31 Oct, 2019 570 Biology

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what happens when parents from different species have offspring, despite their genetic differences. In some cases, such as the zebra/donkey hybrid in the image above, the offspring are usually infertile but in others the genetic change can lead to new species with evolutionary advantages. Hybrids can occur naturally, yet most arise from human manipulation and Darwin’s study of plant and animal domestication informed his ideas on natural selection.

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  • Sandra Knapp 2 episodes
    Tropical Botanist at the Natural History Museum
  • Nicola Nadeau No other episodes
    Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield
  • Steve Jones 22 episodes
    Senior Research Fellow in Genetics at University College London

Reading list

  • Why Evolution is True
    Jerry Coyne (Oxford University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species
    Charles Darwin (first published 1877; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017) Google Books →
  • The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication
    Charles Darwin (first published 1868; Echo Library, 2007) Google Books →
  • Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated
    Steve Jones (Black Swan, 2000) Google Books →
  • Here Comes the Sun: How it Feeds us, Kills us, Heals us and Makes us What we are
    Steve Jones (Little Brown, 2019) Google Books →
  • The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild: Forgotten Father of the Flower Garden
    Michael Leapman (St. Martin's Press, 2001) Google Books →
  • A Monk and Two Peas: The Story of Gregor Mendel and the Discovery of Genetics
    Robin Marantz Henig (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0009t41

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0009t41

Auto-category: 576.8 (Evolutionary biology)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. As a rule of thumb, one species cannot mate with another species.