“So, I wanted that word — biodiversity — to remind us how little we know about the natural world and of the danger that we destroy it before we even know it’s there.”—E.O. Wilson, from “Of Ants and Men”
Beginning with his unusual childhood in Alabama, E.O. Wilson—Of Ants and Men chronicles the famed biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s lifelong love for the natural world and the groundbreaking research that would establish him as the foremost authority on ants. It is an exciting journey of ideas but also an endearing portrait of a remarkable man; often dubbed “a Darwin for the modern day.”
Wilson’s discovery of ant pheromones in the 1960s led him to start thinking about systems of communication in nature on a grand scale. He was one of the first to start thinking about ecosystems, still a revolutionary concept at the time, and the ways different species fit together inside them. His book, Island Biogeography and the word “biodiversity,” which he coined in the 1980s, have since become the cornerstones of conservation biology. This would have been enough for most scientific careers but there was so much more to come.
Wilson’s work on ant communication led him to his remarkable studies of advanced social behavior throughout the animal world, and when his studies turned to human behavior, the new and controversial discipline of sociobiology was founded, creating an uproar in the scientific community. Hardly had that controversy died down when he was embroiled in yet another fierce debate about the theory of evolution, which has brought him into conflict with biologists who fiercely oppose his theory of “group selection.”
But above and beyond these scientific debates lies Wilson’s abiding passion for the natural world and its conservation. E.O. Wilson—Of Ants and Men culminates with his work in the great National Park of Mozambique, Gorongosa, which brings together the great themes of his life and work: nature and humanity’s place in it.
Executive Producer: Graham Townsley
Director: Shelley Schulze
Editor: Amy Young
Photo: Lentsoe Mamatela