Episode 135 – Scaly Foot Snail: Snail Mail Armor

“Today we’re talking about a metal mollusk, perhaps the most metal animal we’ve discussed.”

Iron is the ultimate symbol of impenetrability. In fact, an old naval vessel called the USS Constitution was nicknamed Old Ironsides in an Oliver Wendall Holmes poem because cannon balls were said to bounce off the ship’s sides. But is iron an defense mechanism unique to humans. For a long time we thought it was, but there’s a deep-sea extremophile that makes a home out of volcanoes and wears a suit of armor to bed. For the scaly foot snail, living the metal lifestyle is just one way to thrive against all odds in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 134 – Slow Loris: A Precious Little Primate

“…Thank you to Casy Michelle for creating our theme song. Hear more of Casy’s music by searching Casy Michelle on Youtube. Today we’re talking about a sluggish forest clown! But more on that later.”

If you’re slow in the animal kingdom, you’d better have a plan when trouble comes a-knockin’. Some animals freeze, some hide, some attack, and even others just have a lot of babies knowing that most will be eaten. The slow loris does all of the above except for the babies thing. But if you’re also a slow attacker, you need some punch in your bite–or bite in your punch. But giving potential predators the business is how this little loris survives here in Life Death and Taxonomy.

Episode 133 – Fork-Tailed Palm Swift: A Passerine Pirate

“Thank you to Casy for our theme song. Hear more of Casy’s music by searching Casy Michelle on Youtube. Today we’re talking about a bird with a penchant for piracy, but more on that later…”

Birds often display unexpected ingenuity. They’re famous for building nests, and those nests come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny wood-pecker holes to giant, kiddie pool sized eagles nests. You may expect that sticks and foliage are mainstays in bird construction, but one avian family nests with interesting building materials. And one species, get their materials from strange, if not unscrupulous, sources. But sustainably sourced insulation is one recipe for success in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 132 – Water Anole: Squamata in the Wata

“Thank you to Casy for our new theme song. Hear more of Casy’s music by searching Casy Michelle on Youtube. Today we’re talking about a familiar looking lizard with an unfamiliar amazing ability!”

From the time of Alexander the Great, air breathers have been fascinated by the world beneath the waves. And humans aren’t the only ones to figure out how to hang out underwater. The water anole uses a special technique to stay hidden when predators come sniffing that scientists still haven’t entirely figured out yet. But being elusive, mysterious, and resourceful is the name of the survival game here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 131 – Eastern Emerald Elysia: An Animalian Rebel

“…And today we’re talking about a naughty slug that doesn’t play by the rules. But more on that later.”

Hi, LDT listeners. You’re about to hear something special: Life, Death and Taxonomy’s first ever theme song. We’ve long set the mood with free to use web found music, but thanks to our friend Casy, we now have a song that is unique to us! Help us show our appreciation by checking out more of Casy’s music at her YouTube channel. Click the link on LDTaxonomy.com or search Casy Michelle on YouTube! Let’s get into the episode!

Some animals just prefer not to play by the rules. Animals change lanes all the time. Bats are mammals that fly. Sharks are fish that give birth to live young. But most animals stick to their kingdom, except for a particular sea slug. When all others spend their lives hunting and gathering for sustenance, this slug goes out of bounds to borrow a technique. But creatures that prove that some rules are made to be broken often find the most success in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 130 – Giant Cuttlefish: A Tricky Trist

“…and today we’re talking about another misnamed sea creature with a sneaky nature.”

The coral reefs of Australia are bright and colorful places of happiness for all kinds of fish and sea critters. But there’s always danger lurking around every corner. One surly cephalopod has a habit of hypnotizing its prey and tricking its rivals with fancy flashes. The cuttlefish is simultaneously a dangerous predator and a master con artist. But being one of the smartest invertebrates has its advantages and helps it survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 129 – Golden Poison Dart Frog: The Miniature Midas

“…and today we’re talking about a tiny bright yellow animal that doesn’t have to worry about most predators. But more on that later.”

The rainforest is a lush verdant landscape covered in shades of green and brown. Organisms that deviate from this chromatic conformity usually want to be seen like budding flowers or lovestruck birds. But what if you’re a small earthbound amphibian? You’d want to blend into the forest, never to be seen by the multitude of hungry animals that could make a meal out of you. Not so with one bright yellow frog that wants to broadcast its position to every creature within eye-shot. But having a hidden trick behind your back is often the golden rule in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 128 – Praying Mantis: The Penitent Predator


“…and today we’re talking about an insect that’s not as pious and charitable as it’s posture projects. But more on that later.”

While the prayers of a righteous man availeth much, the prayers of a righteous bug aren’t as effective. In fact, there is no such thing as a righteous bug. But that doesn’t stop the infamous praying mantis from folding its hands whenever it gets the chance. But contrary to unpopular belief, the mantis isn’t praying (with an “-a”), he’s preying (with an “-e”). These hands, folded in mock prayer, are actually swift to shed blood—insect blood, that is. But that’s just another day in the brutal world of insects here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 127 – Lion: The Sultan of the Savannah

“…and today we’re talking about the sultan of the Savannah, the prince of the pride, the king of the jungle. But more on that later.”

Cats are a solitary bunch. They prefer quiet naps in trees or in the sunbeam cast in an otherwise vacated living room. The loner lifestyle is just easier for felines that perfect hunting and don’t want to share their kills. But one, and only one cat prefers to live and hunt as a team. Together, these pantheras can dominate the best areas of the Savannah, and all it takes is a little social interaction. But cooperation in a demanding environment is easier said than done in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 126 – Harpy Eagle: The Raging Raptor

“Today we’re talking about a bird that’s as fearless as it is big. More on that later.”

Life in the rainforest can be hard, but not if you’re a harpy eagle. Enjoying a top spot at the head of its food chain, these frilly feathers can choose from a wide variety of animals to make its meal. While most birds choose easy, light prey, the harpy eagle goes for the hefty haunches. But being able to carry your own weight is how you snag the prime prey here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.