The Longest-Running Evolution Experiment

If you ran evolution all over again, would you get humans? How repeatable is #evolution? This video is sponsored by @BountyBrand. #biology #science #QPU #HygieneBeginswithBounty #BountyPartner
Special thanks to Prof. Richard Lenski and team for showing me around the lab - it is an honor to be able to witness and document such a historic science experiment.
Thanks to Dr Zachary Blount for the help with research and setting up the competition time-lapse, Dr Nkrumah Grant for microscope images of the long-term line cells @NkrumahGrant
Devin Lake, Kate Bellgowan, and Dr. Minako Izutsu for being part of this video. Long Live the LTEE!
LTEE website -
Intro footage courtesy of the Kishony Lab -
Lenski, R. E., & Travisano, M. (1994). Dynamics of adaptation and diversification: a 10,000-generation experiment with bacterial populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91(15), 6808-6814. -
Lenski, R. E., Rose, M. R., Simpson, S. C., & Tadler, S. C. (1991). Long-term experimental evolution in Escherichia coli. I. Adaptation and divergence during 2,000 generations. The American Naturalist, 138(6), 1315-1341. -
Good, B. H., McDonald, M. J., Barrick, J. E., Lenski, R. E., & Desai, M. M. (2017). The dynamics of molecular evolution over 60,000 generations. Nature, 551(7678), 45-50. -
Blount, Z. D., Borland, C. Z., & Lenski, R. E. (2008). Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(23), 7899-7906. -
Blount, Z. D., Lenski, R. E., & Losos, J. B. (2018). Contingency and determinism in evolution: Replaying life’s tape. Science, 362(6415). -
Wiser, M. J., Ribeck, N., & Lenski, R. E. (2013). Long-term dynamics of adaptation in asexual populations. Science, 342(6164), 1364-1367. -
N, Scharping. (2019). How a 30-Year Experiment Has Fundamentally Changed Our View of How Evolution Works. Discover -
Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Mike Tung, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Ismail Öncü Usta, Paul Peijzel, Crated Comments, Anna, Mac Malkawi, Michael Schneider, Oleksii Leonov, Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, Jim buckmaster, fanime96, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Pindex, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal
Research and Writing by by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev and Casey Rentz
Animation by Iván Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller, Emily Zhang and Raquel Nuno
Edited by Derek Muller
Music by Jonny Hyman and from Epidemic Sound
Additional video supplied by Getty Images
Thumbnail image courtesy of the Kishony Lab
Produced by Casey Rentz




  • The bad computer universally pinch because parade rheologically injure as a freezing shorts. quiet, splendid heart

    James RodwellJames Rodwell6 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Generation 999k: The bacteria started behaving like nanobots.

    Tungkung LangitTungkung Langit8 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • I have a doubt, have they ever checked for a bacteria that could survive the autoclave?? I mean there could be a bacteria that might have mutated so much that it might have gained ability to survive the autoclave.....

    Urban ExplorerUrban Explorer10 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Grow bacteria that eat plastic.

    Vorpal InfernoVorpal Inferno12 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Imagine doing this to humans. Welcome to grimdark.

    Vorpal InfernoVorpal Inferno12 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Did you ask the professor how lethal those E.Coli bacteria are if they were to infect a human?

    Illyasviel von EinzbernIllyasviel von Einzbern13 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • how come no one is talking about how beautiful that lab is

    Samu SallaSamu Salla15 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Just curious, is there any risk of the super-evolved E. Coli infecting the scientists?

    Michael ChenMichael Chen16 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Can we please get a video on lucid dreaming?

    Purvang VasaniPurvang Vasani21 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Wait, but evolution wouldn’t really happen if you didn’t have the selective pressure of competing with other bacteria for resources. I mean it would, the bacteria would still have mutations, but as long as the those mutations weren’t fatal, the colonies would simply randomly generate new versions but none of them would be selected for. In other words, there wouldn’t really be any “improvement” because there wouldn’t be any need to. What would they be improving at? I guess what I’m saying is that your environment is changing and it’s hard to imagine one in which nothing changed. Even in lab conditions, there’s still selective pressure. And as the colony grows, that pressure increases. So evolution is happening in the colonies not in spite of there being no environmental change in the lab, but because of it. Or are you saying that the environmental change is relatively small in the lab compared to the “wild.” And therefore, we’d expect to see a higher rate of evolutionary adaption in the wild than we would expect in the lab? Or were you saying that even in a static environment, there’s always a way to become better adapted to it, there is no perfect way to be adapted? It seems to me, nature would find the top best ways to be adapted and they would probably be different. But I also ask the question, is it even possible to keep the environment static and unchanging? And environment with 10 million bacteria in the same media is very different than an environment with 10. Even an environment with 11 bacteria is different than one with 10. So how could you effectively keep the environment the same? Or am I just missing the point? Lol

    Scott KidderScott Kidderวันที่ผ่านมา
    • "Or were you saying that even in a static environment, there’s always a way to become better adapted to it, there is no perfect way to be adapted?" This one, I believe.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS920 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • But why does it stay coli and doesn't evolve into a new species of bacteria?

    Elu HerrahazElu Herrahazวันที่ผ่านมา
    • " evolve into a new species of bacteria?" At the point people determine these differences sufficient to label the populations as separate species, it will be. Species is a human concept, and a human label. By an ecotype conception of microbial species, the Ara-3 strain should already be classified as a separate species. By a more conventional delimitation, not until the populations reach a 3% 16S divergence.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS920 ชั่วโมงที่ผ่านมา
  • Horrifying

    PoM MoMPoM MoMวันที่ผ่านมา
  • Deliberately creating superbacteria... what could go wrong?

    Poindexter QueuePoindexter Queueวันที่ผ่านมา

  • At what point in the experiment did the E. Coli change into a different species of microorganism?

    RB 70RB 70วันที่ผ่านมา
    • The E coli don't change into a different species. The population diverges and accumulates differences, and at some point people determine these differences sufficient to label the populations as separate species. Species is a human concept, and a human label. By an ecotype conception of microbial species, the Ara-3 strain should already be classified as a separate species. By a more conventional delimitation, not until the populations reach a 3% 16S divergence.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS9วันที่ผ่านมา
  • its adaptation not evolution

    Sahnoune KhaledSahnoune Khaledวันที่ผ่านมา
    • Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population over successive generations, which this definitely is.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS9วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Ah a miniverse

    David LeeDavid Lee2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • So let me get this straight... you guys are evolving super hungry, super fast breeding bacteria that aren't fussy eaters :/

    Jean d'ArcJean d'Arc2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • But after the equivalent of "1.5 million years" of evolution, they haven't really evolved. They are still E.coli, just better adapted E.coli. They still have the DNA of E.coli. They haven't evolved into worms or another organism. I would say this is evidence of adaptation, not evolution.

    ranty13ranty132 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • "I would say this is evidence of adaptation, not evolution." Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population over successive generations, which this definitely is. "They haven't evolved into worms or another organism." If they evolved into worms or another organism, that would disprove evolution. Expecting as evidence for evolution something that would disprove evolution is a fairly clear demonstration that you don't understand what evolution is in the first place.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS9วันที่ผ่านมา
  • And everyone wonder how we get to the Fauci Ouchie and the bio-terrorism we going through now. Starts like this right here

    Climb HighClimb High2 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This is cool to watch however a non-scientist here would think that these bacteria are adapting not evolving. Meaning these bacteria didn’t grow a tail or change their physical attributes to become something else. The closest they came was that they introduced something new to their diet. A far cry from physical change. My kid decided to try mushrooms last week but he’s still my son. Definitely cool but not what I think defines evolution.

    Paul DoughtyPaul Doughty2 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • "would think that these bacteria are adapting not evolving" Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population over successive generations, which this definitely is.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS92 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Bounty? Really? Bizarre.

    Robert CumminsRobert Cummins3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Promoting paper towels is pretty dumb. You're trying to make people afraid of doing something that was never dangerous with a very unscientific experiment, and promoting an unnecessary product that's bad for the environment. I'm disappointed that a science channel I respect would accept a sponsor like this.

    Taliesin RiverTaliesin River3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • So, is this theory can apply to viruses too? If so, people can estimate how frequently Covid-19 will change per generation in theory?

    Rin倫Rin倫3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This is absolutely amazing, I am fascinated by evolution. I want to see more Also I'm surprised you advertised bounty. There is nothing wrong with a little bacteria and germaphobia is indicative of a disconnection with the earth. Let's reduce and reuse, not encourage waste due to neurotic fears.

    Kyle MeccaKyle Mecca3 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • yes, very disappointing. Especially his completely unscientific 'experiment' to prove why they're useful.

      Taliesin RiverTaliesin River3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • So this is what will actually kill us all?

    Marge N.Marge N.3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I also use paper towels but I use the less expensive brands

    relentlessmadmanrelentlessmadman3 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • does any one make paper towels from hemp yet????

      relentlessmadmanrelentlessmadman3 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • My question is would there ever be a singularity that would happen during the evolutionary process

    Danny RamirezDanny Ramirez4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • What a brilliant universe G-D Created, even a tiny bacterium is programed to evolve, WOW!!!

    mark greenmark green4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Eat E. coli, Jonathan Wells!

    Rhianne MollRhianne Moll4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • 11:15 I got goosebumps here.

    АрсеналАрсенал4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Sponsored by paper towels... How about you stop promoting non eco-friendly products?

    Rhadoo RootBwoyRhadoo RootBwoy4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • gloves??

    Thom Of Hillbilly HavenThom Of Hillbilly Haven4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • @Veritasium, you might suggest the professor and his students to use mipar ( to count those bacteria. Counting by hand is not necessary nowadays.

    Heinz DontbotherHeinz Dontbother4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Could you try this with various antibiotics? seperated from each other in the same fashion ? Did you try bacteria from the Ganges river? I heated that there is a antibiotics plant dumping these batches of bacteria in the water…

    BPBP4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • would be funny if one day thes ebacteria became small animals with eyes

    Tom shibaTom shiba5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • The smartest ad integration

    Terry CaldwellTerry Caldwell5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Wow, this is real nice science, love it! Keep going with you works its really cool. :D

    chuck sch.chuck sch.5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Wait, so if I get the ending there. Life shows a capacity to transcend entropy?

    Matthew SalvatarMatthew Salvatar5 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Define "Entropy." And nothing in the universe (flowing chain reactions) transcends the universe.

      To Serve ManTo Serve Man4 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • When did Adam Ragusea start doin science content ?

    DanishDanish5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • According to the evolution theory they were supposed to develop into a multicellular organism or something. And this is what we do not see.

    michaelsimkinmichaelsimkin5 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • "According to the evolution theory they were supposed to develop into a multicellular organism or something." So you're saying you don't know anything about evolutionary theory? Fun.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS95 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Veritasium FAKE for money: big experiment setup to pitch paper towels - microprint disclamer in the end says that experiment is "not representative". Not the the sort of statistical significance that I've grown used to wrt this channel. Oh, and you should always use recycled material or wash. There's always room for a couple kitchen cloths in the washer.

    erikfinneganerikfinnegan5 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I'm really concerned about how they handle bacteria... No gloves, just a slight "Touch" in the fire and "importante" the material and bacteria are being exposed to Open air...

    David KellenDavid Kellen6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • It's all well and good until the germs can transfer through xenonite

    Tyray3PTyray3P6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • 1st gen e coli: we cant eat that its deadly! 1000000+ gen e coli: u wut m8?!

    Cedric VelardeCedric Velarde6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Crematoriums are for organisms that are already dead... Those furnaces look more like something found at Dachau

    A Real Life DogA Real Life Dog6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • *how to create a supervirus*

    МАТЬ-РОССИЯМАТЬ-РОССИЯ6 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This is a highly controlled environment. Compare the competitive advantage of the newest and oldest colonies in a natural world where innumerable other factors weigh in to survival. It may very well be that the older organisms are better able to survive. This is analogous to selective breeding that creates an animal with desired characteristics but is otherwise less capable of overall survival compared to its ancestors. I'm afraid this teaches me nothing.

    gyamljgyamlj6 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • "I'm afraid this teaches me nothing." Says more about you than the experiment, I think.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS95 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Did anyone else notice the reference from the movie “The 13th Warrior” on the fridge? Timestamp 7:50 minute

    AshethoramaAshethorama7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • YES! Nothing out is not in and everything out is in ;-)) 1.5 (oo.000) is human program given by life = love = what you are in need of, who (do you) are (you)? I took my ABO once more!

    Seven LigthsonSeven Ligthson7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Queen Elizabeth I (of England) cooked a fruitcake for members of parliament to celebrate its opening. A bit was saved to be included in the next parliament's opening, etc. So now, when parliament begins its new season, the members are privileged to have a bit of cake cooked by Shakespeare's favorite monarch! [i have not fact-checked this because i don't want to find out if it is not true]

    Christopher InmanChristopher Inman7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Mad scientist fell into bacteria gacha hell...

    maruftimmaruftim7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Is he referring to Confirmation Bias or is it something else?

    AJ TAJ T7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • This episode was great! Really interesting.

    ZedCactusZedCactus7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • disappoinited that derek is now hawking that idea that greater bacterial spread is somehow dirtier, and that you should use disposible environment wrecking paper over washable cloths.

    Lief BambergLief Bamberg7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Imagine being the chad bacteria to first eat the citrate

    WowZersWowZers7 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • 42, ¿coincidence? I think not

    Rodrigo SeguraRodrigo Segura8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Prof Richard Lenski has the same accent as Rich Evans and it's throwing me off.

    FrenchnostalgiqueFrenchnostalgique8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Me seeing 1% selection first hand: "So that's what the aliens are doing to our universe and what the Great Filter could be."

    AzuriumAzurium8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Context: imagine that at 7:30 he's talking about intergalactic species expanding across the universe.

      AzuriumAzurium8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • The educated dumbasses still call it evolution. After 70000+ generations the bacteria is still producing bacteria. The bacteria has not produced anything but bacteria. Why is it so hard to get un biased conclusions? The only thing that has been observed is ADAPTATION not evolution.

    Christian412 AmericaChristian412 America8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • "The educated dumbasses still call it evolution" Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population over successive generations, which this definitely is. "The bacteria has not produced anything but bacteria" If they produced something other than bacteria, it would disprove evolution. You understand that, right?

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS98 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Nah, if the flask breaks we become the solution to the experiment.

    SuperSonic BoomSuperSonic Boom8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • It’s called mutation or adaptation. NOT EVOLUTION! The bacteria will always remain bacteria, just more resistant.

    Michael KurekMichael Kurek8 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population over successive generations, which this definitely is.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS98 วันที่ผ่านมา

    Guy FoxGuy Fox8 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I am forever grateful to Dr IGUDIA on TH-vision who cured me from herpes with his herbal medication, you are so real and trusted.

    Samaila AbdullahiSamaila Abdullahi9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • Beautiful video. Biosciences are a rich hunting ground for new videos.

    RD2564RD25649 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • So...when do they turn into monkeys??? Can monkeys evolve into bacteria???

    David BlankDavid Blank9 วันที่ผ่านมา
    • "So...when do they turn into monkeys" Based on evolutionary science, never. If you think evolution suggests otherwise, you don't understand evolution.

      Crispr CAS9Crispr CAS99 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • well don't judge the Qu when they do this to us :^)

    DeadEndFrogDeadEndFrog9 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • I see you evolving from young youtuber :D

    lalit pallalit pal10 วันที่ผ่านมา
  • A million bacterial monkeys typing on a million bacterial type-writers.... One of them finally wrote the opening to hamlet

    wildstar2424242424wildstar242424242410 วันที่ผ่านมา
The Longest-Running Evolution Experiment