The Wild Episode

The Wild Episode

www.thewildepisode.com
A Collection of Wonders, Curiosities and Occasionally Horrors from the Natural World


Anelosimus eximius : The Social Spider
Dec 5 • 29 min
Most spiders live solitary lives, but Anelosimus eximius is an example of a different lifestyle: colonial living. A very social spider, that maintains and defends a communal web and hunts in packs. And because it hunts in packs, it can target bigger prey…
Great Northern Tilefish : The Great Dying of 1882
Nov 19 • 28 min
The Great Northern Tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) is a big, beautiful fish from the western Atlantic. It’s one of those rare animals that is capable of reshaping its physical environment over vast areas. But it’s also interesting for a rather…
Bone-House Wasp : A Halloween Ossuary
Oct 29 • 21 min
The Bone-House Wasp (Deuteragenia ossarium) is recently discovered species of spider wasp that has some remarkable habits. So, three questions. What is a spider wasp? What is an ossuary? And what connects the two to make for a suitable Wild Episode…
Ruppell’s Vulture : The Seven Mile High Club
Oct 9 • 29 min
Ruppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) is one of the biggest vultures in the world, but it’s real claim to fame is that it is the highest flying bird on Earth. A fact which leads us into a discussion that may make this episode unsuitable for some listeners:…
Bootlace Worm : Maximum Worm
Sep 24 • 28 min
The world record for longest animal is held by the bootlace worm (Lineus longissimus), a Nemertean or ribbon worm from the North Sea. In fact, it’s held by a Scottish bootlace worm that was washed ashore in 1864. But is that record reliable? How long do…
Exploding Ant : Pop Goes The Ant
Sep 3 • 28 min
Colobopsis explodens is one of a group of ants known as exploding ants. Highly social insects that have developed an extraordinary approach to the defense of their colonies - a mass of workers, every one of which is prepared for the ultimate sacrifice.…
Cuvier’s Beaked Whale : Maximum Dive
Jul 25 • 30 min
Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) is a member of a rarely seen group of whales – the beaked whales – that are completely remarkable. Cuvier’s beaked whale holds the record for the deepest dive by an air-breathing animal (without the aid of a…
Bone-Eating Worm : Whalefall
Jun 25 • 27 min
The weirdest animals yet to appear on The Wild Episode: Osedax, a whole genus of bone-eating worms that for tens of millions of years have been colonising giant carcasses in the deep sea. They have no mouths, the males are miniature, they secrete acid and…
Russian Tortoise : The Big Sleep
Jun 4 • 32 min
Come and meet the tortoise that went to the moon! The Russian Tortoise (Testudo or Agrionemys horsfieldii) was the first vertebrate animal to fly around the moon. It spends more time in hibernation/aestivation than just about any other vertebrate. And…
Antarctic Midge : Antarctica’s Biggest Pedestrian
May 14 • 29 min
What is the biggest terrestrial animal native to Antarctica? It’s the Antarctic Midge (Belgica antarctica), a wingless fly that at no more than a quarter of an inch in length is by some distance Antarctica’s biggest pedestrian. This is life right on the…
Gelada : The Monkey on the Mountain
Apr 2 • 31 min
The gelada (Theropithecus gelada) is the only living member of the Theropithecus genus. It’s the only grass-eating monkey on Earth. It’s probably the most terrestrial primate on Earth. It’s an amazing species. But it’s also an excuse to ask interesting…
Spider-tailed Horned Viper : Possibly the Coolest Snake in the World
Feb 19 • 23 min
The spider-tailed horned viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) is in many ways an unremarkable snake. But in one very particular way - its tail, and what it does with it - it is utterly extraordinary. Welcome to the weird and whacky world of caudal luring,…
Mariana Snailfish : As Deep As A Fish Can Go
Dec 13, 2018 • 30 min
When the Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) was discovered a couple of years ago it was a big deal, because no fish has ever been brought up from greater depth. How do fish survive, kilometres down in the ocean? Why is this one named after someone…
Crowned Eagle : The Predator Next Door
Dec 4, 2018 • 28 min
The Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is one of the largest birds of prey in Africa. It’s probably the most powerful and almost certainly the one that regularly goes after the biggest prey. But is the crowned eagle, as is sometimes suggested, the…
Violet Oil Beetle : The Hitchhiker From Hell
Nov 20, 2018 • 26 min
The violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus) is our way into a discussion of leaky leg joints, toxic oil, aphrodisiacs, the cantharidin world, hitch-hiking, egg-laying on an industrial scale and hypermetamorphosism. There are not many animals that better…
Australian Trumpet : Maximum Snail
Nov 6, 2018 • 27 min
The biggest snail in the world, Syrinx aruanus, turns out to be a highly specialized and effective predator. And we’ll get to it via dolphins, mistaken identity, a unique human culture and the sound of trumpets.
Epomis, Cymothoa, Hymenoepimecis : Halloween Horrors
Oct 23, 2018 • 26 min
In recognition that Halloween is almost upon us, we pay a visit to Nature’s dark side. A beetle, a crustacean and a wasp that do really pretty extraordinary things. But not, let’s be honest, things that you could really call ‘nice’. Predators and…
Northern Fulmar : The Foul Gull of St Kilda
Oct 9, 2018 • 32 min
The northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) is one of the commonest seabirds in the North Atlantic, and a true master of the air. It is also, slightly less romantically, a master of vomiting noxious oil. But most importantly for this episode, it is a central…
Baikal Seal : The Seal That’s Never Seen The Sea
Sep 25, 2018 • 30 min
The Baikal seal is the only purely freshwater seal species in the world, and it lives in precisely one place: Lake Baikal in Siberia. A lake which is itself extraordinary - the deepest in the world - and which is home not only to that unique seal, but to…
Spectral Bat : Maximum Bat
Aug 28, 2018 • 24 min
The Spectral Bat (Vampyrum spectrum - which is pretty cool as scientific names go) is the biggest bat in the Americas, and the biggest carnivorous bat in the world. A properly high-ranking predator in its environment, out there in the darkness enjoying a…
Shark, Stick, Crake : Updates and Supplementals
Jul 25, 2018 • 21 min
Revisiting the subjects of the first three Wild Episodes! Just how common is the huge, ridiculously long-lived Greenland Shark? New research has the beginnings of an answer. The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect can’t go home until someone gets rid of the…
Archerfish : Bullseye
Jun 26, 2018 • 20 min
If you’re a little fish in a mangrove swamp in South-East Asia, what do you have to do to get the US Navy to name submarines after you? Answer, if you’re the Archerfish, is use physics to develop one of Nature’s most surprising hunting tools: a…
Coelacanth : The King of the Sea
Jun 5, 2018 • 30 min
Welcome to the world of the King of the Sea. The Coelacanth must be amongst the most famous fish in the world, but it’s also misunderstood and mysterious. It is neither a living fossil nor a missing link … but it is a fish that gives birth to live young,…
Large Blue Butterfly : The Wolf In Ant’s Clothing
May 22, 2018 • 27 min
The large blue butterfly is both beauty and the beast. Beauty because … well, it’s a pretty little butterfly. The beast because it’s also such a master of deception, infiltration and predation it could be the model for the monster in a sci fi horror…
Banteng : The Horns of a Dilemma
May 8, 2018 • 27 min
Asia is the place to go if wild cattle is what you’re after, and of them all the banteng (bos javanicus) has perhaps the most interesting story to tell. A beautiful, magnificent animal, as much a part of wild Asia a tigers or orang-utans, and - like them…
Steller’s Sea Cow : Steller’s Menagerie Part Two
Apr 24, 2018 • 35 min
Part two of two - and the amazing Steller’s sea cow (Hydromalis gigas) finally makes an appearance, as the wheels come off the Great Northern Expedition and Vitus Bering and Georg Steller discover a Lost World. Astonishing wildlife abounds, but will not…
Steller’s Sea Cow : Steller’s Menagerie Part One
Apr 10, 2018 • 32 min
Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was one of the most amazing animals to share the world with modern humans. To tell its story is going to take two episodes - and this first of them, to be honest, doesn’t even feature the sea cow itself. But it does…
Corn Crake : The Undiscovered Song
Mar 27, 2018 • 27 min
Vikings! Monks! Poetry! Plus, a bird that is next to impossible to see, but almost impossible not to hear. The corn crake (Crex crex) has one of the most distinctive voices in the natural world, and for centuries - even as its population in the UK has…
Lord Howe Island Stick Insect : The Lazarus Stick
Mar 13, 2018 • 25 min
This Wild Episode is all about what was once the rarest insect in the world - the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (Dryococelus australis) - and the bizarre story of how it escaped extinction, pulling off one of the most amazing tricks of species survival…
Greenland Shark : The Shark in Darkness
Feb 27, 2018 • 24 min
The first Wild Episode is all about a shark, but not just any shark! No, this is a giant shark that lives longer than any other vertebrate, eats just about anything it can find and loses its eyesight because its eyes are being eaten …