17, 1998)
Imagine a five-eyed lobsterlike creature hovering above the ocean floor, bringing food to its mouth through a long, wormlike trunk tipped with spines. Is this on Mars? No, planet Earth. It's an Opabinia regalis, an ancient creature whose discovery originally caused paleobiologists to laugh, and just one of dozens of outstanding 3-D computer-animation and life-size models that give the Discovery Channel's Planet of Life boxed set its verve. The series begins in The Birth of Earth, with a Mars-sized asteroid hitting Earth's primordial oceans, and traces the progression of lipidlike molecules to DNA, blue-green algae, and amoebas. Narrator Stacy Keach explains the evolutionary advantages of kidneys, bones, and lungs in early fish, and British Columbia's Burgess Shale reveals bizarre Cambrian fossils and their fascinating reconstructions in Ancient Oceans. Plants lure tetrapods onto land in When Dinosaurs Ruled and rock-eating, herbivorous dinosaurs evolve. The dinosaurs covered, especially berosaurus and triceratops, are treated thoroughly, but viewers expecting more vicious dinosaurs à la Jurassic Park will be disappointed. Creatures of the Skies traces the angiosperm revolution and flight adaptations from pterosaurs to archeopteryx to modern birds and butterflies. The Insect World looks at special adaptations, such as the compound eye, and explains bee language. Apes to Man presents different anthropoids with fabulous comparative footage of different skeletons walking. Evolution's Next Step answers questions like "Where did all Biosphere Two's oxygen go?" The series' life-size models, computer animation, expert interviews, and on-location film footage will appeal to anyone looking for a good visual overview of evolution. --Tara Chace
Top customer reviews
First, some basic errors. It states that Homo erectus was an ape. That's wrong. Later on it states that Homo erectus was a hominid (true). It states that bonobos (which it mostly calls "pygmy chimpanzees" although we know now that is a misnomer - chimpanzees and bonobos are different species) are the only apes that can walk upright. Then in the very next sequence, they show chimpanzees walking upright.
Next are a couple of observations in the "just plain nuts" category. First, that Paranthropus robustus (i.e. robust Australopithecines) made stone tools. Nuts. Next is spoken language is a result of standing up straight (no mention of the hyoid bone or the hypoglossal canal). These might be some of the ideas floating around out there, but they are certainly not those held by most scientists in Paleoanthropology.
To boot, the film perpetuates the old misconception of "survival of the fittest" and goes on to say that "the strongest pass on their genes." Two big mistakes with this: It's not enough to survive. You have to reproduce in order to pass on your genes and be "fit" in an evolutionary sense. The idea that "fitness" means "strength" is erronious. The successful individual could also be one who makes tools, or is smart enough to outwit a predator. Such a statement in a film like this, which is supposed to be educational, just contributes to the misinformation regarding science and evolutionary theory in particular that is so common in society.
Finally, many of the graphics, especially those showing early hominids, are truly cartoonish and based more on stereotype than on factual data.
I was truly disappointed by this program, in a number of ways. This has the potential to be a very good program, but instead is too full of errors to be shown to someone who might believe it. Discovery Channel markets this series under their "Discovery University" sub-brand. If they want to create a niche in serious educational films, they should put some real effort into hiring good writers and editors.
I was very skeptical about this program at first. But I gave it a chance and did I ever find it so immensely informative and entertaining at the same time. Moreover my basic knowledge of evolution is now vastly increased. I have so much more interest in what may have happened so long ago.
One of the most interesting topics covered by this program is the discovery of Cro-Magnon man. Flying in the face of this whole man vs. ape argument is the fact that Cro-Magnon man, just showed up! Out of no where. There does not seem to be any ansestorial roots beyond the fact that he was just discovered.
I think its high time those Bible thumping wanna-be's are put in their place concerning things they know absolutally nothing about. And let science and common sense rule the day.
Deepak Chopra once said; "Our new physics is not only stranger than we think it is, it's stranger than we CAN think."
I think the answer to the question, "Where did man originate?" is indeed stranger than we CAN think and if we can only open up our minds to the possibilities, then just maybe we'll find an answer!