Episode 329 – Coati: Insect Repellant

“…and today we’re talking about a rainforest weasel. But more on that later.”

It seems that, no matter where you live, you have to deal with mosquitoes. Whether you’re in the Alaskan mountains or the jungles of Panama, biting boys are everywhere. Long ago, the white nosed coati said “enough is enough” and found an ingenious way to keep those blood suckers at bay. It may not necessarily be life saving, but it is a great way to not let the bugs drive you crazy here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 328 – Water Springtail: Pond Jumping Bean

“…and today we’re talking about an aquatic acrobat. But more on that later.”

When you’re tiny the God hands you a different set of rules than the laws of physics humans are used to. When you hear the name water springtail, you might think of a fish or maybe a deer, but it’s actually a tiny arthropod that lives on the surfaces of ponds. In this placid world, it takes some special skills to get around. But with tiny physics, you can do anything you set your little mind to, in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 327 – Crab Hacker Barnacle: Master of Puppets

“…and today we’re talking about an animal hacker of animals. But more on that later.”

They say the best defense is a good offense. But they rarely say the opposite. Crabs are little armored warriors scuttling around on the ocean floor, but even their rigid carapace isn’t immune to a little subterfuge. Enter the crab hacker barnacle. A sinister little worm that sets up shop and gets to work turning nature’s armored ocean bugs into their own personal breeding grounds. But when you’re a small barnacle in a big ocean, you have to use what you can to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 326 – Live Sharksucker: Flow Ride

“…and today we’re talking about a sucker who will latch onto anything and go with it. But more on that later.”

If you see a shark, whale, or large fish gliding through the open ocean, you may see some extra passengers stuck to its flanks. The live sharksucker is a remora, a fish that freeloads off of other, bigger animals. But why grab an oceanic uber when your fins work just fine? Well, grab your towel because you gotta abide by the hitchhiker’s guide to the ocean to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 325 – Jacana: Bigfoot of the Billabong

“…and today we’re talking about the Big Foot of the outback. But more on that later.”

When you think of bigfoot, you’re probably imagining a large hairy ape, but the big foot of the Australian billabongs is not swamp ape. Instead, it’s a small graceful bird bouncing along the lily pads with water skis for feet. Finding a great place to eat is important for survival, and the jacana has chosen outback ponds as their preferred brunch spot. Adapting to your chosen habitat is essential to fine dining in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 324 – Black Drumfish: Drums in the Deep

“…and today we’re talking about a percussive Pisces. But more on that later.” 

If you live in the suburbs of Tampa Bay, Florida. You may have heard an eerie sound in the night. As you drift off to dreamland, you not only hear a strange low rumbling, you can feel it in your chest. As you sit up, you realize your windows are shaking. The dog across the street starts barking. You run to the window, but there’s nothing there, and you can’t tell where the sound is coming from, but it’s all around you. The black drumfish is the watcher in the water, the drums in the deep and they are coming, in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Black Drumfish

  • Large cylindrical body with a dark gray to blackish coloration – kinda has the shape of a snapper
  • vertical stripes or bars along its sides
  • Large, fleshy lips for bottom feeding
  • Rounded teeth and powerful jaw for crushing mollusc shells
  • Little spines along the lower jaw
  • Blunt, rounded snout and a high, arched back
  • Its dorsal fin is long and has multiple spines along the length

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro!



  • The black drumfish typically grows from 12 to 24 inches (30 to 61 cm) in length as they mature. They can reach a maximum length of about 67 inches (170 cm).
  • How many drumfish go into the length of the Jose Gasparilla II?
  • Hint: The Jose Gasparilla II is a pirate ship that is used in a Tampa Bay festival that shares its name. The festival celebrates the mythical pirate Gaspar, and the real history of piracy in Tampa.
  • 68.5 fish. This ship is actually a flat bottom barge of 137 feet in length.


  • 5 to 30 pounds (2.3 to 13.6 kg)
  • However, they can grow significantly larger, with the largest recorded black drum weighing just over 113 pounds (51 kg).
  • How many drumfish go into the weight of the largest drum?
  • Hint: The largest drum instrument, known as the CheonGo, was built by Yeong Dong-Gun local government and Seuk Je Lee in Simcheon-Meon, South Korea.
  • 466.67 fish. The drum is 7 tonnes (15,432 lb 5.76 oz).

Fast Facts about the Black Drumfish

  • Range: In the western Atlantic, black drum are found from Nova Scotia to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Antilles), and the southern Caribbean coast. They are common between the Delaware Bay and Florida coasts, and most abundant along the Texas coast.
  • Diet: as little tykes, they eat zooplankton. As juveniles, they eat worms. And as adults, they eat molluscs and crabs off the sea floor.
    • Their sensitive chin barbels help locate food, and strong pharyngeal teeth crush the shells of these preferred foods. 
  • Behavior:
    • They are regularly fished and served as food
    • Oldest known black drum fish was 44 years old
    • As juveniles, they are predated on by larger fish
    • As adults, they really only have to look out for sharks and fishing rods
    • Not too much else other than how to fish these guys

Major Fact: Night Drumming

Last year, Tampa residents reported hearing a low humming bass noise vibrating throughout residential areas. The sound was so loud that it would shake windows and keep people up at night. One resident said, “I hope the cops catch whoever is making that sound before I do.” There were many theories offered, up to and including aliens, but the real answer is almost stranger.

Black drumfish are known for producing distinctive deep sounds, especially during their spawning season. These sounds are created by the contraction of muscles against their swim bladder, which acts like a drum, and the sonic muscle functions as the drumstick. This sound is often referred to as a “drumming” sound due to its similarity to the percussion instrument.

Drumming is used to communicate with black drumfish, establish territories, and attract potential mates. The low-frequency sounds they produce can be very loud and transmit a lot of energy over long distances, ranging from about 60 to 1100 Hz, with most of the acoustic energy concentrated below 400 Hz.

Why do they drum? They usually do it during specific behaviors, such as mating, courtship, or territorial disputes. During the breeding season, male black drumfish create humming sounds to attract females.

These underwater serenades serve as a signal of readiness to mate. The vibrations travel through the water, allowing potential mates to locate each other.

Black drumfish are known to be territorial. The humming sound may also function as a warning to other fish, asserting their presence and claiming a specific area.

Ending: Use your strong beard to eat a boatload of oysters, keep an eye out for sharks, and drop that bass when you’re sweet-talkin’ the ladies like the black drum fish here in LDT.

Episode 323 – Silky Anteater: Asleep to the Heat

“…and today we’re talking about the smooth jazz of tree critters. But more on that later.”

Deep in the jungles of the Amazon, an adorable ball of fluff clings to a tree branch, lapping up delicious ants. The pygmy silky anteater clearly has sloths as a role model, and it shows in their… laid back nature. But moving slowly and eating sparingly take a toll, and this carefree lifestyle comes at a cost, particularly for an anteater. But keeping a cool head when the heat turns up is the way to sway here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 322 – Striped Marlin: High Speed Coordination

“…and today we’re talking about the tiger torpedo. But more on that later.”

Living life as a living torpedo has its upsides. Feeling the current on your scales as you dart toward a school of tasty fish mackerel must be second to none. However, it comes with its challenges. The striped marlin is a sword-tipped sea projectile that swims faster than most other animals. But what happens when it aims at the same food as its friends and finds itself in front of the bullseye? Coordination is often the name of the game in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 321 – Clouded Leopard: Paws for Effect

“…and today we are talking about the banshee of Bhutan, the Specter of Sikkim. But more on that later.”

It’s cloudy with a chance of leopards here in the jungle, so you’d better have an umbrella and keep your eyes on the skies. The clouded leopard is at home in the trees, and with good reason – it’s the best darn climber in the climbing business. Most, if not all cats can climb, but this cloudy boy has some special adaptations that make him an arboreal acrobat. But playing a nonstop game of “the floor is lava” is one way to get the jump on your enemies here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 320 – Chimpanzee: Simian Socialites

“…and today we’re talking monkey business. But more on that later.”

Imagine climbing your way to the top of your social order. You’ve made alliances with the right factions and formed a powerful coalition. Now it’s up to you to lead your troop to defend your territory and resources. It’s not the story of an English lord or a French aristocrat, it’s a common tale for chimpanzees. The social lives of chimpanzees are all about politics, grooming, and aggression. But sometimes, even the animal kingdom gets sophisticated in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.