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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Carl Zimmer
  • Director Hector Herrera
  • Producer Pazit Cahlon
  • Script Editor Michael Molina
  • Narrator Addison Anderson


Additional Resources for you to Explore
Want to learn more about mutations and how essential they are to evolution? The site has all the science you need to get a great background in this topic! Are mutations random? How do they affect an organism? Go here to find out more!

Genes, mutations and evolution! Carl Zimmer, the author of this TED Ed lesson wrote an article: A Long Way Left Up Darwin’s Mountain, where he described natural selection and the evolution of Escherichia coli. Learn how the researchers found out that natural selection in this organism may never really stop. What do mutations have to do with all this? Read and find out!
The article: The Continuing Evolution of Genes describes in greater detail how scientists discover that solitary genes (also called orphan genes or de novo genes) exist that are only found in only one species. How might this happen if genes need to be copied from earlier genes? What else is left to learn about mutations, genes and evolution that we have yet to discover? Will we be able to predict what may happen in the evolutionary future? Listen to this “fish story” and learn about the “shocking” possibilities of future evolution in the electric eel.

Did snake venom always exist? How did snakes evolve to have the advantage of a venomous bite? Learn more here at National Geographic. How can learning about the evolution of venom help scientists? What can we learn from studying venom evolution? Watch this video: How Snakes Got their Venom and learn more about this recent discovery!

The Loom post: The Smell of Evolution better explains how our diversity of smelling genes has changed over time! Are we better “smellers” than we were in the past? How could this happen? Which organisms have the greatest number of olfactory genes? Why is this an advantage? Which mammal has the most sensitive sniffer? Read this article to find out! Here’s a great infographic with more information!

For more by this author visit these TED Ed lessons: Parasite tales: The jewel wasp’s zombie slave and How did feather’s evolve? Or visit the following Phenomena: The Loom or Carl