CreatureCast – Phylogenies

posted by Casey Dunn / on February 10th, 2016 / in phylogeny

JD Laurence-Chasen, a student in my invertebrate zoology course last fall, explains how to read phylogenies.

For more information, see: Baum DA, Smith SD, Donovan SSS (2005). The tree-thinking challenge. Science 310, 979–980. doi:10.1126/science.1117727.

The music is “Carefree” by Kevin MacLeod.

CreatureCast – Foraminifera

posted by Casey Dunn / on January 22nd, 2016 / in eukaryotes

Connor McGuigan, a student in my invertebrate zoology course in 2013, describes Astrammina rara: a giant, carnivorous cell that lives in Antarctic waters. This foraminiferan is a unicellular organism that can capture and eat animals much larger than it.

Song: Chauncy by Podington Bear.

CreatureCast – Dracunculus

posted by Casey Dunn / on January 20th, 2016 / in Parasites

This animation by Hadley Witt, a student in my invertebrate zoology course in 2013, describes the life cycle of Dracunculus. This parasitic worm is endemic to Africa, and is also known as guinea worm and the fiery serpent. While in the human host, this worm can grow up to one meter long, leading to extreme suffering. However, because it is easily preventable by filtering contaminated drinking water, this worm may be the next human pathogen to be eradicated.

Music: “Sonata in C minor for Harp” by Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812), played by Hadley Witt

CreatureCast – Harems

posted by Casey Dunn / on January 11th, 2016 / in Arthropods

This is the story of the unusual mating strategies of marine isopod Paracerceis sculpta. It is based on work by Stephen M. Shuster. See the article that accompanied this piece at the New York Times for more information.

Story produced and told by Louisa Pitney for Casey Dunn’s Invertebrate Zoology course at Brown University. Music is “Les crocodiles manget aussi les bonshommes Wizzards” by Circus Marcus, and can be found at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/CIRCUSMARCUS/In_Orbitas/Circus_Marcus_-_In_Orbitas_-_06_-_Les_crocodiles_mangent_aussi_les_bonshommes_Wizzards

CreatureCast – How Siphonophores Grow

posted by Casey Dunn / on January 11th, 2016 / in Development, Siphonophores

Riley Thompson describes the unique way that siphonophores grow. Rather than have one body with many specialized parts, they have many bodies that are each specialized for particular tasks. For more information, see our medium post.

This episode of CreatureCast was created by Riley Thompson, based on a script that we wrote together. The animation is based in part on illustrations by Freya Goetz. More animations can be found at creaturecast.org, a project supported in part by the National Science Foundation grant DEB-1256695. Music by Coda.

CreatureCast – Pyrosomes

posted by Casey Dunn / on August 19th, 2014 / in Chordates

Anna Zeidman introduces pyrosomes, “fiery bodies” that create brilliant underwater light shows and grow into giant swimming colonies. We originally posted this episode at the New York Times, where you can read more.

This episode of CreatureCast was narrated by Samuel Lanier. The music is by Lee Rosevere.

CreatureCast – Western Flyer

posted by Casey Dunn / on August 15th, 2014 / in Siphonophores

This episode was shot in 2013 on a research cruise aboard the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s research vessel Western Flyer. We joined Steve Haddock’s lab to collect siphonophores with blue water SCUBA diving and the remotely operated underwater vehicle Doc Ricketts. More details on the cruise are available at MBARI.

The music is by Gillicuddy. A shorter cut of this video is available at vimeo.

CreatureCast – The Blanc Conundrum

posted by Casey Dunn / on June 9th, 2014 / in Cnidaria, Siphonophores

The siphonophore Hippopodius hippopus is usually transparent, but when disturbed it suddenly becomes milky white. We originally posted this episode at the New York Times, where you can read more.

This episode was made by Pathikrit Bhattacharyya. The music is by Lee Rosevere, Alex Gross and Thiaz Itch.

CreatureCast – Disappearing Cuttlefish

posted by Casey Dunn / on April 25th, 2014 / in molluscs

Cuttlefish have extraordinary dynamic camouflage – they can change both the color and texture of their skin. We originally posted this episode at the New York Times, where you can read more.

This episode was produced by Jacob Gindi. The music is by Akajules.

The evolution of complexity

posted by Casey Dunn / on February 27th, 2014 / in Evolution

 

complexity

An increase in average complexity across life through time is not evidence that evolution is biased towards increased complexity. I illustrate this point with a simulation, following up on discussions with Amy Maxmen about her piece on the evolution of complexity in Nautilus.