Cattitude - Episode 127 Purrfectly Impurrfect on National Cat Day
Play • 24 min
It's National Cat Day! To celebrate, Michelle Fern welcomes back Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, to talk about the “Purrfectly Impurrfect” campaign on to help all cats find furever loving homes. Between now and November 30, 2020, cat welfare organizations and cat lovers are invited to nominate any shelter cat(s) who are being overlooked by submitting a photo or video and a brief description of why their feline is “purrfectly impurrfect” and 100% lovable. In addition to raising national awareness for these cats, the first 100 shelters who make a nomination will receive $100 worth of ARM & HAMMER™ cat litter.

EPISODE NOTES: Purrfectly Impurrfect on National Cat Day
Strange Animals Podcast
Strange Animals Podcast
Katherine Shaw
Episode 207: The Dire Wolf!
This week we're on the cutting edge of science, learning about the brand new genetic study of dire wolves that rearranges everything we know about the dire wolf and other canids! Also, a bonus turtle update. Further reading: Dire Wolves Were Not Really Wolves, Genetic Clues Reveal An artist's rendition of dire wolves and grey wolves fighting over a bison carcass (art by Mauricio Anton): The pig-nosed face of the Hoan Kiem turtle, AKA Yangtze giant softshell turtle, AKA Swinhoe's softshell turtle: Show transcript: Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw. You may have heard the news this past week about the new study about dire wolves. I thought it would make a great topic for an episode, and we’ll also have a quick update about a rare turtle that’s been in the news lately too. Dire wolves show up pretty often in movies and TV shows and video games and books, because as far as anyone knew until very recently, the dire wolf was an extra big wolf that lived in North America during the Pleistocene until it went extinct around 13,000 years ago. Researchers assumed it was a close cousin of the modern grey wolf. Well, in a brand new study published in Nature literally less than a week ago as this episode goes live, we now have results of a genetic study of dire wolf remains. The results give us surprising new information not just about the dire wolf, but about many other canids. The study started in 2016, when an archaeologist, Angela Perri, who specializes in the history of human and animal interactions, wanted to learn more about the dire wolf. She went around the United States to visit university collections and museums with dire wolf remains, and took the samples she collected to geneticist Kieren Mitchell. Perri, Mitchell, and their team managed to sequence DNA from five dire wolves that lived between 50,000 and 13,000 years ago. Then the team compared the dire wolf genome to those of other canids, including the grey wolf and coyote, two species of African wolf, two species of jackal, and the dhole, among others. To their surprise, the dire wolf’s closest relation wasn’t the grey wolf. It was the jackals, both from Africa, but even they weren’t very closely related. It turns out that 5.7 million years ago, the shared ancestor of dire wolves and many other canids lived in Eurasia. At this point sea levels were low enough that the Bering land bridge, also called Beringia, connected the very eastern part of Asia to the very western part of North America. One population of this canid migrated into North America while the rest of the population stayed in Asia. The two populations evolved separately until the North America population developed into what we now call dire wolves. Meanwhile, the Eurasian population developed into many of the modern species we know today, and eventually migrated into North America too. By the time the gray wolf populated North America, the dire wolf was so distantly related to it that even when their territories overlapped, they avoided each other and didn’t interbreed. We’ve talked about canids in many previous episodes, including how readily they interbreed with each other, so for the dire wolf to remain genetically isolated, it was obviously not closely related at all to other canids at this point. The dire wolf looked a lot like a grey wolf, but researchers now think that was due more to convergent evolution than to its relationship with wolves. Both lived in the same habitats: plains, grasslands, and forests. The dire wolf was slightly taller on average than the modern grey wolf, which can grow a little over three feet tall at the shoulder, or 97 cm, but it was much heavier and more solidly built. It wouldn’t have been able to run nearly as fast, but it could attack and kill larger animals. Its head was larger in proportion than the grey wolf’s and it had massive teeth that were adapted to crush bigger bones.
10 min
StarDate Podcast
StarDate Podcast
McDonald Observatory
More Metallic Skies
On summer days, we sometimes complain that it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk, the car, or any other exposed surface. On some planets in other star systems, though, it’s hot enough to vaporize the eggs, the sidewalk, and even the car. In fact, astronomers have discovered vaporized iron, nickel, and other metals in the atmospheres of several exoplanets. All of these planets are giants — at least as big as Jupiter, the giant of our own solar system. That means they’re big balls of gas. And the planets are all quite close to their parent stars — no more than a few percent of the distance from Earth to the Sun. At such close range, the atmospheres of these planets are heated to thousands of degrees. That means their daytime skies are free of clouds or hazes. On some of them, though, clouds may form on the nightside, where it’s cooler. One planet where it’s too hot for clouds even at night is KELT-9b. It’s the hottest planet yet seen, with temperatures of more than 7,000 degrees. That causes the atmosphere to puff up, making KELT-9b about three times wider than Jupiter. By watching as the planet passes in front of its star, allowing starlight to filter through the atmosphere, astronomers have measured what’s in the atmosphere. The list of elements includes iron, titanium, and chromium. It also includes a couple of “rare-earth” elements — scandium and yttrium — more metals for a blazing-hot planet. Script by Damond Benningfield Support McDonald Observatory
2 min
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