Episode 169 – Tuatara: This is Not a Lizard

“…and today we’re talking about something that looks just like an iguana but it’s apparently not a lizard at all.”

Scattered along the northern coast of New Zealand’s north island is a living fossil that was thought to be extinct: the tuatara. A laid-back lizard with a lazy lifestyle, the tuatara spends most of its time getting some sweet vitamin D in the sun and using the introspective sight of its peculiar third eye. But having insight can help with more than just character development here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 168 – Meerkat: A Mongoose Most Foul

“…and today we’re talking about a mongoose most foul. But more on that later.” 

The savannah is a brutal place for the animals that call it home. Between lions, leopards, and hyenas, many of the mammals that populate Africa’s jungles and plains are built with sharp claws and powerful jaws. But when it comes to violence against an animal’s own kind, researchers have found that these big fearsome predators aren’t the most murderous. Instead, a small, unassuming species of mongoose accept this grim accolade. But what makes the meerkat so deadly? It’s a fact that shows that nature is sometimes cruel in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 167 – Giant Oarfish: Seismic Sensitivity?

“…and today we’re talking about the longest boy in the ocean. But more on that later.”

Earthquakes are some of the most destructive events on this planet, snuffing out lives by the thousands and destroying entire cities. The worst part is, we can’t really predict them in advance-or can we? The elusive oarfish is often considered an incredibly long harbinger of earthquakes, and some people see sightings of them as a sign of impending disaster. Let’s find out just how much truth there is to this here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 166 – Goshawk: The Ghost of The Woodlands

“…and today we’re talking about the ghost of the forest. But more on that later.”

A hare grazes in a clearing surrounded by the forest edge. An uneasy feeling comes over him, like he’s being watched. He makes for the tree line, seeking safety among the trees and shrubs. But it does him no good. Like a ghost, a predator glides through the woods, seemingly unobstructed by the leaves and branches in its flight path. An almost supernatural speed carries the raptors talons to their furry target. The goshawk is a born fighter pilot and it’s as at home in the wild blue yonder as it is in thick forest. But combination of versatility and velocity may be the edge this bird needs in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 165 – Coconut Crab: The Quick Claw Crustacean

“…and today we’re talking about an animal that sounds like a delicious Caribbean dish but looks like it inspired the Witcher’s endrega monsters. But more on that later.”

Scattered across the islands of the south Pacific is a population of crabs that are great in a pinch. The coconut crab is the largest land crab in the world and uses its claws to tear open more than just coconuts. From their predatory tactics to their ability to drop from the trees, this is one decapod that you don’t want to mess with on your trip to Christmas Island. But being a Pinchy Pete is just how this Krusty Krab survives here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 164 – Sailfin Dragon Lizard: The Icarus Iguana

“…and today we’re talking about a modern day dinosaur with a name to match. But more on that later.”

Lizards sometimes retain primordial qualities. To look at them, you may see the scaly faces of ages long gone. The sailfin dragon lizard has a look that matches it’s fantastical name. But the dinosaur-esque nature of this reptile doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a few new tricks in it’s arsenal. This dragon makes its home in near the water, and he brings some interesting adaptations to the taxonomic table. Improving on the tried and reptile design might be the best option for this aqua-dragon in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 163 – Dung Beetle: The Bowel Bowler

“…and today we’re talking about a poo poo paladin that rolls with the punches and makes the most out of a smelly situation. But more on that later.” 

One animal’s waste is another animal’s treasure. The dung beetle was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians for its apparent fecal-oriented immortality, but modern discoveries have found new reasons to marvel at this little insect. For those that believe in reincarnation, here is one animal that probably won’t make their top ten list. But sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves, and some dung, to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 162 – Desert Locust: Ruin on the Breeze

“…and today we’re talking about a deadly insect that’s carried on the winds of change. But more on that later.”

Many animals have amazing abilities that make them especially ferocious and formidable. But few are so terrible and mighty that they can be classified as a natural disaster. No we’re not talking about a giant nuclear lizard. We’re talking about an insect so ravenous in disposition and so immense in its numbers that it strikes fear into the hearts of those in its path. The desert locust is proof that the balance of nature can shift with the wind. A breeze can be a welcome respite from the blazing sun, but it may also carry disaster in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 161 – Tasmanian Devil: The Devil Down Under

“…and today we’re talking about the devil down under and his horrifying night time death screams.”

Far from the reckless, neckless monstrosity that Warner Brothers uses to move their cartoon plots along, the real Tasmanian Devil is a semi-cute mongoose pig that will eat anything that comes across its path. From its brutal and competitive birth to its habit of sumo wrestling its neighbors for food, this little carnivore lives the austere, battle-hardened life of a Viking or a Spartan. But ferocity and selfishness seem to go a long way when it comes to surviving in the wilds of Tasmania here on Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 160 – Venus’ Flower Basket: A Structure Like Steel

“…and today we’re talking about a coveted animal crossing catch. But not much more on that later.”

The sponge life is a simple one. With nowhere to go and no way to get there, a sponge needs to make the most of its surroundings. To protect against the current, sponges form skeletons out of whatever’s around them. For instance, if you’re surrounded by calcium, you may make a chalk skeleton. But what if all you have around you is sand? Venus’ flower basket finds itself in such a predicament. But making a strong skeleton out of a delicate substance is just it’s lot in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.