History Science

Watched “That time the American West exploded”

Watched That Time the American West Blew Up from YouTube

How is it possible to have cataclysmic eruptions without any real cataclysm?

Mid-Tertiary ignimbrite flare-up


Watched ant videos

Watched Fire Ants Turn Into a Stinging Life Raft to Survive Floods from

During hurricane season, as floodwater flows into their nest, red fire ants build a terrifying raft – out of their own interlocking bodies. If you wade into this ant raft nightmare, you’ll likely get a vicious bite and sting.

Honeypot ants


Watched some science and math videos


Neanderthals were part human too

Watched We Met Neandertals Way Earlier Than We Thought from YouTube



Our water came from space dust

Watched Where Did Water Come From? from YouTube

Mercury, Venus, and Mars are all super low on water – so where did ours come from and why do we have so much of it? We think our water came from a few unlike…

Sooo cooool 😯

Also a ton of Earth’s water is IN ROCKS 🤯



Evil wind

Watched The Mystery of the Eocene’s Lethal Lake from

In 1800s, miners began working in exposed deposits of mud near the town of Messel, Germany. They were extracting oil from the rock and along with the oil, they found beautifully preserved fossils of animals from the Eocene. What happened to these Eocene animals? And why were their remains so exquisitely preserved?

Mazuku= ‘evil wind’ — lethal carbon dioxide cloud, often released from the bottom of a deep lake or from volcanoes


Mutational meltdown

Watched The Island of the Last Surviving Mammoths from

The Wrangel Island mammoths would end up being the final survivors of a once widespread genus. In their final years, after having thrived in many parts of the world for millions of years, the very last mammoths that ever lived experienced what’s known as a mutational meltdown.

An isolated mammoth population survived an extra 6000 years past mainland mammoths… but accumulated so many negative mutations (deletions, mutations) they eventually died out too.

Minimum viable population is about 500 individuals, with 1000 to prevent negative genetic drift — only about 300 mammoths lived on Wrangel Island.

Understanding how species went extinct can help us better protect small isolated populations (e.g. cheetahs, otters) from mutational meltdown.


DNA has a half life

Watched Can We Get DNA From Fossils? from

In 1993, scientists cracked open a piece of amber, took out the body of an ancient weevil, and sampled its DNA. Or, at least, so we thought. It took another few decades of research, and a lot of take-backs, before scientists could figure out how we could truly unlock the genetic secrets of the past.

DNA has a half-life, but it’s highly dependent on conditions

DNA constantly breaking (reacting with water molecules) which your body fixes up no prob while you’re alive, but the process continues after you die

Half-life of moa DNA only 500 years! Others 10000 years…

After the first half life though, degradation may slow down

Can also gather much older info by combining lots of smaller pieces of DNA — but for now it’s kind of hit a limit until scientists figure out how to decipher much smaller units of DNA

PCR very sensitive to contamination, it easily gets amplified and overwhelms the target data


Our line of primates is missing an enzyme all other mammals have

Watched Did An Ancient Pathogen Reshape Our Cells? from YouTube

There is one – and only one – group of mammals that doesn’t have alpha-gal: the catarrhine primates, which are the monkeys of Africa and Asia, the apes, and … us.

Hypothesis: an ancient pathogen had the same protein (?) on its surface which prevented infected animals from developing antibodies to protect against it, so individuals without that protein were the ones that survived

Organ implants from other species don’t often work in us because they have it and we produce antibodies against it


TIL: caffeine is example of convergent evolution

Watched Why Does Caffeine Exist? from YouTube

Thank you to Wondrium for Supporting PBS. For more information and a trial please go to out PBS Terra!…

  • Caffeine is a natural insect deterrent
  • Convergent evolution on different continents by plants that aren’t closely related – never thought about implications of tea and coffee originating on different continents before 😉
  • Caffeine similar in shape to adenosine, which makes us feel sleepy
  • Bees that consume caffeinated nectar have better memory