natural history

#375      30 min 55 sec
Ear to the ground: Preparing for and recovering from earthquakes

Assoc Prof Mark Quigley

Earthquake researcher Assoc Prof Mark Quigley explains the lessons learned from recent major earthquakes into how to better prepare regions at risk, the value of strong science communication to affected populations during crisis, and the importance of developing appropriate building codes in anticipation of the Next Big One. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#371      33 min 01 sec
Slippery descent: Untangling the complexity of our evolutionary history

Prof Bernard Wood

Renowned paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood explains how continuing research into fossil and other evidence of our evolutionary history produces insights but also reveals how much we have yet to learn. How good, for example, are we at telling our recent ancestors and close relatives from those of the apes? How can we know how many species preceded our own? And can we tell which of those species are our ancestors, and which are non-ancestral close relatives? Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#351      33 min 31 sec
Weeds girdle the globe: The marauding march of invasive plant species

Prof Roger Cousens

Plant population specialist Prof Roger Cousens talks about how the spread of undesirable plants, or "weeds", has dramatically redefined the world’s natural landscapes and coastlines, and what this means for us economically, aesthetically and environmentally. Presented by Dr Andi Horvath.

#322      33 min 30 sec
The cost of cognition: The blessing and curse of human brain complexity

Prof Seth Grant

Neuroscientist Prof Seth Grant explains how genetics gave rise to the modern human brain, and how the very complexity that characterises our brains makes them vulnerable to neurological diseases that reveal themselves in mental illness. Presented by Dr Shane Huntington.

#290      27 min 58 sec
Refracted brilliance: How nature’s structures produce color

Prof Ullrich Steiner

Physicist Professor Ullrich Steiner explains how nature generates vibrant colors, as seen in many butterflies and beetles, through the structure of materials, and how these properties can be usefully reproduced. Presented by Dr Shane Huntington.

#253      30 min 46 sec
Sedimental journey: Probing climate's buried past to predict our future

Prof Jonathan Overpeck

Paleoclimatologist Prof Jonathan Overpeck describes how research into uncovering the earth’s climate history generates important insights about our climate future. Presented by Dr Shane Huntington.

#199      25 min 11 sec
Catching evolution in the act: Bird color and the making of new species

Dr Devi Stuart-Fox

Evolutionary biologist Dr Devi Stuart-Fox explains how bird species in which plumage color form varies from member to member evolve into new species at a faster rate than species of a uniform plumage color form -- confirming a half century-old evolutionary theory. Presented by Dr Shane Huntington.

Episode 170      27 min 43 sec
Something in the air: Chemical communication via pheromones

Prof Mark Elgar

Evolutionary biologist Professor Mark Elgar talks about the hidden smells that surround us – what they communicate to the animals who produce and detect them, and how this sophisticated natural messaging system evolved. With science guest host Dr Dyani Lewis.

Episode 165      23 min 42 sec
Early dating techniques: Determining the age of Australopithecus sediba

Dr Robyn Pickering

Australopithecus sediba, discovered in 2008 in southern Africa, is the most significant paleo-archeological find in recent years. These fossilized specimens have anatomical features lying somewhere between those found in Australopithecus africanus and Homo erectus. Geochemist Dr Robyn Pickering discusses the significance of the find, and how the age of A. sediba was determined. With science host Dr Shane Huntington.

Episode 61      24 min 08 sec
Deconstructing / Reconstructing the Tasmanian Tiger

Prof Marilyn Renfree
Assoc Prof Andrew Pask

Biologists Prof Marilyn Renfree and Assoc Prof Andrew Pask talk Tassie Tiger, and explain how the humble mouse has aided genetic understanding of the extinct marsupial, the Thylacine. With host Dr Shane Huntington.