This video is composed of a sequence of films created by John Tyler Bonner in the 1940s to show the life cycle of the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum. As only the second person to study slime molds, Bonner frequently encountered audiences who had never heard of, let alone seen, the unusual organism. He therefore decided to create a film to present at seminars in order to introduce his object of study; the time-lapsed film captivated audiences, indeed Bonner has described that the film "always stole the show." Bonner began working in the biology department at Princeton University in 1947, and although Princeton appears in the opening title, Bonner actually made the film for his senior thesis as an undergraduate at Harvard University with some early assistance from Frank Smith, a photographer. Although unsure of name of the device that was used for filming, he has described it as "the most amazing antique contraption that belonged to my professor, Wm. H. Weston. It consisted of a gigantic and VERY heavy set of brass gears that had numerous possible speeds that turned a crank on the side of an old 16 mm box camera that pointed into the ocular of a microscope. The electric motor that propelled it made such vibrations that the whole apparatus had to be on a separate table and not touching the microscope."

The establishment and growth of developmental-evolutionary biology owes a great debt to the work of John Tyler Bonner. Bonner's studies of cellular slime molds have shed light on some of the big questions of biology including the origins of multicellularity and the nature of morphogenesis. The second child of Lilly Marguerite Stehli and Paul Bonner, John Tyler was born 12 May 1920 in New York City and spent his early years in Locust Valley, Long Island (late 1920s), France (1930), and London (1932). His love for science was ignited as a young boy in England where he was inspired by visits to St. James's Park and the Natural History Museum.

Dictyostelium discoideum is a cellular slime mold that serves as an important model organism in a variety of fields. Cellular slime molds have an unusual life cycle. They exist as separate amoebae, but after consuming all the bacteria in their area they proceed to stream together to form a multicellular organism. These features make it a valuable tool for studying developmental processes and also for investigating the evolution of multicellularity. Long thought to be a type of fungus, it has recently been shown that slime molds in fact bear no relation to fungi. Rather they form the monophyletic Mycetozoa, which consists of three distinct groups: plasmodial slime molds; cellular slime molds; and the Protostelia, all of which are structurally similar and consist of a fruiting body supported by a stalk. The cellular slime molds are characterized by a life cycle that includes periods of both multicellularity and unicellularity.