300 episodes

A podcast about living, extinct, and imaginary animals!

Strange Animals Podcast Katherine Shaw

    • Science
    • 4.7 • 148 Ratings

A podcast about living, extinct, and imaginary animals!

    Episode 296: The Hide and the Blood-Sucking Blanket

    Episode 296: The Hide and the Blood-Sucking Blanket

    Monster month is upon us, October, where all our episodes are about spooky things! This episode is only a little bit spooky, though. I give it one ghost out of a possible five ghosts on the spooky scale.



    Happy birthday to Casey R.!



    Further reading:



    All you ever wanted to know about the "Cuero"



    Mystery Creatures of China by David C. Xu



    Freshwater stingrays chew their food just like a goat



    A 1908 drawing of the hide (in the red box) [picture taken from first link above]:







    The Caribbean whiptail stingray actually lives in the ocean even though it's related to river stingrays:







    The short-tailed river stingray lives in rivers in South America and is large. Look, there's Jeremy Wade with one!







    The bigtooth river stingray is awfully pretty:







    Asia's giant freshwater stingray is indeed giant:







    Show transcript:



    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.



    It’s finally October, and you know what that means. Monster month! We have five Mondays in October this year, including Halloween itself—and, in the most amazing twist of fate, our 300th episode falls on Halloween!



    I know some of our listeners don’t like the really spooky episodes because they’re too scary, especially for our younger listeners. To help people out, I’m going to rate this year’s monster month episodes on a scale of one ghost, meaning it’s only a little tiny bit spooky, to five ghosts, which means really spooky. This week’s episode is rated one ghost, so it’s interesting but won’t make you need to sleep with a night light on.



    Before we get started, we have two quick announcements. Some of you may have already noticed that if you scroll all the way down in your podcast app to find the first episode of Strange Animals Podcast, it doesn’t appear. In fact, the first several episodes are missing. That’s because we actually passed the 300 episode mark several weeks ago, because of the occasional bonus episode and so forth, and podcast platforms only show the most recent 300 episodes of any podcast. That’s literally the most I can make appear. However, the early podcasts are still available for you to listen to, you’ll just have to click through to the website to find them.



    Second, we have a birthday shout-out this week! A very very happy birthday to Casey R! I hope your birthday is full of all your favorite things.



    Now, let’s learn about the hide of South America and the blood-sucking blanket of Asia.



    The first mention of a creature called El Cuero in print comes from 1810, in a book called Essay on the Natural History of Chile by a European naturalist named Fr. Juan Ignacio Molina. In his book Molina wrote, “The locals assure that in certain Chilean lakes there is an enormous fish or dragon…which, they say, is man-eating and for this reason they abstain from swimming in the water of those lakes. But they are not in agreement the appearance that they give it: now they make it long, like a serpent with a fox head, and now almost circular, like an extended bovine hide.”



    Later scholars pointed out that the reason Molina thought the locals couldn’t decide what the animal looked like was because locals were talking about two different monsters. Molina just confused them. One monster was called a fox-snake and one was the cuero, which means “cow hide” in Spanish. And it’s the hide we’re going to talk about.

    • 15 min
    Episode 295: The Peregrine Falcon

    Episode 295: The Peregrine Falcon

    Thanks to Nikita for this week's suggestion that we learn all about the peregrine falcon!



    I'll be at the Next Chapter Book Fair in Dalton, Georgia on October 1, 2022! Come say hi!



    Further listening:



    Crossover episode with Arcane Carolinas from ConCarolinas 2022!



    Further reading:



    Falcons see prey at speed of Formula 1 car



    A peregrine falcon in flight:







    Baby peregrine falcons. Look at those giant peets! [photos by Robin Duska, taken from this site]







    Show transcript:

    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.

    This week we have a suggestion from Nikita, who wants to learn about the peregrine falcon! The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal known, and I thought about trying to talk very fast for this episode, but I decided I make enough mistakes just talking normally.

    A quick note before we start. On Saturday, October 1, 2022, I’ll be at the Next Chapter Book Fair and Convention in Dalton, Georgia. If you happen to be in the area, stop by and say hi! I’ll be selling books and I think I’m on a panel too. That’s the last event I have planned for the year and I’m not sure if I’ll be selling books at conventions next year. It’s fun, but it’s also a lot of work. Whatever copies of the Beyond Bigfoot & Nessie book that don’t sell next week, I can offer for sale directly from me. If you want a signed copy of a slightly banged-up paperback that’s been to a lot of conventions, email me and we can work out a price with shipping.

    Speaking of conventions, back in June I had a fantastic time at ConCarolinas, and one of the things I did was join the guys from Arcane Carolinas to record an episode of their excellent podcast. Well, they’ve just released that episode and it’s fantastic! I’ll put a link in the show notes in case you don’t already listen to their podcast.

    Now, let’s learn about the peregrine falcon!

    The peregrine falcon lives throughout the world, with as many as 19 subspecies, although experts disagree about a few of those. It’s about the size of a crow, with females being much bigger than males. Different subspecies have different patterns, but in general the peregrine falcon is dark above and pale below with a darker barred pattern. It has bright yellow around its eyes, and the base of its hooked bill and its feet are yellow.

    The peregrine mates for life, and reuses the same nesting site every year. Some populations of peregrine migrate long distances, and sometimes the male will stay year-round near the nesting site while the female migrates. Either way, at the beginning of the breeding season, which is usually around the end of winter, the pair performs courtship flights where the male will pass food to the female while they’re both flying. Sometimes the female turns over to fly upside-down to take food from her mate.

    The male typically prepares several potential nesting sites, and the female chooses which one she likes best to lay her eggs. The peregrine doesn’t build a nest, though, just kicks at the dirt to make what’s called a scrape. It’s just a shallow depression in the dirt. The female lays 2 to 5 eggs that hatch in about a month into fuzzy white babies with gigantic talons. Both parents help incubate the eggs and both feed the babies after they hatch.

    The peregrine especially likes open areas with cliffs for its nest, and as far as it’s concerned, skyscrapers are just a type of cliff. It’s surprisingly common in cities as a result,

    • 10 min
    Episode 294: Updates 5 and a New Zealand Parrot!

    Episode 294: Updates 5 and a New Zealand Parrot!

    It's our fifth updates and corrections episode, with some fun information about a New Zealand parrot, suggested by Pranav! Thanks also to Llewelly, Zachary, Nicholas, and Simon who sent in corrections.



    Further reading:



    Vitiligo



    Tyrannosaurus remains hint at three possible distinct species



    Study refutes claim that T. rex was three separate species



    The reign of the dinosaurs ended in spring



    Impact crater may be dinosaur killer’s baby cousin



    California mice eat monarch butterflies



    'Hobbit' human story gets a twist, thanks to thousands of rat bones



    Playground aims to distract mischievous kea



    The kea showing off the bright colors under its wings:







    A kea jungle gym set up to stop the birds from moving traffic cones around for fun:







    Show transcript:



    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.



    This is our fifth annual updates episode, where I catch us up on new studies published about various animals we’ve talked about before. This is mostly just whatever happens to catch my eye and isn’t comprehensive by any means. Also, because things have been so busy for me the last few weeks, I decided to just go with what I’d already finished and not try to add more.



    We’ll start as usual with corrections, then do some updates, then learn about a parrot from New Zealand, which was a suggestion from Pranav. This part of the episode started as a Patreon episode from 2019, so patrons, I promise your October bonus episode will be brand new and interesting and in-depth!



    First, both Llewelly and Zachary pointed out that there are lions living in Asia, not just Africa. It’s called the Asiatic lion and these days, it only lives in a few small areas in India. It’s a protected animal but even though their numbers are increasing, there are probably still no more than 700 Asiatic lions living in the wild.



    Next, Nicholas points out that vitiligo isn’t a genetic condition, it’s an autoimmune disorder that can be caused by a number of different diseases and conditions. You still can’t catch it from other people, though. We talked about vitiligo briefly in episode 241, about squirrels. Nicholas included a link, which I’ll put in the show notes for anyone who’s interested in learning more.



    For our final correction, Simon questioned whether there really are only six living species of macaw known. This was polite of him, since I was completely wrong about this. In fact, there are six genera of macaws and lots of species, although how many species there are exactly depends on who you ask. Since this mistake made it into the Beyond Bigfoot & Nessie book, I am very irritated at myself, but thank you to Simon for helping me clear this up.



    Let’s start our updates with the animal who gets an update every single time, Tyrannosaurus rex. A study published in February 2022 examined the fossilized remains of 37 T.

    • 17 min
    Episode 293: Bat-Winged Dinosaurs and an Actual Bat

    Episode 293: Bat-Winged Dinosaurs and an Actual Bat

    We'll have a real episode next week but for now, here are two Patreon episodes smashed together into one!



    Happy birthday to Speed!



    Further reading:



    Yi qi Is Neat But Might Not Have Been the Black Screaming Dino-Dragon of Death



    Yi qi could probably glide instead of actually flying:







    The Dayak fruit bat [photo by Chien C. Lee]:







    Show transcript:

    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.

    I’ve finally finished moving, although I’m still in the process of unpacking and finding places for all my stuff. I haven’t had the chance to do any research this week, so this episode is actually two repurposed Patreon episodes, one from June of 2019 and one from May of 2021. They’re both short episodes so I put them together. I apologize to patrons for not getting something new this week, but I think everyone else will find these animals interesting.

    But first, we have a birthday shout-out! A great big happy birthday to Speed! I hope this next year is the very best one yet for you!

    Please excuse the varying quality of audio.

    Listener Simon sent me an article about a recently discovered dinosaur with batlike wings, only the second batwinged dinosaur ever discovered. I thought that would make a really neat episode, so thank you, Simon!

    These are really recent discoveries, both from the same area of northeastern China. In 2007 a small fossil found by a farmer was bought by a museum. A paleontologist named Xing Xu thought it looked interesting. Once the fossil had been cleaned and prepared for study, Xing saw just how interesting it was.

    The dinosaur was eventually named Yi qi, which means strange wing. It was found in rocks dated to about 163 million years ago. Yi qi was about the size of a pigeon and was covered with feathers. The feathers were probably fluffy rather than the sleek feathers of modern birds. But most unusual was a long bony rod that grew from each wrist, called a styliform element. Yi qi also had very long third fingers on each hand. The long finger was connected to the wrist rod by a patagium, or skin membrane, and another patagium connected the wrist rod to the body. So even though it had feathers on its body, it probably didn’t have feathered wings. Instead, its forelimbs would have somewhat resembled a bat’s wings.

    Paleontologists have studied the fossilized feathers with an electron microscope and discovered the structures of pigments that would have given the feathers color. Yi qi was probably mostly black with yellow or brown feathers on the head and arms. It probably also had long tail feathers to help stabilize it in the air.

    Ambopteryx longibrachium was only discovered in 2017, also in northeastern China. It also lived around 163 million years ago and looked a lot like Yi qi. The fossil is so detailed it shows an impression of fuzzy feathers and even the contents of the animal’s digestive tract. Its body contained tiny gizzard stones to help it digest plants but also some bone fragments from its last meal, so paleontologists think it was an omnivore. Its hands have styliform elements, although not a wrist rod like Yi qi, and there’s a brownish film preserved across one of its arms that researchers think are remains of a wing membrane.

    Paleontologists think the bat-winged dinosaurs were technically gliders. Careful examination of the wrist rods show no evidence that muscles were attached, so the dinosaurs wouldn’t have been able to adjust the wings well enough to actually fly. Modern bats have lots of tiny muscles in their wing membranes to help them fly.

    Yi qi’s wrist rod isn’t unique in the animal world. The flying squirrel has styliform rods made of cartilag...

    • 16 min
    Episode 292: The Kunga

    Episode 292: The Kunga

    This week let's learn about a mystery that was solved by science!



    Happy birthday to Zoe!



    Further reading:



    Let's all do the kunga!



    The kunga, as depicted in a 4500-year-old mosaic:







    The Syrian wild ass as depicted in a 1915 photograph (note the size of the animal compared to the man standing behind it):







    Domestic donkeys:







    Show transcript:



    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.



    As this episode goes live, I should be on my way home from Dragon Con, ready to finish moving into my new apartment! It’s been an extremely busy week, so we’re just going to have a short episode about a historical mystery that was recently solved by science.



    But first, we have another birthday shout-out! Happy birthday to Zoe, and I hope you have the most sparkly and exciting birthday ever, unless you’d rather have a chill and low-key birthday, which is just as good depending on your mood.



    This week we’re going to learn about an animal called the kunga, which I learned about on Dr. Karl Shuker’s blog. There’s a link in the show notes if you’d like to read his original post.



    The mystery of the kunga goes back thousands of years, to the fertile crescent in the Middle East. We’ve talked about this area before in episode 177, about the sirrush, specifically Mesopotamia. I’ll quote from that episode to give you some background:



    "These days the countries of Iraq and Kuwait, parts of Turkey and Syria, and a little sliver of Iran are all within what was once called Mesopotamia. It’s part of what’s sometimes referred to as the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. The known history of this region goes back five thousand years in written history, but people have lived there much, much longer. Some 50,000 years ago humans migrated from Africa into the area, found it a really nice place to live, and settled there.



    "Parts of it are marshy but it’s overall a semi-arid climate, with desert to the north. People developed agriculture in the Fertile Crescent, including irrigation, but many cultures specialized in fishing or nomadic grazing of animals they domesticated, including sheep, goats, and camels. As the centuries passed, the cultures of the area became more and more sophisticated, with big cities, elaborate trade routes, and stupendous artwork."



    The domestic horse wasn’t introduced to this area until about 4,000 years ago, although donkeys were common. The domestic donkey is still around today, of course, and is descended from the African wild ass. Researchers estimate it was domesticated 5- or 6,000 years ago by the ancient nomadic peoples of Nubia, and quickly spread throughout the Middle East and into southern Asia and Europe.



    But although horses weren’t known in the Middle East 4,500 years ago, we have artwork that shows an animal that looks like a really big donkey, much larger than the donkeys known at the time. It was called the kunga and was highly prized as a beast of burden since it was larger and stronger than an ordinary donkey. It was also rare, bred only in Syria and exported at high prices. No one outside of Syria knew what kind of animal the kunga really was, but we have writings that suggest it was a hybrid animal of some kind. This explains why its breeding was such a secret and why it couldn’t be bred elsewhere. Many hybrid animals are infertile and can’t have babies.



    If the artwork was from later times, we could assume it showed mules, the offspring of a horse and a donkey. But horses definitely weren’t known in the Middle East or nearby areas at this time, so it can’t have been a mule.



    The kunga was used as a beast of burden to pull pl...

    • 7 min
    Episode 291: The Ediacaran Biota

    Episode 291: The Ediacaran Biota

    This week let's find out what lived before the Cambrian explosion!



    A very happy birthday to Isaac!



    Further reading:



    Some of Earth's first animals--including a mysterious, alien-looking creature--are spilling out of Canadian rocks



    Say Hello to Dickinsonia, the Animal Kingdom's Newest (and Oldest) Member



    Charnia looks like a leaf or feather:







    Kimberella looks like a lost earring:







    Dickinsonia looks like one of those astronaut footprints on the moon:







    Spriggina looks like a centipede no a trilobite no a polychaete worm no a







    Glide reflection is hard to describe unless you look at pictures:







    Trilobozoans look like the Manx flag or a cloverleaf roll:











    Cochleatina looked like a snail:







    Show transcript:



    Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw.



    It’s the last week of August 2022, so let’s close out invertebrate August with a whole slew of mystery fossils, all invertebrates.



    But first, we have a birthday shoutout! A humongous happy birthday to Isaac! Whatever your favorite thing is, I hope it happens on your birthday, unless your favorite thing is a kaiju attack.



    We’ve talked about the Cambrian explosion before, especially in episode 69 about some of the Burgess shale animals. “Cambrian explosion” is the term for a time starting around 540 million years ago, when diverse and often bizarre-looking animals suddenly appear in the fossil record. But we haven’t talked much about what lived before the Cambrian explosion, so let’s talk specifically about the Ediacaran (eedee-ACK-eron) biota!



    I was halfway through researching this episode when I remembered I’d done a Patreon episode about it in 2021. Patrons may recognize that I used part of the Patreon episode in this one. You’d think that would save me time but surprise, it did not.



    The word Ediacara comes from a range of hills in South Australia, where in 1946 a geologist noticed what he thought were fossilized impressions of jellyfish in the rocks. At the time the rocks were dated to the early Cambrian period, and this was long before the Cambrian explosion was recognized as a thing at all, much less such an important thing. But since then, geologists and paleontologists have reevaluated the hills and determined that they’re much older than the Cambrian, dating to between 635 to 539 million years ago. That’s as much as 100 million years before the Cambrian. The Ediacaran period was formally designated in 2004 to mark this entire period of time, although fossils of Ediacaran animals generally start appearing about 580 million years ago.



    Here’s something interesting, by the way. During the Ediacaran period, every day was only 22 hours long instead of 24, and there were about 400 days in a year instead of 365. The moon was closer to the earth too. And life on earth was still sorting out the details.



    Fossils from the Ediacaran period have been discovered in other places besides Australia, including Namibia in southern Africa, Newfoundland in eastern Canada, England, northwestern Russia, and southern China. Once the first well-preserved fossils started being found, in Newfoundland in 1967, paleontologists started to really take notice, because they turned out to be extremely weird. The fossils, not the paleontologists.



    Many organisms that lived during this time lived on, in,

    • 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
148 Ratings

148 Ratings

bg super poop fart face guppy ,

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megbundynobody ,

Strange animals

Best podcast I’ve found so far. I like how she talks about different animals and common animals and I like her voice I think she’s southern like me but not sure . I liked the Halloween episodes I listen during lunch and before sleeping. I learned some of this at school a decade or so ago but some is new and interesting. She’s a great host and does good research.

Wow wow yo ,

Great

Great info and really funny but can u add more expression to your voice u sound like a robot

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