Natural Selections

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About
Natural Selections

On Natural Selections each week, join a short conversation on the natural world. Topics range from evolutionary biology to geology and wildlife, from climate science to animal and human behavior.

Ellen Rocco
The program is hosted by NCPR news director Martha Foley joined by naturalist Dr. Curt Stager of Paul Smith's College.

Support for Natural Selections is provided by the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for year-round residents of the Adirondack Park, and by Paul Smith's, the College of the Adirondacks.

New Book: Deep Future

"The course we take in the coming decades will affect not just the next hundred years, but the next hundred thousand years of life on this planet." --Curt Stager

Deep Future
In bookstores now

Order at: Amazon | Borders
Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Powell's Books
And please remember your local independent booksellers. Find one near you.

 

Nature features

Curt Stager on On Point

Curt StagerListen to Dr. Curt Stager as the guest on On Point, 3/24/11, talking about his new book, Deep Future: the Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth.

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Natural History
This bird likes livers, kidneys, entrails — anything it can pluck that's freshly dead. But what if you served it ... a painting?
 
Museums are filled with dead insects, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles meticulously gathered worldwide in the name of scientific discovery. But some researchers now say scientists should think twice.
 
A secretive, nocturnal species that lives on a remote island off the coast of Mexico had not been spotted since 1936. Scientists have concluded it is genetically distinct from mainland neighbors.
 
The Smithsonian is set to unpack something it's never had before: a rare, nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. It's a gift from a Montana museum that says this T. rex deserves to be famous.
 
A 325 million-year-old fossil find shows that the gill structures of modern sharks are actually quite different from their ancient ancestors.
 
more science news from NPR

Natural Selections with hosts Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager airs Thursday mornings during The Eight O'Clock Hour.

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 Recent Natural Selections programs
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Octopus vulgaris. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Octopus2.jpg">Albert Kok</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Octopus vulgaris. Photo: Albert Kok, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Octopuses are amazingly smart, and just amazing

The octopus has held a fascination for people throughout the ages. Martha Foley describes a surfside encounter with beauty, and Dr. Curt Stager talks about the unusual qualities of this shelless mollusk, from its discernible intelligence to its oddball but efficient anatomy.  Go to full article
A kangaroo "joey" has a long way to go before it gets to the cute stage. It begins as a tiny, fragile, hairless newborn in its mother's pouch. Photos: Mother and joey, <a href="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2215/2179798100_85f711ebfc_o_d.jpg">Subhash Chandra</a>; Newborn joey in pouch: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Joey_in_pouch.jpg">Geoff Shaw</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A kangaroo "joey" has a long way to go before it gets to the cute stage. It begins as a tiny, fragile, hairless newborn in its mother's pouch. Photos: Mother and joey, Subhash Chandra; Newborn joey in pouch: Geoff Shaw, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The early life of kangaroos

Kangaroos are marsupials, mammals who have a protective pouch in which they raise their young until they are developed enough to endure conditions in the outside world. What most people might not know is that the birth of kangaroos in a pouch is in some ways more complex than the birth and development of other mammals.

Martha Foley talks with Dr. Curt Stager about kangaroos and their young, known as joeys.  Go to full article
Eastern hognose snake (<em>Heterodon platyrhinos</em>). Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heterodon_platirhinos_head.jpg">Dawson</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platyrhinos). Photo: Dawson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Our mildly venomous neighbor, the Hognose snake

The Eastern hognose snake is better known by its nickname, puff adder, derived from its aggressive display when disturbed. Its bite is mildly venomous, capable of sedating small prey, such as toads. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss this common northeastern reptile.  Go to full article
A male bumblebee about to alight on an alumroot. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bumblebee_heuchera.jpg">Sjjubs</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A male bumblebee about to alight on an alumroot. Photo: Sjjubs, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

How bumblebees keep warm

Bees need to be warm in order to fly. That's usually not a problem, since it takes millions of round trips to flowers to make a pound of honey. But should they fall idle long enough to cool down, bees fire up their wing muscles by shivering. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley, with more about bees.  Go to full article
Barred owl in the rain. Archive Photo of the Day 12/19/12: Butch Bramhall, Croghan, NY
Barred owl in the rain. Archive Photo of the Day 12/19/12: Butch Bramhall, Croghan, NY

Natural Selections: Barred Owl

The barred owl is often heard but seldom seen. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley discuss the habits of this nocturnal hunter, and Curt demonstrates his own highly-regarded version of its distinctive call.  Go to full article
Estimated change in annual mean sea surface pH between the 1700s and the 1990s. Graphic: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WOA05_GLODAP_del_pH_AYool.png">Plumbago</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Estimated change in annual mean sea surface pH between the 1700s and the 1990s. Graphic: Plumbago, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: How rising CO2 levels are changing our oceans

Most of the concern about carbon dioxide is focused on the quantity in the atmosphere and its effect on climate. But rising CO2 levels in the oceans can have equally significant effects on the ecosystems of the seas. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss the changing aquasphere.  Go to full article
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), in Quebec. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus_CT.jpg">Cephas</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), in Quebec. Photo: Cephas, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Squirrel diet

Red squirrels do well in an abundant year for spruce and balsam cones, eating as many as fifty a day. Introduced to Newfoundland for the first time in the 1960s, squirrels eat as much as two-thirds of all the black spruce cones produced. Dr. Curt Stager and Martha Foley talk about the eating habits of squirrels and their impact on the environment.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://capl.washjeff.edu/2/l/4348.jpg">Washington & Jefferson College</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Washington & Jefferson College, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Natural Selections: Sense of smell

Humans aren't naturals at tracking smells like dogs, but they can, in fact, track by scent just like dogs. The main difference is humans get better with practice. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about people's sense of smell.  Go to full article
Ripples in sand: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30302870@N08/2839605958/">Markles55</a>, and in snow: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/n031/3285104971/">Clear Inner Vision</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Ripples in sand: Markles55, and in snow: Clear Inner Vision, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

No, the North Country's not the coldest place on earth

Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss the hottest and coldest places on earth. Death Valley is no longer the hottest. Libya takes (or bakes) the cake these days. The lowest, as you would expect, is in Antarctica. How cold? You don't want to know.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/hobgadlng/11393404204/">Tee La Rosa</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved<br />
Photo: Tee La Rosa, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

You're a moth: How do you defend yourself?

The battle for survival among insects is not always carried out with mandible and stinger. This branch of the animal kingdom also employs chemical warfare. Some moths and butterflies store plant poisons in their bodies that make them so toxic, spiders will cut them loose from their webs. Some spiders make their webs and the food stored within deadly to ants and some create toxic "veils" to protect their mates while they are vulnerable. Martha Foley and Paul Smith's College biologist Curt Stager explore the arsenal of the natural world.  Go to full article

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