Shape of Life is a series of FREE short classroom videos that beautifully illustrate the evolution of the animal kingdom on planet earth. Based upon an original PBS Series, Shape of Life is especially designed for students and teachers who want a first-hand account of how animals adapt and thrive. The series is NGSS aligned with exquisite focus on diversity, biodiversity, adaptability, body structure, design, behaviors, and the innovative scientists who explore these creatures.


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Join us on an amazing tour of how animal life evolved on planet earth

These short videos show students of all ages the dramatic rise of the animal kingdom and the astonishing diversity we see on earth today:

  • Stunning animations explain the intricate inner workings of animals’ bodies, demonstrating the complementary relationship of form and function.
  • Up-close films show animal behaviors while hunting and feeding in their natural habitats.
  • Scientists, shown at work, study paleontology, genetics and ecology, pursuing their passion for the animals they study.
  • From sponges, to worms, to humans, each phylum is presented in exquisite detail of its body plan and the evolutionary developments that lead to today’s astonishing diversity.
  • Other topics present exciting new developments in genetics, paleontology, and engineering.

All these videos align with the Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School and California 7th grade science standards.

Climate Change is Robbing Us of Tasty Food and Quality of Life

Guest Blogger: Natasha Fraley, Researcher and Naturalist

Let’s Fight for Our Planet!


“The rate of change is something that we have never seen before as a planet. And it’s measurable; you can’t argue with that. We have the data. We should pay attention to it now, immediately, and not later.”

- Hog Island Oyster Company owner Terry Sawyer, headquartered in Marshall, California

Our last blog by Jane Silberstein revealed the beauty of the coral reefs of Fiji (I wish I had been on that trip!) and how climate change affects those extraordinary reefs.

Jane shared how changing ocean chemistry – ocean acidification – makes it more difficult for corals to build their reefs because they can’t absorb the necessary calcium carbonate. It’s our actions over the last 200 years that have changed the ocean: we have released about two trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And about a quarter of that has been absorbed by the oceans.

photo of oysters

Read more about how you can help slow ocean acidification…

The Artistry of the Living Coral Reef

Guest Blogger: Jane Silberstein, Monterey Bay Aquarium Senior Interpreter

Photo of the NAIA boat

As an interpreter for the Monterey Bay Aquarium I’ve spent 30 plus years reveling in the beauty and diversity of the invertebrates of Monterey Bay.  I’m known affectionately as the “worm lady” to the aquarium guides and staff, due to my love of ocean worms and other invertebrates (I did my Master’s thesis in the mudflats of Elkhorn Slough, our local wetland).  I’ve only dreamed of diving in places like Fiji, but this spring a free space opened up on a 10-day live-aboard scuba diving boat, the NAIA. It was with my good friend, and mentor, Dr. Steve Webster, who was leading a group of 16 people to explore the reefs of Fiji....

News from Shape of Life

The Marine Arthropods: A Successful Design

photo of a hermit crabTalk about great design!

Marine Arthropods quickly became powerful hunters and scavengers, and established patterns of adaptability and dominance that continue into the present.

Read more about these creatures with legs!

Read the Chapter

Karah Nazor, Ph.D., McCallie High School - FEATURED TEACHER

photo of Dr. Karah NazorDr. Karah Nazor teaches Marine Biology to junior and seniors boys at McCallie High School.  Her classroom doubles as a jellyfish research lab and she and her students raise moon jellyfish and upside down jellyfish in the classroom in a collaborative project with the Tennessee Aquarium. Her student's most recent research interests are to understand the response of the upside down jellyfish's symbiotic algae, zooxanthallae, to heat stress and ocean acidification. She and her students are currently building a new culturing system for Mnemiopsis leidyi or sea walnuts and are going to work on reproducing a spawning protocol from Dr. Browne's lab at UM.

Creature Feature - Humpback Whale

photo of a humpback whale breechingHumpback whale: Megaptera novaeangliae    photo credit: Steve Lefkovits,

Humpbacks live in all the major oceans from the equator to sub-polar latitudes.
They are baleen whales: their baleen acts as a sieve straining out water as it traps small fish or plankton. Humpbacks have pleated throat grooves that open and expand, allowing a whale to gulp down huge amounts of food and water. Often the whales feed in groups, herding schools of fish and creating bubble nets that trap the fish, and then opening their huge mouths to engulf their prey.


Kimberly Williams, Long Island, New York - FEATURED TEACHER

photo of featured teacher Kimberly Williams"Did you hear that crashing noise? That was us, Shape of Life and I, breaking down those classroom walls and getting students connected to the world around them!"

I learned about the Shape of Life this year as I’ve been dabbling in the use of social media to tear down the classroom walls and connect parents and students past and present with each other and with professionals in our field. Something came across our class Twitter feed featuring a Shape of Life video clip that was a tremendous help with my unit on Echinoderms for the 11th graders...