Episode 199 – Pebble Toad: Rock and Roll Toad

“…And today we’re talking about a frog that rolls with the punches. But more on that later.”

High in the table-top mountains of Venezuela, a tiny pebble toad inches its way across the moist sandstone outcroppings. Little does he know that danger lurks just around the corner. A toad-eating tarantula is on the hunt and it’s out for blood. With the advantage of size, speed, and ferocity, the spider seems like a shoo-in for the victory, but the pebble toad has a plan for exactly this kind of situation. Rather than go toe to tarsus with the terrible tarantula, it opts to just roll away from its problems. But sometimes you just gotta let go of the ledge you thought was so secure in order to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 198 – Vaquita: A Little Porpoise With a Big Problem

“…and today we’re talking about a little porpoise with a big problem. But more on that later.”

If you’re in the Gulf of California and you see a small figure break through the glistening surface of the water, you may be witnessing a rare site. Like a glimpse of ball lightning, you may stare, unbelieving at the last Vaquita. The world’s smallest porpoise may also be the most elusive mammal in the sea. But it’s rarity isn’t only about it’s size. This critically endangered porpoise may be on the verge of seeing the end of its Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 197 – Brown Antechinus: Mating Marathon

“…and today we are literally talking about a creature that lives by a pattern of life and death and has an interesting taxonomy. But more on that later.” 

Every fall, the arid wilderness of Australia is peppered with the fallen bodies of tiny marsupials. What could create such a scene? Predators, disease, global warming? The answer is none of the above. The brown antechinus spends the month of August focused on one thing to the exclusion of all else, and it costs him his life.

In the immortal words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s done that himself. But why such a sad ending for such a cute animal? Well, the answer can be found in this creature’s massive appetite, both for food and for love. But you gotta give it your all if you want to pass on your genes here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 196 -Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake: Made for the Sea

“…and today we’re talking about a reptile who’s lady is the sea. But more on that later.”

We all know and share a healthy fear of snakes. They live under rocks and slither on their bellies to get around. But there are actually dozens of snake species that don’t live on land at all. Instead, they’ve taken to the sea, and many of them never grace the ground. The Yellow-bellied sea snake rides the waves all over the world. Despite their name, they are no cowards. They’re the most widely distributed snake species in the world. Adapting your body and habits to take the world by storm is the sea snake’s way in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 195 – Olm: Long and Long-Lasting

“…and today we’re talking about a lost boy that lives in caves and doesn’t want to grow up. But more on that later.”

Living in the pitch blackness of the caves of southern Europe is a tiny eyeless Chinese dragon that can regrow its arms and sense prey using electricity. Intrigued? Well that’s not even the half of it. The olm is the world’s longest-living salamander and has taken Gloria Gaynor’s call to survive as it grows strong and learns how to get along – without food and light and stuff. But sometimes the neutral gin is the way to live a long life here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 194 – Aldabra Giant Tortoise: Elephants of the Atoll

“…and today we’re talking about the largest shelled reptile that lives on land maybe! But more on that later…”

A strange reptile that lives on a strange type of island will surely deliver in the weird department. Islanders are known for showing some interesting adaptations that mainlanders may find funny. But when you’re surrounded by the ocean, it pays to be unique and self-sufficient. The Aldabra Giant tortoise is a sizable, shelled, super-reptile large enough for a child to keep as a steed. But being large and in charge of your domain is one way  to make a path through Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 193 – Atlantic Mudskipper: A Fish Out of Water

“…and today we’re talking about slimy yet satisfying frogish fish, but more on that later.”

While other fish are relegated to the vast oceans, lakes, and rivers that cover 70% of the planet, some decided that it wasn’t enough room. Bent on total global domination, the Atlantic Mudskipper wants to be where the people are. By using its mighty pecs to drag itself onto land, the skipper slaps its way out of the waves and into our hearts as one of the only voluntary fish out of water here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 192 – Hippopotamus: Big, Round, and Deadly

“…and today we’re talking about Moto Moto and why he doesn’t like you. But more on that later.”

A beast lies in a river bed. He is confident when the waters run against his mouth. And he has no fear of turbulent waters. You can’t take him by his eyes or pull his nose with a snare. This behemoth is no chaos monster, but he does sow chaos in the riverways of Africa. The hippopotamus seems like a rotund herbivore that only threatens the grass, but he’s really a mighty mammal to be feared and respected. But big and imposing is one way to rise above the food chain in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 191 – Least Tern: Twitter Mob

“..and today we’re talking about the most direct path imaginable. But more on that later…”

When you’re a little bird surrounded by larger predators, you need to have a strong support network to fend off the baddies. Just like Flik in a Bug’s Life, the least terns have realized that there is true strength in numbers. By giving much stronger opponents the business as a group, terns can turn away even the fiercest of predators. But sometimes standing your ground is the best way to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 190 – European Eel: Mystery Cycles

“…and today we’re talking about an ocean journey that puts Finding Nemo to shame! But more on that later…”

Some animals are born, live, and die in one place. Their homes are never far away and they’re familiar with all they survey. But some species travel great distances, driven by some unknown impulse. A journey can change you, and it does just that for the European eel. But their travels force them from carefree days in sunny streams, into the shadows of the sea. But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow, even darkness must pass in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.