Current Event September 22, 2015
A new species that tells us something about humans origins was recently discovered deep inside a cave in South Africa. This discovery is a mystery in many ways. How did the bones get there? What is their significance? The bones are so deep inside the cave they were almost inaccessible; scientists had to climb down a steep cliff and crawl through a cave to collect them. This new species appears to have very small brains but similar feet and hands to modern humans. It has been named Homo naledi, the newest addition to the genus Homo. Where do they fit in the story of human evolution? Listen to hear more about this remarkable discovery.
Current Event June 18, 2015
Scientists have long debated when early humans learned that they could use fire to cook their food. Some believe this occurred soon after humans learned to control fire, others argue there isn’t enough evidence. A scientific study in a chimpanzee sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has shed new light on these persistent questions. The experiment gave chimps a machine to “cook” their food and tracked their preference for cooked food and how it changed their eating behaviors. Listen to learn more about this experiment and how it plays into the debate about when early humans began to cook.
As plants and animals reproduce over time, they are able to change and adapt to ensure or improve their chances of survival. The evolutionary goal of reproduction is paired with the concept of natural selection and survival of the fittest to determine who will reproduce. From colorful plumage to size, different species use different strategies to ensure reproduction and mate selection. The sand tiger shark has a unique strategy to ensure successful reproduction - and it depends on the timing of mating. Listen to learn more about the ultimate sibling rivalry while in the womb.
Animal species evolve and adapt over time. This ability to change lays the groundwork for human evolution. Over 375 million years ago an important transition in this lineage occurred - animals living in the sea, began living on land. This complex process happened gradually over generations and an unusual fish fossil found in the Canadian Arctic may help enhance our understanding of this progression.
Current Event January 29, 2015
Great apes such as orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas have long been known for their intelligence and have been thought to be early ancestors of humans. Orangutans who could whistle led scientists to discover even more fascinating orangutan vocalizations. Listen to learn more about this discovery and what it may mean for the origin of human speech.
Current Event November 6, 2014
When people don’t get enough sleep they aren’t able to think clearly, but why? A new study has uncovered what happens in the brain of animals as they sleep. These findings shed light on why people and animals need sleep and help researchers better understand the links between sleep and Alzheimers. Listen to this public radio story about why sleep is important to brain health.
Current Event October 16, 2014
Cave painting has long been thought to be developed by early humans in Europe. A new discovery of equally old cave paintings on an island in Indonesia has upset this perspective and is pushing scientists to look even farther back to our human origins in Africa. Listen to this public radio story to hear more about the cave paintings themselves and to learn how archeologists discovered their true age.
Toys play an important role in children's development. They are also important to animals, even elephants. This public radio story is about how artists designed and built toys of elephants that were based on animal behavior and their environment. You’ll be inside the zoo with the elephants, hearing their joy when playing with the new toys.
Changes to a neighborhood park in Illinois have affected the Northern White-Footed mice who live in the forest nearby. Scientists who study living mice today compare them to museum samples of dead mice to understand how they've changed and why. What they are finding is that the mice are growing much faster than their ancestors. Listen to learn why the mice are changing and why no one picked up on it sooner.
Flowers have many ways of attracting bees for pollination. Bees are looking for nectar and pollen when they visit plants and flowers, as well as various colors, patterns, and shapes. Recently scientists have discovered a new way that flowers attract bees. They can sense the electric fields around flowers. Listen to hear about the natural positive charges of bees, the negative charges of flowers, and how the electric attraction works for pollination to happen.
Current Event March 27, 2014
The human nose is actually more powerful than your eyes because it can detect more than one trillion unique smells. Scientists believe that if the universal code behind each smell could be deciphered, you can do things like send smells over the internet.
Current Event February 6, 2014
Bill Nye, television show host and science educator, debated Ken Ham, president of the Creation Museum, on creationism versus evolution in a spirited exchange. Listen to this story to hear each side's argument.