Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sun, 28th Oct 2012

Ugly Animals Need Love Too

Naked mole rat in a zoo. (c) Roman Klementschitz, Wien

It's not just pandas, great apes and big cats - ugly animals need our attention too.  This week, we find out why some of nature's least attractive species are under threat and explore the arguments for conserving bacteria, fungi and even parasites!  In the news we hear how to fix mitochondrial faults, discover a cocktail of bacteria that can see off C. diff and we find out how dung beetles are on the ball when it comes to keeping cool.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 01:23 - The Ugly Animal Preservation Society

    Publicity and fundraising campaigns often focus on the cute, charismatic or cuddly animals, possibly leaving nature’s less aesthetically pleasing species behind. Biologist Simon Watt is now taking a stand for these underdogs and has created the Ugly Animal Preservation Society....

  • 08:57 - Conservation of Microbes

    You could be forgiven for thinking that microbes are not, and should not be, a conservation priority. But that’s not the case according to Aberystwyth University researcher Gareth Griffith who is calling for a global strategy on microbial conservation....

  • 17:15 - Replacing Faulty Mitochondria

    Faults in mitochondria – the so-called powerhouse of a cell – are the cause of a number of human disorders. Now, researchers in Oregon have demonstrated successful replacement of mitochondrial DNA in egg cells that then developed into healthy animals...

  • 20:30 - Beetles use dung balls to keep cool

    South African dung beetles scuttling across scorching hot desert sands use their dung balls not just as food but also as a way to help keep themselves cool, a new study reveals...

  • 24:19 - Bacterial Cocktail Sees Off C. dif

    A cocktail of git bugs can successfully see off Clostridium difficile, the potentially fatal and often hospital acquired infection...

  • 30:00 - How the Gulf Stream could be Melting Marine Methane

    Changes in the gulf stream over the last 5000 years are destabilising trapped methane over at least 10,000 square kilometres of the US eastern margin, and if this were to be released it could cause abrupt climate changes.

  • 33:01 - The Plight of British Oyster Beds

    When Shakespeare coined the phrase "the world is your oyster", he meant that everything was up for grabs - Oysters were so abundant that you could just take your pick. But overfishing, disease and invasive species now mean that oyster beds, which provide ecosystem services as w...

  • 38:04 - Salt Marshes - Planet Earth Online

    One of Britain’s most unusual landscapes can be found along its coastline. Salt marshes are home to unique species of plants, provide breeding grounds for birds and act as natural flood defences. Over the years, many salt marshes have been lost to agriculture or reclaimed for d...

  • 43:02 - Preservation of Parasites

    Almost every species studied has its own unique species of parasite – so with every extinction we’re losing at least one extra species that may have never been properly studied. Andres Gomez from the American Museum of Natural History in New York argues that parasites need to b...

  • 50:06 - Conserving for future genetic resources?

    We should definitely conserve everything that we can. Mankind is responsible for the biggest loss of species on mother Earth. We don't know, yet, what will be required to ensure our survival in the future. Thus we should be having a maximum of reserves within the gene pool to ...

  • 51:39 - Is conservation pointless?

    Trying to preserve species seems rather silly. Life is in fact the process of evolution. By preserving life and not allowing evolution we are creating life that is ill adapted to the every changing environment. Don't you agree?

  • 53:22 - How could I melt a potato?

    Dear Naked Scientists, On a recent camping trip we were baking potatoes and toasting a few marshmallows on a metal grid over the embers of a fire. Whilst drinking a beer I thought: if I could get my fire hot enough I would be able to melt the metal grid (perhaps not at campfir...



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