Darwin Day 2024- Voyage of the Beagle Part I

Darwin Day is upon us for the fifth time! To celebrate, let's follow Charles Darwin on the first part of his famous voyage between late 1831 and early 1832. We'll see him pour over cuttlefish, travel with veterans of the Napoleonic Wars and arrive in a young Brazilian Empire…

Sources for this episode:

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72- Alien Species and the Aldrovandi Cache

A series of 5000 flowers pressed in the 16th century near Bologna have given scientists an opportunity to see human impacts and the rise of alien species. All while giving us an excuse to touch on what the Columbian exchange actually is…

Sources for this episode:

  • Anteric, I., Basic, Z., Vilovic, K., Kolic, K. and Andjelinovic, S. (2014), Which Theory for the Origin of Syphilis is True? Journal of Sexual Medicine 11: 3112-3118.
  • Buldrini, F., Alessandrini, A., Mossetti, U., Muzzi, E., Pezzi, G., Soldano, A. and Nascimbene, J. (2023), Botanical memory: five centuries of floristic changes revealed by a Renaissance herbarium (Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1551-1586). Royal Society Open Science 10(11): 230866.
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  • McCook, S. (2011), The neo-Columbian exchange: the second conquest of the Greater Caribbean, 1720-1930. Latin American Research Review: 46(S1): 11-31.
  • Milliken, W., Walker, B. E., Howes, M.-J. R., Forest, F. and Lughadha, E. N. (2021), Plants used traditionally as antimalarials in Latin America: Mining the tree of life for potential new medicines. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 279: 114221.
  • Sanz-Biset, J., Campos-de-la-Cruz, J., Epiquién-Rivera, M. A. and Cañigueral, S. (2009), A first survey on the medicinal plants of the Chazuta valley (Peruvian Amazon). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 122: 333-362.
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71- Galactic Cycles in Evolutionary History

It takes our sun 220 million years to orbit around the middle of our home galaxy. But that kind of timescale can be difficult to picture. So, using the International Stratigraphy Chart as a guidance for what different time periods mean in terms of millions of years, let's zoom out to the scale of a galactic year and see what happened in Earth's prehistory one cycle ago, two and so on.

Sources for this episode:

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  • Brusatte, S. L., Butler, R. J., Barrett, P. M., Carrion, M. T., Evans, D. C., Lloyd, G. T., Mannion, P. D., Norell, M. A., Peppe, D. J., Upchurch, P. and Williamson, T. E. (2015), The extinction of the dinosaurs. Biological Reviews 90: 628-642.
  • Cameron, G. G. (1968), Zoroaster the Herdsman. Indo-Iranian Journal 10(4): 261-281.
  • Clack, J. A. (2006), Devonian climate change, breathing, and the origin of the tetrapod stem group. Integrative and Comparative Biology 47(4): 510-523.
  • Cohen, K. M., Finney, S. C., Gibbard, P. L. and Fan, J.-X. (2013; updated). The ICS International Chronostratigraphic Chart. Episodes 36: 199-204.
  • Downs, J. P., Daeschler, E. B., Jenkins, F. A. and Shubin, N. H. (2008), The cranial endoskeleton of Tiktaalik roseae. Nature 455: 925-929.
  • Ellery, A. (2003), Book Review: Impossible Extinction- Natural catastrophes and the supremacy of the microbial world. International Journal of Astrobiology 2(2): 153-154.
  • Galway-Whitham, J. and Stringer, G. (2018), How did Homo sapiens evolve? Science 360(6395): 1296-1298.
  • Hazen, R. M. (2010), How Old is Earth, and How Do We Know? Evolution: Education and Outreach 3: 198-205.
  • Hess, F. L. (1925), The Age of the Earth. The Scientific Monthly 20(6): 597-602.
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70- The Microbiome and Microbiota

Most people will have come across this term before, but what does it actually mean? Today, we'll be dissecting the terms microbiome and microbiota and looking at what can impact them.

Sources for this episode:

  • Amon, P. and Sanderson, I. (2017), What is the microbiome? Archives of Disease in Childhood- Education and Practice 102-258-261.
  • Cremon, C., Barbaro, M. R., Ventura, M. and Barbara, G. (2018), Pre- and probiotic overview. Current Opinion in Pharmacology 43: 87-92.
  • Kim, H., Sitarik, A. R., Woodcroft, K., Johnson, C. C. and Woratti, E. (2019), Birth Mode, Breastfeeding, Pet Exposure and Antibiotic Use: Associations With the Gut Microbiome and Sensitization in Children. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 19: 22.
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  • Rees, T., Bosch, T. and Douglas, A. E. (2018), How the microbiome challenges our concept of self. PLoS Biology 16(2): e2005358.
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Island Folk 3- Saint Helena and Anthropogenic Impact

Saint Helena is an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps most famous as the final residence of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814 and again briefly in 1815. However, there is also plenty of interesting ecology and anthropogenic impact to talk about. Join myself and my co-host on an old episode of Island Folk to find out more!

The episode can be found at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1yP66nlH0ReAaZUWETXEHp?si=e894e255600c4bc0

Hope you enjoy!

69- Punctuated Equilibrium, Phyletic Gradualism and Creationist Philosophy

This episode discusses what it says on the tin- two different models of the pace at which evolution happens. Punctuated equilibrium comes to us courtesy of Niles Eldredge and Steve Gould in the 1970s. We won't do a deep dive on which model is considered correct in this episode. However, punctuated equilibrium was appropriated by creationists in the 1980s as this issue became political- leading us to a convenient tangent on what exactly creationist philosophy is.

Sources TBA.

68- Mammoths and the Pyramids

Woolly mammoths are an iconic feature of the Ice Age in popular imagination. However, on today's episode, we will also see that they are the basis of a fun fact that may change your perception of the past…

Sources for this episode:

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67- Mythological Hybrids and Chromosome Count

A throwaway comment on Big Bang Theory got me thinking- could hybrid animals such as the griffin and the hippogriff be possible from a biological viewpoint? Using these two examples, we will explore the chromosome number of hybrid animals and see what it means for our mythical friends…

Sources for this episode:

  • Ewart, J. C. (1910), Are Mules Fertile? Nature 2143(85): 106.
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Introducing- Autocrat

Introducing my newest venture- being one half of the Autocrat podcast! Autocrat is a podcast which aims to explore Roman civilisation from beginning to end. Beginning with the mythology and the stories of Aeneas and Romulus, the podcast will trace the journey through the Roman Kingdom, the Republic, the Empire and all the way to 1453 and beyond. Who knows if we'll make it that far, but we hope to have fun with it!

The podcast can be found at https://open.spotify.com/show/30Muilr1O66yA4UDcj76SW?si=891136d533c446a5 or on YouTube at youtube.com/@autocratpodcast. If the show sounds fun, feel free to come and join us!

66- The KT Extinction

It's episode 66, so I thought I'd cover a big event from 66 million years ago- the death of the dinosaurs! But it's not all doom and gloom- we will also take a look at how to prevent asteroid impacts in future.

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(online) [Accessed 29/07/2023]. 8) Ostrom, J. H. and Padian, K., Encyclopedia Britannica (2023), dinosaur (online) [Accessed 14/07/2023]. 9) Pope, K. O., Baines, K. H., Ocampo, A. C. and Ivanov, B. A. (1994), Impact winter and the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinctions: Results of a Chicxulub asteroid impact model. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 128: 719- 725. 10) Schulte, P., Alegret, L., Arenillas, I., Arz, J. A., Barton, P. J., Brown, P. R., Barlower, T. J., Christeson, G. L., Claeys, P., Cockell, C. S., Collins, G. S., Deutsch, A., Goldin, T. J., Goto, K., Grajales Nishmura, J. M., Grieve, R. A. F., Gulick. S. P. S., Johnson, K. R., Kiessling, W., Koeberl, C., Kring, D. A., MacLeod, K. G., Matsui, T., Melosh, J., Montanari, A., Morgan, J. V., Neal, C. R., Nichols, D. J., Norrison, R. D., Pierazzo, E., Ravizza, G., Rebolledo-Vieyra, M., Reimold, W. U., Robin, E., Salge, T., Speijer, R. P., Sweet, A. R., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Vajida, V., Whalen, M. T. and Willumsen, P. S. (2010), The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene Boundary. Science 327(5970): 1214- 1218. 11) Starrfelt, J. and Liow, L. H. (2016), How many dinosaur species were there? Fossil bias and true richness estimated using a Poisson sampling model. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371(1691): 20150219. 12) Yousuf, I., Encyclopedia Britannica (2023), Empire State Building (online) [Accessed 27/07/2023].