Ep. 231 - The Amber Time Capsule

Today we get a look back in deep time with the help of the amber time capsule. Amber will be most familiar both for its use in jewelry but also for its role in the Jurassic Park series. However, amber is also a gold mine of scientific discovery. Amber contains within the remnants of long extinct ecosystems. From insects to plants, and even tiny bubbles of prehistoric atmosphere, there is no telling what the next chunk of amber is going to reveal. Join me as I sit down with the Director of Paleontology for the Prairie Research Institute, Dr. Sam Heads, to discuss his research on amber and the many treasures it contains. This episode was produced in part by Griff, Philip, Paul, Matthew, Clark, Bobby, Kate, Steven, Brittney, McMansion Hell, Joey, Catherine, Brandon, Hall, Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 202 - Getting to the Root of Roots

There is no denying that roots are one of the most important organs on a plant. However, unless its an epiphyte, root activity takes place underground, largely out of site and out of mind. This has not stopped my guest today from trying to understand the origin and evolution of these amazing structures. Joining us from Magdalen College in the UK is plant evolutionary biologist Dr. Sandy Hetherington whose work spans hundreds of millions of years of root history. Join us as we explore the early days of root evolution and learn how things like fungal symbionts and a lack of organic matter set the course for root evolution. As you will hear, this work also relies heavily on museum and herbarium collections, underscoring the importance of preserving these important data goldmines. This episode was produced in part by Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 189 - When Palms Grew in Wyoming

Join Dr. Sarah Allen and me as we journey back in time to the Eocene. Earth was a very different planet some 49 million years ago. Though we may recognize some Eocene flora, the combination of various plant lineages would be enough to make your head spin. Earth was experiencing a warming period and the plants had responded accordingly. Tropical species like palms were thriving in places like Wyoming and giant relatives of the redwoods covered much of North America and Asia. What Dr. Allen and her colleagues are learning about Eocene plant communities is not only interesting in its own right, it is helping scientists understand how ecosystems may respond to climate change into the future. This episode was produced in part by Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 188 - On the Origin of Flowering Plants

Despite their dominance on the landscape today, figuring out exactly when flowering plants got their start has been a challenge facing paleobotanists since Darwin's time. This so-called "abominable mystery" is nonetheless fascinating to study and that is exactly what our guest today focuses on. Joining us is Dr. Nan Crystal Arens from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Her work on angiosperms of the early Cretaceous has given us insights into the evolutionary pressures that may have led to the evolution of flowering plants as well as how these early angiosperms made their living in a landscape already vegetated by a preponderance of gymnosperms. If you care at all about the history of plants on this planet, this is one episode you do not want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 184 - Fossilized Bryophytes: A Journey Back In Time

The odds of any living material becoming fossilized are extremely rare, especially if that living thing is a moss, liverwort, or hornwort. It does happen, however, and my guest today is dedicating his career to studying and understanding what bryophyte fossils can tell us. Joining us is Alex Bippus, a PhD student at Oregon State and his work is absolutely fascinating. From climate change to evolution, there seems to be no end to the fun of studying bryophyte fossils. This episode was produced in part by Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 162 - Of Dinosaurs and Plants

Who hasn't marveled at the fossilized remains of a dinosaur? Though their lineage lives on today in the form of birds, historically, dinosaurs were once far more diverse. Needless to say, they shaped the world around them just as much as the world shaped them, and this certainly included interactions with plants. Plant eating dinosaurs were some of the largest organisms to ever walk this earth and my guest today studies exactly that. Join the Natural History Museum in London's Dr Paul Barrett and I as we discuss herbivory in ancient dinosaur lineages. This episode was produced in part by Philip, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 152 - Forests, Ozone, and Earth's Largest Mass Extinction

The End-Permian Extinction occurred some 252 million years ago. It has been referred to as "the day the earth nearly died.  It is estimated that the world lost up to 96% of all marine species, 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species, and 83% of all insect genera alive during that time. Life on this planet took much longer to rebound than at any other time in history. Though we know volcanism played a roll in this extinct, paleontologists have always been looking for a mechanism that could connect the two. Thanks to Jeff Benca and others, we now have an idea. In this episode we talk about how weakening of the ozone layer led to massive forest declines around the globe. This in turn had serious ramifications for the rest of the biosphere. This work not only fills a big gap in our prehistoric history, it tells an alarming tale for our future if we continue to disregard habitat destruction. This is one episode you don't want to miss. This episode was produced in part by Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Daniella, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, and Margie.

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Ep. 136 - Uncovering Antarctica's Forested Past

It may be hard to believe but Antarctica has a green past. Throughout its history, our southern polar continent has been the home to a variety of now-extinct biomes and my guest today is responsible for uncovering the oldest of these remains. Dr. Erik Gulbranson is part paleoecologist and part paleoclimatologist and what he and his collaborators are learning from these fossilized ecosystems not only helps us understand how life responded to climate change in the past, but also how it may respond in the future. This is one you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitilin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura.

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Ep. 131 - Lycopsids: What An Ancient Lineage Can Teach Us About Extinction

If you're into growing plants and looking at fossils, then this is the interview for you! Joining us today is Jeff Benca, a grad student at UC Berkely who discovered a love for growing clubmosses and their relatives. It was this love that convinced him that we can learn a lot about the past by studying the present. Since then he has gained a deep understanding of not only the history of this amazing lineage but also what it can teach us about mass extinction events. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Irene, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 110 - Resolving Ice Age Ecosysems: Using the Past to Understand the Future

Trying to piece together an accurate picture of past ecosystems requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. That is why I am so amazed by the work of today's guest. Joining us is paleoecologist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill to talk about her work on ice age ecology. The clues she uses to tell the story of these systems are surprisingly small but incredibly useful. What's more, her work can help us better understand how ecosystems are going to change as man-made climate change rages on. This is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane. 

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Ep. 98 - Our Changing Planet, a Paleobotanical Perspective

I have always loved fossils, which is why I am so excited about my guest this week. Joining us from the University of Washington is Dr. Caroline Strömberg. Dr. Strömberg's research involves using the fossilized remains of plants to understand how flowering plants have evolved since the Cretaceous and how changes in climate influence changes in environments. One of the best ways to try to understand the future is to examine evidence from the past. Join us for a fascinating dive into the world of a paleobotanist. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, and Mary Jane. 

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