Palaeo After Dark

The gang discusses two papers about unique fossil preservation. One paper looks at how fossil root systems can inform our understanding of early Devonian forests, and the other paper shows how slime molds can be preserved in the fossil record. Meanwhile, Amanda is excited for questionable reasons, James prepares for the pain, and Curt learns his role in the friendship.


Up-Goer Five (Amanda Edition):

Today our friends talk about weird cool things that have only one piece but can get very big, and the tall green things with many pieces above and under ground, that is trees. Because trees is a word we can use. We focus on the pieces under ground. The weird cool things that have only one piece are found in old tree blood. The part of the weird cool things that have only one piece look kind of like things that are good to eat but might also kill you that grow on the ground. They are where the weird cool things that have only one piece make more of themselves. They are very very old but look just like pieces around today. The paper says maybe this is a sign that things stay the same for a very long time because the world around things makes it so, but it is important to remember that sometimes two things that are not close brothers and sisters can look very very much like close brothers and sisters. The tree paper finds very very old tree parts under ground and says that groups of trees a very very long time ago were even more like groups of trees today than maybe we thought. This would make the ground safer for things to live on.   



 Stein, William E., et al. "Mid-Devonian Archaeopteris Roots Signal Revolutionary Change in Earliest Fossil Forests." Current Biology (2019). 

 Rikkinen, Jouko, David A. Grimaldi, and Alexander R. Schmidt. "Morphological stasis in the first myxomycete from the Mesozoic, and the likely role of cryptobiosis." Scientific Reports 9.1 (2019): 1-8. 

Direct download: Podcast_181_-_Before_the_Pain_The_Root_of_the_Problem.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST

The gang returns back from their winter break to discuss two papers that look at the important information we can glean from soft-bodied organisms in the fossil record. First, we take a look at a paper that shows some incredible preservation of Cretaceous snails in amber and how we can use that exceptionally preserved material to infer important information about the evolutionary history of these groups. Second, we talk about a cool example where hypotheses pulled from trace fossils can inform the distribution of modern worm species. Meanwhile, Amanda was not content with being driven mad by just TWO cats, James somehow manages to complain about being good at things, Curt spills the secrets on his friends, the internet TOTALLY doesn’t mess up our recording, SpaceX should probably paint their satellites, and we completely stay on topic this entire time….. believe me…..


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition)

The friends talk about two papers about things that have soft bodies. First, the friends talk about a paper where a soft animal who makes a hard home out of rock that it carries around with it was stuck in some stuff that comes off of trees. This stuff that comes off of trees made it so that things we usually do not see got saved in the rocks. This allows us to see all of these different soft things that don't show up in rocks. People used these bits of tree stuff with soft things in them to find out that some of the soft things we see today in these animals that make a home for themselves out of rock may have first showed up very very long ago. They use this to try to find out when these groups of animals may have first showed up.

Next, our friends look at the changes in broken up bits of rock that form from soft and long animals live in the ground. As these animals move through the ground, they leave behind remains of where they were that can be seen in the broken up bits of rock they live in. These remains are usually very much the same when they are made by soft and long animals which live in very much the same way. One type of remain is usually found in places that are cold, but some people think they have found some of these remains in places that are usually pretty hot. This might be because there are ways that water moves which can cause areas that are usually very hot to have very cold water in them. That might make it just right for these soft and long animals which form these remains to live and be happy. To figure out if this is true, people went to a very warm place where in one side of the land the water was very cold and on the other side it was very warm. What they found was that the cold side had these remains, but the warm side did not. This means that these animals can live in warm places if the changes in the water allow for places with cold water.



Hirano, Takahiro, et al. "Cretaceous amber fossils highlight the evolutionary history and morphological conservatism of land snails." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1-16. 

 Quiroz, Luis I., et al. "the search for an elusive worm in the tropics, the past as a key to the present, and reverse uniformitarianism." Scientific Reports 9.1 (2019): 1-8. 

Direct download: Podcast_180_-_Worms_and_Snails.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST

The gang discusses two papers on insect behavior, one fossil study and one modern study. The fossil study illustrates a cool example of how amber can help us to understand the evolution of pollination throughout Earth history. The modern paper investigates how bury beetles care for and communicate with their young. Meanwhile, James’s computer lives in the past, Amanda has to deal with cat-nap related choices, Curt has his honor besmirched, and everyone is a little overwhelmed by how little people care about invertebrates.


Up-Goer Five (Amanda Edition):

 Today our friends talk about small things with six legs. Some of these small things with six legs go to green things with pretty colored bits and take their tiny baby parts, and take them to other green things with pretty colored bits. It might be that a long time ago, when green things with pretty colored bits were new, that small things with six legs and sort of hard parts over their flying parts were the ones that took the tiny baby parts of green things with pretty colored bits to other green things with pretty colored bits. The paper shows a small thing with six legs and sort of hard parts over their flying parts carrying tiny baby parts of green things on its body. That means that these small things with six legs and sort of hard parts over their flying parts helped these green things with pretty colored bits make more green things with pretty colored bits, but also that they ate the tiny baby parts. The other paper has different small things with six legs, and their babies. Their babies will ask the old small things with six legs for food. If they do not, they die. But if they ask too much, they also die, This paper takes away the old small things with six legs and shows babies will do nothing but ask for food and die.  



Bao, Tong, et al. "Pollination of Cretaceous flowers." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116.49 (2019): 24707-24711. 

 Takata, Mamoru, et al. "A Parental Volatile Pheromone Triggers Offspring Begging in a Burying Beetle." iScience 19 (2019): 1260-1278. 

Direct download: Podcast_179_-_Pollinators_and_Begging_Grubs_Studies_of_Insect_Behavior.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST

The gang celebrates the end of the year by taking another break to play Fiasco, a crime/noir storytelling game by Bully Pit Games. Here is the conclusion of our two part episode.


Business in the Blue Label Diner was picking up, and Bill Larsen was all action; balancing plates, refilling coffee, and distributing orders with a speed that belied his aging body. All the while, he never ceased telling his narrative of the town’s recent history to the woman from out of town who was still sitting in that same seat at the counter. It was as though the act of relaying this history was somehow feeding him an otherworldly energy.

“So I know that a lot people from outside uh’ our town might not really get it… But ya see Mr. Cromwell brought somethin’ important to this town. The Hub brought more than just jobs, it brought a purpose. It made this town important, put us on the map. And sure, we don’t really go outside at night all that much anymore…” he looked out his window at the thick smoke which now pushed heavily against his diner like a layer of dense billowy cotton, “but my business has been doin’ better than its ever done, and I don’t think you’ll find another person in town who’ll tell ya any differently. Things…. things are good now in Paradise Falls.”

Bill picked up the carafe of coffee and made his way back to the woman sitting at the counter . As he poured her another cup, he glanced down at her notebook. It still sat on the counter, untouched; its blank white pages glaring back at him. For the better part of an hour she had sat silently, not writing down a thing; her face gradually contorting into a scowl of thinly repressed rage. That energetic confidence that had fueled him left him in an instance. His back once again twinged in pain. “Now I’m sorry but that’s all I know about what Mr. Cromwell has been doin’ around these parts. I think Sophie Bryant might have heard something about….”

“I don’t care what Cornelius Cromwell did or did not do Mr. Larsen.” The woman tilted her head to look directly into his eyes with a piercing glaze, “What I want to know are the whereabouts of Miss Tully and her relationship to Agent Cooper.”

Bill looked perplexed, “Agent who now?”

The woman stood up from her stool at the counter and stared him down. Bill crumpled, some of the coffee spilling out of the carafe which he still held clenched in his right hand. “Mr. Larsen, where is Miss Tully?”

The diner went silent, all eyes turned to look at Bill and this strange woman from out of town. As Bill shrank away he sheepishly asked “Now… now which… which paper are ya workin’ for?”

“I’m not.” The woman threw down a badge with the words ‘Bounty Hunter’ in large thick typeface onto the counter. “Now, what do you know about the whereabouts of Miss Theresa Tully?”

"Paradise Falling" is a surreal tale of paranoia, failure, and cold hard capitalism.


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

Direct download: Podcast_178b_-_Paradise_Falling_Part_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST