Episode 62 – Irukandji Jellyfish: Tiny Deadly Squishy

“…And today we’re talking about a smol sea booger with a nasty sting. But more on that later.”

Australia is filled with lots of cute things, and also lots of deadly things. The irukandji jellyfish is that second part, but also a little bit of the first. At about the same size as a match head, these tiny terrors amble about around the waters of Western Australia. Anything or anyone unfortunate enough to brush up against this near-invisible squish bag will find themselves in a world of hurt at best, and a body bag at worst. So be careful in the water, because a cute little jellyfish just might take your Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 61 – Golden Eagle: The Aquila and the Bleat

“…And today we are talking about a bird with an impressive wingspan and brutal hunting tactics. I would make a joke, but frankly, I’m scared of it.”

A bird who’s at home in the skies needs a body built for aviation. That means a light frame, hollow bones, and a wingspan wide enough to generate lift. But when a delicate bird of flight is also a bird of prey, those slight features need to be augmented by an arsenal of deadly weapons. Even the largest raptors could use inventive tactics in order to take down large targets. But you know what they say, the bold and unorthodox bird gets the worm, especially when that worm is more than twice your size, in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 60 – Goby Fish: The Waterfall Wriggler

“And today we’re talking about a fish with a green fin, a bright personality, and a future with an upward trajectory, but more on that later.”

Beneath the sun soaked rivers of Hawaii, there dwells a fascinating fish with tenacious tendencies. After being born, the Stimpson’s Goby is swept out to sea, far from its ancestral home. But major changes to its body force it to return to the land of its forefathers to find the food it so desperately craves, and that means surmounting some huge Hawaiian obstacles. But the Goby fish shows us that we too can face our mountains here in Life Death and Taxonomy.

Episode 59 – Tree Kangaroo: The Jumping Joey

“…and today we’re talking about Australia’s version of a monkey, which is of course a marsupial. Way to play to the stereotypes, Australia. I guess there’s no improving on a classic.”

Imagine you’re high up in the rainforest canopy, munching on some of your favorite foliage when all of a sudden, you hear the rustle of some leaves and the snap of a twig. You wheel around to find that a python, with cold, steely eyes has slithered into your domain. You act quickly and nimbly run away to the edge of the branch until there is no where else to go. The python, undeterred, decides to go out on a limb in the hopes of scoring a meal. What would you do? What could you do? Well, there’s arboreal mammal that would not be out of options in such a scenario. But bold and daring tactics are exactly the qualities a tree denizen needs to make it Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 58 – Nile Crocodile: The Tunneling Tank

“…And today we are talking about the most amazing animal that comes second place in two categories and first place in one!”

When your big and cold blooded, maintaining the right temperature can be a challenge, especially when you live on a continent that sees a wide range of temperatures. But for one primordial reptile in whom the will to survive runs deep, adaptation takes on a whole new meaning in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 57 – Chiton: The Neato Magneto

“…and today were are talking about a little pair of wax lips that scoots around the ocean smooching submerged surfaces.”

Molluscs come in all shapes and sizes, but this little dumpling is an armored tank. With eight shell segments and a tongue covered in sharp teeth, the Chiton has a magnetic attraction to certain places along the ocean floor. But without eyes, it needs to have an extra layer of tricks in order to find the best feeding grounds. But, of course, we know that nature is metal here in Life Death and Taxonomy.

Episode 56 – Patagonian Mara: Urine For a Big Surprise

“…Y hoy estamos hablando de un animal argentino con patas largas y un método de comunicación único.”

Nature is weird, and the Patagonian Mara is weird right alongside it. It’s not enough that it’s a crazy rabbit kangaroo deer, but it also has a form of communication that we can all agree is pretty gross. But when everything out there either wants to steal your girl or eat her for lunch, you need to take drastic measures or urine for a rough surprise here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 55 – Dracula Ant: The Formidable Formica

“…and today we’re talking about an ant that can’t grant kindness when food is scant. Even aunt ants pant for a hemolymph transplant. But more on that later.”

Madagascar is a place that’s been isolated by ocean for as long as it has existed, and it’s only recently started to be developed by humans. Because of this isolation, animals here haven’t needed to adapt to new threats, so they still cling to ancient methods, like a small town library that still uses dial-up. A closer look at the creatures here will reveal some primordial practices that may make some squeamish, like an entire family of ants that has sinister tastes in cuisine. But sometimes, the gruesome and grisly tactics are what it takes for your colony to continue in the cycle of Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 54 – Pistol Shrimp: The Sonic Slayer

“…Today we’re talking about a small fry with a loud personality and the fastest draw this side of the Mississippi… and the other side too. But more on that later…

You don’t really think of the ocean being a noisy place, but it can get pretty rambunctious down there sometimes. One of the chief troublemakers and loudmin extrordinaire is the Pistol Shrimp. He’s great at parties, but he makes for a bad tenant. With a snap that would put the Mad Titan to shame, this high-decibel decapod can stun and even kill its prey. Life may be hard for most, but hunting and surviving are just a snap for the pistol shrimp here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Art and Measure Up intro by xnamaru

The Family Alpheidae

  • The family lives all over the world’s oceans, particularly in coral reefs, in sea grasses, and oyster reefs with plenty of hiding places.
  • Includes 38 genera
  • Most prefer warm and temperate water, but one genus lives in cold water and one lives in freshwater.

Description

  • The pistol shrimp is about the size of your finger.
  • The family comes in a variety of colors and patterns

Measure Up

Length: 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) – 1.6 inches – How many shrimp go into Forrest Gump’s run in the movie Forrest Gump. Hint: A panel of experts analyzed Forrest’s Run for a story written by Lauren Hansan in The Week, and found that, though he risks foot and bone injuries, the fictional run is possible. They also said Tom Hanks runs with perfect form. Answer: 475,200,000

 

Family size: 1119 species in the snapping shrimp family – How many of the largest family in the world goes into the pistol shrimp family (134)? Hint: The family of father Ziona Chana are from Baktwang, India and live in a 100 room house. Answer: 8 families

Mutualism

Since we learned about mutualism last week, we now come across another animal that shows mutualistic behavior, this time with another animal.

  • The pistol shrimp often shares a burrow with the goby fish.
  • The shrimp builds the burrow and maintains it.
  • The goby has good eyesight and alerts the shrimp to danger.
  • Even when they leave the burrow, they shrimp will keep track of the fish with its antennae.
  • If the fish spots danger, it will communicate with the shimp with a special tail flick.

Eusocial

  • One genus (Synalpheus) displays eusocial behavior like the naked mole rat.
  • Colonies live inside sponges with 300 members.
  • All of them are the offspring of a single large female queen, but they may also be offspring of one male as well.
  • The colony is separated into workers and soldiers.
  • Workers tend to young and soldiers protect the colony.

Episode 53 – Clark’s Nutcracker: The Squirrelly Bird Gets the Worm

“Today we’re talking about a bird with a knack to crack snacks and packs snacks to prep for when Jack frost comes back. But more on that later.”

You may know that a lot of nature’s most amazing animal adaptations are developed in the bitter fight against winter. When earth tilts away from the warmth of the sun towards the chill of space, animals have to be prepared. When there’s no food to be found for months at a time, you’ve got to stock up. But one bird braves the cold with a 100 acre pantry. But preparation may be a matter of life, death, and taxonomy.