Episode 159 – Hummingbird Moth: The Master of Disguise

“…and today we’re talking about an animal that I could have sworn we did before but I can’t find it in our list!”

Avoiding becoming someone else’s meal is typically priority number one for most animals. While there are many different ways to live another day in the “eat or be eaten” kingdom of Animalia, those that use disguises are sometimes the most interesting. One large moth thinks this whole disguise thing has gone to the birds. But you gotta do what you gotta do to sip that nectar here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 158 – Thorn Bug: Thorin Oaken-eater

“…and today we’re talking about a bug with a prickly personality. But more on that later.” 

The tropics are teaming with life. That means there’s an abundance of resources for you and your brood to enjoy. It also means that there’s plenty of competition looking to eat your food or eat you. Protecting yourself can mean developing one of several tactics. You could focus on defense, you could try to blend in, or you could try to go for both at once. The thorn bug has done just that. But with great tools, the next thing is to perfect their application in real Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 157 – Blobfish: Blobby Fisher

“…and today we’re talking about a waterlogged football with eyes and a taste for shrimp. But more on that later.”

The blobfish might be the subject of cruel internet memes for many a year, but that digital ridicule may be unduly bestowed upon our deep-sea friend. He may look goofy, but that’s just because he’s far outside his natural habitat. Living at the bottom of the ocean, the blobfish actually has a pretty remarkable way of keeping it all together here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 156 – Purple Frog: Born in the Storm

“…and today we’re talking about a frog with a secret underground life. But more on that later.”

The forests of India’s Western Ghats, are teaming with life. Many amphibian species live there, and many have only been discovered in the last few decades. As frogs hop from log to log and branch to branch, one species doesn’t see what all the fuss is about when it comes to life in the sun. The bizarre looking purple frog prefers the subterranean lifestyle and nothing could make them come out of their soft soiled homes. Well, nothing except one thing… But an offbeat lifestyle away from predators is just one of many strategies in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 155 – White Rhino: Crash and the Birds

“…And today we’re talking about Marco Polo’s thick unicorn! But more on that later.”

Grazing along the African savannah, the white rhino keeps his ears peeled for the danger bird – despite not having many predators to worry about. When opportunity squawks, the rhino definitely listens. But the classic symbiotic relationship between the rhino the oxpecker may benefit the bird more than the mammal. But animals take what they can and give nothin’ back here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 154 – Pygmy Hedgehog: The Adorable Pincushion

“…Today we’re talking about a prickly bush pig, though it’s not a pig at all. But more on that later.”

The cutest and most mild mannered animals often find themselves in the pet trade. But in the wild world of woodland creatures, cute doesn’t get you very far. For those creatures that tread the line between those two worlds, not fully domestic but harmless enough to live in homes, they may exhibit some behaviors that baffle their human household companions. These holdovers from their wild-kin show us a picture of their life in the wild. The adorable pygmy hedgehog may have some behaviors not dignified in civilized company, though they are vital for their survival in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 153 – Blanket Octopus: Let the Octopus Win

“…Today we’re talking about a cephalopod that wears a beautiful gown. But more on that later.”

The ocean is home to many a strange and wondrous creature, but few are so strange as the blanket octopus. Worthy of its name, the blocktopus drifts and flutters with dazzling colors across the pelagic seas. But unfurling your snuggie has consequences in the deep blue, so the blanket octopus needs to have some improvised weapons at its disposal. But that’s just how you survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 152 – Pacific Hagfish: Sticky Business

“…And today we’re talking about a sea noodle that’s as disgusting as we’ve come to expect from the bottom of the ocean.”

Imagine you’re a big fish with a hankering for some ocean detritus. You find a carcass that’s descended to the seafloor, but you’re late to the party. It’s surrounded by a nightmare mob of tangled noodles making quick work of the body. But no matter, you’ll just take one of these noodles for your supper. But it’s not a noodle. It’s a pacific hagfish, and with your first bite, you know you’ve made a huge mistake. But surprising defensive tactics are essential in the sea, especially if you seek success in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 151 – Platypus: Defying its Stars

“…and today we’re talking about a creature that looks like it specced into every skill tree. But more on that later.”

In the land down under, there’s dwelleth a strange mammal that looks like an otter that glued a bunch of other animal parts onto its body. The platypus is famous not only for its odd look, but also for its odd behavior. But bills and tails aren’t the only trick the platypus has picked up. It also has some offensive and defensive traits that make it the most interesting animal in the world. But that’s just how you survive in Australia here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 150 – Spider-Tailed Horned Viper: The Crafty Serpent

“And today we’re talking about something we were supposed to talk about a few weeks ago but we goofed and now we’re talking about it now. More on that now.”

Hunters have all kinds of methods to help catch their prey. There’s ambushing, stalking, and brute force. But one of the most clever ways may be luring. Snakes are usually predators of the ambush varieties, though they’ll engage in a stalking or two. But one dessert viper has been known to employ a lure that would make the most experienced fishermen blush. But anatomical trickery may be the key to this serpent’s survival in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.