Sioux Falls Zoologists

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!"

The mirror test is an experiment developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether an animal possesses the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. It is the primary indicator of self-awareness in non-human animals and marks entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology. Animals that pass mirror test are: Humans older than 18 mo, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Orangutans, Gorillas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas (Killer Whales), Elephants, and European Magpies. Others showing signs of self-awareness are Pigs, some Gibbons, Rhesus Macaques, Capuchin Monkeys, some Corvids (Crows & Ravens) and Pigeons w/training. (Sorry Kitty!)

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse Life in the World's Oceans
for the excellent overview of life in the ocean.

Life in the World's Oceans
Lectures by Professor Sean K. Todd

Life in the World's Oceans
(2018) - 30 lectures, 15 hours
Life in the World's Oceans at

For thousands of centuries, humans lived near the ocean, wandered right up to its edge, and turned back to the relative safety of the known land. Even when we invented ships and the very bravest among us sailed out, our fears and imaginations took over. What creatures could be living in the unknowable darkness, the bottomless depths? Giant worms, microorganisms that eat metal, faceless fish, giant sea spiders? Marine life is even more otherworldly and fantastical than we ever imagined, and Life in the World’s Oceans brings you face to face with these exciting creatures. From the phytoplankton that can only float at the whim of wind and currents to the gray whale that migrates 16,000 kilometers each year, you will be amazed at the variety of life in the seas and what we have only recently learned about its biology, evolution, life cycles, and adaptations.

The Great Courses has partnered with the Smithsonian to produce a vivid exploration of life in this fascinating space—the environment that accounts for 99 percent of Earth’s habitable space. With curatorial expertise, content development, and stunning still and video imagery provided by Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, you’ll understand our planet’s ocean environment and the life it supports as you never have before.

Working in close consultation with Don Wilson, curator Emeritus from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Professor Sean K. Todd of the College of the Atlantic—and one of the world’s leading marine biologists—developed 30 fascinating lectures that take you on a journey from the beginning of life on Earth four billion years ago to the environmental factors and international treaties and protocols that affect our oceans today. With an easygoing manner and an infectious passion for his topic, Professor Todd shares the latest research from the field's most fascinating areas of study, including marine-mammal intelligence and communication, bioluminescence, exploration of the ocean floor, as well as the Smithsonian’s own cutting-edge research work around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Phytoplankton: Carrying the Weight of Ocean Life—and Us

Professor Todd starts your ocean journey at the very beginning, with the wonders of water and a fascinating look at the specific properties that make this unique molecule the essential ingredient for life. You’ll learn how life itself was ignited in this environment, eventually evolving into the phytoplankton that help keep us alive today, providing about 50 percent of all atmospheric oxygen. This phytoplankton—primarily free-floating, photosynthetic, and microscopic algae; and protists and prokaryotes—is the base of almost every marine food web. In fact, the largest animal ever known to have existed on earth, the 200-ton blue whale, sustains itself throughout an 80- to 90-year lifespan by eating only krill, which itself feeds directly on phytoplankton. With each blue whale requiring four tons of krill per day, it’s easy to see the critical link between a healthy phytoplankton population and whale viability.

Professor Todd also explains how research with new technology has recently reversed more than one common “truth” about marine life. DNA analysis has revealed new relationships between lifeforms and resulted in major taxonomic changes. And high-tech submersibles have allowed biologists to explore the deepest ocean floor, revealing a pathway to life in the absence of sunlight. Only recently have scientists learned that bacteria and other organisms use the hot, metal-rich fluids released by hydrothermal vents to turn chemical energy into food. That energy then fuels species of snails, shrimp, giant tube worms, and others that have evolved to thrive in these aphotic ecosystems.

And if snails, shrimp, and giant tube worms are not enough to peak your interest, the unforgettably dramatic images provided through this course give you access into the depths of the oceans, grant you up-close-and-personal encounters with charming marine mammals, and allow insights into the exhibits of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History that you wouldn’t get without being there—from the fossils of red alga to the giant skeleton of a Basilosaurus in the Sant Ocean Hall.

Those Charismatic Marine Mammals

Life in the World’s Oceans provides a fascinating view into the complex lives of marine mammals, enhanced by stunning visual resources from the Smithsonian. Professor Todd shares his own exciting research and field experience with marine mammals to help respond to the most commonly asked questions about their intelligence.

Sean K. Todd holds the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences at College of the Atlantic. He received his master's and doctoral degrees in Biopsychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Since 2001, Professor Todd has worked part time on board ecotourism expedition vessels as a professional guide and lecturer specializing in Antarctic guiding. He presents frequently at internationally based professional conferences, and his work has been featured by the BBC Natural History Unit and National Public Radio.

30 Lectures - 32 minutes each

1: Water: The Source of Life 16: Mammalian Swimming and Buoyancy
2: Ocean Currents and Why They Matter 17: Adaptations for Diving Deep in the Ocean
3: The Origin and Diversity of Ocean Life 18: The Importance of Sound to Ocean Life
4: Beaches, Estuaries, and Coral Reefs 19: Food and Foraging among Marine Mammals
5: Life in Polar and Deepwater Environments 20: Marine Mammal Interactions with Fisheries
6: Phytoplankton and Other Autotrophs 21: Breeding and Reproduction in a Large Ocean
7: Invertebrate Life in the Ocean 22: Behavior and Sociality in Marine Mammals
8: An Overview of Marine Vertebrates 23: Marine Mammal Distribution around the Globe
9: Fish: The First Vertebrates 24: Intelligence in Marine Mammals
10: Marine Megavertebrates and Their Fisheries 25: The Charismatic Megavertebrates
11: Sharks and Rays 26: The Great Whale Hunt
12: Marine Reptiles and Birds 27: The Evolution of Whale Research
13: The Evolutionary History of Whales 28: Marine Mammal Strandings
14: The Taxonomy of Marine Mammals 29: The Urban Ocean: Human Impact on Marine Life
15: How Animals Adapt to Ocean Temperatures 30: Our Role in the Ocean's Future


Life in the World's Oceans
Lectures by Professor Sean K. Todd

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse Life in the World's Oceans
for the excellent overview of life in the ocean.