Biology KS3/4: How has life on Earth become so varied?

Professor Brian Cox explores how life on Earth has become so varied.

Our natural world is spectacularly diverse, from the tiniest bacteria, to the tallest trees. But every living thing on the planet is descended from one organism we call the Last Universal Common Ancestor, or LUCA.

We know this because all life shares the same fundamental biochemistry; our DNA is built from the same four organic bases. So what created the abundance of life forms?

Using a cloud chamber to observe cosmic rays, he explains how they’re an important source of mutation that drives the evolution of life.

This clip is from the series Wonders of Life.

Teacher Notes

Challenge students to the evidence that we have for how life began on Earth. Challenge them to order the evidence as to what they find the most persuasive and why.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Biology at KS3 and KS4/GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and SQA National 3/4/5 in Scotland.

More from Wonders of Life:

Bacteria and the development of an oxygen rich atmosphere
video
Conservation of energy
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Lemurs: Evolution and adaptation
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Jellyfish and photosynthesis
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The arrival of water on Earth
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The origins of life on Earth
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Evolution of hearing
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Evolution of sight
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Evolution of the senses
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Gravity, size and mass
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Size and heat
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