“And today we’re talking about a sci-fi fish with some grumpy gills. But more on that later.”
If you were to go diving almost anywhere in the shallows of an Indo-Pacific ocean, there’s a good chance you’ll find a moray eel stationed in some of the porous holes left in the rocky coral reefs. Looking like a cross between a snake, a dragon, and a cartoon witch, the moray eel poses little threat to humans, but is a menace to reef fish. With an unusual jaw that you might find in a painting by H.R. Geiger, the moray may seem a little unhinged when he eats. But getting a good grip on your prey is the best way to catch a slippery fish here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 124 – Giant Moray Eel: The Alien of the Deep
“Today we’re talking about an aquatic olive garden. But more on that later…”
The sun, surf, and gentle sound of waves crashing against the sandy shores may bring to mind a welcome respite from daily life. But as with human surfers, the beach is life for some tidal animals. There’s a whole world of creatures living and dying in the swash and backwash of the briny tide, where the land meets the sea. But learning to live in this unique ecosystem is how one snail makes its way in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 123 – Dwarf Olive Snail: The Swash Surfer
“…and today we’re going to talk about the elephant in the room. More on that for the entire episode…”
Striding across the African Savannah in a constant search for food, the African Elephant is the largest land animal in the world. But in spite of its size, the elephant is a master of subtlety. When large family groups are social distancing in the wilderness, it’s vital that they stay connected remotely without alerting anyone nearby who may be looking for a snack of elephantine proportions. But communicating under the radar is all part of the elephant’s survival here in LDT.
Continue reading Episode 122 – African Elephant: The Savannah’s Bulldozer
“…And today we’re talking about an animal that has gotten some bad press recently. But hopefully some cool facts will turn it around. More on that later.”
A dry barren wasteland seems like the kind of place most creatures would avoid. But the dessert offers rare opportunities to those who have the tools to capitalize on the hidden bounty. But even if you do, there are challenges to overcome and one misstep can mean the end. But one aerial mammal may have just what it takes to make America’s Southwest their home. But strange animals with niche tools in strange places are part of the beauty of Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 121 – Lesser Long-Nosed Bat: A Long Secret
“And today we’re talking about an adorable arachnid with as much style as they have charisma. But more on that later.”
While John Travolta dances to cope with the stresses of life and Kevin Bacon dances so that the Bomont seniors can go to prom, the peacock spider is a much more dire dancer. When he puts on a show, it’s always “dazzle or be dashed”. But that’s what happens when you’re dancing on the edge of Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 120 – Peacock Spider: The Real Tiny Dancer
“Today we’re talking about an animal that least but certainly not last. But more on that later.”
There are two basic paths of sustenance in the animal kingdom. You can gather and graze or you can eat the grazers. Predators are usually large, powerful, and able to take down prey that are built to resist them. But one true carnivore proves that meat eaters come in all shapes and sizes. And to witness this animal’s hunting habits, you wouldn’t think he’s at all disadvantaged by his stature. But, even for the least of carnivores, ferocity is the key to a full belly in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 119 – Least Weasel: The Voracious Forest Noodle
“And today we’re talking about an arms race that moves about three feet per minute, but more on that later…”
We all love starfish, cute, slow-moving, harmless little creatures whose desiccated husks make for great souvenirs from your trip to Key Largo. But not all starfish can be as whimsical as Patrick Star, some are far more strange and nefarious. The ironically named sunflower sea star is one such animal. Crawling across the seafloor at a disturbing speed, this enormous echinoderm has dozens of tentacled arms, eats whatever it can find, and even rips off its own arms. Why? Well, let’s just say things are going viral here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 118 – Sunflower Sea Star: Limb from Limb
“…and today we’re talking about a spider that’s truly magnificent. But more on that in a few minutes.”
Australia is no stranger to animals that do things differently. The denizens of the large island often have to carve their own path. It’s not surprising that the continent’s animals are often as intrepid and undaunted by challenges as its people. But innovation and the skills to use them is how some creatures chose to wrangle their goals in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 117 – Bolas Spider: The Swinging Moth Muncher
“And today we’re talking about a nautilus that isn’t actually a nautilus at all, but it is a Greek mythological hero. More on some of that later.”
You may have heard of Alexander the Great’s famous diving bell, but he was far from the first earthling to explore the depths with trapped air. Putzing around the ocean in a paper-thin shell, the argonaut has a sophisticatedly simple way of staying buoyant. But nothing gets this odd octopus down here in LDT.
Continue reading Episode 116 – Argonaut: The Shelled Sailor
“And today we’re talking about a seal that can play the saxophone! But not really! But not much more on that later.”
Lake Baikal stretches across southern Siberia and it contains enough water to exceed all of the Great Lakes combined. It’s so large and deep, it’s said to be a leading candidate for the Earth’s next ocean, as it continues to grow. For now, it’s freshwater shores and depths are a home to a variety of plants and animals. But what happens when this immense inland sea freezes over with six feet of ice. The winter always requires the best of every species, but in this unique ecosystem, one marine mammal uses persistence and ingenuity to thrive in this otherwise inhospitable season. But that’s what it takes to survive freezing temperatures in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Continue reading Episode 115 – Baikal Seal: The Seal with a Bubble Buddy