Current Event January 13, 2021
Dogs and humans have long had a special relationship. Part of the reason they get along so well is that dogs can understand human language, at least some of it. But why can’t they learn more? To find out, researchers played words for dogs and observed how their brains responded. Listen to learn what scientists discovered about how dogs learn words and why it’s unlikely they will ever be able to understand Shakespeare.
Current Event January 5, 2021
The human microbiome, a community of tiny organisms that live inside us, is important to our health in a variety of ways. Scientists have discovered that the microbes living inside bees also play an important role in their survival. Microbes give bees a particular body odor, a scent that can communicate to the hive if the bee is a friend or enemy. Listen to learn why bees invade the hives of other colonies and hear about the role that bees’ body odor plays in defending against such intruders.
A whale inhales and exhales air through the blowhole at the top of its head. The plume that rises when the whale exhales is made up of blow, a scientific term for whale snot. Whale snot can reveal important information about whale stress, but collecting the snot can be challenging. Listen to hear a scientist describe how she collects whale snot and what it can tell us about how whales are coping with the effects of climate change.
Current Event December 23, 2020
An unusual baby possum was dropped off at an animal rehabilitation center in Texas. The tiny creature had no hair! Workers at the center started nursing the undernourished possum back to health, but the hairless critter had trouble keeping warm. When word of the animal’s plight got out, tiny sweaters and other clothing started pouring into the center. Listen to hear more about the stylish possum’s wardrobe and how she may one day help educate visitors about marsupials.
Current Event November 22, 2020
Listen to hear about a Florida couple who were spooked by an alligator in their shed.
Vocabulary: wrangled, deputy, predator, deflated
Current Event October 28, 2020
When people think of penguins, they often imagine them waddling on ice and sliding into freezing water. Some species of penguins, though, live in warm climates, and that has scientists wondering how penguins manage to adapt to such different environments. Recently a study was released that provides some answers. Listen to learn where scientists believe penguins first evolved, what powered their migration, and how their bodies have adapted to a wide variety of environmental conditions.
Current Event September 23, 2020
An orca is about to become a mama – again. Tahlequah first became famous in 2018 when she carried her calf, who died shortly after its birth, next to her for several weeks. Orcas, also known as killer whales, are endangered in the Pacific Northwest. The event highlighted not just the whales’ capacity to feel sadness, but also the challenges faced by orcas as they struggle to reproduce. Now scientists have confirmed that Tahleqhah is pregnant again. Listen to hear why the pregnancy is giving scientists hope and what people can do to help orcas survive.
Note: Since this story first aired, Tahlequah gave birth to a healthy new calf.
Current Event September 9, 2020
Parasites are creatures that live in or on a host animal. Some people dislike parasites because they can be slimy, and they often cause harm to their host, but they can also play a key role in supporting ecosystems. Now, climate change is threatening the survival of host animals such as elephants and polar bears, putting their parasites at risk, too. Listen to hear about the surprising life cycle of a flatworm and learn what scientists are doing to try to save important parasites.
Current Event September 2, 2020
Zoos animals and their keepers are welcoming visitors after months of closures due to the pandemic. Some of the animals were content to interact with their own social groups while the zoo was closed. Others seemed bored without the usual flow of visitors, and keepers had to find creative ways to keep them occupied. Listen to hear an animal keeper explain which animals missed people the most and how her team used Facebook to keep animals entertained.
The bowhead whale lives its entire life - which amazingly can span over 200 years - in the frigid Arctic waters near the North Pole. The bowhead whale is unlike most other whales as it doesn’t seasonally migrate in search of warmer waters. A thick layer of blubber and the ability to hold its breath for up to 30 minutes makes it possible for bowhead whales to live in the deep, freezing water. Listen to hear even more incredible facts about this unique ocean mammal.
Arctic foxes may be small, but they undergo powerful adaptations that help them survive in the snowy tundra, one of the planet’s most unforgiving biomes. One of their most important adaptations is the gift of camouflage: Arctic foxes’ fur changes color depending on the season. In winter, these animals grow dense white fur that keeps them warm and camouflages them in their snowy surroundings. In spring, they molt to reveal thinner, gray-brown fur to better blend in after the snow has melted away. Listen to hear more about this and other incredible adaptations of the Arctic fox.