272 episodes

Join David and Will as they explore the paleontologists’ perspective on various topics in life and earth history.

Each episode features a main discussion on a topic requested by the listeners, presented as a lighthearted and educational conversation about fossils, evolution, deep time, and more.

Before the main discussion, each episode also includes a news segment, covering recent research related to paleontology and evolution.

Each episode ends with the answer to a question submitted by subscribers on Patreon.

New episodes with new topics every fortnight!

The Common Descent Podcast Common Descent

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 590 Ratings

Join David and Will as they explore the paleontologists’ perspective on various topics in life and earth history.

Each episode features a main discussion on a topic requested by the listeners, presented as a lighthearted and educational conversation about fossils, evolution, deep time, and more.

Before the main discussion, each episode also includes a news segment, covering recent research related to paleontology and evolution.

Each episode ends with the answer to a question submitted by subscribers on Patreon.

New episodes with new topics every fortnight!

    Episode 186 - Owls

    Episode 186 - Owls

    Owls are among the world’s most iconic and charismatic birds, and they’re also among the most effective aerial predators. This episode, we’ll take a tour of the amazing adaptations that have allowed owls to achieve their modern diversity and worldwide range, and we’ll explore what we know – and what we don’t – about their evolutionary history.
    In the news: snake evolution, ancient polar life, dinosaur joints, and dragon teeth.
    Time markers:Intro & Announcements: 00:00:00News: 00:05:10Main discussion, Part 1: 00:40:35Main discussion, Part 2: 01:23:50Patron question: 02:03:15
    Check out our website for this episode’s blog post and more: http://commondescentpodcast.com/
    Join us on Patreon to support the podcast and enjoy bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/commondescentpodcast
    Got a topic you want to hear about? Submit your episode request here: https://commondescentpodcast.com/request-a-topic/
    We’re an Audible Affiliate Partner! Use this link for a 30-day free trial to Audible: https://www.audibletrial.com/CommonDescent
    Lots more ways to connect with us: https://linktr.ee/common_descent
    The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome. More music like this at http://ocremix.org.
    Musical Interludes are "Professor Umlaut" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 2 hr 9 min
    Episode 185 - Cacti

    Episode 185 - Cacti

    Cacti are famous for their spine-shaped leaves, their water-retaining tissues, their green stems, and especially for being among the most well-adapted organisms on Earth for dry environments. This episode, we’re joined by Dr. Aly Baumgartner to discuss the diversity of cacti, their unique adaptations for an unusual lifestyle, and their mysterious evolutionary past.
    In the news: Stone Age jewelry, kelp fossils, long-jawed fish, and early trees.
    Time markers:Intro & Announcements: 00:00:00News: 00:06:00Main discussion, Part 1: 00:38:25Main discussion, Part 2: 01:25:00Patron question: 02:04:00
    Check out our website for this episode’s blog post and more: http://commondescentpodcast.com/
    Join us on Patreon to support the podcast and enjoy bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/commondescentpodcast
    Got a topic you want to hear about? Submit your episode request here: https://commondescentpodcast.com/request-a-topic/
    We’re an Audible Affiliate Partner! Use this link for a 30-day free trial to Audible: https://www.audibletrial.com/CommonDescent
    Lots more ways to connect with us: https://linktr.ee/common_descent
    The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome. More music like this at http://ocremix.org.
    Musical Interludes are "Professor Umlaut" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 2 hr 16 min
    Episode 184 - Richard Owen

    Episode 184 - Richard Owen

    A familiar name to modern biologists and paleontologists, Sir Richard Owen is famous for his pioneering work in the fields of paleontology and comparative anatomy, his contributions to public appreciation of biological sciences, and his often antagonistic relationships with contemporary scientists. This episode, we’ll explore Owen’s major scientific contributions and his long-standing reputation as a villain of 19th Century science.
    In the news: temnospondyl survivors, big sauropods, dinosaur hunting, and mammoth journeys.
    Time markers:Intro & Announcements: 00:00:00 News: 00:04:50 Main discussion, Part 1: 00:32:10 Main discussion, Part 2: 01:04:30Patron question: 01:36:35
    Check out our website for this episode’s blog post and more: http://commondescentpodcast.com/
    Join us on Patreon to support the podcast and enjoy bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/commondescentpodcast
    Got a topic you want to hear about? Submit your episode request here: https://commondescentpodcast.com/request-a-topic/
    We’re an Audible Affiliate Partner! Use this link for a 30-day free trial to Audible: https://www.audibletrial.com/CommonDescent
    Lots more ways to connect with us: https://linktr.ee/common_descent
    The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome. More music like this at http://ocremix.org.
    Musical Interludes are "Professor Umlaut" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 1 hr 54 min
    Episode 183 - Feathers

    Episode 183 - Feathers

    Feathers are among the most diverse and complex forms of animal integument. Today, they’re exclusive to birds, where they can be found in a dizzying variety of forms and functions, and incredible fossils reveal even more diversity of feathers on ancient dinosaurs. This episode, we explore the features of modern feathers, the mysteries of feather origins, and the much-discussed question of which ancient animals were truly feathered.
    In the news: sturdy bird necks, giant worms, early photosynthesis, and very old skin.
    Time markers: Intro & Announcements: 00:00:00 News: 00:06:20 Main discussion, Part 1: 00:37:00 Main discussion, Part 2: 01:15:55 Patron question: 02:11:30
    Check out our website for this episode’s blog post and more: http://commondescentpodcast.com/
    Join us on Patreon to support the podcast and enjoy bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/commondescentpodcast
    Got a topic you want to hear about? Submit your episode request here: https://commondescentpodcast.com/request-a-topic/
    We’re an Audible Affiliate Partner! Use this link for a 30-day free trial to Audible: https://www.audibletrial.com/CommonDescent
    Lots more ways to connect with us: https://linktr.ee/common_descent
    The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome. More music like this at http://ocremix.org.
    Musical Interludes are "Professor Umlaut" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 2 hr 24 min
    Episode 182 - Camouflage

    Episode 182 - Camouflage

    Blending in with the surroundings is an incredibly useful habit. Even without evidence, this fact would be obvious from the sheer variety of organisms that do it and the vast diversity of strategies and adaptations they use. This episode, we look at what camouflage is and how it works in its many forms, and we explore how we can spot camouflage – and what we can learn from it – in the fossil record.
    In the news: curled-up trilobites, Antarctic octopus DNA, crab organs, and giant whales.
    Time markers:Intro & Announcements: 00:00:00News: 00:05:35Main discussion, Part 1: 00:37:25Main discussion, Part 2: 01:29:35Patron question: 02:14:40
    Check out our website for this episode’s blog post and more:http://commondescentpodcast.com/
    Join us on Patreon to support the podcast and enjoy bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/commondescentpodcast
    Got a topic you want to hear about? Submit your episode request here:https://commondescentpodcast.com/request-a-topic/
    We’re an Audible Affiliate Partner! Use this link for a 30-day free trial to Audible: https://www.audibletrial.com/CommonDescent
    Lots more ways to connect with us: https://linktr.ee/common_descent
    The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome.More music like this at http://ocremix.org.
    Musical Interludes are "Professor Umlaut" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 2 hr 21 min
    End of the Year Q&A 2023

    End of the Year Q&A 2023

    Happy New Year!
    It’s time again for our annual answering-your-questions marathon episode! Thanks to all our askers for a great set of questions!
    And as always, a huge thanks to all of you who have supported the podcast this year, whether you’re a top-tier Patron or a newcomer who’s just a couple episodes in. You make Common Descent possible.
    Now sit back and enjoy several hours of us rambling about whatever you asked about.
    Check out our website for blog posts and more:http://commondescentpodcast.com/
    Join us on Patreon to support the podcast and enjoy bonus content: https://www.patreon.com/commondescentpodcast
    Got a topic you want to hear about? Submit your episode request here:https://commondescentpodcast.com/request-a-topic/
    We’re an Audible Affiliate Partner! Use this link for a 30-day free trial to Audible: https://www.audibletrial.com/CommonDescent
    Lots more ways to connect with us: https://linktr.ee/common_descent
    The Intro and Outro music is “On the Origin of Species” by Protodome.More music like this at http://ocremix.org.

    • 4 hr 23 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
590 Ratings

590 Ratings

Klunckychris ,

Paleontology!

I’ve always wanted to be a paleontologist since I was a kid and now as an adult in a science field I kind of want to get back into it. So I started listening to many podcasts on paleontology and this one is one of my favorites! Lots of facts and lots of sources and the guests talks are great as well.

Merwyn P. Parperbarr ,

Great show, and also great to fall asleep to

It’s interesting enough to distract me from my daily worries, but not so exciting that it keeps me awake. Still, I go back and re-start where I fell asleep last time, because it really is interesting, so it’s really the perfect show for my insomnia.

aklicko ,

On my top three

I have been listening since episode nine. This is in my top three favorite podcasts

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