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Northern Fulmar : The Foul Gull of St Kilda
The northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) is one of the commonest seabirds in the North Atlantic, and a true master of the air. It is also, slightly less romantically, a master of vomiting noxious oil. And it is one of those rare species that appears to have benefited from humanity's industrial exploitation of the natural environment. But most importantly for this episode, it is a central character in the story of an extraordinary human community - a key part in explaining how, for centuries,...
Baikal Seal : The Seal That's Never Seen The Sea
The Baikal seal is the only purely freshwater seal species in the world, and it lives in precisely one place: Lake Baikal in Siberia. A lake which is itself extraordinary - the deepest in the world - and which is home not only to that unique seal, but to a host of crustaceans, fish and other animals that occur nowhere else on Earth. Shownotes at www.thewildepisode.com. Subscribe to the show to make sure you don't miss any future Wild Episodes, and e-mail your comments, corrections,...
Spectral Bat : Maximum Bat
The Spectral Bat (Vampyrum spectrum - which is pretty cool as scientific names go) is the biggest bat in the Americas, and the biggest carnivorous bat in the world. A properly high-ranking predator in its environment, out there in the darkness enjoying a diet that makes its insectivorous, piscivorous and frugivorous relatives look like they're hardly even trying ... It deserves, I think, to be better known, so here's my tiny contribution to putting that right ... Shownotes at...
Shark, Stick, Crake : Updates and Supplementals
Revisiting the subjects of the first three Wild Episodes! Just how common is the huge, ridiculously long-lived Greenland Shark? New research has the beginnings of an answer. The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect can't go home until someone gets rid of the rats that invaded it. Those rats are still there, but elsewhere there's big, big news in the world of rat eradication from islands ... And finally, just how badly did I mislead you in the corn crake episode? Not too badly, but it turns out the...
Archerfish : Bullseye
You've probably heard of Archerfish (Toxotes spp.), the Robin Hoods of the natural world. I discovered them when I was a kid, burning through wildlife books from the library. What I didn't know then - because nobody did - was just how these really pretty small fish rely on physics and fluid dynamics to hunt terrestrial prey using water as a tool. You know a fish is doing something interesting when the US Navy gets into the habit of naming submarines after it ... Shownotes at...
Coelacanth : The King of the Sea
The coelacanth(s) (Latimeria chalumnae and Latimeria menadoensis) must be amongst the most famous fish in the entire world. And rightly so, since their discovery was one of the most astounding zoological moments of the 20th century. But they're not just famous. They're also a bit misunderstood, and bit mysterious. They are not really living fossils, or missing links. They are fish that give birth to live young, hunt by doing a headstand and carry in their bodies a blueprint that in some...
Large Blue Butterfly : The Wolf In Ant's Clothing
The large blue butterfly (Maculinea arion - or Phengaris arion, depending on who you ask) is both beauty and the beast. Beauty because ... well, it's a pretty little butterfly, so what more could ask for? The beast because it's also such a master of deception, infiltration and carnivory it could be the antagonist in a sci fi horror movie. So welcome to the world of a butterfly that is both parasite and predator, combining the tendencies of the cuckoo and the wolf. Oh, and it spends a chunk...
Banteng : The Horns of a Dilemma
Wild cattle don't come much more beautiful or impressive than the banteng (Bos javanicus), one of three (or is it two?) surviving cattle species that are as much a part of wild Asia as are the tiger or the orang-utan. Like the tiger and the orang-utan, the banteng has not done very well in the face of human pressure, but it has one thing those animals don't: a large population - its largest, in fact - living wild in a country that was never part of its natural range. So what does it mean...
Steller's Sea Cow : Steller's Menagerie Part Two
Part two of two, and the amazing Steller's sea cow (Hydromalis gigas) - a sirenian bigger than an African elephant - finally makes its appearance, as the wheels come off the Great Northern Expedition and Vitus Bering and Georg Steller discover a Lost World. Astonishing wildlife abounds, but will not abound for long, now that it must share its home with a handful of shipwrecked sailors ... Shownotes at www.thewildepisode.com And remember to subscribe to the show to make you sure don't miss...
Steller's Sea Cow : Steller's Menagerie Part One
Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was one of the most surprising, dramatic and generally amazing animals to have shared the world with modern humans. To tell its story is going to take two episodes - and this first of them, to be honest, doesn't even feature the sea cow itself. But it does feature Vitus Bering and Georg Steller, two men who would share with that gigantic creature an extraordinary tale of exploration, survival, death and extinction. Oh, and there's a load of other...
Corn Crake : The Undiscovered Song
Vikings! Monks! Poetry! Plus, a bird that is next to impossible to see, but almost impossible not to hear. The corn crake (Crex crex) has one of the most distinctive voices in the animal world, and for centuries - even as its population in the UK has plummeted - that voice has been a symbol of the bird itself ... Shownotes at www.thewildepisode.com And remember to subscribe to the show for plenty more wonders, curiosities and occasionally horrors from the natural world!
Lord Howe Island Stick Insect : The Lazarus Stick
This Wild Episode is all about what was once the rarest insect in the world - the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis) - and the bizarre story of how it escaped extinction, pulling off one of the most amazing tricks of species survival the world has ever seen ... Shownotes at www.thewildepisode.com. Subscribe to the show for plenty more wonders, curiosities and horrors from the natural world!
Greenland Shark : The Shark in Darkness
Where better to start The Wild Episode than with a shark? Specifically, the Greenland Shark. Somniosus microcephalus. One of the least well known, and most mysterious, top predators in the world. An enormous Arctic shark that lives longer than any other vertebrate, eats almost anything, and loses its sight because its eyes get eaten ... Shownotes at www.thewildepisode.com Subscribe to the show for plenty more wonders, curiosities and horrors from the natural world!