playlist

Living fossils

These creatures are living descendants of ancient beings that roamed the Earth thousands of years ago.

  1. 11:32
    Patrícia Medici The coolest animal you know nothing about ... and how we can save it

    Although the tapir is one of the world's largest land mammals, the lives of these solitary, nocturnal creatures have remained a mystery. Known as "the living fossil," the very same tapir that roams the forests and grasslands of South America today arrived on the evolutionary scene more than 5 million years ago. But threats from poachers, deforestation and pollution, especially in quickly industrializing Brazil, threaten this longevity. In this insightful talk, conservation biologist, tapir expert and TED Fellow Patrícia Medici shares her work with these amazing animals and challenges us with a question: Do we want to be responsible for their extinction?

  2. 16:36
    Jack Horner Building a dinosaur from a chicken

    Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus".

  3. 16:46
    Simon Berrow How do you save a shark you know nothing about?

    They're the second-largest fish in the world, they're almost extinct, and we know almost nothing about them. In this talk, Simon Berrow describes the fascinating basking shark ("great fish of the sun" in Irish), and the exceptional — and wonderfully low-tech — ways he's learning enough to save them.

  4. 11:21
    Laura Robinson The secrets I find on the mysterious ocean floor

    Hundreds of meters below the surface of the ocean, Laura Robinson probes the steep slopes of massive undersea mountains. She's on the hunt for thousand-year-old corals that she can test in a nuclear reactor to discover how the ocean changes over time. By studying the history of the earth, Robinson hopes to find clues of what might happen in the future.

  5. 15:49
    Kenneth Lacovara Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe

    What happens when you discover a dinosaur? Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara details his unearthing of Dreadnoughtus — a 77-million-year-old sauropod that was as tall as a two-story house and as heavy as a jumbo jet — and considers how amazingly improbable it is that a tiny mammal living in the cracks of the dinosaur world could evolve into a sentient being capable of understanding these magnificent creatures. Join him in a celebration of the Earth's geological history and contemplate our place in deep time.

  6. 14:08
    Rachel Sussman The world's oldest living things

    Rachel Sussman shows photographs of the world's oldest continuously living organisms — from 2,000-year-old brain coral off Tobago's coast to an "underground forest" in South Africa that has lived since before the dawn of agriculture.