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Evolution Talk

90 EpisodesProduced by Rick CosteWebsite

Everything you wanted to know about evolution by natural selection in short, easy to digest, fun episodes. Hosted, and produced by writer Rick Coste.

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Artificial Selection

March 30th, 2021


We don’t know why dogs became man’s best friend, but we have some ideas.  And those ideas take us back anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago.They are perhaps the perfect visual example when it comes to witnessing the …


March 9th, 2021


In this episode I want to introduce you to someone.  Actually, this someone is a thing, and this thing wiggled its way through life between two to four billion years ago.

Listener, meet LUCA. Your Last Universal Common …


February 2nd, 2021


As a kid I was fascinated by the idea of cavemen.  Of course, all I had to go on were a few porrply produced movies that depicted cavemen battling dinosaurs, which of course never happened.  I even owned an early …

The Cosmic Calendar

January 5th, 2021


Many years ago, in 1977, astonomer and author Carl Sagan offered us the concept of a “Cosmic Calendar” in his book The Dragons of Eden.  It’s a fun thought experiment in which you take the entire hisrory of the …

Dating Fossils Again

December 22nd, 2020


It's time to look at fossil dating again!  The last episode mentioned two dating methods used to estimate how old the Homo Naledi bones found the …

Homo Naledi 2020

December 8th, 2020


Quite a few episodes back, I produced a show that looked at a new hominin species discovered in 2013. This history-changing discovery happened when …

Evolution Does Not Produce Perfection

November 24th, 2020


Natural selection isn't perfect. It only cares that something works. If it works and is not harmful to its host, then that something is passed on.  


Is Evolution Random?

November 10th, 2020


There is more than random mutations when it comes to evolution by natural selection. You also have to look at other variables outside of a genetic …

Series 2 Update

November 3rd, 2020


Please join me for a brief update on the show, it's future, and what you can do to help.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

October 27th, 2020


Evolution by Natural Selection is a beautiful theory.  But as wonderful a theory as it is, it does have its detractors.  One argument states that …

The Human Eye

January 28th, 2020


Evolution by natural selection can build complex features through small, incremental changes. But can it build an eye?


January 21st, 2020


Caves hide many things.  Be it shards of glass, arrowheads... or bones.  It's to whom these bones might have belonged to which often leads us on a path to great discoveries... and forgotten 'cousins'.

Survival of the Fittest Part 2

January 15th, 2020


Consider this a 'lost episode' of Evolution Talk.  In it I talk with Stephanie Keep of about the origins and misconceptions around the …

Mary Anning

February 22nd, 2016


In 1811 , or 1812, a young girl by the name of Mary Anning, along with her little brother, happened upon an incredible find while digging around the …

Rosalind Franklin

February 8th, 2016


It’s safe to say, and very few would disagree, that without Rosalind Franklin the double helix structure would not have been discovered when it was, …

An Interview With Emma Darwin

January 25th, 2016


Way back in Episode 30 I stepped into a time machine and traveled back to 1869 in order to interview Charles Darwin. This time around I brought someone forward in time... his wife Emma Darwin.

Convergent Evolution

January 18th, 2016


Convergent evolution has shown us that nature will find similar solutions under similar conditions. So too might it be on other planets. Life might …


January 11th, 2016


A cladogram will show those animals that share similar form and structures. It’s not about animals which have evolved from one another. In this …

An Interview With Jonathan Tweet

January 4th, 2016


Jonathan Tweet has authored a very remarkable book for children. He wasn’t just trying to make evolution and its concepts easier to understand for …

Are We Still Evolving?

December 28th, 2015


There are some who say that evolution by natural selection, at least when it applies to you and I, is no longer a driving force. The argument is that …

Your Brain

December 21st, 2015


Over the course of billions of years a small region of specialized cells began to develop sensory organs. These light sensitive cells slowly developed into eyes. Behind them another organ began to develop. It’s still …

Homo Naledi

December 14th, 2015


In 2013 a secret that had been hidden for hundreds of thousands of years in a South African cave was discovered. Bones... many bones. Upon inspection by a team of specialists a picture began to emerge. At the center of …

The Evolution of Music

December 7th, 2015


In this episode of Evolution Talk we take a look at some of the theories which have attempted to trace the evolution of music, from Charles Darwin to …

Math and Maupertuis

November 30th, 2015


Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis was fascinated with the origin and evolution of life. If there was a creator, finding the keys to his work had to …


November 23rd, 2015


Coevolution often involves an arms race. You have a predator and prey both upping the game. Like a bat and a moth. Each one trying to outdo the …

Why Water?

November 16th, 2015


Without water there would be no life. We are lucky. Extremely lucky that it is here at all. Especially in its liquid form. It doesn’t need to be. In …

Misconceptions About Evolution & Natural Selection

November 9th, 2015


In this episode of 'Evolution Talk' I am joined by a very special guest - Stephanie Keep from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Among …

An Explosion of Cambrian Proportions

November 2nd, 2015


In the era known as the Cambrian, an era which kicked off 541 million years ago, life exploded. Natural Selection began to produce new creatures, one after the other. A parade of unique forms and shapes that had never …

An Appendix

October 26th, 2015


For years the appendix has been considered a vestigial organ. In 2007 researchers at Duke University began to take another look at the appendix. While taking their closer look something interesting began to emerge. …

Radiation and DNA

October 19th, 2015


What does radiation do to us exactly and why do we care? The American geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller worried about it back in the 1920s.

Mendel and His Peas

October 12th, 2015


In 1865 Gregor Mendel pulled together his work on heredity in peas and produced a paper which he read to a group of his peers. Unfortunately for …

Our Unique Species

October 5th, 2015


In the last episode I asked the question ‘Are we unique?’ and then set about showing why it is we are not by looking at the animal kingdom. From tool …

Are We Unique?

September 28th, 2015


In what ways are we special or unique? Is it because we can think, like Rene Descartes said? Or is thinking just a chemical process that directs our …

Hairless Apes

September 21st, 2015


If chimps are our closest relative why aren’t we hairy like they are? The answer lies somewhere in the far distant past. Imagine how hot it must have been on the savannah after our ancestors left the safety of the trees …

Master Switches

September 14th, 2015


Nestled comfortably within our DNA are a set of switches. Like the light switches you casually flip on and off in your home, they are responsible for …

The Predictive Power of Evolution

September 7th, 2015


We can make broad predictive strokes when it comes to how an organism will evolve. But that’s all we can do. What those changes will look like, if …

The Strange Case of Richard Owen

August 31st, 2015


Every good story needs a villain. And there has been quite a few in the history of evolution theory. History has not been kind to Richard Owen. But …


August 24th, 2015


In 2005 biologist Michael Skinner witnessed something that shouldn’t have happened. His mice were exposed to a toxin. A toxin which caused the …


August 17th, 2015


If you’ve ever wondered why mice have been, and continue to be, science’s favorite research tools it’s becaus we are a lot a like. Yes, that little …

The Hobbits of Flores

August 10th, 2015


In 2003 something was found in a large limestone cave located in Liang Bua, Flores. It was a small skull which was at first identified as being that …

Evolutionary Psychology

August 3rd, 2015


Evolutionary psychology seeks to explain why we feel the way we do in certain situations. It also looks to understand what psychological adaptations …

The Missing Link

July 27th, 2015


Darwin himself never used the term ‘missing link’. He wasn't concerned with a missing link but he was concerned with gaps in the fossil record. It wasn’t that he thought these gaps hurt his theory. So where did this …

Self-Directed Evolution

July 20th, 2015


Mankind has only just begun to unlock the secrets hidden within our DNA. As we move from gene to gene we will begin to see how it all ties together, …

Mitochondrial Eve

July 13th, 2015


Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from your mother. Everyone alive on earth today can trace their lineage back to Mitochondrial Eve. We know this because we’ve all received our Mitochondrial DNA from her. It has been …

The Anthropocene

July 6th, 2015


The Cretaceous period ended 65 million years ago as did the reign of the dinosaurs. According to the International Union of Geological Sciences, we …

Having a Laugh

June 29th, 2015


It’s probably safe to say that everyone enjoys a good laugh. But where did it come from? What is it about laughter that gave us an advantage over our ancient competitors?

Punctuated Equilibrium

June 22nd, 2015


In 1972 Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge published a paper that immediately went viral among biologists. Gould and Eldridge pointed out, using …

The Piltdown Man

June 15th, 2015


In the late 19th century, Europe was having a grand old time when it came to fossils of ancient hominids. The problem was - nothing was being …

Darwin’s Bulldog

June 8th, 2015


On June 30, 1860 a great debate took place at the Oxford University Museum. This debate helped to launch Thomas Huxley's career as 'Darwin's Bulldog".

Neanderthalis Extinctus

June 1st, 2015


In the last episode we came face to face with the Neanderthal. What happened to the Neanderthal? Did they die on the battlefield or did they live out their lives in a quiet struggle for survival while modern humans …

The Neanderthal

May 25th, 2015


in the Neander valley limestone miners had found something which shocked them. They had found bones which they first thought belonged to a bear. Once Professor Schaafhausen had seen the bones he recognized them for what …

Genetic Drift

May 18th, 2015


Frog populations remained pretty much the same in Podville until the Great Fire of 2015. After the fire the population of blue frogs increased. …

Non-Overlapping Magisteria

May 11th, 2015


In 1997 Professor Stephen Jay Gould published an essay in Natural History which also appeared in his book Rocks of Ages. This essay was titled …


May 4th, 2015


Where does altruism come from? How did it evolve in a world ruled by 'selfish genes'?

Survival of the Fittest?

April 27th, 2015


The term 'Survival of the Fittest' was unleashed on the world in 1864 by Herbert Spencer when he published his work Principles of Biology. It was …

Putting the Selection in Sex

April 20th, 2015


For Charles Darwin, the idea of sexual selection explained a lot of what he saw in the animal kingdom. He gave sexual selection just as much importance as natural selection.

Warm Blooded Dinosaurs

April 13th, 2015


In 1986 Professor Robert Bakker, a paleontologist, published 'The Dinosaur Heresies'. According to Professor Bakker there have been waves of …

Where Are the Dinosaurs?

April 6th, 2015


What killed off the dinosaurs? There are many competing theories yet there is no ‘smoking gun’. There is evidence however, and with each bit of evidence comes another theory. Dinosaurs didn’t disappear overnight. It …

A Whale of a Tale

March 30th, 2015


Today’s episode of Evolution Talk is brought to you by all of those animals out there who exhibit vestigial features (which is pretty much every …

An Interview With Charles Darwin

March 23rd, 2015


To mark the occasion of Evolution Talk's 30th episode, Rick Coste steps into the past to interview Charles Darwin.

Mistakes Were Made

March 16th, 2015


In the X-Men movies the X-Men are mutants. Mistakes were made during DNA replications that brought out features and abilities which were not present …

Is Everything Related?

March 9th, 2015


The Human genome project took 13 years to complete. Hundreds of scientists from all over the world were involved. What’s just as amazing as the …

Fossil Dating

March 2nd, 2015


How do we date fossils? There are a few ways and in this episode we will look at a couple.

Robert Chambers

February 23rd, 2015


Robert Chambers' masterpiece was titled 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation'. In it he explained how everything evolved. Everything from …

The Case of Patrick Matthew

February 16th, 2015


Patrick Matthew published 'On Naval Timber and Arboriculture' in 1831. There were a few positive reviews but they were somewhat tepid in their …

The Work of WC Wells

February 9th, 2015


William Charles Wells, in no uncertain terms, pointed out that mankind is not immune to nature’s ability to modify an organism's features over time.

Unlucky Lamarck

February 2nd, 2015


Jean Baptiste Lamarck's mechanism for evolution was wrong, as history shows, and that fact has haunted his memory ever since. But ideas and theories …

Erasmus Darwin

January 26th, 2015


Erasmus was a country physician. He believed that women should have access to the same education that men did, and that slavery should be abolished. …

Hutton’s Hypothesis

January 19th, 2015


James Hutton saw the power of natural selection, but he didn’t see how it could eventually, over vast spans of time, mold an animal into something …

Diderot’s Dream – Updated

January 12th, 2015


Diderot devoured the written word. It was food for his mind and he couldn’t get enough of it. He was ravenous when it came to ideas. Especially when …

Of Mermaids and Men

January 5th, 2015


Benoit de Maillet believed that life, all life, came from the sea. And not only did it come from the sea, but it continued to evolve into different …

Lucretius – Evolution’s Poet

December 29th, 2014


In the first century BC the Roman poet Lucretius wrote On the Nature of Things. A poem with 7400 lines of verse that covered everything from the tiniest particles of matter and how they move, as well as the nature of …

The Father of Zoology

December 22nd, 2014


Aristotle actually came close to explaining natural selection, 2200 years before Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace did.

Darwin and God

December 15th, 2014


Charles darwin questioned everything when it came to the origin of species and the evolution of life here on earth. That questioning led him into …

Darwin or Design

December 8th, 2014


As a young man, the more Charles Darwin learned about nature the more he began to question things. If species were immutable, meaning they never changed, then how was it that breeders were able to change the forms of …

Darwin’s Doubts

December 1st, 2014


Throughout his life Charles Darwin suffered bouts of anxiety and often went off alone by himself to think. His work afforded him the perfect escape and he dove into it at every opportunity.

The Beginning: Out of the Sea

November 24th, 2014


The sea was full of life a half a billion years ago. Arthropods fought to survive and there were some interesting things happening on land as well. …

The Beginning: An Arms Race

November 17th, 2014


As predators evolved to better catch their prey, their prey evolved unique and efficient ways to avoid being eaten. It was because of this sudden …

The Beginning: Multicellularity Rules

November 10th, 2014


The reason natural selection had such a grand old-time with multicellular organisms is because it gave it something to select for. These organisms …

The Beginning: Sexual Reproduction

November 3rd, 2014


One day, millions of years ago, something occurred between two unsuspecting eukaryotes. When they bumped into one another something magical happened. They both left that encounter slightly different than they had been …

The Beginning: Cyanobacteria

October 27th, 2014


3.5 billion years ago microbial organisms appeared on the earth. These organisms combined, split, and combined some more, until the formation of microbes and single-celled algae. One of these single-celled algae-like …

The Beginning: Life

October 20th, 2014


In the beginning the Earth wasn’t exactly a hospitable place. It was hot, volcanic, and oxygen was a rare commodity. So the question now is how did …

Only A Theory

October 13th, 2014


Charles Darwin had a hypothesis was that animals evolved due to a process he called natural selection. He strengthened his hypothesis with tests and …

Alfred Russel Wallace

October 6th, 2014


In 1858, Charles Darwin received a paper authored by a young naturalist named Alfred Russel Wallace. In it, Darwin found that the young man had …

Why Darwin Matters

September 29th, 2014


Over the last 150 plus years there is one subject which has caused its advocates and detractors to butt heads, often with incredulity at their …

On the Origin of Species

September 22nd, 2014


On November 24, 1859, "On the Origin of Species" was published. To say that it made a splash would be an understatement. It changed the world.

Darwin: The Calm Before the Storm

September 15th, 2014


In the years following his return from his voyage on the Beagle, Charles settled into a life as a naturalist. On all fronts, both personal and …

Darwin On The HMS Beagle

September 8th, 2014


Charles Darwin, at 22, had never sailed before. With his notebooks, gear, rifles, and trunks loaded, he stood on the deck of the HMS Beagle to bid England farewell. The date was 12/27/1831.

Darwin Before the Beagle

September 3rd, 2014


Charles Darwin will be forever known as the man who came up with the brilliant, and magnificent, idea that life evolved on this planet from a common …

Introducing Evolution Talk!

August 31st, 2014


If you've ever wondered what all of the fuss was about, or how evolution works, then you've come to the right place. Over the next few weeks, months, …

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