The gang gets together to discuss two papers that are sort of… kind of… very loosely held together by… size? First, they discuss a paper looking at size biases in our current biodiversity crisis and comparing it to our past extinction events. Is the present the same as the past? Second, they discuss a paper that looks at the evolution of whales and asks whether there were long term evolutionary trade-offs associated with growing massive in size. Meanwhile, James slowly freezes to death, Amanda becomes “Memento”, and Curt basically messes everything up. So, a typical podcast I suppose. HAPPY SESQUICENTENNIAL!!!
Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):
Our friends look at two papers that try to see how being a big animal can maybe make it better or worse. The first paper asks whether or not being big is a bad thing for animals that live in the big blue wet thing. To do this, they looked at how many big animals who lived in the big blue wet thing died in the past during really really bad times, and then saw if that number was the same of different to the number of animals who live in the big blue wet thing today. It turns out that all the past really really bad times had about the same number of big things dying. However, today there are so many big animals dying in our big blue wet thing. This is probably because people like to eat these animals, and so they eat all the big things for food. So maybe what is happening today is maybe not quite the same as the really really bad times in the past.
The second paper looks at some really big animals with warm blood that breath through a spot near the tops of their heads, and live in the big blue wet thing. These really big animals didn't always start out so big. A long long long time ago, the older mothers and fathers of these really big animals were not always so big. This paper shows how the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers of these animals changed over time. It turns out that these animals started getting really big very late in time, and that it might have been because of some changes in the big blue wet thing where they live. Also, when some of these animals got really really big, the rest of their sisters and brothers died out. The paper says that maybe these things that get really really big might also now be very slow at making new types of these animals.
Payne, Jonathan L., et al. "Ecological selectivity of the emerging mass extinction in the oceans." Science 353.6305 (2016): 1284-1286.
Marx, Felix G., and R. Ewan Fordyce. "Baleen boom and bust: a synthesis of mysticete phylogeny, diversity and disparity." Royal Society Open Science 2.4 (2015): 140434.