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!

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.

Read more about how you can help slow ocean acidification…

Latest News from Shape of Life

Greg McBride, Aptos High, Aptos, CA - FEATURED TEACHER

How Shape of Life Helps H.S. Teacher, Greg McBride, Engage Multiple Kinds of Intelligence

photo of science teacher Bill McBrideWhen you walk into Greg’s classroom, you feel like you’re walking into a science exploratorium that makes you want to learn about everything, all at once. There is a diverse mixture of all kinds of media that captures and holds the squirreliest of monkey-minds.

When Greg McBride starts off the school year, he requests that each student take an online test that doesn’t measure a students’ intelligence—but, how they are intelligent. “Kids learn at all different levels. When they take this test, they don’t discover ‘if’ they’re smart—they discover how they’re smart!”, said McBride. “Shape of Life’s online resources engage kids on multiple levels with writing, reading, listening, drawing and also by viewing never-before-filmed feeding and habitats of animals. Shape of Life offers students lots of ways for their brains to latch onto pretty nerdy concepts.”


Keep Your Friends Close, BUT! … Your Anemones CLOSER!

photo of a clownfish swimming in an anemoneSure, there were lots of reasons for Nemo to bust out of that Dentist office aquarium. In our version of the story, it was mostly because he couldn’t bear to live outside of his anemone.

Nemo is a clownfish, also known as anemonefish because these fish make their homes in anemones. Of over 1,000 anemone species worldwide, only 10 coexists with tropical clownfish. The fish and its anemone are in a symbiotic relationship – this means that the fish benefits from the anemone and vice versa.

Clownfish are the only fish capable of living in an anemone without getting stung by its tentacles. Like their relatives, jellies and corals, anemones have stinging cells on their tentacles. How do the clownfish escape being stung? They have a slimy mucus covering that protects them from the stinging tentacles. Scientists know this because they took clownfish, wiped off the covering, and found that the fish would get stung when they were returned to their home anemone.

New Chapter - The Cambrian Explosion: A Big Bang in the Evolution of Animals

photo of the planet earthNew Resources tell a magnificent story from 500 million years ago!

The story of the Cambrian Explosion of life is one of the greatest moments in science. Learn more about this one-of-a-kind story with our comprehensive view into the evolution of life in our world. You can find a new Shape of Life chapter "The Cambrian Explosion: A Big Bang in the Evolution of Animals".

Crissy Huffard

Dr. Crissy Huffard’s broad research interests are to understand how marine animals live their daily lives to survive and reproduce in changing environments. She has worked primarily with cephalopods, doing her Ph.D. research on octopus behavior. Passionate about the ocean, Dr. Huffard worked for several years in marine conservation with Conservation International Indonesia, and as a consultant with the World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC

Currently Dr. Huffard works with Dr. Ken Smith at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute where the lab aims to understand how ecosystems at abyssal depths (on the sea floor 2.5 miles down) change with the amount of food input. Animals at these depths rely entirely on marine snow – organic particles falling from the upper waters of the ocean – for food. That food supply changes any time ocean surface conditions change, such as during El Nino. In addition to working at MBARI, Dr. Huffard is a Research Associate with the California Academy of Sciences where she collaborates with other researchers to study cephalopod behavior, biology, and evolution.