Palaeo After Dark (general)

The gang discuss two papers that show how diet can impact stress, strain, and wear patterns of the tooth and jaw, specifically on therizinosaur dinosaurs and lions. Also, James mistakes cats for people, Amanda makes the second worse joke of the podcast, and Curt tries to advertise at the worst possible times. Also cannibalism.

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Up-Goer Five Summary (Amanda Edition):

Today our friends talk about big animals with no hair that had big long angry things on their hands that could hurt you. We do not know much about these big animals with no hair that had big long angry things on their hands that could hurt you. For a long time we did not know what they ate or how they lived or even what they looked like. Now we know that they are round and have very long arms. They are brothers of the big angry animals with no hair that have very large teeth and short arms. But these big animals with no hair and long angry things on their hands that can hurt you are not like their brothers that are big and angry with large teeth and short arms because they eat different things. The big animals with no hair that have very large teeth and short arms eat other big animals with no hair. And animals with hair. And any animals. The big animals with no hair that have long angry things on their hands that can hurt you do not eat other big animals with no hair. They eat leaves. When we used new ideas from brain-boxes to look at the heads of the big animals with no hair that have long angry things on their hands that can hurt you we see that they eat leaves and not other big animals with no hair.


Our friends also talk about big cats that ate people. 



Lautenschlager, Stephan. "Functional niche partitioning in Therizinosauria provides new insights into the evolution of theropod herbivory." Palaeontology 60.3 (2017): 375-387.

DeSantis, Larisa RG, and Bruce D. Patterson. "Dietary behaviour of man-eating lions as revealed by dental microwear textures." Scientific reports 7.1 (2017): 904.


"Honey Bee", "In Your Arms", "Monkeys Spinning Monkeys" Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed by Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Direct download: Podcast_110_-_Maneater.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode, the gang discusses two papers that use modern decay experiments to determine how decay can affect our understanding of the evolution of two groups, Coleoidea and Graptolithina. Are there certain structures or behaviors that make these animals more or less likely to be preserved in the fossil record? Also, the gang faces the existential void, James offers a gift, and Amanda learns something interesting about the greatest animals on the planet.

Up-Goer Five (James Edition): 

This time, the group talks about what happens to things after they die. They look at studies that took things that were not dead and made them dead (or found dead ones on ice at a shop) and then watched what happened to them as time went on. We can then use the brain facts that we get from seeing these things continue to be dead to figure out what we are seeing when we look at things that have been dead for a really long time and turned into rock. First, we look at things that live in the water and have many arms. One group is not found in rock although they should have been around a long time ago, and because of the brain facts we get from watching them be dead we can tell it is because they do not drop in the water once they are dead. The second study looks at things that building their own houses by being sick on themselves. There are lots of them in the past but now only one group is left. By killing some of the ones that are left to see how they die we can see why we only find the old houses in rock and not the animals themselves, and also if dark bits we see in the houses in the rock may in fact be those animals!


Clements, Thomas, et al. "Buoyancy mechanisms limit preservation of coleoid cephalopod soft tissues in Mesozoic Lagerstätten." Palaeontology 60.1 (2017): 1-14.

Beli, Elena, Stefano Piraino, and Christopher B. Cameron. "Fossilization processes of graptolites: insights from the experimental decay of Rhabdopleura sp.(Pterobranchia)." Palaeontology (2017).


Direct download: Podcast_109_-_Dead_Squids_and_Graptolites.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode, the gang decides to go back to some old papers they enjoy to discuss the concept of homology. What do we really mean when we say certain characteristics are shared due to evolutionary history? Also, for a brief minute in the second half, James was spontaneously possessed by demonic spirits that made him spout nonsense he doesn't actually believe. Unrelated to this, he also had a splitting migraine. 

Up-goer Five (Amanda in a fever-based fugue state edition): 

Today our friends talk about how things are the same because animals are brother and sister. This means that the brother and sister animals have parts that are the same because they have the same mother and father animals. But the way that brother and sister animals have the same parts can be because of different ways. People do not understand really what it means when we say that these brother and sister animals have the same parts. So our friends try to explain how these parts came to be and why.


Van Valen, Leigh M. "Homology and causes." Journal of Morphology 173.3 (1982): 305-312.

Wiley, E. O. "Homology, identity and transformation." Mesozoic fishes 4 (2008): 9-21.

Direct download: Podcast_108_-_Homology_Party.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang talks about two papers that detail the ecology and evolution of some early fishy vertebrates. Can we tell what early coelacanth fish might have eaten? What evolutionary changes occurred when early tetrapods started making their way onto land? Is there an evolutionary trend towards kawaii? All this and less will be discussed.


Oh, and James has made some interesting discoveries about The Legend of Zelda.

Up-Goer Five (James Edition): 

The group looks at two papers that are to do with animals with no legs that live in water although in one of the papers one of the animals is trying to have legs. In the first paper we see a very old animal with no legs that lives in water that has family around today that are thought to be pretty much the same but actually may be doing different things. We see that this old thing with no legs was eating a type of animal that we do not get any more, which is interesting as we have no way of telling that anything else ate this animal. In the second paper we look at things with no legs that are starting to having legs. We see that their eyes are moving on top of their heads like big angry things with hard skin and big teeth in long faces that live in the water. At the same time the eyes are moving onto the top of the head they are also getting bigger, and it is shown that the animals would have been able to see better out of the water. This seems to be happening at the same time as them starting to change their not legs into legs. The most interesting thing is that when some of the animals that then have legs go back into the water their eyes get smaller but do not move back down the side of the head; they are stuck there even though they are no good there any more!



MacIver, Malcolm A., et al. "Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114.12 (2017): E2375-E2384.

Zatoń, Michał, et al. "The first direct evidence of a Late Devonian coelacanth fish feeding on conodont animals." The Science of Nature 104.3-4 (2017): 26.

Direct download: Podcast_107_-_A_Very_Fishy_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang celebrates four years of podcasting with a lengthy discussion about living fossils. What do we mean when we use the term living fossil, and can we come up with an operational definition? Also, Amanda risks invoking the destructive powers of John Wick, James invents the best Mass Effect slash fiction, and Curt plans for Amanda's replacement.

Musical track, "Sail the Canals" from Mario Party 7 is owned by Nintendo and Hudson. Used under fair use.

Up-goer Five (Amanda Edition): 

Today our friends talk about animals that lived a long time ago but still kind of are here today. People say that these animals that lived a long time ago are still here today and have not become any different than they were a long time ago. But our friends have a talk about how the animals that lived a long time ago and do not look different today are actually very different today than they were a very long time ago. Some of them might not look different but their stuff that makes them them is actually very different. Some of them have family that used to look very different even though they look like old, old animals that lived a long time ago. In the end, our friends decided that animals that look like animals that lived a long time ago are actually not the ones that lived a long time ago.


Herrera‐Flores, Jorge A., Thomas L. Stubbs, and Michael J. Benton. "Macroevolutionary patterns in Rhynchocephalia: is the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) a living fossil?." Palaeontology (2017).

Kin, Adrian, and Błażej Błażejowski. "The horseshoe crab of the genus Limulus: living fossil or stabilomorph?." PLoS One 9.10 (2014): e108036.

Direct download: Podcast_106_-_A_Bunch_of_Living_Fossils_Four_Years_of_Podcasting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses extinction rates to determine if we are in a sixth mass extinction (spoilers we very much are). Also, Curt decides to refocus the podcast, Amanda describes a disturbing tale of assault with deadly pastry, and James  has some quasi-legal ideas of branding.

Up-Goer Five Summary (James and Amanda Edition):

Today our three friends talk about how fast things die. Sometimes things die fast, and sometimes things die slowly. Most of the time things die slowly, but when things die fast, it is very bad. Bad things happen when everything dies fast. Right now, it looks like things are dying very fast, oh no. Things are dying so fast, it could be a hundred or even a ten hundred times faster than when things die slowly. This is bad because when things die they can't come back. Our friends talk about how bad it is when things die fast, and how people can maybe make things die slower.


Martin, Robert A., and Pablo Peláez‐Campomanes. "Extinction rates of the Meade Basin rodents: application to current biodiversity losses." Lethaia (2016).

Ceballos, Gerardo, et al. "Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction." Science advances 1.5 (2015): e1400253.

Direct download: Podcast_105_-_Well_Meet_Again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang steps out of their comfort zone to discuss the changes in the ancient atmosphere that resulted in the Great Oxidation Event. Meanwhile, Amanda demonstrates a careless disregard for hands, James gets creative with spelling, and Curt aims for comedic mediocrity.

Up-Goer 5 Summary (Amanda Edition):

Today the group talks about tiny things that make air that we can breathe. Long, long ago there were many tiny things that made air that we could not breathe. Less long ago there came along some little tiny things that made air that we can breathe. This air that we can breathe made almost all of the other little tiny things die because they could not breathe it. The group talks about these little tiny things that made both good air and bad air and how they made different kinds of rocks and used different kinds of rocks and air to live.


Lyons, Timothy W., Christopher T. Reinhard, and Noah J. Planavsky. "The rise of oxygen in Earth/'s early ocean and atmosphere." Nature 506.7488 (2014): 307-315.

Lalonde, Stefan V., and Kurt O. Konhauser. "Benthic perspective on Earth’s oldest evidence for oxygenic photosynthesis." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112.4 (2015): 995-1000.

Konhauser, Kurt O., et al. "Could bacteria have formed the Precambrian banded iron formations?." Geology 30.12 (2002): 1079-1082.

Johnson, Jena E., et al. "Manganese-oxidizing photosynthesis before the rise of cyanobacteria." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110.28 (2013): 11238-11243.

Czaja, Andrew D., Nicolas J. Beukes, and Jeffrey T. Osterhout. "Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria prior to the Great Oxidation Event from the 2.52 Ga Gamohaan Formation of South Africa." Geology 44.12 (2016): 983-986.

The gang discusses how exceptional fossil preservation can change our understanding of ancient life, focusing specifically on two new studies that offer insight into trilobite reproduction and hyolith evolution respectively. And when faced with the challenge of describing the indescribable weirdness of hyoliths, the gang falls back on their old mainstay of saying "It's weird" and derailing the conversation every five minutes. But hey, there's a 20 minute conversation about science outreach in the middle there that comes out of nowhere that's not terrible.... so that's something...

We're very... very... sorry.


Hegna, Thomas A., Markus J. Martin, and Simon AF Darroch. "Pyritized in situ trilobite eggs from the Ordovician of New York (Lorraine Group): Implications for trilobite reproductive biology." Geology (2017): G38773-1.

Moysiuk, Joseph, Martin R. Smith, and Jean-Bernard Caron. "Hyoliths are Palaeozoic lophophorates." Nature (2017).

Curt thought that a simple podcast about preserving color patterns in feathers would be fun. Little did he know, this decision would end up pushing the group's friendships to the limit. Will the podcast survive? Will there be an episode 103? Find out in two weeks.

Midi music from

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


Gren, Johan A., et al. "Molecular and microstructural inventory of an isolated fossil bird feather from the Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark." Palaeontology 60.1 (2017): 73-90.

Peteya, Jennifer A., et al. "The plumage and colouration of an enantiornithine bird from the early cretaceous of china." Palaeontology 60.1 (2017): 55-71.

Direct download: Podcast_102_-_The_Feather_That_Broke_The_Podcasts_Back.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

We celebrate the New Year by having a discussion about the evolution of feeding strategies, in particular sucking whales. Also, Amanda is a bad "parent", James spreads new Elk related lies, and Curt is happy he's at least being remembered.


Vullo, Romain, Ronan Allain, and Lionel Cavin. "Convergent evolution of jaws between spinosaurid dinosaurs and pike conger eels." Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 61.4 (2016): 825-828.

Marx, Felix G., David P. Hocking, Travis Park, Tim Ziegler, Alistair R. Evans, and Erich M. G. Fitzgerald. "Suction feeding preceded filtering in baleen whale evolution" Memoirs of Museum Victoria 75 (2016): 71-82.

Direct download: Podcast_101_-_Sucky_Whales.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT