Palaeo After Dark

In this episode, the gang discusses two papers about the long term macroevolutionary effects of ecological specialization. Is specialization on a specific ecology an evolutionary dead end? The gang attempts to answer that question, but they keep getting distracted. Also, James shares life experiences, Amanda imagines a nightmarish future for James, and Curt workshops the plot of a new epic animated experience.


Day, Emma H., Xia Hua, and Lindell Bromham. "Is specialization an evolutionary dead end? Testing for differences in speciation, extinction and trait transition rates across diverse phylogenies of specialists and generalists." Journal of Evolutionary Biology (2016).

Burin, Gustavo, et al. "Omnivory in birds is a macroevolutionary sink."Nature Communications 7 (2016).

In this episode, we wanted to discuss large-scale astrobiological patterns and cyclicity of extinction, but instead we picked a few papers that weren't directly focused on those themes. So join us as we talk around two astrobiology papers! Meanwhile, James nearly becomes a mass extinction, Curt considers the psychological health of the hero of Hyrule, and Amanda gives her cat some tough love.


Nimura, Tokuhiro, Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, and Shigenori Maruyama. "End-cretaceous cooling and mass extinction driven by a dark cloud encounter."Gondwana Research (2016).

Whitmire, Daniel P. "Periodic mass extinctions and the Planet X model reconsidered." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters455.1 (2016): L114-L117.

In this episode the gang discusses two papers about how niche breadth can change as organisms grow, with one paper looking at modern organisms and the other focusing on extinct fossil taxa. Also, James is fascinated by New York's greatest "hero", Amanda becomes "enthusiastic" in her defense of a topic, and witness the dark middle chapter of the podcast as Curt "ruins everything". We also have an in-depth discussion on what can and cannot be classified as a pie.... it's one of those podcasts. Skip to 12 minutes in if you want to start learning about science.


Dick, Daniel G., Günter Schweigert, and Erin E. Maxwell. "Trophic niche ontogeny and palaeoecology of early Toarcian Stenopterygius (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria)." Palaeontology (2016).

Purwandana, Deni, et al. "Ecological allometries and niche use dynamics across Komodo dragon ontogeny." The Science of Nature 103.3-4 (2016): 1-11.

Direct download: Podcast_81_-_Niche_Ontogeny_The_Hero_This_City_Deserves.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode, the gang celebrates its third year of podcasting by discussing two papers that use the fossil record to determine how our current biodiversity crisis stacks up to past mass extinctions. Also, Amanda deals with abandonment, James explore New York, and Curt gives life lessons from 70s film.

"Mr Mealeys Mediocre Machine" Kevin MacLeod ( 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0


Hull, Pincelli M., Simon AF Darroch, and Douglas H. Erwin. "Rarity in mass extinctions and the future of ecosystems." Nature 528.7582 (2015): 345-351.

Plotnick, Roy E., Felisa A. Smith, and S. Kathleen Lyons. "The fossil record of the sixth extinction." Ecology letters (2016).

In this episode the gang talks about Dodo brains and Glyptodont genes. Meanwhile, James makes an unappreciated joke, Curt tries to create an "internet hug", and Amanda learns about The Batman. 


Gold, Maria Eugenia Leone, Estelle Bourdon, and Mark A. Norell. "The first endocast of the extinct dodo (Raphus cucullatus) and an anatomical comparison amongst close relatives (Aves, Columbiformes)." Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (2016).

Delsuc, Frédéric, et al. "The phylogenetic affinities of the extinct glyptodonts." Current Biology 26.4 (2016): R155-R156.

Direct download: Podcast_79_-_All_the_Cool_Stuff_is_Dead_On_Dodos_and_Glyptodonts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses three papers that detail some truly unique examples of morphological convergence; from brachiopods that look like corals to bovids with dinosaurian nasal crests. Also, James designs some conspicuous Mario levels,  Amanda wins an argument that "never happened", Curt is excluded from a business venture, and everything comes back to Zardoz.


Streng, Michael, et al. "A new family of Cambrian rhynchonelliformean brachiopods (Order Naukatida) with an aberrant coralā€like morphology."Palaeontology 59.2 (2016): 269-293.

Labandeira, Conrad C., et al. "The evolutionary convergence of mid-Mesozoic lacewings and Cenozoic butterflies." Proc. R. Soc. B. Vol. 283. No. 1824. The Royal Society, 2016.

O’Brien, Haley D., et al. "Unexpected Convergent Evolution of Nasal Domes between Pleistocene Bovids and Cretaceous Hadrosaur Dinosaurs." Current Biology (2016).

Direct download: Podcast_78_-_History_Repeats_Bizarre_Convergence_in_Fossil_Animals.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode, we discuss the complex relationship between fungi and earth systems processes through time, focusing on the potential role of fungi in facilitating early terrestrialization and the proposed hypothesis that fungi may (or may not) have been indirectly responsible for the Carboniferous coal swamps. Also, Amanda aggressively segues, Curt derails the conversation into navel gazing about the nature of scientific fields, and James goes on a fascinating journey from Angry to Annoyed finally ending up at Resentfully Happy.

"Aces High" Kevin MacLeod ( 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0


Redecker, Dirk, Robin Kodner, and Linda E. Graham. "Glomalean fungi from the Ordovician." Science 289.5486 (2000): 1920-1921.

Heckman, Daniel S., et al. "Molecular evidence for the early colonization of land by fungi and plants." Science 293.5532 (2001): 1129-1133.

Lücking, Robert, et al. "Fungi evolved right on track." Mycologia 101.6 (2009): 810-822.

Nelsen, Matthew P., et al. "Delayed fungal evolution did not cause the Paleozoic peak in coal production." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016): 201517943.


Direct download: Podcast_77_-_Old_and_Burny_A_Discussion_of_Fossil_Fungi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode we discuss a grab bag of Mesozoic papers, ranging from potential dinosaur mating dances to large-eyed mosasaurs. And after a fairly sober month, Amanda and James dive headfirst into the highest alcohol content beer they have with expected disastrous results. Come and join us as Amanda tries her hand at ASMR, James uncovers a plot to destroy him, and Curt enjoys being the most sober person in the room. Also we keep talking about The Thing for some reason...


Lockley, Martin G., et al. "Theropod courtship: large scale physical evidence of display arenas and avian-like scrape ceremony behaviour by Cretaceous dinosaurs." Scientific reports 6 (2016).

Konishi, Takuya, et al. "A new halisaurine mosasaur (Squamata: Halisaurinae) from Japan: the first record in the western Pacific realm and the first documented insights into binocular vision in mosasaurs." Journal of Systematic Palaeontology (2015): 1-31.

We ring in the new year by talking about new research on the evolutionary history of early animals. Also, Amanda makes some very deep cartoon cuts, James manages an emergency, and Curt makes impossible resolutions. 


Pisani, Davide, et al. "Genomic data do not support comb jellies as the sister group to all other animals." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112.50 (2015): 15402-15407.

Erwin, Douglas H. "Early metazoan life: divergence, environment and ecology." Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370.1684 (2015): 20150036.

Direct download: Podcast_75_-_New_Years_Resolutions_and_Sponges_Yall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode, we discuss two papers about early tetrapods/tetrapodomorph taxa, Tiktaalik  and Ichthyostega, and what new findings suggest about their locomotion. Also, Curt makes a suspicious delivery, and James desperately tries to feed Amanda "spoilers" for the new Star Wars. EDITOR'S NOTE: While I cannot confirm that any of James's spoilers are indeed accurate, they seem highly unlikely to be true (although if they are true, then the film they suggest is AMAZING).

Up goer five simple text summary:

The group takes time out from a time when not much is meant to happen to talk about some animals with big arms that were some of the first animals with four legs to come on to land. In between talking about a space movie where people use guns that fire light to show how they feel about each other, the group looks at a paper looking at the back end of an animal that had before been known only from its front. This new part of the animal shows that it had very small back legs that still looked more like for use in water. The second paper looks at a well known animal with four legs in a new way for the first time. It uses computers to picture it in a way that you can't picture it with just eyes, and this shows new things about it. The new way of looking shows that the animal would not have been as good at walking on land as people have thought. This is important as there are tracks that show there were animals with four legs that were very good at walking on land around at the same time. The animals that we have found were not able to make these tracks, and so this shows that there were other animals around at the same time that were better at walking on land, and that maybe this group of animals that walked on land started earlier than we thought.


Shubin, Neil H., Edward B. Daeschler, and Farish A. Jenkins. "Pelvic girdle and fin of Tiktaalik roseae." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.3 (2014): 893-899.

Pierce, Stephanie E., Jennifer A. Clack, and John R. Hutchinson. "Three-dimensional limb joint mobility in the early tetrapod Ichthyostega." Nature486.7404 (2012): 523-526.

Direct download: Podcast_74_-_Early_Tetrapods_Awaken.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

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