Order and chaos

The difference between order and chaos can depend on your perspective. The systems and processes that drive the natural world might seem random in close-up, whether it’s an ant wandering around near its nest, or a wildebeest charging through the water. But if you zoom out, you can see how these small activities combine to form part of a bigger picture.

The Darwin Tree Of Life project is an attempt to bring order to nature by sequencing the DNA of every living thing in the UK, a staggering 70,000 species. The research team explains how they’ll keep on target by doing a little light sequencing before their morning coffee.

We fly high with one of nature’s most stunning visual displays of order, murmuration, learning from Professor Mario Pesendorfer how this magical movement comes together, and how birds move in perfect sync with no leader.

And wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson – who has helped to create some of the BBC’s best-loved nature documentaries – takes us on a trip to Maasai Mara, where the annual rains bring a natural order to the migration patterns of wildebeest.


The BBC Earth podcast is presented by Sebastian Echeverri and Rutendo Shackleton.

This episode was produced by Rachel Byrne and Geoff Marsh.

The researcher was Seb Masters.

The Production Manager was Catherine Stringer and the Production Co-ordinator was Gemma Wootton.

Podcast Theme Music was composed by Axel Kacoutié, with mixing and additional sound design by Peregrine Andrews.

The Associate Producer is Cristen Caine and the Executive Producer is Deborah Dudgeon.

Special thanks to:

Caroline Howard, Liam Crowley and Mark Blaxter for the feature on the Darwin Tree of Life Project.

Mario Pesendorfer for sharing his insights into murmurations.

Chris Watson for providing the wildebeest soundscape.

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.