Episode 319 – Funnel-Web Spider: Mood Stings

“…and today we’re talking about a baleful beast that lives in a silken lair. But more on that later.”

When it comes to venom, every drop counts. No one knows this better than the funnel web spider, one of the world’s deadliest eight-legged freaks. This is definitely one arachnid you don’t want to annoy, since the angrier they are, the more venom they’ll send your way. But why not just give the full dose out with every bite? Well, it’s all part of conserving your lethal resources here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 318 – Bagworm: Cabin in the Woods

“…and today we’re talking about a tiny Lincoln in a Tiny cabin. But more on that later.”

Humans have long desired to sit by a warm hearth, with a roof over their head, protected from the elements. Shelter is not a yearn unique to humans. All kinds of animals burrow and build to keep the predators and weather at bay. The bagworm moth caterpillar is one such industrious builder, but they’re also rambling characters, looking to the horizon. A mobile home seems like the perfect way to crawl through Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 317 – Takin: This is a Goat?

“…and today we’re talking about an animal that is takin care of business. But more on that later.”

In the Himalayas, you might be surprised to see a goat moose bear cow gazelle scuttling around the rocks. The takin is an odd-looking beast whose elusive nature and gleaming fur possibly inspired a well-known ancient Greek myth. From its goofy nose to its smelly coat, this innovative ungulate finds unique ways to fight off the mountain chills. But staying warm and dry is something to be takin seriously on the cold Asian peaks here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 316 – Fig Wasp: Fig, Fig House

“…and today we’re talking about a fig’s friend for real. But more on that later.”

Foxes have holes, birds have nests, and wasps have figs? Figs have been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years, but we share that culinary attraction with an unlikely friend: a wasp. The appropriately named fig wasp spends most of her time finding fruiting figs for fraternal fraternizing. But even a seemingly charmed life on the fruit-based housing market comes with a certain level of disturbing barbarity when wasps get involved in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 315 – Giant Squid: An Esophagus Runs Through It

“…and today we’re talking about the grumpiest cephalopod in the sea. More on that later.”

Brains and digestive systems are linked just like all systems in the body are linked. But with the strange tube-like body shape of the giant squid, these two systems need to be a bit closer than they’d like. When you’re a squishy Lovecraftian toilet paper tube at the bottom of the ocean, you gotta play some organ Tetris to fit everything where it’s supposed to be. But sometimes literally threading the gastrointestinal needle is how you get by here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 314 – Red Fox: Animal Magnetism

“…and today we’re talking about a predator that gives Mouse Dutch Schafer a run for his money. More on that later.”

In the heart of the woodlands, across open fields, and even in bustling urban environments, a folkloric presence reigns supreme. The red fox’s fiery coat and wily spirit have earned it a place in legend, but beyond the myths lies a resilient predator navigating the intricate dance of survival by finding and pouncing on unseen food. Still, this legendary predator uses a near-supernatural attunement to the earth to catch prey in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 313 – Saddleback Caterpillar: A Tiny Steed

“…and today we’re talking about a tiny little steed. But more on that later.”

Out here in the wild wild west of… let me check my notes… Yucatan Mexico. That’s not very West. Well, out here in the wild wild… East, you won’t get too far without your trusty saddle as well as your trusty skirt of poisonous barbs. The saddleback caterpillar is never without these two trusty tools as it slinks along its favorite leaves. Because it’s so well-equipped, it doesn’t need to hide or blend into the background like all those lily-livered, yellow-bellied coward caterpillars, some of which actually have yellow bellies. But telling others just how deadly you are is a great way to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 312 – Candiru: Swimming Upstream

“Today we are talking about a vampire that glitters in the sunlight, as if you could outswim it… But more on that later.”

In the shadowy depths of the mighty Amazon River, a tiny monster veiled in murky water searches for its next sanguine feast. The Candiru fish is a creature that has both intrigued and instilled dread in those who venture into its domain. Like the cloudy waters it calls home, myths and legends conceal the truth behind this fish’s hunting behaviors. But sometimes cultural whispers shroud nature in an aura of unease in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 311 – Giant Sea Spider: All Legs

“…and today we’re talking about a spider in the last place you’d think to look for one. But more on that later.”

In the coldest regions of the Arctic ocean, the depths harbor strange and alien life. Normally, living things take breathing for granted. Lungs, gills, trachea, it’s all about moving that sweet sweet oxygen throughout the body. The Giant Sea Spider, though, laughs at convention. When the water around you is rich with oxygen, you just need the right skin when you need to breathe here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 310 – Silk Shark: Shark Boy and Lava, Girl

“…and today we’re talking about a shark that isn’t as smooth as it sounds, but it is hot. But more on that later.”

In this housing market, sometimes you find yourself living in some unlikely places. But some silk sharks live in a place that is slightly more challenging than a three-story walk up with paper thin walls. Nature has a range of biomes, which all have their challenges, but few are as inhospitable as geothermically active areas. But you know what they say: if you can’t take the heat, get out of the volcano, in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.