Big Picture Science
June 10, 2019: Creature Discomforts
Okay you animals, line up: stoned sloths, playful pandas, baleful bovines, and vile vultures. We’ve got you guys pegged, thanks to central casting.
Or do we? Our often simplistic view of animals ignores their remarkable adaptive abilities. Stumbly sloths are in fact remarkably agile and a vulture’s tricks for thermoregulation can’t be found in an outdoors store.
Our ignorance about some animals can even lead to their suffering and to seemingly intractable problems. The South American nutria was brought to Louisiana to supply the fur market. But the species got loose and tens of millions of these rodents are destroying the environment. It literally has a bounty on its tail.
Hear about research that corrects a menagerie of misunderstandings about our fellow furry, feathered, and scaly animals, and how getting over ourselves to know them better can have practical benefits. Will you still recoil from termites if you learn that they are relevant to the future of robots, global warming, and smart design?
- Lucy Cooke – Zoologist, broadcaster and author of “The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife”
Chris Metzler – Co-director and producer of the film Rodents of Unusual Size
Lisa Margonelli – Journalist and author of “Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology”