Podcast 143 - Squamate Talk


Well, it has finally come to this. After almost 150 episodes under our belts, we've finally produced a podcast where almost no one read any of the papers. This episode was supposed to be about squamate (lizards and snakes) evolution. In particular, we were supposed to look at two papers that tried to determine when squamates must have first diversified. And... we kind of accomplish that. Meanwhile, James shares his weak points, Amanda demonstrates a super power, and Curt laments falling asleep on the couch being the only person to read these papers. We swear the next one will be better.... maybe.


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends were supposed to talk about these papers that they read. However, they didn't read these papers and so they spend some of the time trying make it up as they go along. The papers that the friends were supposed to read were about cold, cute things with dry skin and four legs (most of the time). Both of these papers suggest that these cold, cute things probably came about well before we thought they did. In fact, we probably had the first cold, cute things just around or before the time a really bad thing happened that hurt all living things around the world. It was the worst of the bad things to have ever happened. These papers suggest that these cold, cute things might have done alright during these really bad times, and that may be the reason why there are so many cute, cold things around the world today.



 Tałanda, Mateusz. "An exceptionally preserved Jurassic skink suggests lizard diversification preceded fragmentation of Pangaea." Palaeontology (2018). 

 Simões, Tiago R., et al. "The origin of squamates revealed by a Middle Triassic lizard from the Italian Alps." Nature 557.7707 (2018): 706. 

Podcast 142 - The LDG


The gang discusses two papers that look at the origins of the latitudinal diversity gradient, the tendency for higher species diversity in the tropics and lower diversity closer to the poles. Specifically, these studies use comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of modern taxa to try and determine if the current diversity gradient is caused by increased speciation or decreased extinction at the equator. Meanwhile, Amanda shares diseases with her cat, James decides to "treat" himself to a Lime-A-Rita, and Curt just re-enacts scenes from other media.


Up-Goer Five (James Edition):

The group looks at two papers that are interested in where animals live. They are looking at a well known thing where more animals live near the middle of the world than at either end. However, it is not clear whether there are more animals in the middle of the world because they have been there longer and so the number of animals has just built up over time, or whether animals in these areas make more types of animals more quickly.

The first study looks at animals that have no legs and live in the water that you can not drink and breath water. This study finds that animals that live in the middle of the world actually make other animals slower than animals that live at either end of the world do, so the reason there are more animals in the middle of the world is probably because they have been there longer. The second study looks at animals with hard outer skin that have six legs and live in big families. This study finds that there is no change across the world in how quickly these animals make more animals, which is different from the first study. However, this does mean that the reason there are more animals in the middle of the world is because they have been there longer, so this agrees with the first study!



 Economo, Evan P., et al. "Macroecology and macroevolution of the latitudinal diversity gradient in ants." Nature communications 9.1 (2018): 1778. 

 Rabosky, Daniel L., et al. "An inverse latitudinal gradient in speciation rate for marine fishes." Nature (2018): 1. 

Podcast 141 - Save the Weasels


The gang discusses two papers that look at the effects of climate change on cold adapted species, as well as the possibility of evolutionary rescue as a means of preserving this biodiversity. Also, it gives them all a great excuse to just talk about weasels (and somehow badgers as well). Meanwhile, Curt invents alternative Nintendo canon, James wants a giant robot spider body, and Amanda invents personalities for pictures of weasels.


Up-Goer Five (Amanda Edition):


Today our friends talk about how when things get warm it is bad for lots of things that live. Our friends look at long things with hair that need to eat more. These long things with hair that need to eat more are either dark or white. They are white when it is cold and dark when it is warm and that helps them hide. But with things turning more warm every year, it is getting too different for these long things with hair that need to eat more. Now sometimes they change from dark to white when it is still too warm, or, more often, they are still white when it is time to be dark. One paper says that this means the long things with hair that need to eat more get eaten more often by big things with big teeth and pointed fingers and hair, or by big things that fly that have no teeth and pointed fingers and no hair. The other paper says that maybe we need to look at some parts of the world that no one cares about and save them for animals, because these are places where the long things with hair that need to eat more that change color from dark to white and back to dark may be able to live.



 Atmeh, Kamal, Anna Andruszkiewicz, and Karol Zub. "Climate change is affecting mortality of weasels due to camouflage mismatch." Scientific reports 8.1 (2018): 7648. 

 Mills, L. Scott, et al. "Winter color polymorphisms identify global hot spots for evolutionary rescue from climate change." Science 359.6379 (2018): 1033-1036. 

Podcast 140 - Staying on Ecomorphic Brand


The gang returns to a favorite topic, the link between morphology and ecology. Specifically, they look at two studies that use the morphology of ammonites and early fish as a proxy for ecological complexity. Also, James enjoy controlling giant robots, Curt considers the impact of branding, and Amanda tries a new 14% beer with all of the expected consequences. So enjoy as we get completely sidetracked talking about feet, eating zoras, how Amanda is secretly Tien from Dragon Ball, Warhammer 40k, and Deadpool. So, it’s one of those podcasts. <EDITOR’S NOTE: Actual science talk starts at roughly 16 minutes in>


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends talk about two papers that look at the way things look and how that changes what you can do to live. The first paper looks at things with long arms and hard covers that move through the water. The paper talks about how old things with long arms are the same and different to things with long arms that live today. It also looks at how these things with long arms change how they look and what they do as they get older. The paper shows that the old things often changed how they looked and do very different things as they got older. Also, the older things with long arms are doing things that are very different from the new things with long arms.

The next paper talks about other things that move through water and are good to eat. It looks at the mouths of these things that are good to eat to see if the mouths have become more different over time. Some people think that the mouths might have become different very early on, while other people think the mouths slowly got more different over time. This paper says that the mouths in the past were probably not as different as the mouths today, since a new group of things that are good to eat has appeared that have very very different mouths.



 Walton, Sonny A., and Dieter Korn. "An ecomorphospace for the Ammonoidea." Paleobiology 44.2 (2018): 273-289. 

 Hill, Jennifer J., et al. "Evolution of jaw disparity in fishes." Palaeontology (2018). 

Podcast 139 - Whales and Birds Suck


The gang discusses two papers on suction feeding among tetrapods, the process by which animals take in water to pull food into their mouths. Specifically they look at two papers showing suction feeding strategies in fossil whales and in modern auks. Meanwhile, Amanda finds new ways to become ill, James finds new things to get angry about, and Curt makes new, very unfortunate deviant art searches.


Up-Goer Five (James Edition):

The group look at two papers that deal with animals that suck. The first paper is looking at how animals with hair that live in the place where water can not be drunk got big. One of the thing that these really big animals share is that they eat lots of little food all at once by pushing it through a brush, and it is thought that they got big because they could push so much food through their brush at once that they could eat lots and lots. The study looks at the hard parts of a really old hair covered water animal that got very big, but it does not have the brush and so could not eat lots of small food. Instead, it seems like the animal would have got its food by sucking, and ate lots of food that was not too big but not too small instead by sucking it into their mouth and then pushing the water out. This shows that these animals could get big without pushing lots of small food through a brush, and that the brush pushing eating might have come from sucking first.

The second paper takes small animals that can fly and live on the big water that you can not drink and sees how they ate. These animals eat very small animals as their food and people have looked inside them and found out that they would need to eat a lot of these small animals in order to live. It was said that these flying animals must have eaten lots of small animals at once by pushing them through a small space like a brush like the really big animals that live if the big water you can not drink do, however no one has ever seen these flying animals eat. The study takes some of these flying animals and keeps them in a room with lots of water for a while that is full of their food and watches how they eat. It turns out that these flying animals suck too, and they suck up their small food by seeing them and sucking them in one or a few at a time. This sucking is just like the sucking that the old really big animal with hair and no legs would have done. This also suggests that the flying animals do not need to eat quite as much as the people that looked inside them thought.



Enstipp, Manfred R., et al. "Almost like a whale–First evidence of suction-feeding in a seabird." Journal of Experimental Biology (2018): jeb-182170. 

 Fordyce, R. Ewan, and Felix G. Marx. "Gigantism precedes filter feeding in baleen whale evolution." Current Biology(2018). 

Podcast 138 - Cambrian Food


The gang discuss two papers that use various lines of evidence to try to determine what Cambrian animals (particularly trilobites) might have eaten. Which of these animals were detritivores or coprophagous, and which animals might have been active predators? Meanwhile, James tries to keep a schedule, Amanda finds a way to time travel 10 minutes, and Curt fights against nature.


Up-Goer Five (Amanda Edition):

Today our friends talk about very old things with no inside hard bits that ate shit and also how stomachs grow in cute round hard animals with lots of parts. The papers look at very old times and how all things are put together living in the same place and how they all work together in this place and time. At first our friends talk about pieces of shit that show how very old things with no inside hard bits ate food and how that means they fit into this place and time. The shit is found in the ends of where the very old things with no inside hard bits lived. There are other animals found with the shit that might be eating the shit or also might be part of the shit, meaning that the very old things with no inside hard bits ate them. They also say that these pieces of shit that have a different kind of animal that has not been well known until not long ago means that these different animals were more like a good-to-eat animal than a not-good-to-eat animal. One of our friends falls asleep but it is not because the paper is not fun. Then our friends talk about how the head-stomach gets bigger in these cute round animals with lots of parts. They think a bigger head-stomach means that these cute round animals with lots of parts ate other animals and not just stuff on the ground. 



Lerosey‐Aubril, Rudy, and John S. Peel. "Gut evolution in early Cambrian trilobites and the origin of predation on infaunal macroinvertebrates: evidence from muscle scars in Mesolenellus." Palaeontology (2018). 

 Kimmig, Julien, and Brian R. Pratt. "Coprolites in the Ravens Throat River LAGERSTÄTTE of Northwestern Canada: Implications for the Middle Cambrian Food Web." Palaios 33.4 (2018): 125-140. 

Podcast 137 - Sloth vs Sloth


The gang discuss several papers that detail the changes necessary for a terrestrial tetrapod to  transition into aquatic marine lifestyle. They focus on two examples, fossil sloths and fossil crocodyliforms. Also, James discusses some unconventional forms of hydraulic fracking, Curt imagines the sloth action film, Amanda details her plans to get "swole", and everyone has a lively "debate" on the correct pronunciation of the word sloth.


Up-Goer Five (James Edition):

This week the group look at two studies of groups of animals that have moved into the big water that is full of little rocks that make food great but are bad for you if you have too much and also make it really hard for animals that are not used to it to live in the water. The first group are angry animals without hair that are around today and usually live in water that is found on land, but a long time ago some of them moved into the bit water full of little rocks. These angry animals began to change from the ones that live in the land water, and their land feet turn into water feet and their back end grows to be like a water animal's back end usually looks like. The study looks at the left overs of animals from a long time ago that show what parts of the inside of the head looked like. These show that once they moved in to the big water they grew little balls in their head that let them deal with the little rocks that are all in the big water. This shows that they spent all their time in the big water and did not go back to the land water, and that they could eat food that lived in the big water without dealing with the small rocks, such as small animals with no hard parts that had many arms. The second group are big animals with hair that are very slow today. While these slow animals are small today and live in trees, in the past they could be big and one group of them went to live in water. The study looks at the hard parts that keep the animals from falling over and found that once they move into water, the hard parts start to fill up and get more heavy. The study looks at the hard parts of other groups that go back into the water and find that they make their hard parts heavy too.



 Fernández, Marta, and Zulma Gasparini. "Salt glands in the Jurassic metriorhynchid Geosaurus: implications for the evolution of osmoregulation in Mesozoic marine crocodyliforms." Naturwissenschaften 95.1 (2008): 79-84. 

 Fernández, Marta, and Zulma Gasparini. "Salt glands in a Tithonian metriorhynchid crocodyliform and their physiological significance." Lethaia 33.4 (2000): 269-276. 

 Amson, Eli, Guillaume Billet, and Christian de Muizon. "Evolutionary adaptation to aquatic lifestyle in extinct sloths can lead to systemic alteration of bone structure." Proc. R. Soc. B 285.1878 (2018): 20180270. 

Podcast 136 - The Haunted Podcast Returns


The gang discusses coprolites (fossil feces) and the interesting information that we can glean from them. Specifically, they talk about two papers which look at moa coprolites from New Zealand to determine aspects of the New Zealand ecology before human intervention. But the powers of the internet conspire to destroy our intrepid podcasting trio, ultimately claiming Amanda's internet for nearly half of the episode. Can James and Curt survive having to talk to each other for a whole 30 minutes? Tune in to find out.


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Today the friends talk about shit. Yes of all the words for what comes out of your bottom, the only one of them that we can use in this write up is shit. Think about that. What does that mean about us? As a people? As a world?

Anyways, there is a lot we can learn from shit. The friends look at how shit from large angry things that are brother and sister to things that could fly can tell us about the world these angry things lived in. These large angry things are now dead. But we still have a lot of their shit lying around, and we can use it to find out what they ate. What they find is that these angry things might have ate some things that help green things which make food from the sun to grow, but they probably did not move those green things around in their shit. They also find that there were animals that lived in the angry things which died when the angry things died. All in all, it turns out there is a lot that shit can tell us.



Carpenter, Joanna K., et al. "An avian seed dispersal paradox: New Zealand's extinct megafaunal birds did not disperse large seeds." Proc. R. Soc. B 285.1877 (2018): 20180352. 

 Boast, Alexander P., et al. "Coprolites reveal ecological interactions lost with the extinction of New Zealand birds." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018): 201712337. 

Podcast 135 - Competing Convergences


The gang discusses a few papers that illustrate how different evolutionary processes can generate very similar morphological structures. Yes, we're talking about convergence again. But this time, things get kind of weird in the second half. Meanwhile, Amanda wrestles with the love of her cats, Curt understands his place in the group, and James invents a brand new way for birds to fly.


Up-Goer Five (Amanda Edition):

Today our friends talk about things that are not close but look a lot like each other. The first part is about animals that eat other things that are living. They say that sometimes it is the world around things that make them look like each other. Sometimes it is things like how much rain there is or how fast they grow up. So it is not always the fact that they all eat the same thing. But it might be. More things need to be done to see more about animals that eat other things. The second part is about things that fly and have no teeth, but also big angry animals with big teeth and no hair. They say that there is a part of where the leg ends that points behind that has parts that make the back part of the animal move, and that it is part of how the big angry animals with big teeth and no hair breathe. But they don't say how they figure this out very well. They confuse our friends. Then they say that this part of where the leg ends that points behind and the parts that make the back part of the animal move are important because they help the animals that can fly with no teeth fly the best of any big animal that can fly. They say it is important for the animals that can fly with no teeth to jump up when they fly. Our friends do not agree.



Tseng, Z. Jack, and John J. Flynn. "Structure-function covariation with nonfeeding ecological variables influences evolution of feeding specialization in Carnivora." Science advances 4.2 (2018): eaao5441. 

 Macaluso, Loredana, and Emanuel Tschopp. "Evolutionary changes in pubic orientation in dinosaurs are more strongly correlated with the ventilation system than with herbivory." Palaeontology (2018). 

Podcast 134 - Training Fish in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber

Goby over 9000.png

The gang discusses two papers that look how the environmental stresses caused from warming temperatures can affect fish. Specifically, we look at a paleontological study focusing on the Permian and Late-Triassic extinctions (often considered to be runaway greenhouse scenarios) as well as a modern study looking at the impact modern global climate change might have on goby fishes. Also, James offers to train Amanda, Curt starts a brand new business venture, and Amanda decides to pump pure sugar into her veins. Also, apologies for the fact that James has finally finished Dragon Ball Z and naturally keeps finding patterns.


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

The friends talk about papers that show how changes around the world can cause animals that move through the water and breathe water to die. The first paper talks about animals that move through the water and breathe water that died a very long time ago, during a time when nearly everything died. During this time when nearly everything died a lot of really bad things happened, like the world got a lot warmer and the water became hard to breathe. During this time, it appears that some of the animals that move through the water and breathe water actually did really well, while almost all of the other animals living in the water did really bad. The animals that did really well would eventually become a family we see today that has big teeth, eats a lot, and has soft parts inside. The paper says that maybe the way these animals lived help them get through this bad time when nearly everything died.

The second paper looks at animals that move through water and breathe water which are around today, and how these animals are being hurt by how much warmer it has been getting each year. They took some of these animals and raised them for a year in a warm home. Then they took the animals and made it warmer and saw if the animals were happy. When the animals got sad, they stopped and looked at how warm it got. They found that lots of things changed how warm the animals could get before they got sad. Animals that were brother and sister got sad in the same kinds of ways. Also, how warm the animals got in the year of training changed when the animals got sad. They showed that there were a lot of things to consider when we want to know how warm these animals can get before they become sad.



 Vázquez, Priscilla, and Matthew E. Clapham. "Extinction selectivity among marine fishes during multistressor global change in the end-Permian and end-Triassic crises." Geology45.5 (2017): 395-398. 

 Di Santo, Valentina, and Phillip S. Lobel. "Body size and thermal tolerance in tropical gobies." Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology 487 (2017): 11-17.