2020 In Review, Charismatic Tubeworms, Dog Evolution. Dec 25, 2020, Part 1 from Science Friday

From Science Friday - 2020: The Year In Science, With Wendy Zukerman It's the end of the year, and time to reflect. While there's no doubt the coronavirus and efforts to combat it led the science pages this year, there was more to this year than masks and hand sanitizer.  Wendy Zukerman, host and executive producer of the Gimlet podcast Science Vs, joins Ira to talk about this very strange year, and recap some of the best science–from the rise of COVID-19, to climate change and wildfires, to the discovery of fluorescent platypuses. Plus, check out some of Science Friday's favorite stories from the year. These Worms Are Superheroes Of The Sea If winter has felt gray and colorless for you lately, cheer up and join us for a special, festive edition of the Charismatic Creature Corner. This month, we're looking not at one creature, but a whole class of them: Meet the polychaetes, also known as bristle worms. ("Polychaete" translates to "many bristles.") Yes, they may seem short on charm–they're worms, after all. Many, like the bloodworm, the bobbit worm, and the bearded fireworm, pack either razor-sharp jaws, or a painful venom.  But they're also both gorgeous and mighty. Polychaetes come in iridescent colors, with feathery fronds or intricate patterns. Just in time for the holidays, consider the cone-shaped branches of the Christmas Tree worm, which makes its home on coral reefs. Others, like tube worms, produce energy for whole ecosystems from chemicals in the deep ocean's hydrothermal vents or even the bones of dead whales. Still others, like alciopids, have remarkably human-like eyes. Gossamer worms can shoot yellow bioluminescence out of their arm-like bristles. And thousands more species provide lessons in marine evolution and invertebrate biology for the eager explorer.  This week's Charismatic Creature Correspondent, producer Christie Taylor, asks Ira to consider polychaetes–all 10,000 known species–for entry to the Charismatic Creature Corner Hall of Fame. Helping make the case is Karen Osborn, curator of marine invertebrates for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and a seasoned ocean explorer and discoverer of new species. How Did Dogs Evolve To Be Domesticated? Human DNA ancestry kits have become very popular in the last few years–and now, the trend has arrived for canines. A group of scientists recently mapped out the genomes of twenty-seven ancient dog genomes, looking back as far as 11,000 years ago to trace the evolution of the domesticated dog. Their findings were published in the journal Science.  Producer Alexa Lim talks to two of the study's authors, evolutionary biologists Anders Bergstrom and Greger Larson, about what this tells us about the origins of the domesticated dog, and how they evolved to be pets.
2020 In Review, Charismatic Tubeworms, Dog Evolution. Dec 25, 2020, Part 1
2020-12-25 09:00:00
2020: The Year In Science, With Wendy Zukerman It's the end of the year, and time to reflect. While there's no doubt the coronavirus and efforts to combat it led the science pages this year, there was more to this year than masks and hand sanitizer.  Wendy Zukerman, host and executive producer of the Gimlet podcast Science Vs, joins Ira to talk about this very strange year, and recap some of the best science–from the rise of COVID-19, to climate change and wildfires, to the discovery of fluorescent platypuses. Plus, check out some of Science Friday's favorite stories from the year. These Worms Are Superheroes Of The Sea If winter has felt gray and colorless for you lately, cheer up and join us for a special, festive edition of the Charismatic Creature Corner. This month, we're looking not at one creature, but a whole class of them: Meet the polychaetes, also known as bristle worms. ("Polychaete" translates to "many bristles.") Yes, they may seem short on charm–they're worms, after all. Many, like the bloodworm, the bobbit worm, and the bearded fireworm, pack either razor-sharp jaws, or a painful venom.  But they're also both gorgeous and mighty. Polychaetes come in iridescent colors, with feathery fronds or intricate patterns. Just in time for the holidays, consider the cone-shaped branches of the Christmas Tree worm, which makes its home on coral reefs. Others, like tube worms, produce energy for whole ecosystems from chemicals in the deep ocean's hydrothermal vents or even the bones of dead whales. Still others, like alciopids, have remarkably human-like eyes. Gossamer worms can shoot yellow bioluminescence out of their arm-like bristles. And thousands more species provide lessons in marine evolution and invertebrate biology for the eager explorer.  This week's Charismatic Creature Correspondent, producer Christie Taylor, asks Ira to consider polychaetes–all 10,000 known species–for entry to the Charismatic Creature Corner Hall of Fame. Helping make the case is Karen Osborn, curator of marine invertebrates for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and a seasoned ocean explorer and discoverer of new species. How Did Dogs Evolve To Be Domesticated? Human DNA ancestry kits have become very popular in the last few years–and now, the trend has arrived for canines. A group of scientists recently mapped out the genomes of twenty-seven ancient dog genomes, looking back as far as 11,000 years ago to trace the evolution of the domesticated dog. Their findings were published in the journal Science.  Producer Alexa Lim talks to two of the study's authors, evolutionary biologists Anders Bergstrom and Greger Larson, about what this tells us about the origins of the domesticated dog, and how they evolved to be pets.

48 minutes, 18 seconds

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