Episode 323 – Silky Anteater: Asleep to the Heat

“…and today we’re talking about the smooth jazz of tree critters. But more on that later.”

Deep in the jungles of the Amazon, an adorable ball of fluff clings to a tree branch, lapping up delicious ants. The pygmy silky anteater clearly has sloths as a role model, and it shows in their… laid back nature. But moving slowly and eating sparingly take a toll, and this carefree lifestyle comes at a cost, particularly for an anteater. But keeping a cool head when the heat turns up is the way to sway here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 322 – Striped Marlin: High Speed Coordination

“…and today we’re talking about the tiger torpedo. But more on that later.”

Living life as a living torpedo has its upsides. Feeling the current on your scales as you dart toward a school of tasty fish mackerel must be second to none. However, it comes with its challenges. The striped marlin is a sword-tipped sea projectile that swims faster than most other animals. But what happens when it aims at the same food as its friends and finds itself in front of the bullseye? Coordination is often the name of the game in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 321 – Clouded Leopard: Paws for Effect

“…and today we are talking about the banshee of Bhutan, the Specter of Sikkim. But more on that later.”

It’s cloudy with a chance of leopards here in the jungle, so you’d better have an umbrella and keep your eyes on the skies. The clouded leopard is at home in the trees, and with good reason – it’s the best darn climber in the climbing business. Most, if not all cats can climb, but this cloudy boy has some special adaptations that make him an arboreal acrobat. But playing a nonstop game of “the floor is lava” is one way to get the jump on your enemies here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Episode 320 – Chimpanzee: Simian Socialites

“…and today we’re talking monkey business. But more on that later.”

Imagine climbing your way to the top of your social order. You’ve made alliances with the right factions and formed a powerful coalition. Now it’s up to you to lead your troop to defend your territory and resources. It’s not the story of an English lord or a French aristocrat, it’s a common tale for chimpanzees. The social lives of chimpanzees are all about politics, grooming, and aggression. But sometimes, even the animal kingdom gets sophisticated in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

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.