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.

Rewind – Reindeers: Our Most Festive Episode

Merry Christmas, Taxonomy Titans!

Carlos and I are currently enjoying Christmas cheer with our friends and family. If you find yourself driving, baking, or doing a task requiring some interesting animal information, here’s a throwback to our Christmasiest episode ever—about reindeer!

Episode 309 – Aardvark: Earth Bending

“…And today we are talking about an animal that is perpetually in 3rd grade. But less on that later.”

The plains of Africa are home to a lot of pretty strange-looking animals. I mean, have you really thought about how weird a giraffe is? But one chimeric beast would definitely leave you scratching your head if it came across your path. Is it a pig? Is it a rabbit? Is it an armadillo? Why is it the size of a Doberman? An animal with a name many of us learned to spell thanks to a certain PBS show, the aardvark is equipped with the tools, know-how, and chutzpah to practice actual earthbending here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 308 – Plains Zebra: White Stripes

“…and today we’re talking about a fashion icon that is more interested in function over form. But more on that later.”

Few looks in nature are as iconic as a plains zebra’s stripes. But these savannah equines rarely think about fashion, so these stripes must have a function beyond their form. You may think you know what these patterns are for, so you might be surprised to know that there is an ongoing debate among researchers over their true purpose. We may never know for sure what secrets these zealous zebras hide, but it never hurts to try to uncover the mysteries of Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 307 – Greater Sage Grouse: House of Grouse

“…and today we’re talking about the Charlie Chaplin of chickens. But more on that later.”

In the wide open plains of Saskatchewan, a bulky pheasant puts on a very interesting display. The Greater Sage Grouse male is equipped with some unique tools to let the ladies know he’s got the gains on the plains. The dance party is on at the house of grouse, and as you might expect, it involves strange sounds and undulations. It may make him more visible to predators, but it’s worth it to be able to sow those wild oats here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 306 – Demodex Mite: Face to Face with Friends

“…and today we’re talking about a tiny animal that likes oil, but not the kind that comes from olives. But more on that later.”

Warning: Learning about this animal might give you the heebie jeebies or more likely a nervous itch. If you or the kids are sensitive to that, viewer discretion is advised. 

What other species is closest to humans? Some would say dogs and others would say cats. But there is a closer species, whether you like it or not. The smallest forms of life are all around you every day and some of these life forms share a kingdom with us. Tiny animals called demodex mites live in very close proximity to humans, but are they friends or foes? The distinction can sometimes become blurred in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 305 – Sarcastic Fringehead: Sea Grouch

“…and today…yeah, we’re talking about a really beautiful animal… But more on that later.”

They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but you need more than wit to stake your claim in the animal kingdom. The ocean is a vast place, so you wouldn’t think that finding a place to live would be hard. But in a coral reef, there are so many animals vying for space that real estate comes at a premium. The sarcastic fringehead is the ogre of the ocean, vehemently defending its home with a mouth straight out of a sci-fi horror movie where it greets others with a brotherly kiss. But being a grouchy homebody is how this fish survives here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.