Why can’t we have this shown in the US?

Surely there can’t be anything objectionable to the Religious Right in a documentary called Animals in the Womb, can there? It sounds like it could be fun, with videos shot using tiny little cameras (and some simulations) of developing embryos in vivo. The only thing I object to is the silly title, since they do have invertebrates and non-mammalian vertebrates on the show, so “womb” is a major misnomer.

It’s going to be on Channel 4 in the UK — I suppose I’ll have to wait for it to be released on DVD.


  1. huf says

    Have they expressed any objections? (i’d love to hear what they are)
    Or was that pure flamebait? :)

    (Or, alternatively, do you just *know* they will? :))))

  2. Nemo says

    The original “Animals in the Womb” has already been on U.S. TV (on Discovery or something). The Telegraph article is apparently about the sequel, “Extraordinary Animals in the Womb”.

  3. says

    It looks like some of the footage may have been shown in the US, like that elephant picture.

    “Expelled” is out today on DVD (surely we can watch it soon on the web). I like the discounts they’re giving:

    EXPELLED DVD and Super Bundle Available at ARN
    The EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed DVD featuring Ben Stein can now be ordered at ARN. In addition, ARN is offering an EXPELLED Super Bundle which includes the EXPELLED DVD, Slaughter of the Dissidents book by Dr. Jerry Bergman. And for a limited time when you order this bundle we will include free copies of the three of the best selling Intelligent Design documentaries: Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Privileged Planet, and The Case for Creator. Normally this bundle would retail for $125 but for a limited time you can order this EXPELLED Super Bundle for only $50 (including shipping anywhere in the U.S). Even if you already own some of these ID documentaries or the book, this is a great opportunity to pick additional copies to give away to friends and colleagues. The EXPELLED DVD is officially released on Tuesday October 21 and orders will be shipping next week. Those who are interested in hosting a public showing of EXPELLED can purchase a license and movie event kit from Wing Clips Cinema.


    Are they have trouble shoveling out this shit?

    To their credit, I see nothing about “Expelled” being the “#1 documentary of 2008” on the official site any more. “Religulous” passed them by with almost one and a half million more dollars over the weekend.

    Glen D

  4. john hackworth says

    I read a review of it today – it sounds cool: sharks, in utero, eating their weaker siblings!

  5. SEF says

    Ah, that “already been on U.S. TV” explains the point I was going to raise about there having been a previous thread on this item some time ago. The quibble back then was that it presented a falsely clean, glowing light, stained-glass-window-effect impression of conditions in the womb.

  6. bunnycatch3r says

    Shown on U.S. TV? Why?
    It’s not like television is watched by anyone anymore anyway. And those who still do most likely wouldn’t understand what they’re objecting to.
    Youtube is where this belongs.

  7. Azdak says

    I’m offended by dogmatic scientism’s consistent narrow-mindedness on this issue! Let’s air some documentaries on stork theory and let the kids decide for themselves!

  8. says

    We need to have godless speakeasies where we can watch our heretical science movies and drink alcoholic beverages named after ungodly things like blood or cephalopod ink.

  9. BobC says

    I read a review of it today – it sounds cool: sharks, in utero, eating their weaker siblings!

    Shark fetuses have no moral values.

  10. Nemo says

    Ames: I think the only poll they need to run on that site would be “Are the ‘Pumas’ complete frauds?”. But perhaps that would be too rhetorical.

    Technically, he probably isn’t qualified due to residency requirements. But I’m just guessing.

  11. OGC! says

    All I know is I never watch any television shows live, due to the magic of DVR. I.e. I would rather see “developing embryos in TiVo.”

  12. davem says

    You can’t have it on US TV, because you don’t have channels that are legally obliged to meet a ‘quality threshold’ before they are allowed licences to broadcast. You don’t get to pay for a TV licence.

    So you get Fox, and we get BBC and ITV, …and Channel 4, ..and Five…and now hundreds more, including Fox (sigh)…

  13. gazzaofbath says

    Don’t get the impression that British TV is anything special – most of the channels in this satelite/cable age of multi-channel viewing are shite. Only the BBC with its public funding makes a decent effort at educational programming. The best comedies are almost always US imports – whatever you guys think of Monty Python that was decades ago.

    Channel 4 started years ago as a highbrow channel but over the years it has gone heavily down market – now the word SEX appears in most of its programming to get their ratings up. I wonder if they confused educational sex with their normal sex offering in showing this programme.

  14. Raúl says

    The DVD is out, my 9-year-old son bought it here in Mexico yesterday. Believe me, if it’s out in Mexico, it’s got to be available in the US and the UK. I can’t remember if it’s NatGeo or BBC.

  15. Ned says

    PZ – have someone download it for you via usenet from alt.binaries.tv

    It was posted yesterday.

  16. Chris Davis says

    Fantastic item in the show about parasitic wasp larvae injected into live caterpillars releasing a virus that knocks out the host’s immune system and prevents the parasite being attacked! It’s also responsible for changing the caterpillar’s behaviour so it actually protects the emergent larvae.

    Sir! Please, sir! Is this just opportunistic symbiosis, or could at least some viruses have been built for such purposes: overcoming host defences etc.?


  17. says

    A similar show, if not the same show, already aired on the National Geographic Channel. I only got to see the part on the elephant so I don’t know if the sharks were one of the animals covered. It was called In the Womb: Animals.

    Yeah, I saw that one and it is a great show. It was especially revealing to see dolphin development in the womb. Apparantly, they grow hind limbs just to be absorbed again. The show briefly described the scientifically accepted explanation for this referring to the land-living origins of whales. Then that was followed by some really cool animations of Pakicetus!!!

  18. Quiet_Desperation says

    Who cares? The new season of Storm Chasers is *on*, baby! Now that’s science!

    We never get good science programming here in the states…

    Piffle. Go satellite. There’s a channels with nothing but. Some are in HD.

  19. Ashley says

    Last night I was watching the ‘In the Womb’ special on youtube about humans, and the comments below the video were outrageous. One person said, “I cannot watch this and say that there is no God. It’s amazing, the science that He created!”

    So there shouldn’t be anything objectionable in the animal version…since ‘god’ created it.


  20. Owen says

    Well, of course no-one’s going to complain. It may be about animals, but it’s got Baybeeeez!!!1! And we all know how the fundies love their baybeez.

  21. ChrisGose says

    Another thing that is slightly OT.

    I’ve noticed that the History Channel’s new series “Evolve” airs at 1:00 am where I am.

    What, are they afraid a creationist is watching and will see it at 9:00 pm? They’re too busy masturbating to the O’Reilly Factor to change the channel.

  22. Ian says

    Why wouldn’t they show it in the US? Every tourist demands a womb with a view don’t they?

  23. Carlie says

    I neeeeeed this for my class. Think they’ll sell it on a DVD that’s American-compatible?

  24. Sauceress says

    “Surely there can’t be anything objectionable to the Religious Right in a documentary called Animals in the Womb, can there?”

    Wellll….there’s the uncanny similarities of appearance and and patterns of developmental sequence patterns in vertebrates. I’m sure they don’t want any of the brainwashed to see any little “tails” appearing on human embryos either!

  25. Sauceress says

    “and and patterns of developmental sequence patterns”

    Oh dear…need more caffeine!

  26. SimonG says

    It was entertaining and certainly looked good. Not terribly technical, but not trivial or patronising either so pretty well pitched.

    The wasp bit (as mentioned by CD, above) was really fascinating, although parasitic wasps always make me cringe: they’re just too alien. The way they use a polydnavirus to hi-jack the caterpillar was amazing.

    Sharks are always cool, and the kangaroo reminded me of one of my first books when I was very young[1]. The penguin was probably the least interesting, just because it was a lot more familiar, but still good.

    [1] The story of Arrora the Red Kangaroo, by Leslie Rees.

  27. Ichthyic says


    You need to be within the UK or the Republic of Ireland to watch Channel 4 programmes

    I guess not.

  28. NelC says

    I guess nobody cares now, but this show had sharks, penguins, kangaroos, and parasitic wasps as the subjects. No elephants or dolphins in this one.

  29. Jeff says

    “Why can’t we have this shown in the US?”

    I don’t remember any controversy whatsoever surrounding the airing of the original program in the US a year or two ago. It was widely publicized and images from the program were easily found on the net.

  30. Peter M says

    Let’s just clear this up. The “original” being mentioned above features elephants, dogs and dolphins.

    This one featured shark embryos treating each other as bite-sized snacks, baby joeys doing a spot of mountaineering whilst about 3 days old, the way penguin eggs survive antarctic winters and how wasps, with the help of specially brewed viruses, re-program caterpillars into expendable surrogate wombs.

    There’s a bit of evo-devo, some nice references to things like the similarity of these embryos at an early stage, sharks teeth as adapted scales, the inner ear evolving from the lateral line…

    The narrator is pretty up-front about evolution being the rational explanation and about the explaining a benign deity needs to do.

    I think it would at least prompt some reaction from the odd fundie!

  31. says

    Didn’t watch it. Did see a review of it the next day in the Guardian. Thought “Hmm, I bet PZ would have liked that.”

    Especially the bit with the shark babies.

  32. Ginger Yellow says

    “It was called In the Womb: Animals.”

    The phrasing of the title raises the disturbing question of what else would be in the womb.

  33. Linda says

    Slightly off-topic, butI happened to come across a delightful children’s programme here in the UK a couple of days ago. It was all about iguanas and I was pleasantly surprised that it talked about how iguanas and all reptiles evolved from ancient creatures over millions of years, and that birds also evolved from reptiles. This was all stated as fact. The series is “Wild About Animals” on Childrens BBC (CBBC). Each episode seems to focus on one animal (dingoes, elephant seals). You can watch this on iplayer if in the UK I think.

  34. Algo says

    I’m not sure if this has been brought up but you can use a UK proxy to watch stuff on the BBC’s website.