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Evolution Talk

Evolution Talk

Everything you wanted to know about evolution by natural selection in short, easy to digest, episodes. Hosted, and produced by writer Rick Coste.

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A Gut Feeling

Evolution by Natural Selection has assisted many amazing symbiotic realtionships.  Here's one you may not be familiar with, and which you're a partticipant in.  It involves your gut microbiome.

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

Evolution Talk's TeePublic Store

2022-09-26
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The Immortal Gene

In 1976, British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins publised The Selfish Gene.  It made exactlty the splash he?d intended, but people were confused. How can genes be selfish?

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2022-09-19
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Hitting Replay

Stephen Jay Gould once asked what would happen if the evolution of life on Earth were to take the same path if we had the ability to start it all over again?  In this episode we'll ask the question again ...

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2022-09-12
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The Joy of Mutation

Imagine a world without mutants. I don?t mean those super-powered heroes that populate the comics and movies from Marvel. I?m talking about you, me, and everyone else we know.  We are all mutants trying to survive.

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2022-09-05
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Jaws!

Just what does the act of chewing have to do with brain size and evolution?  Perhaps nothing or everything.  A team of researchers is helping us to understand exactly how much energy is involved when we use our jaws.

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2022-08-29
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Evolution Talk is Now a Book

I'm excited to announce that the Evolution Talk book will be published by Prometheus Books on Oct. 2022!  The Oldest Story Ever Told can now sit on your book shelf.

You can preorder the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else you buy your books.  You can also do so through the links here: https://evolutiontalk.com/

2022-06-14
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Love is Like... Hydrogen?

It has long been believed that an early oxygenation even gave rise to the eukaryotes.  Perhaps oxygen had nothing to do with it. A castle deep beneath the ocean waves might hold the answer.

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

2022-05-09
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A Selection Strategy

If you were somehow in control of repopulating and regenerating an area that had essentially been wiped clean of life, how would you do it?  With limited resources at your disposal would you decide to throw all your effort into producing as many offspring as possible, as quickly as possible?  Or would you take a different tasctic and produce a one or two offspring, protecting and nourishing them until they can take care of themselves?

Both strategies might work.  And that?s what nature had to do.  It had two strategies to chose from.  They are known as the r and K selection estrategies.

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

2021-09-20
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A Bit of Astrobiology

How do we find life in a galaxy, or galaxies, far far away while sitting here on Earth? It?s not just by looking through telescopes or sending probes.  Those will tell us a few things, but not everything.  We need a multi-disciplinary approach.  One that combines astronomy, biology, oceonography and chemistry - and that?s just to name a few.

Enter Astrobiology.

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2021-09-06
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Carrion My Wayward Plant

A friend of mine recently poased a question on his podcast about carrion plants.  If you don't know what one is, the carrion plant emits an odor that is very similar to rotting flesh.This odor attracts flies which serve to pollinate the flower.  The question posed on my friend?s show was how?  How does the plant know to do this?  

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2021-08-23
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Artificial Selection

We don?t know why dogs became man?s best friend, but we have some ideas.  And those ideas take us back anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago.They are perhaps the perfect visual example when it comes to witnessing the power of the gene pool and how a selection process, whether natural or artificial, can affect it. 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2021-03-30
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Meet LUCA

In this episode I want to introduce you to someone.  Actually, this someone is a thing, and this thing wiggled its way through life between two to four billion years ago.

Listener, meet LUCA. Your Last Universal Common Ancestor.

LUCA, meet your descendant.

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2021-03-09
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Cro-Magnon

As a kid I was fascinated by the idea of cavemen.  Of course, all I had to go on were a few porrply produced movies that depicted cavemen battling dinosaurs, which of course never happened.  I even owned an early plastic model of a Cro-Magnon man and woman.  To me the Cro-Magnon were indistinguishable from the Neanderthals.  As far as I knew they both lived in caves, wore skins of the animals they slaughtered and fought with spears.  

Spoiler alert - we really don?t refer to them as Cro-Magnon anymore.

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2021-02-02
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The Cosmic Calendar

Many years ago, in 1977, astonomer and author Carl Sagan offered us the concept of a ?Cosmic Calendar? in his book The Dragons of Eden.  It?s a fun thought experiment in which you take the entire hisrory of the universe, from the Big Bang until now, and represent it as calendar year. 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2021-01-05
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Dating Fossils Again

It's time to look at fossil dating again!  The last episode mentioned two dating methods used to estimate how old the Homo Naledi bones found the Rising Star cave system might be. To do so, researchers used a Uranium-thorium method as well as electron spin resonance, or ?ESR?.  Let's take a brief look at what each of these entail. 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2020-12-22
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Homo Naledi 2020

Quite a few episodes back, I produced a show that looked at a new hominin species discovered in 2013. This history-changing discovery happened when paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, assisted by cavers Rick Hunter and Steve Tucker, explored the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. I thought it?s about time we revisited that earlier hominin species. Think of it as an update on what science has to say about them now.  

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2020-12-08
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Evolution Does Not Produce Perfection

Natural selection isn't perfect. It only cares that something works. If it works and is not harmful to its host, then that something is passed on.  

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2020-11-24
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Is Evolution Random?

There is more than random mutations when it comes to evolution by natural selection. You also have to look at other variables outside of a genetic mutation. Variables such as the environment the organism lives in, the challenges it has to face, and its ability to find food. 

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2020-11-10
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Series 2 Update

Please join me for a brief update on the show, it's future, and what you can do to help.

2020-11-03
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The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Evolution by Natural Selection is a beautiful theory.  But as wonderful a theory as it is, it does have its detractors.  One argument states that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.  Is this true?

 

For show notes and more, please visit https://EvolutionTalk.com

Written, Produced, & Narrated by: Rick Coste

2020-10-27
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The Human Eye

Evolution by natural selection can build complex features through small, incremental changes. But can it build an eye?

2020-01-28
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Denisovans

Caves hide many things.  Be it shards of glass, arrowheads... or bones.  It's to whom these bones might have belonged to which often leads us on a path to great discoveries... and forgotten 'cousins'.

2020-01-21
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Survival of the Fittest Part 2

Consider this a 'lost episode' of Evolution Talk.  In it I talk with Stephanie Keep of BiteScis.org about the origins and misconceptions around the term 'survival of the fittest'.

2020-01-15
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Mary Anning

In 1811 , or 1812, a young girl by the name of Mary Anning, along with her little brother, happened upon an incredible find while digging around the cliffs of Lyme Regis in England. It was a skull. A very large skull.

2016-02-22
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Rosalind Franklin

It?s safe to say, and very few would disagree, that without Rosalind Franklin the double helix structure would not have been discovered when it was, nor perhaps by the same team of discoverers.

2016-02-08
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An Interview With Emma Darwin

Way back in Episode 30 I stepped into a time machine and traveled back to 1869 in order to interview Charles Darwin. This time around I brought someone forward in time... his wife Emma Darwin.

2016-01-25
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Convergent Evolution

Convergent evolution has shown us that nature will find similar solutions under similar conditions. So too might it be on other planets. Life might not look that much different that it does here

2016-01-18
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Cladistics

A cladogram will show those animals that share similar form and structures. It?s not about animals which have evolved from one another. In this episode we are going to look at clades and cladistics. We will also create a cladogram... an audio cladogram.

2016-01-11
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An Interview With Jonathan Tweet

Jonathan Tweet has authored a very remarkable book for children. He wasn?t just trying to make evolution and its concepts easier to understand for kids in elementary school, Jonathan was shooting for an even younger audience. The result is the book 'Grandmother Fish'.

2016-01-04
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Are We Still Evolving?

There are some who say that evolution by natural selection, at least when it applies to you and I, is no longer a driving force. The argument is that we are no longer evolving and that we?ve pushed natural selection aside and taken the reign of our own development.

2015-12-28
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Your Brain

Over the course of billions of years a small region of specialized cells began to develop sensory organs. These light sensitive cells slowly developed into eyes. Behind them another organ began to develop. It?s still there, buried beneath everything else that has developed to become your brain today.

2015-12-21
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Homo Naledi

In 2013 a secret that had been hidden for hundreds of thousands of years in a South African cave was discovered. Bones... many bones. Upon inspection by a team of specialists a picture began to emerge. At the center of it all is a new species of hominin - Homo Naledi.

2015-12-14
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The Evolution of Music

In this episode of Evolution Talk we take a look at some of the theories which have attempted to trace the evolution of music, from Charles Darwin to philosopher Daniel Dennett.

2015-12-07
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Math and Maupertuis

Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis was fascinated with the origin and evolution of life. If there was a creator, finding the keys to his work had to involve careful study of the facts and an examination of the natural world with critical eyes.

2015-11-30
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Coevolution

Coevolution often involves an arms race. You have a predator and prey both upping the game. Like a bat and a moth. Each one trying to outdo the other. If the change in one organism is linked to a change in another organism, genetically speaking, then coevolution is said to have occurred.

2015-11-23
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Why Water?

Without water there would be no life. We are lucky. Extremely lucky that it is here at all. Especially in its liquid form. It doesn?t need to be. In fact, as far as the universe is concerned, water in its liquid form is almost a rarity.

2015-11-16
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Misconceptions About Evolution & Natural Selection

In this episode of 'Evolution Talk' I am joined by a very special guest - Stephanie Keep from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Among her many talents as a writer and educator, Stephanie also loves to correct misconceptions that involve the science and study of evolution.

2015-11-09
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An Explosion of Cambrian Proportions

In the era known as the Cambrian, an era which kicked off 541 million years ago, life exploded. Natural Selection began to produce new creatures, one after the other. A parade of unique forms and shapes that had never been seen before.

2015-11-02
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An Appendix

For years the appendix has been considered a vestigial organ. In 2007 researchers at Duke University began to take another look at the appendix. While taking their closer look something interesting began to emerge. Something that had always been there but had remained hidden, or unobserved for centuries. Your appendix, that little organ that we so often remove and forget, just might be useful after all.

2015-10-26
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Radiation and DNA

What does radiation do to us exactly and why do we care? The American geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller worried about it back in the 1920s.

2015-10-19
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Mendel and His Peas

In 1865 Gregor Mendel pulled together his work on heredity in peas and produced a paper which he read to a group of his peers. Unfortunately for Mendel, the world would't be ready to listen until decades after his death.

2015-10-12
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Our Unique Species

In the last episode I asked the question ?Are we unique?? and then set about showing why it is we are not by looking at the animal kingdom. From tool use to altruism it appears that we are not as special as we might think. But, of all of earth?s creatures we seem to be the only species cursed with the ability to ask ?why ?? We alone appear to have the ability to look back into the past to help us to explain the present and to prepare for the future. Is it, as Darwin said, only a matter of degree, or is it something more?

2015-10-05
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Are We Unique?

In what ways are we special or unique? Is it because we can think, like Rene Descartes said? Or is thinking just a chemical process that directs our actions as La Mettrie would have us believe? You might be shocked to know that we don?t really know. Science hasn?t been able to touch it.

2015-09-28
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Hairless Apes

If chimps are our closest relative why aren?t we hairy like they are? The answer lies somewhere in the far distant past. Imagine how hot it must have been on the savannah after our ancestors left the safety of the trees to hunt for food. Homo Erectus did this almost 2 million years ago, and perhaps as recently as 70,000 years ago. They made their homes on the savannahs. They ran, played, and hunted. They fought for survival. And one of the byproducts of all of that activity is sweat. Wouldn?t it be a benefit to have less hair?

2015-09-21
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Master Switches

Nestled comfortably within our DNA are a set of switches. Like the light switches you casually flip on and off in your home, they are responsible for making you who you are. And just like that one regulating switch which controls the current of electricity to your home, you have one which controls certain sets of genes. It?s called the PAX gene.

2015-09-14
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The Predictive Power of Evolution

We can make broad predictive strokes when it comes to how an organism will evolve. But that?s all we can do. What those changes will look like, if they happen at all, is beyond our power to know. Does this mean that theories about evolution are outside of the realm of true science?

2015-09-07
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The Strange Case of Richard Owen

Every good story needs a villain. And there has been quite a few in the history of evolution theory. History has not been kind to Richard Owen. But just like the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Owen had his good side. Not that his good side cared about the proper treatment of his fellow man, his good side cared more about the proper treatment, and appreciation of, science.

2015-08-31
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Epigenetics

In 2005 biologist Michael Skinner witnessed something that shouldn?t have happened. His mice were exposed to a toxin. A toxin which caused the children of these mice to experience birth defects. This wasn?t the surprise since the mice could easily have been exposed while in their mother?s womb. This could explain the defects. What it couldn?t explain was the fact that the next generation also had this defect.

2015-08-24
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99%

If you?ve ever wondered why mice have been, and continue to be, science?s favorite research tools it?s becaus we are a lot a like. Yes, that little four legged furry bundle of whiskers and pink feet shares 99% of its genes with us. 75-80 million years ago that 99% was 100%. That was when our most recent common ancestor walked the earth. That ancestor split off into different directions. One lineage led to and the other led to mice.

2015-08-17
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The Hobbits of Flores

In 2003 something was found in a large limestone cave located in Liang Bua, Flores. It was a small skull which was at first identified as being that of a small child. Upon further examination there was something odd about the skull. It didn?t appear to be exactly what the researchers assumed it to be.

2015-08-10
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