In nature, animals fight hard to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. For an insect in the frigid regions of North America, even the pursuit of adulthood is a demanding task. Meet one caterpillar that is just dying to leave their life crawling on the ground and take to the sky as a moth. This unwavering quest is surely an inspiring part of Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
If there are three things that Africa has given the Western World, they would be papyrus, hurricanes, and snails the size of your forearm. On the world’s list of invasive species, the Giant African Land Snail is high up on the list. But what makes this sluggish slimeball such a problem? Join us as we take an awkward glance into an odd form of reproduction that makes these giant gastropods a global part of Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
When you think of the rolling vistas of the alpine regions of the North Eastern United States, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it snakes? Probably not. Because if a snake wants to survive out here, it better develop some amazing tricks to take the cold. But if your not an animal with an unique ability, your just not going to make it in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Romance is the air! Animals show affection in all kinds of ways. But affection doesn’t really come into play for the Nursery Web Spider. To pass along his genes without being eaten alive, a male needs to play a dangerous game of chance. So grab your nuptial gift, wrap it in silk, and remember that it’s mate or be eaten in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Imagine you were born a few weeks ago and one morning you wake up and your parents are gone. It’s getting colder and the days are getting shorter. Something inside you is spurring you on, out of your nest and into the darkness of night. One tiny bird embarks a journey that spans thousands of miles and it starts with one, bold, leap into the unknown. But an intrepid spirit is just one of the necessary tools you need in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
Intro music: Brigg Fair written by Frederick Delius
Deep beneath the waves of the Sea of Japan, an ancient child emperor and his retinue of samurai drowned themselves rather than be captured by the enemy. Tales tell of their souls binding to the carapaces of tiny crabs dwelling at the bottom of the ocean. With faces as fierce as the samurai they host, the Heikegani are some of the most peculiar-looking crabs in the sea. The question is, how much influence do we as humans have in Life, Death, and Taxonomy?
The Alaskan Winter is harsh. The days grow shorter until the sun doesn’t come out at all. The temperature drops to negative fifty and nothing grows for months. Most animals hibernate to limit the need for food when it is so scarce, except for one little mammal. To survive the desolate Alaskan winter one little botanist will turn to an unlikely tool to maintain the balance of life, death, and Taxonomy.
Sooie! I’ve been a simple farmer all my life, gettin’ up at the crack of dawn and plowin’ the fields ‘til sundown. But humans ain’t the only ones to grow a crop or two. The leaf cuttin’ ant is a prime example of what a hard-workin’ organism can do when they ain’t one of them lazy city-folk what with their fancy automobiles and flyin’ machines. So button your overalls, grab a hoe, and till the fields along some of nature’s first agriculturists in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.
In the heart of Mexico, a rare creature once found its home in the depths Lake Chaco near present day Mexico City. Unfortunately, that lake no longer exists. With it’s home drained to make room for the expanding metropolis, this unique amphibian has been forced into canals and streams infested by invasive predators like the Asian carp and African tilapia. This salamander’s only hope of survival is to become remarkably resilient.
They say you should respect your elders. But what if your elder is a gigantic shark? The oldest living vertebrate might just cruising around the Arctic Sea. Find out how old a fish can get in this episode of Life, Death, and Taxonomy.