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This edition: Fungi, Plants, and Animals

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Episode Details

With more than 1.5 million species of living entities on Earth, scientists must organize the life forms to make sense of their evolution and relationships. The program explains the basic biological classification system and gives an evolutionary overview of the characteristics found in three of the five kingdoms: fungi, plants, and animals.
In the first segment, Larry Beezley, curator of Quail Gardens, and Dr. Michael Simpson describe the evolution of plant species and their differing structures from bryophytes like mosses to angiosperms, the flowering plants. The program details how spore-bearing plants such as ferns quickly had competition from the wildly successful modern flowering plants.
In the second segment, Dr. Tom Bruns explains that fungi are decomposers and are necessary to recycle organic materials into the soil. The fascinating life cycle of the common button mushroom is illustrated by R. B. Crouch, who takes us on a tour of his mushroom farm.
Finally, Dr. David Resnick and Dr. James Lake explain the many phylogenetic branches of the animal kingdom. The role of distinct organs is contrasted between simpler and more complex animals.