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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how some genetically different parents - from different species - can have offspring and what that says about the origin and evolution of species

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what happens when parents from different species have offspring, despite their genetic differences. In some cases, such as the zebra/donkey hybrid in the image above, the offspring are usually infertile but in others the genetic change can lead to new species with evolutionary advantages. Hybrids can occur naturally, yet most arise from human manipulation and Darwin's study of plant and animal domestication informed his ideas on natural selection.


Sandra Knapp
Tropical Botanist at the Natural History Museum

Nicola Nadeau
Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield


Steve Jones
Senior Research Fellow in Genetics at University College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 31 Oct 2019 21:30


Steve Jones at University College London

Nicola Nadeau at the University of Sheffield

Sandra Knapp at the Natural History Museum

Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution – Quanta Magazine

Maladaptive learning and memory in hybrids as a reproductive isolating barrier – Royal Society

Adaptive introgression: a plant perspective – Royal Society

Phylogenomics Reveals Three Sources of Adaptive Variation during a Rapid Radiation – PLOS Biology

Genomic architecture and introgression shape a butterfly radiation – Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Hybrid – Wikipedia

Hybrid speciation – Wikipedia



Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution is True (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Charles Darwin, The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species (first published 1877; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017)

Charles Darwin, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (first published 1868; Echo Library, 2007)

Steve Jones, Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated (Black Swan, 2000)

Steve Jones, Here Comes the Sun: How it Feeds us, Kills us, Heals us and Makes us What we are (Little Brown, 2019)

Michael Leapman, The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild: Forgotten Father of the Flower Garden (St. Martin’s Press, 2001)

Robin Marantz Henig, A Monk and Two Peas: The Story of Gregor Mendel and the Discovery of Genetics (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000)



  • Thu 31 Oct 2019 09:00
  • Thu 31 Oct 2019 21:30

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