There were a few things I had known before watching the movie, “What Darwin didn’t know,” but there were some things I had not known and learned from the movie. To start, we learn that a single human has 23,000 protein-coding genes. From that, there can be mutations within the DNA. What I found interesting was that humans are actually massive mutations from the chimps, which are our closest genetic relative. I had already known that a mutation was when in the DNA, a certain letter is changed to another letter, causing a change in the genetic makeup, but the video elaborated on how there are parts on DNA called switches. These switches control when a trait is turned on, how much of it is turned on, and when to turn it off. This became interesting, as traits are what define animals.
Even though mutations can either be good or bad, this plays right into natural selection. A mutation that is passed down can cause major changes, which can allow an animal to adapt better with their environment. The movie provides a good example of this with rock pocket mice. They live in a desert area, so they are a light brown color to blend in with the ground, providing a camouflage against predators. But, there was a volcanic eruption that caused black lava to be strewn about the desert. When the mice went on it, they were bright targets for predators because they didn’t blend in. A mutation in mice had caused some to be born with black fur, which would help them hide better in the lava parts. This plays a part in natural selection because the light brown mice could live on the desert while the black mice live on the lava, with each type being capable of surviving.
Another interesting fact I learned was that most animals have the same set of basic genes that build bodies in the embryo. So, if you were to look at pictures of different kinds of animal embryos, such as a human, a calf, a fish, and a bat, they would all look very similar in that stage and you would have a hard time telling them apart until they continued to grow bigger. Which means, DNA is the building blocks for bodies and that mutations cause different traits to appear on the animals to distinguish them apart. Overall, the movie did bring an interesting and supported idea for what Darwin didn’t know, while agreeing with what Darwin did know in his “theory of evolution.”