Palaeo After Dark

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

In this episode, we discuss two papers that describe ammonite feeding habits. Meanwhile,  Amanda gets into a boxing match, Curt is introduced to Moon Moon, and James is completely derailed by an animal.... again. Also, James invents a completely ridiculous life strategy  for ammonites (34 :30) that Curt is just drunk enough to truly appreciate. 

Simple text summary

The groups looks at two papers to find out what old animals with many arms and a hard house that they moved about the water in ate. The first paper studies old animals that have been looked at with a computer to see inside them and look at their teeth. The study shows that some of these many armed house carrying animals ate tiny animals that fill the water. The other paper looks at the mouths of other types of animals with arms that carry houses on them and finds that they are very different. This paper shows that several different types of animals with arms that cary houses ate different things, and that the oldest type of eating is still seen today in a living animal with many arms that carries its house around.


Kruta, Isabelle, et al. "The role of ammonites in the Mesozoic marine food web revealed by jaw preservation." Science 331.6013 (2011): 70-72.

Tanabe, Kazushige, et al. "The jaw apparatuses of Cretaceous Phylloceratina (Ammonoidea)." Lethaia 46.3 (2013): 399-408.

Direct download: Podcast_73_-_Sincere_Apologies_to_All_Ammonite_Workers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Fresh off of GSA, the gang gets together to discuss a quick paper about the extent to which adaptation can overprint historical signal in evolution. Afterwards, James and Curt update Amanda with the highlights of GSA. Meanwhile, Curt explains quarter based economics, James hosts a quiz show, and Amanda is delighted by a paper.

 "Your Call" Kevin MacLeod ( 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0


Ord, Terry J., and Thomas C. Summers. "Repeated evolution and the impact of evolutionary history on adaptation." BMC evolutionary biology 15.1 (2015): 137.

Direct download: Podcast_72_-_Converging_on_a_Topic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

It's that time of year again, so James and Curt bring you day by day coverage of the 2015 Geological Society of America meeting, joined by friends Brendan Anderson and Tory McCoy. So join us for an ethically compromised good time as they discuss the fascinating work of strangers, friends, and themselves.

Day 1: James and Curtis

Day 2: James, Curtis, and Brendan starts at 0:50.40

Day 3: James, Curtis, Brendan, and Tory starts at 2:03.22.

Direct download: Podcast_71_-_GSA_2015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses two papers that deal with the events that led to the extinction of the early metazoan Ediacaran fauna, as well as the extinction's philosophical ramifications for our understanding of evolution in general. Chaos runs rampant throughout this podcast as our figurative and literal systems break down through time. But somehow, life.... finds a way.... through a 4G network. Meanwhile, Amanda jumps the gun, Curt makes jokes no one can understand, James "wins" again, and everyone slowly succumbs to chaos and madness. If you're just joining us for the first time, I'm so very... very sorry. 



Darroch, Simon AF, et al. "Biotic replacement and mass extinction of the Ediacara biota." Proc. R. Soc. B. Vol. 282. No. 1814. The Royal Society, 2015.

Erwin, Douglas H. "Was the Ediacaran–Cambrian radiation a unique evolutionary event?." Paleobiology 41.01 (2015): 1-15.

Direct download: Podcast_70_-_Systems_Breaking_Down_The_End_of_the_Ediacaran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

The gang finally just does what comes naturally and discusses two papers about food. Specifically, one paper on why things aren't tasty and another answering the vital question "what foods in the past would be kosher" (the answer might just surprise you). Meanwhile, Amanda finds her spirit animal, James details our terrifying corporate future, and Curt wants to play a game. TRIGGER WARNING: Mild joking reference to sexual-violence and mascots in the first two minutes. TRIGGER WARNING: We talk about eating meat throughout. 

Up-goer five simple-speak text:

The group talks about two papers that look at food and which animals make good food. The first paper looks at the babies of small animals that have pretty things that let them fly. They find out that the babies that ate things with leaves that made bad food also made bad food themselves and would be ignored by other small animals that tried to eat them. The other paper works out whether animals in the past would have been good food for people that have very few things they can eat. The paper uses different ways of telling what things had to show that these people would not be able to eat most things.



Dyer, Lee A. "Tasty generalists and nasty specialists? Antipredator mechanisms in tropical lepidopteran larvae." Ecology (1995): 1483-1496.

Plotnick, Roy E., Jessica M. Theodor, and Thomas R. Holtz Jr. "Jurassic Pork: What Could a Jewish Time Traveler Eat?." Evolution: Education and Outreach8.1 (2015): 1-14.

Direct download: Podcast_69_-_Tasty_Kosher_Food.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses two papers about the evolutionary placement of some Cretaceous flowering plants (angiosperms). Meanwhile, Amanda finds her alter ego,  James goes very old school with his jokes, and Curt really doesn't want to talk about the next paper.



Friis, Else Marie, et al. "Archaefructus–angiosperm precursor or specialized early angiosperm?." Trends in plant science 8.8 (2003): 369-373.

Gomez, Bernard, et al. "Montsechia, an ancient aquatic angiosperm."Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112.35 (2015): 10985-10988.

Direct download: Podcast_68_-_Plonts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses two papers that detail how the stratigraphic record affects our understanding of the fossil record.  Meanwhile, Amanda gets very enthusiastic, James burns straw men,  and Curt isn't sorry.



Benton, Michael J. "Palaeodiversity and formation counts: redundancy or bias?." Palaeontology (2015).

Holland, Steven M., and Mark E. Patzkowsky. "The stratigraphy of mass extinction." Palaeontology (2015).

Direct download: Podcast_67_-_Stratigraphic_Bias.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode the gang tries to have a discussion about the fossil preservation of birds. Instead they get completely sidetracked imagining the penguin apocalypse. Meanwhile, Amanda slowly goes crazy, James keeps hearing things, and Curt delights in a mispronunciation.


"Up goer five" text summary

This time the group looks at papers about how animals that have bits that mean they can fly break down when they are dead. The first paper looks at what happens to animals that have bits that mean they can fly when their bodies are left in bad water. These studies are used to see how long animals that could fly were dead before they were covered by stuff in old places where lots of dead things are found in the same place. The study shows that there are fewer types of animals that could fly in these old places where lots of dead things are found in the same place than we would expect. The second paper uses a computer to find out whether we should expect to find all the types of animals that could fly in these old places where lots of dead things are found in the same place. This study shows that we should not expect to find all of the animals that could fly in these old places, but instead that because on the type of old place we should expect to see different types of animals that could fly because of where they lived.



Davis, Paul G., and Derek EG Briggs. "The impact of decay and disarticulation on the preservation of fossil birds." Palaios 13.1 (1998): 3-13.

Mitchell, Jonathan S. "Preservation is predictable: quantifying the effect of taphonomic biases on ecological disparity in birds." Paleobiology 41.02 (2015): 353-367.

Direct download: Podcast_66_-_Penguin_Death_Land.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang goes broad and tackles two papers that deal with evidence of sex and reproduction in the fossil record. Meanwhile, Amanda goes method, James invents a new scientific term, and Curt is haunted by one terrible joke that will not die.

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

"Up goer five" text summary

Today the group talks about fucking. Yes, fuck is one of the ten hundred most used words, while better and less bad words for fucking are not. You think what that means about people. Just think about it.

The first paper is looking at the oldest pictures of stuff that comes out of a man after he has had a fuck. This fuck water is from a small animal with no hard parts and so we usually do not know that the animal was there. However, the fuck water is different for different types of small animal, and so we can see what small animals with no hard parts were there without seeing the actual animals. The fuck water has also been ignored for a long time, so we may be able to find more fuck water and find out more about small animals with no hard parts.

The second paper is looking at some of the earliest things that might be animals and their babies. Looking at where the babies are and where the parents are, the paper tries to work out whether these things that might be animals that fucked or whether they just grew babies off of them on sticks. The numbers show that these maybe animals did not fuck, but grew babies on sticks. Other things that might be animals from the same time did fuck, and they are found in many more places. The fact that these maybe animals grew babies on sticks might explain why they are found in only one place while the ones that did fuck are found in lots of places.


Bomfleur, Benjamin, et al. "Fossilized spermatozoa preserved in a 50-Myr-old annelid cocoon from Antarctica." Biology letters 11.7 (2015): 20150431.

Mitchell, Emily G., et al. "Reconstructing the reproductive mode of an Ediacaran macro-organism." Nature (2015).

Direct download: Podcast_65_-_SEX.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT