Upon seeing an adorable Koala sitting on an eucalyptus branch in Australia, few would expect the beloved marsupial to emit a booming bellow to alert potential mates or rivals of its presence. But this powerful roar is just one of koalas’ many surprises, which delight and astonish in Australian biologist Danielle Clode’s new book, “Koala: A Life in the Trees.” Clode explores the enigmatic koala’s 24 million years-long saga of evolutionary adaptations, conservation triumphs, and endangerment catastrophes, and the prospects for their future following the 2019 bushfires that devastated Australia’s koala populations. We speak with Clode about the ancient ancestors, ecology, evolving relationship with humans, and uncertain fate of Australia’s bellowing marsupial.
The fossil record acts as both a memorial to life’s spectacular possibilities and as a warning to humanity about how fast dominance can become forgotten history, according to our guest, Scottish paleobiologist Dr. Thomas Halliday. Halliday’s research investigates long-term patterns in the fossil record, particularly in mammals. In his magnificent and daring new book “Otherlands: A Journey through Earth’s Extinct Worlds,” Halliday translates cutting-edge science into vivid portraits of sixteen fossil sites and their inhabitants extending back 550 million years. We speak with Halliday about his travel guide to the history of multicellular life on Earth, how an animal fossil can be read as a character description, how entire extinct worlds are reconstructed from remnants in the Earth’s crust, and the importance of realizing that our lives and the worlds we know were preceded by hundreds of millions of years of other life and other worlds, “simultaneously fabulous yet familiar.”
YJBM and the Yale Science Diplomats (YSD) present a podcast version of our recent Science @ Brewery live event. For
more information on YJBM and our podcast, please visit medicine.yale.edu/yjbm. For
more information on YSD, please visit their website, https://sciencediplomats.sites.yale.edu/,
or check them out on Facebook.
-Investigation of fungi circadian rhythms in space: Sulzman FM, et al. Neurospora circadian rhythms in space: a reexamination of the endogenous-exogenous question. Science. 1984 Jul 13;225:232-4
-A 2008 interview with Michel Siffre: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/30/foer.php
– Hadza chronotype study: Samson DR, et al. Chronotype variation drives night-time sentinel-like behaviour in hunter-gatherers. Proc Biol Sci. 2017;284(1858):20170967. doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0967
– Chronotype GWAS: Jones, S. E., et al. (2019). “Genome-wide association analyses of chronotype in 697,828 individuals provides insights into circadian rhythms.” Nat Commun 10(1): 343.
– General thoughts on why we sleep and the 4 hypotheses from: Siegel, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2009; Russel Foster, TED Global. 2013; Matthew Walker. Why We Sleep. 2017.
– Definition of sleep from: Rasch and Born, Physiol Rev. 2013
– Jellyfish study: Nath et al., 2017, Current Biology 27, 2984–2990
– Human asymmetrical sleep study: Tamaki et. al, Current Biology, 2016.
– NPR “The Haunting Effects of Going Days Without Sleep”
– Coren S. “Sleep Deprivation, Psychosis, and Mental Efficiency.” (1998) Psychiatric Times, 15:3
– Everson CA, Bergmann BM, & Rechtschaffen A. “Sleep Deprivation in the Rat: II. Methodology.” (1989) Sleep. 12(1):5-12.
– Everson CA, Bergmann BM, & Rechtschaffen A. “Sleep Deprivation in the Rat: III. Total Sleep Deprivation.” (1989) Sleep. 12(1):13-21
– Fitzgerald, CT et al. “Teen sleep and suicidality: results from the youth risk behavior surveys of 2007 and 2009.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine vol. 7,4 (2011): 351-6. doi:10.5664/JCSM.1188
– Beccuti, G, & Pannain, S. (2011). Sleep and obesity. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 14(4), 402–412. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109
– Bryant et al. (2004). “Sick and tired: Does sleep have a vital role in the immune system?” Nat Rev Immunol. 4(6):457-67. doi:10.1038/nri1369
– Perils et al. (2016) “Suicide and sleep: Is it a bad thing to be awake when reason sleeps?” Sleep Med Rev. 29:101-7. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2015.10.003
– Llorens, et al. (2017) “Fatal Familial Insomnia: Clinical Aspects and Molecular Alterations.” Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 17(4):30. doi:10.1007/s11910-017-0743-0
– The Better Sleep Council
In the 1970s, scientists proposed what has become known as the Gaia Hypothesis: the idea that earth is best understood not as a passive substrate or background to life but as a life form in its own right. Our guest, journalist Ferris Jabr, believes the time has come to revive that idea. To understand how sentient creatures have evolved on this planet, he suggests, is not only to grasp that animals—human and otherwise—are offshoots of an evolutionary tree; it’s to see the tree itself as one element of a dynamic, interrelated organism. We speak with Jabr about the art of science reporting, the limits of life, and what the white cliffs of Dover are made of.
In the second episode for YJBM’s Clocks and Cycles Issue, Huaqi and Wei interview Xiaoyong Yang, an expert on the interactions between the circadian clock and metabolism. For more information about YJBM or to read the Clocks and Cycles issue, visit medicine.yale.edu/yjbm
Do you feel like you get sick more often when you aren’t getting enough sleep or when you travel overseas? There might be a reason for that! For the first episode based on YJBM’s Clocks and Cycles issue, join the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine hosts, Amelia and Lisa, as they interview Dr. Silver about his work on how the circadian clock impacts your immune system. For more information about YJBM or to read the Clocks and Cycles issue, visit medicine.yale.edu/yjbm
In the spring of 1963, when our guest Dr. Thomas Seeley was not quite 11 years old, he lived — as he still does today — in a wooded stream valley just east of Ithaca, New York. One day, he heard a loud buzzing sound and saw a bread-truck-sized cloud of honey bees swarming an ancient black walnut tree near his family’s house. From a distance, he watched as the bees took up residence in a cavity in the tree. Why, he wondered, did the bees choose that particular tree cavity for their home? Humans have lived with bees for our entire existence as a species, but the vast majority of studies have focused on how bees live in managed colonies, whether the clay cylinders used to keep bees in the Iron Age or the white boxes of neighborhood beekeepers. But here, in the black walnut tree, were wild bees — living without human supervision or human understanding. Their lives present great mysteries. That 11-year-old grew up to become the world’s leading authority on honey bees, and a magnificently gifted writer about their worlds. Dr. Seeley joins us to discuss his research about wild honey bees’ behavior, social lives and ecology, and his new book: “The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honeybee in the Wild.”
During his travels in South America at the close of the 18th century, the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt came upon a parrot speaking the words of a lost Indian tribe. The encounter inspired our guest, acclaimed author and New York Times Magazine writer Charles Siebert, to imagine the echoes of human language that might persist, in nonhuman voices, once we are gone. We speak with Siebert about his reporting on humans’ wonder for and wounding of animals, the reach of metaphor, and what he discovered in the gaze of a chimpanzee named Roger.
As part of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine’s quarterly issue, focusing on Ecology & Evolution, YJBM podcasters John Ventura & Huaqi Li interview Stephen Stearns, the Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale about his work.
A concert pianist-turned-entomologist and bedbug expert, Dr. Gale Ridge is an insect detective. She solves mysteries and helps thousands of perplexed, struggling people with all varieties of bug problems — from bedbugs to agricultural pests to imaginary bugs that infest our consciousness. Dr. Ridge speaks about her sleuthing and how she brokers peace between the humans that walk in her door at the Connecticut Insect Inquiry Office and the tiny segmented animals we’ve learned to fear.