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Shark, Stick, Crake : Updates and Supplementals

Revisiting the subjects of the first three Wild Episodes!

Just how common is the huge, ridiculously long-lived Greenland Shark (Episode One)? New research has the beginnings of an answer.

The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Episode Two) can’t go home until someone gets rid of the rats that invaded it. Those rats are still there, but elsewhere there’s big, big news in the world of rat eradication from islands …

And finally, just how badly did I mislead you in the corn crake episode (Episode Three)? Not too badly, but it turns out the truth about Scotland’s corn crakes is not as cheerful as I suggested.


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Shownotes follow below …

Archerfish : Bullseye

Archerfish (Toxotes spp.) are – how to put this politely? – small, kind of unremarkable- and certainly inoffensive-looking fish of tropical Asia. So why are they so (relatively) famous? Famous enough that the US Navy got into the habit of naming submarines after them. There can’t be that many people who don’t know exactly what makes archerfish special – the clue’s in the name, after all.

The trick these fish are pulling off looks kind of simple at first glance. But, as with everything in Nature, there’s more going on than meets the eye. Time to incorporate some (very gentle, very simple) physics into the Wild Episode, and enjoy the modest wonder that is the archerfish’s water-based machine gun …


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And please do E-mail the show (i.e. me!) if you have any comments, complaints, corrections, suggestions, encouragement or even just want to say hello. If the show’s going to survive and improve, feedback’s super-helpful!

Hit the View Post button for film of the awesomely cool coelacanth (really quite soothing to watch, I promise!), and links to much more info on this legendary fish …

Coelacanth : The King of the Sea

The coelacanth(s) (Latimeria chalumnae and Latimeria menadoensis – yes, there are two different kinds of them) must be amongst the most famous fish in the entire world. And rightly so, since their discovery was one of the most astounding zoological moments of the 20th century.

But they’re not just famous. They’re also a bit misunderstood, and bit mysterious. They are not really living fossils, or missing links. They are fish that give birth to live young, hunt by doing a headstand and carry in their bodies a blueprint that in some ways connects them more closely to you and me than to all the other fish in the oceans …

Welcome to the world of the King of the Sea …

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Subscribe to the Podcast and never miss a Wild Episode! (P.S. Make your friends and family subscribe too!)

And please do E-mail the show (i.e. me!) if you have any comments, complaints, corrections, suggestions, encouragement or even just want to say hello. If the show’s going to survive and improve, feedback’s super-helpful!

Hit the View Post button for film of the awesomely cool coelacanth (really quite soothing to watch, I promise!), and links to much more info on this legendary fish …

Large Blue Butterfly : The Wolf in Ant’s Clothing

The large blue butterfly (Maculinea arion – or Phengaris arion, depending on who you ask) is both beauty and the beast. Beauty because … well, it’s a pretty little butterfly, so what more could you ask for? The beast because it’s also such a master of deception, infiltration and carnivory it could be the antagonist in a sci fi horror movie. A fairly brutal sci fi horror movie at that.

So welcome to the world of a butterfly that is both parasite and predator, combining the tendencies of the cuckoo and the wolf. Oh, and it spends a chunk of its life pretending to be an ant.

Sometimes Nature’s just plain weird … And wonderful, of course.

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Subscribe to the Podcast and never miss a Wild Episode! (P.S. Make your friends and family subscribe too!)

And please do E-mail the show (i.e. me!) if you have any comments, complaints, corrections, suggestions, encouragement or even just want to say hello. If the show’s going to survive and improve, feedback’s super-helpful!

Hit the View Post button to see what the large blue looks like, learn more about its bonkers life and explore the frankly mind-blowing world of myrmecophiles in all their almost uncountable variety …

Banteng : The Horns of a Dilemma

Wild cattle don’t come much more beautiful or impressive than the banteng (Bos javanicus), one of three (or is it two?) surviving cattle species that are as much a part of wild Asia as are the tiger or the orang-utan. Like the tiger and the orang-utan, the banteng has not done very well in the face of human pressure, but it has one thing those animals don’t: a large population – its largest, in fact – living wild in a country that was never part of its natural range.

So what does it mean for conservation when an endangered animal’s safest and most successful home is a place Nature never put it …?


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Photos and film and lots of further info on not just the banteng, but also the gaur (Bos gaurus) and the kind of tragic kouprey (Bos sauveli) await in the shownotes…

Steller’s Sea Cow : Steller’s Menagerie Part Two

This is the business end of the two part story of Georg Steller, Vitus Bering and Steller’s Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) – shipwreck, death, survival, extinction and a lost world of astounding widllife. The Great Northern Expedition is coming to its dramatic end, and not everyone – or everything – is getting out alive.

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A wealth of images and further info awaits in the shownotes below …

Steller’s Sea Cow : Steller’s Menagerie Part One

Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was one of the most surprising, dramatic and generally amazing animals to have shared the world with modern humans. To tell its story is going to take two episodes – and this first of them, to be honest, doesn’t even feature the sea cow itself. Partly that’s because we have to talk about some of those modern humans too. Specifically, Vitus Bering and Georg Steller. Two men who would share with that gigantic creature an extraordinary tale of exploration, survival, death and extinction. Oh, and there’s a load of other amazing wildlife involved as well …

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Come back in a couple of weeks for Part Two, but in the meantime read on for shownotes, photos, video and the like …

Corn Crake : The Undiscovered Song

Sometimes the sound an animal makes becomes kind of iconic. For a handful of birds in particular, the sound can become so iconic that it’s the first thing people think of when they’re talking about the bird. But in the case of the corn crake (Crex crex), for hundreds of years, things have gone one step further. In a lot of ways, the bird is its voice. Which is just as well, because your chances of actually seeing one are kind of slim …

 

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Read on for shownotes, photos, video and links …

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect : The Lazarus Stick

This episode is all about what was once the rarest insect in the world – the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis) – and the bizarre story of how it escaped extinction, pulling off one of the most amazing tricks of species survival the world has ever seen …

 

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Greenland Shark : The Shark in Darkness

Where better to start The Wild Episode than with a shark? Specifically, the Greenland Shark. Somniosus microcephalus.

One of the least well known, and most mysterious, top predators in the world. An enormous Arctic shark that lives longer than any other vertebrate, eats almost anything, and loses its sight because its eyes get eaten …

 

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Read on for shownotes and links …

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