Palaeo After Dark

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

The gang celebrates their 100th episode by taking a break and playing Fiasco, a crime/noir storytelling game by Bully Pit Games.

A fluorescent motel sign illuminates the inky blackness, its crackling electric hum merging perfectly with the clicking of the cicadas in the humid summer night. A solitary figure stands nearby, barely visible in the garish green and orange glow. She nervously rolls a cigarette between her fingers, her gaze furtively snapping back and forth between the barely illuminated run down two story building, the "Motel Manna", and the vast empty night. The unexpected flash of a pair of headlights from an all too familiar Dodge catches her gaze and for a second she freezes in place and hopes it's all a dream. The car stops and she knows she's been seen. "Fuck it" she says to herself, cigarette now firmly clenched so tightly in her jaw it would take a crowbar to pry it out. Summer nights like these can just be too much for one person to bare.

"Too Much to Bear" is a story of murder, betrayal, and bear smuggling.

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

Direct download: Podcast_100_-_Too_Much_to_Bear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

In this episode, the gang discusses two papers that look at the ecological and evolutionary impacts of animal camouflage. Also, James finds his true calling as a musician, Amanda wants to knit a sweater for a 50 foot hare, and Curt is surprised that he's still surprised.


Zimova, Marketa, L. Scott Mills, and J. Joshua Nowak. "High fitness costs of climate change‐induced camouflage mismatch." Ecology letters 19.3 (2016): 299-307.

Somveille, Marius, Kate LA Marshall, and Thanh-Lan Gluckman. "A global analysis of bird plumage patterns reveals no association between habitat and camouflage." PeerJ 4 (2016): e2658.

Direct download: Podcast_99_-_How_Not_To_Be_Seen_Camouflage_and_Evolution.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT