Species

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All Episodes

What's so special about the human brain? Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10525CfbVLmhaWARU6YaXz8ZGG-byTemSKE8C4dPst2w/edit?usp=sharing If you would like to learn about human evolution, listen to Macken's audio course here: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy  This is my affiliate link, I get 30% of your subscription if you sign up here. If you use the promo code "mackenmurphy," you get 30% off yours.

Nov 28

10 min 42 sec

The honeyguide is, perhaps, humanity's oldest friend. We share a symbiotic relationship that is among the most complicated examples of mutualism in nature—the only natural instance of human cooperation with a wild animal. Come learn about one of Macken's favorite creatures on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ne_SqZRXQZVcVEfIA5D69x-50n8OZuvS1HV1c5yRp-0/edit?usp=sharing If you would like to learn about human evolution, listen to Macken's audio course here: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy  This is my affiliate link, I get 30% of your subscription if you sign up here. If you use the promo code "mackenmurphy," you get 30% off yours!

Nov 14

28 min 54 sec

How do you breed betta fish in a US prison? How come betta bubbles don't pop? Why do betta fish gulp air? And what does this have to do with self-defense law? Come get your answers to these questions, and learn a bit about violence, on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Sn0h_hpL06L3Ct27ah01AcMMSHoMpOoqJ1mVIyLa84s/edit?usp=sharing

Oct 24

20 min 11 sec

Welcome back! Thank you all for your support and patience over the summer. Come learn about what the platypus has in common with sharks, snakes, beavers, ducks, hamsters, and a bunch of other animals in this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dkovdm76PgDMmyF0gDRMbjpEFmHJVO5jUX0X2PTrhs0/edit?usp=sharing

Oct 10

17 min 7 sec

Today I sat down with Professor Joe Henrich to discuss what makes our species special—which is, by his lights, culture. Our conversation centers on how culture develops, and from this topic, we managed to hit a wide range of other subjects, including but not limited to: the validity of children as models for uncultured humans, the relevance of intelligence to human success, the potential philosophical implications of known facts about cultural evolution, neanderthals vs. humans, and the extent to which human nature is genetic. Henrich is Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and he is the author of two widely-acclaimed books, The Secret of Our Success and The WEIRDest People in the World. Our conversation today focused on the first book, but you can find both on Henrich's website: https://henrich.fas.harvard.edu/

Aug 8

1 hr

Unfortunately, due to a variety of personal factors, I need to slow down Species to a less-than-weekly schedule, at least until October. This is heartbreaking for me, but I need to take my foot off the pedal for a moment. If you are new (or new-ish) to the show, we've got over 200 episodes waiting for you; it's all evergreen content, dive in, and don't worry about listening in any particular order. If you are a longtime fan and you just want new content from me, I've got a 10-episode series on how our species evolved waiting for you here: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy (If you can't afford a Listenable subscription, just use the free trial to listen and then cancel. Also: I get 30% of your subscription if you subscribe through that link, and you can get 30% off online using the promo code: mackenmurphy) Thank you so much for your support through the years, the journey is far from over.

Jul 26

4 min 42 sec

Why do porcupines have antibiotics on their quills? Is urination romantic? Can porcupines throw their quills? Find out the answer to all these questions and more on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jk-CCUSRdr-pzdIRmmpnCfdMezkY5SuIPXVcvR45yFA/edit?usp=sharing   Here is the affiliate link for my new audio course, "Human Evolution," first episode is free: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy I get 30% of your subscription if you subscribe through this link, your support is greatly appreciated! Also, you get 30% off when you sign up online and use the promo code: mackenmurphy

Jul 11

21 min 27 sec

How do plants get energy from the sun, and why are they green? Come learn about a solar-powered slug on this episode of Species.  Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JVpieyxEDEWpKLjVOtWecIeE272Dxs9i5XjluDqS8Wc/edit?usp=sharing  Here is the affiliate link for my new audio course, "Human Evolution," first episode is free: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy I get 30% of your subscription if you subscribe through this link, your support is greatly appreciated! Also, you get 30% off when you sign up online and use the promo code: mackenmurphy  

Jun 28

19 min 54 sec

This bird wipes their own memory so they don't starve. Find out all about how they survive Alaskan winters and the perks of forgetfulness on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pkvxdWIV0vqfl5UddAfsgfMUEtW5enTMohsED0_5CnE/edit?usp=sharing Here is my affiliate link for my audio course, "Human Evolution," first episode is free: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy I get 30% of your subscription if you subscribe through this link, your support is greatly appreciated! Also, you get 30% off when you sign up online and use the promo code: mackenmurphy

Jun 20

21 min 58 sec

Why do these salamanders get their own powerpoint in every biology class? What is a ring species, and what if the animals between us and chimps were still alive? Come learn about one of the most theoretically important creatures on earth on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KXT7pHVzxkAtr1JXtAwgW-WeXXqdkwCxvS8YTcvwqvU/edit?usp=sharing Here is my affiliate link for my new audio course, "Human Evolution," first episode is free: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy I get 30% of your subscription if you subscribe through this link, your support is greatly appreciated! Also, you get 30% off when you sign up online and use the promo code: mackenmurphy

Jun 13

16 min 54 sec

Come learn about the possible reasons why the enormous Irish elk went extinct, the conflict between sexual selection and survival, and the orc of the swine world on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/103mGaTzYZfrA9SHKig9BYhrg363HEV7w1UdA4qpJ-BA/edit?usp=sharing  

Jun 6

20 min 49 sec

It might be more appropriate to call them the alligator-snapping turtle. Come learn about the largest snapping turtle on earth. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14FZe2J58br8Ls7bLl2ZnFwNEb8pCxuQUewtv1ZRElWY/edit?usp=sharing  

May 30

17 min 2 sec

Poisonous birds are real. Come learn about one on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14jU3dUvrQbLQLhJC6o4-VQwjlTxcUWy6H1YhNlMr41Q/edit?usp=sharing  If you would like to learn about human evolution, listen to Macken's new audio course here: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy  This is my affiliate link, I get 30% of your subscription if you sign up here. If you use the promo code "mackenmurphy," you get 30% off yours!

May 23

23 min 54 sec

Come learn about the heads of hammerhead sharks and find out why a fish would hold their breath underwater.  Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1exsssJqR0O0mj0xxNkNhwU1hTlwsdV2FAWGPJ1aLPtc/edit?usp=sharing   Here is the affiliate link for my new audio course, "Human Evolution," first episode is free: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy   I get 30% of your subscription if you subscribe through this link, your support is greatly appreciated! Also, you get 30% off when you use the promo code: mackenmurphy

May 17

27 min 21 sec

I preview my new 10-lesson audio course, "Human Evolution," on Listenable. Here's the link to listen, the introductory lesson is free: https://frstre.com/go/?a=95595-7e38d9&s=1771291-5cf1d5&p_affiliate.referral_code=mackenmurphy (Full disclosure: This is my affiliate link, and if you use it, I get an additional 30% of your subscription. Thank you so much for your support. Send me a message on mackenmurphy.org/contact if you can't afford to listen, and I'll help you out.)

May 16

4 min 11 sec

If a big cat is going to eat Macken, he hopes it's a jaguar. Find out why, and learn all about this terrifying animal on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14kXGxp5UahAUB5WfgcQ8UlPTNmOCdlEFrUA84XPxmS8/edit?usp=sharing

May 10

15 min 3 sec

This butterfly is a Trojan horse and a Rube Goldberg machine wrapped into one. Come learn about oregano's roundabout way of defending itself on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lLH6Wy3Fba04ZP3g9yVrQp5puslJOPdfFV5QrvwHJzU/edit?usp=sharing

May 2

17 min 31 sec

Did the washing machine liberate women? Can compost spontaneously combust? Will AI exacerbate inequality? Find out about the malleefowl and (tangentially) related topics on this episode of species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MD4pevnsRvPaTuAG_u1PrqkltukyqVi79We4z8gLX08/edit?usp=sharing  

Apr 25

21 min 18 sec

What's the Code of Hammurabi? If earthworms could write horror movies, what would the monster look like? Come learn about the limbless amphibian who eats their mother on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N4CxfnqU4OobOIvPQPk7FWcLsZHqzPHOPY-rlT5c8YE/edit?usp=sharing

Apr 18

21 min 35 sec

This creature brings a whole lot more than nudity to the table. These rats live like ants, and can live without almost anything. Come learn about one of the strangest animals on the planet on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/196o_CurSfPqdIRmm7Q1L_9YQ6LCSLU7wxMnFiOjyDLY/edit?usp=sharing

Apr 11

33 min 45 sec

Why do periodical cicadas lie dormant for 17 years? What are they doing that whole time? And how do they know it's time to come up? My first children's book: https://neonsquidbooks.com/books/animal-sidekicks/ Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_RGZZryFdAAgF17xDu2Kx-IrrPRgoix4Xx3iO-P_KwQ/edit?usp=sharing  

Apr 5

23 min 17 sec

Omen of death or benevolent being? Annoyance or lullaby? Come learn about the invisible bird that looks like an owl and hunts like a frog. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-B4baVczEVG-ASmV9X05bZTFeFR32vgaFAy97c7irXw/edit?usp=sharing

Mar 29

18 min 45 sec

Try saying that three times fast. Come learn all about the fish with the longest name, and a bit about nomenclature in general. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rCa0QIyXMNlbGe9tJLtRxkr1f6FXfuLKH1-tccPBvmU/edit?usp=sharing  

Mar 22

18 min 46 sec

They aren't lemurs, they can't fly, but they're the greatest mammalian gliders on earth and they might be your cousin.  Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tYVDiQix_0cqwVwzGhDW7oS2QjyBR9V6TAJ7FCj_yiE/edit?usp=sharing  

Mar 15

20 min 58 sec

Why did beards evolve (in us and these lizards)? Were the lizards in Holes real? Will bearded dragons changing sex decimate the species? Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Gi3tAGnuhqMVB4w9i-bjB804WPaluKvb3TdrD7bpVDE/edit?usp=sharing

Mar 8

23 min 11 sec

This bird carries home water stashed in their chest feathers. Come learn about the price of water on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TTS5YvQiBiKlIu_40pOf8029Frs0cIO0M_P7TmAVDRI/edit?usp=sharing

Mar 1

19 min

It is ridiculous that all the aliens we've made up have jaws. Come find out why, and learn about the fish that lack them. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1npNiNPEIkuVmjfjSbW346YaT28eoNdOUubCWkaww0gM/edit?usp=sharing

Feb 22

27 min 22 sec

Why do hamsters eat their babies? What language calls them "Mr. Saddlebags," and why? Who would win, a hamster or a wasp? Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OxSxISRaNmFfB60z-3akij2nbsAPjVqqfNxXzqL2mbM/edit?usp=sharing  

Feb 15

22 min 11 sec

What percentage of the population could you plausibly have a child with? Come learn about a species that may have acheived global panmixia.  Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JpZAzmg7ZCuT4I3hzm_J3Xa_qZiPM0l_M1kp94XAohc/edit?usp=sharing  

Feb 8

24 min 1 sec

The biggest eagle on earth (debatably). Come learn about a monster on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Tl56m5p9t60wa9R4mhAHsLO6LkXMqb_yyTVwn2WfEJ4/edit?usp=sharing  

Feb 1

21 min 54 sec

Come learn about a fish that walks on land and ruins Einstein quotes on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eAk_FQb_6-PdLldZDS7Lc4q9cUmSFQ3NFDk-qqkSlmA/edit?usp=sharing

Jan 25

17 min 35 sec

The slower they go, the harder they work. Learn about why kangaroos hop, why they have pouches, and why they are the weirdest grazing animals on earth on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x7yA0OS_iHuNiXATwFOZwkvcrpkqg1ivIgIO5W_P5eY/edit?usp=sharing

Jan 17

19 min 59 sec

Did humans evolve to punch each other in the face? Are we more violent than ever? This crab uses sea anemones as boxing gloves. Come learn about them. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pXgDZZrpqYz_CJm9M-hg7UZ1ibwVgbgu3s-FfmvTMsA/edit?usp=sharing

Jan 11

19 min 22 sec

Why did penguins lose the ability to fly? What's up with those yellow eyebrows? Does expertise come at a cost? Find out all of these things and more on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xoa9Z6KnhD-WTvWYoWfnlnUI9YAxz3mba5r7YQRusbI/edit?usp=sharing

Jan 4

22 min 46 sec

How do suction cups work? Did Caligula get murdered due to remoras? Are remoras good or bad for their hosts? Find out on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1y30oSBdF0feRKLpSOVYBZ3PFlHtqSaQ9u25dqBwaPCY/edit?usp=sharing

Dec 2020

23 min 11 sec

Who is the most prolific serial killer of all time? How do ligers get so big? Why do tigers have stripes? Find out everything you could possibly want to know about tigers on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LUBGGbhJOwxTaDOFzYehXlOF87OTSEA74HnPwbiSlgc/edit?usp=sharing

Dec 2020

20 min 23 sec

This insect can survive being run over by a Toyota Camry. Here's how... Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-HFHQ9iJgTHDQKs8Tl3SzVZYrs2g7KzaRnkuqaEAork/edit?usp=sharing

Dec 2020

20 min 49 sec

Why do women cheat? Why do cuckoos cosplay as hawks? Why did the merry men of Gotham think they could bring about an endless summer by trapping a cuckoo? Find out the answer to all these why's and more on this episode of species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1807zyPxfAHbTXqCG6t8J7XfeD4RTUotfrTU3GUaD9h4/edit?usp=sharing

Dec 2020

23 min 16 sec

How do you measure success in the fight for survival? What is the most common vertebrate on earth? Which traits are most useful to an animal's abundance? Get your answers to all these questions and more on this episode of Species.  Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f02h0cboM7oO7-4h31uhsqH07QgUPmr0uFDIpUspv1o/edit?usp=sharing

Nov 2020

14 min 53 sec

Why do zebras have stripes? Why don't people ride zebras? Why do zebras kill their babies? Find out on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Gvcojy4USerYBMmrEP-co3R0mEcQgSAROqhiBFxiTtA/edit?usp=sharing  

Nov 2020

18 min 40 sec

Dr. Richard Wrangham’s book, The Goodness Paradox, argues that we humans inadvertently domesticated ourselves using the death penalty. In this conversation, we discuss the evidence supporting this hypothesis, the radical implications that follow from it, and a whole host of other topics, including morality, religion, patriarchy, psychopathy, and drug use in chimpanzees. Richard is Harvard University’s Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, he is founder of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, co-founder of the Kasiisi Project, and patron of the Great Apes Survival Partnership. He is the author of three influential books, Demonic Males, Catching Fire, and his newest book, The Goodness Paradox, which we recommend you read: https://www.amazon.com/Goodness-Paradox-Relationship-Violence-Evolution/dp/1101970197/ref=sr_1_1?crid=20C3Z9TAHH4UK&dchild=1&keywords=the+goodness+paradox+richard+wrangham&qid=1605904298&s=books&sprefix=the+goodness+pa%2Cstripbooks%2C180&sr=1-1

E

Nov 2020

1 hr 33 min

It's good to be afraid. Come learn about the woman who can't feel fear, the roaches who are rendered fearless and the wasp who makes it possible. Warning: This podcast is not for the faint of heart.  Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1su0d1qEn6P_JcjtyIMIZeNNXKOlUVcilBpV-SfQSx7A/edit?usp=sharing

Nov 2020

17 min 56 sec

Today we're going to talk about the (seemingly) mathematically impossible. Come learn about the oxpecker, their relationship with rhinos, and how we know anything on this episode of Species. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZDY2BPC2qLq1xOaCci_wy0OCjUBeE7M_0p9wBBvTXp0/edit?usp=sharing  

Nov 2020

20 min 45 sec

Why are clowns scary? If all clownfish are born male, how can they reproduce? How do clownfish survive living inside a sea anemone, and what does the anemone get out the deal? Come listen and learn from the Species podcast post-Halloween special. Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kluzIMr4qZdQkI44n6QM7NJHhV6yxA7SjbwcDHsRFX0/edit?usp=sharing

Nov 2020

18 min 58 sec

Why was Thomas Jefferson embarrassed about American animals? Are there moose in New Zealand? What is the only weapon in the universe that doubles as a hearing aid? Recording of my live lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bnpUnkwLyU Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14Em2fnOkQvkDtmo8C-ASwlqsFyXjnihamYsQMm1K_gk/edit?usp=sharing  

Oct 2020

19 min 43 sec

Come hear about an animal who is full of surprises, and learn about one of the most elaborate acts of deception in the animal kingdom. Register for my live show: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0odOivqz8rHd1T_g-UMAlfG92NGUSFIxxD Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UoaDBj8TJlgR3tYbUJrGv3wSd4g0EgkUMQMphFPc9z4/edit?usp=sharing  

Oct 2020

19 min 5 sec

This animal has the vision of a video game character, and they glitch like one too. Come hear about the benefits of seeing urine and the hack to hover without hummingbird wings on this episode of Species. Register for my upcoming lecture: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0odOivqz8rHd1T_g-UMAlfG92NGUSFIxxD Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1k054w73uaQd1Mre21GzoDrc9LRW-oxdXWRGC6xzj5nA/edit?usp=sharing

Oct 2020

16 min 50 sec

Juliet Gellatley is the founder and director of Viva!, one of the most effective animal rights charities in the world. In this conversation, she sat down with Macken to speak about her organization’s new film, “Hogwood,” an exposé of a British pig farm that put the corruption of related institutions on full display. In this conversation, Juliet details the heroism and horrors of her experiences with Hogwood, outlines the greatest joys and worst miseries in a pig’s life, and explains the state of farming in the 21st century. Hogwood is available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and Google Play. You can find Viva! here: https://www.viva.org.uk/

E

Oct 2020

1 hr 27 min

Why did humans take so long to invent swords? How do swordfish use their swords? Is a swordfish bigger than my whole family? Find out on this episode of species.   Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zyGukCFXL-CWQKHbDOUnswGq52Hyp4Cbt4WngHQ2wZY/edit?usp=sharing

Oct 2020

20 min 32 sec

The biggest cottontail on earth acts like a fictional ninja, and tried to attack a US president. Hear all about them on this episode of Species.   Bibliography: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ouxgMZD6qgxO4CZzZumR6PppOnXAuldEOI-7uO4fsVg/edit?usp=sharing

Sep 2020

17 min 39 sec