Quirks & Quarkswith Bob McDonald


May 15: California condor genetics, a strange star goes supernova, don't think, just kick and more…

Patient wolves hunt beavers, an ocean of noise and why parrots mimic.

New evidence of recent volcanic activity on Mars raises the possibilities of subterranean life

Bob McDonald's blog: Recent volcanic eruption and ongoing seismic activity in the same region on Mars suggests the planet is far from a cold, inactive world

How the California condor escaped extinction — and a genetic bottleneck

After going from just 22 animals up to over 500, the California condor is a conservation success story.

Astronomers get rare and surprising before and after shots of a star going supernova

The before picture was not what models had predicted, suggesting the star might have been dramatically altered between photo and stellar explosion

For soccer players, the less brain they use, the better for penalty kicks

The brain activity of soccer players while taking penalty kicks showed that those who miss seem to be overthinking, while those who score activate only necessary motor areas.

Beaver-hunting wolves have perfected a sit-and-wait strategy

Researchers used location tracking to discover that wolves will wait up to 30 hours in hiding spots near beaver ponds to ambush the elusive rodents.

An ocean of noise is having major impacts on the marine environment

Ocean acidification from greenhouse gases, noise pollution are making it harder for marine species to hear

Why are birds like parrots able to mimic sounds?

Researchers don't completely understand, but suspect its for social bonding in noisy rainforests

May 8: Sounds of a predator, horses are well-diggers, grass defuses a toxic explosive and more…

Plastic from fish waste, animals mate with relatives, mastodon poop and pupillary variety.

Falling rocket booster points to lack of regulations on space junk

Bob McDonald's blog: There are no international laws to control potentially dangerous orbital debris.

Purring, fighting, chaos and crunching bones: these are the sounds of the Canada lynx

By attaching audio recorders to a top predator in the boreal forest, researchers were able to eavesdrop on Canada lynx as they slept, fought, and went on the hunt.

Wild donkeys and horses dig wells in the desert, and create a refuge for plants and animals

The animals dug up to a metre and a half in order to access groundwater in the arid environment.

Genetically modified grass can suck toxic explosives out of the ground

A new study has found that modifying two genes in switchgrass allows it to metabolize a toxic chemical compound in explosives.

Making the most of fish waste: how scientists transformed it into biodegradable plastic

Plentiful oil in the fish tissues is the basis of this new material.

Animals 'rarely avoid' mating with relatives, new study says

This discovery that animals rarely avoid with mating with kin has implications for animal conservation in the wild and breeding programs.

Digging into 75,000 year old mastodon dung to learn about ancient Nova Scotia

The team that discovered the poop said even the stench was preserved

Why do some animals have slit shaped pupils?

Animals have evolved different shaped pupils to serve purposes particular to their lifestyle, such better depth perception or enhanced night vision.

May 1: Lightning cleans the atmosphere, a 142 year - and counting - experiment and more…

Sea turtles ‘lost years’ found, finding the Mother Tree and why we cry

This mission to deep space could last a lifetime — or even more

Bob McDonald's blog: Planning a mission to be handed off to future generations represents wonderful foresight in science

Scientists shocked to discover how much lightning may clean the atmosphere

Lightning produces crucial chemical that helps break down atmospheric pollutants like methane and carbon monoxide.

Digging up 142-year-old seeds in the latest installment in the world's oldest experiment

Every 20 years, a small group of botanists go on a hunt to excavate a jar of seeds to continue a study looking into how long they can remain viable

Researchers solve the mystery of loggerhead turtle's lost years

Loggerhead sea turtles breed in Japan, but some cross the ocean to feed in Mexico. Now, researchers know how they make that trip — and why some stay behind.

A pioneering forest researcher's memoir describes 'Finding the Mother Tree'

Suzanne Simard has found that forest trees are connected with an underground circulatory system that allows them to communicate and share resources, and that 'Mother trees' are the most connected of all.

Why do we cry when we are sad?

The exact reasons why we cry are not fully understood but there are social and biological explanations

Apr 24: Mars helicopter, Narwhal tusks and pollution, T. rex in their billions and more…

Airborne COVID, and what we need to know about geoengineering