This discussion page is devoted to TED TALKS that celebrate and discuss ALL Life forms on our unique small blue planet. From the most rudimentary examples of life, to the most complex species that inhabit our home, Earth.

Please add your favorite selections to this ongoing discussion...

One of the earliest known forms of life on Earth is stromatolites, which consist of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Fossil records of stromatolites date back
3.5 billion years. This photo shows modern stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western
Australia. Image credit: Paul Harrison

A North Pacific humpback whale propels its entire body out of the sea, breathtakingly close to a lone photographer in his flimsy rubber dinghy.

Measuring up to 50 feet and weighing a colossal 40 tons, this behemoth of muscle and blubber is simultaneously guarding its territory and putting on a spectacular display, surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Gulf of

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Charles Anderson Discovers Dragonflies That Cross Oceans

Charles Anderson studies marine life in the Maldives, a nation of coral atolls in the Indian ocean.
While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the globe skimmer, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world.

Why you should listen to him:
Since 1983, Charles Anderson has lived and worked in the Maldives, a group of more than 1,000 coral islands that is the world's lowest-lying country. Marine life here is rich and fascinating, and Anderson has been instrumental in identifying it and promoting its preservation. This year, the Maldives became the first nation to ban shark fishing, after recognizing that the decline in live sharks was impacting the lucrative tourist trade.

Anderson has discovered several new species of fish, and was awarded the President of Maldives Award for Service to Fisheries in 1995, the only non-Maldivian ever to receive this honor. He and his wife, Susan, run several whale-watching trips each year where tourists take part in a national survey of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). recently, Anderson has identified the world's longest insect migration: the 18,000 km flight of tiny Pantala flavescens dragonflies back and forth across the Indian Ocean. He has found that the migration begins in India and proceeds via the Maldives (a mystifying stopover, because freshwater is scarce on these low-lying atolls) and the Seychelles -- and then all the way to East Africa.

"It may seem remarkable that such a massive [dragonfly] migration has gone unnoticed until now. But this just illustrates how little we still know about the natural world."
Charles Anderson, BBC News
Bonnie Bassler on How Bacteria "Talk"

WATCH This TED Talk Full Screen on TED:

Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria "talk" to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves.

In 2002, bearing her microscope on a microbe that lives in the gut of fish, Bonnie Bassler isolated an elusive molecule called AI-2, and uncovered the mechanism behind mysterious behavior called quorum sensing -- or bacterial communication. She showed that bacterial chatter is hardly exceptional or anomolous behavior, as was once thought -- and in fact, most bacteria do it, and most do it all the time. (She calls the signaling molecules "bacterial Esperanto.")

The discovery shows how cell populations use chemical powwows to stage attacks, evade immune systems and forge slimy defenses called biofilms. For that, she's won a MacArthur "genius" grant -- and is giving new hope to frustrated pharmacos seeking new weapons against drug-resistant superbugs.

Bassler teaches molecular biology at Princeton, where she continues her years-long study of V. harveyi, one such social microbe that is mainly responsible for glow-in-the-dark sushi. She also teaches aerobics at the YMCA.

"She's really the one who's shown that this is something that all these bacteria are doing all the time. And if we want to understand them, we have to understand quorum sensing."
Ned Wingreen, Princeton, on Nova ScienceNOW

Bonnie Bassler's Homepage:

Added Bonus: Check out this amazing YouTube...

By synchronising our clocks, we can coordinate our activities with people around the world. Now, scientists have engineered bacteria to synchronise their molecular timekeepers, creating the stunning fluorescent waves you see in this video. Hear more about synthetic biology on the Nature Podcast ( or read the original research here:
Mike deGruy: Hooked by an octopus

Underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy has spent decades looking intimately at the ocean. A consummate storyteller, he takes the stage at Mission Blue to share his awe and excitement -- and his fears -- about the blue heart of our planet.

About Mike deGruy

Mike deGruy has been filming in and on the ocean for three decades. He’s almost as famous for his storytelling as he is for his glorious, intimate visions of the sea and the creatures who live in it.

Why you should listen to him:

Mike deGruy was a graduate student in marine biology when he first picked up a 16mm film camera. Thirty-plus years on, his company, the Film Crew Inc., travels the oceans making underwater films for the BBC, PBS, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. He’s dived beneath both poles and visited the hydrothermal vents in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. And as you can imagine, he has collected many stories along the way.

An accomplished diver and underwater cinematographer, deGruy has also become a go-to host and expedition member on shows like the recent Mysteries of the Shark Coast with Céline Cousteau and Richard Fitzpatrick. (He’s a regular on Shark Week -- and a shark attack survivor himelf.) But his first passion is cephalopods, and in fact DeGruy and his team were the first to film two rarely seen cephalopods, the nautilus and the vampire squid, in their home ocean.
Stefano Mancuso: The roots of plant intelligence

Plants behave in some oddly intelligent ways: fighting predators, maximizing food opportunities ... But can we think of them as actually having a form of intelligence of their own? Italian botanist Stefano Mancuso presents intriguing evidence.


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