Evolution

Leviathan: The Wolf of Whale Street

Canst thou draw out Livyatan melvillei with a hook? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the awesome undersea world of carnivorous whales -- as well as the sperm whale ancestor that may have preyed on its fellow toothed cetaceans.

From the Vault: Bird Intelligence

Just what are the upper limits of avian cognitive ability? Various studies reveal how certain bird species engage in mental time travel, tool use, self recognition, theory of mind and even meta-cognition. But how do their non-mammalian brains actually work, and what might a technologically-advanced bird species even look like? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they explore the avian mind. (Originally published March 31, 2016)

Carl Sagan and the Samurai Crabs

Legend has it that a variety of crabs contain the ghosts of a drowned samurai army -- and each bears a grimacing warrior face on their backs to prove it. But what can we really gather from this biological peculiarity? In the book and TV series “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan argued that it presented a case of artificial selection, but critics disagree. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion of the Heikegani.

Evolution of the Anus

Chances are, you take the anus for granted -- at least so long as it’s behaving itself. Yet this fascinating anatomical feature has a deep evolutionary history and is itself a marvel of engineering. Join Robert and Joe for a look at this most marvelous alimentary portal.

Aquatic Humanoids, Part  2

From the sirens of 'The Odyssey' to 'The Creature From the Black Lagoon' and beyond, humans have always imagined their underwater doubles. In this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert and Joe discuss the revealing myth and fiction of mermaids and gillmen -- as well as the aquatic ape theory and the biological possibilities of an aquatic humanoid.

Where’s my eternal youth? Part 2

Throughout history, humans have faced the inexorable process of aging and death. We’ve dreamt up countless myths to explain why we age and what comes of seeking immortality, but what does science tell us about the process? Why do we age? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Indeed, what can science offer us in the way of eternal youth? Robert and Joe seek to find out in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration.

Where’s my eternal youth? Part 1

Throughout history, humans have faced the inexorable process of aging and death. We’ve dreamt up countless myths to explain why we age and what comes of seeking immortality, but what does science tell us about the process? Why do we age? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Indeed, what can science offer us in the way of eternal youth? Robert and Joe seek to find out in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration.

The Monstrosity/Cuteness Spectrum

It seems the unavoidable fate of all terrifying monsters, doesn’t it? We reduce the most horrifying creatures of myth, legend and folklore to an adorable kids costume or a mega-cute illustration. Why can’t we help ourselves? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the battle between cuteness and monstrosity, with examples drawn from Japanese traditions.

The Science of Secrets

Can you keep a secret? If so, what's the psychic weight of that secret? How does secret keeping fit into human evolution and the modern shape of human society? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss the science of secrets and secret keeping in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast.

CRISPR and the Genetic Astronaut

In 1960, scientists Nathan Kline and Manfred Clynes envisioned a spacefaring cyborg, technologically augmented to endure the rigors of space travel. The subsequent six decades of space exploration largely ignored this radical suggestion, but the advent of gene editing tools like CRISPR present raise new questions. Might genetic alterations give future astronauts the 'right stuff?' What would the physiology of a genetically-augmented space traveler even look like? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast.