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.

Episode 304 – Bdelloid Rotifer: Millennial Thaw

“…and today we are talking about a rip van winkle for the ages. But more on that later.”

What if you could talk to someone from thousands of years ago? What could they tell you about the world and what it was like to navigate through it? Researchers in Siberia are asking similar questions. Unfortunately, the one with the answers is a tiny animal called a rotifer, and it doesn’t know how to talk. Sometimes, not even eons on ice can snuff out Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 303 – Slaver Ant: Hill Raiders

“…and today we are talking about an ant that is absolutely canceled. But more on that later.”

In Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, the ants are the good guys, but studying ants shows that ants aren’t exactly on the right side of history. If you didn’t already know that the bug world was a brutal one, the habits of the slaver ant should clue you in. An entire species that completely depends on the subjugation of another is par for the course in our fallen world, but it’s how the slaver ant survives here in LDT.

Episode 302 – Yellow Bellied Marmot: Brilliant Burrows

“…and today we are talking about some sleepy mountain rodents, but more on that later.”

If your circumstances are difficult, sometimes it helps to sleep on it. When you wake up, you’ll feel renewed and ready to tackle life’s challenges. That’s exactly what the yellow bellied marmot does, and his biggest problem is winter. But high-altitude frost is nothing an eight-month nap can’t fix in Life, Death, and Taxonomy. 

Episode 301 – Pinhead Pearlfish: Nature’s Pocket

“…and today we’re talking about an assertive insertive fish in the sea. But more on that later.”

The ocean is full of situations where animals work together toward a common goal. Whether it’s finding food, fighting off predators, or setting up a place to live, it’s important to pick your underwater teammate carefully. However, while its sea cucumber partner is—less than willing to participate, the persuasive pearlfish worms its way into the heart of its new best friend whenever danger rears its ugly pinhead. But sometimes, being a prairie doggin’ pearlfish is the way to survive here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 300 – Sponge Crab: Hat Fashion

“…and today we’re talking about a boss that puts the team on his back. But more on that later.”

In everyday life, it’s often necessary to wear many different hats. You’re a student, an employee, a parent, and more. In nature, it’s no different. While it’s rare for animals to wear actual hats, the sponge crab takes on the roles of bus, master of disguise, and true, bonafide hat wearer. Of course, that’s just undersea fashion in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 299 – Koala: Eucalip-Smacking Good

“…and today we’re talking about an arboreal ignoramus. But more on that later.”

Way out in the land down under, a famous little gray puff gremlin spends its days as a literal tree-hugger. Like its equally famous black and white counterpart in China, the Panda, the Koala is a threatened cutie that eats terribly, sleeps a lot, and gives its kids a good ol’ fashioned fecal smoothie in order to not die from the poison it eats every day. But as we often tell our kids, sometimes you gotta find a way to eat your leafy greens here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy..

Episode 298 – Doliolida: Mass Reproduction

“…and today we’re talking about a tiny barrel in the sea. But more on that later.”

Humans, like many animals, go through a familiar generational cycle. Your parents made you and their parents made them. But when you look closer, so close you can see the tiny things floating in the sea, things start to get much more complicated. What if your parents were sort of your siblings, and your grandma was your car? That’s what would happen if you were doliolida drifting through Life, Death, and Taxonomy.