Episode 10 - Evolution: The Seafood Diet

February 20, 2009 15:19 by andi

I’ve been attending the ‘Evolution, the experience: past, present, future’ conference here in Melbourne, and scientists have been asked to speculate about what life on earth will be like when we celebrate Darwin’s 300th birthday in a hundred years time.

David Karoly, scientist and commentator on climate change, suggested we may lose a third of the present species on earth and it is possible that prawns and shellfish will only be available from farming operations. Their disappearance from the sea can be predicted from the complex interchange of events surrounding pollution and climate change.  Sadly, over fishing and dredging in certain locations has already endangered certain species of fish and seafood well before the effects of any climate change.

We still have opportunities to save the demise of our seafood. In this episode, Mark Norman, Senior Curator of Molluscs, turns our attention to the ethics of the seafood diet and the real power of the ethically- informed consumer and restaurateur.  

Eat ethically, Cheers Dr Andi

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Maori Octopus Photographer: Mark Norman | Dr Mark Norman dissecting a giant squid | Orange Roughy Photographer: David Paul. These fish can live for over 140 years but overfishing has depleted many stocks


Episode 9 - Evolution: Life on Earth in 7 courses

February 20, 2009 14:59 by andi

In this episode, you, the listener, will gate crash the gala event of the century: Darwin’s 200th birthday party at Melbourne Museum. It’s a spectacular celebration of the evolution of life on earth called Evolution – the dinner.

You’ll love the menu; we get to eat our way up the evolutionary tree course by course.  The menu starts at the Precambrian earth 4.5 billion years ago represented by arancini balls with crusty textures of proto earth over hot fillings. The early oceans of primeval soup 3.6 billion years ago will be superb servings of seafood bisque. The menu offering then moves to the Cambrian explosion of life on earth which saw the origins of molluscs and crustaceans like prawns and scallops. The era of bony fishes is a serving of salmon and caviar. The menu then celebrates life emerging on land with reptilian crocodile skewers.

You know that old chestnut of which came first, the chicken or the egg? We can answer that; life on, dry land was only possible due to emergence of the hard-shelled eggs which came well before the chicken! The dinosaur era course will remind us that the chicken drummettes we eat are identical to the pattern of bones found in Tyrannosaurus leg, only thankfully smaller.

Enjoy this edible version of access all areas pod cast adventures.

Watch out for chocolate meteorites,

Cheers, Dr Andi

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Brain Choo a palaeontologist about to submit his PhD thesis, Darwin impersonator Bernard Caleo, and Dr Andi Horvath | Darwin’s 200th birthday cake, Galapagos tortoise ornament made by Museum preparators | Chris Darwin (the great great grandson) and Dr John Long signing books for dinner guests


Episode 8 - Charles Darwin: The Interview

January 5, 2009 16:05 by andi

2009 marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species: the book that made scientific sense of life on earth. It’s the sesquicentenary for the theory of evolution! (Advice: use the word sesquicentenary in print only because when said out loud one never sounds sober).

As well as being a behind-the-scenes tour guide for podcast enthusiasts, I develop exhibitions for Museum Victoria. I recently had the curatorial mission to create a showcase about the genius of Charles Darwin.

There were a series of complications. We had no Darwin-related objects in the Museum Victoria collection (the finch we have was already on display elsewhere); a microscope in the collection ascribed to Charles Darwin did not really belong to the evolutionary theorist, it was a fake, and the museum's stuffed chimpanzee was too fragile to display. Then we realised the foyer light levels were prohibitive to accessing loans from other museums and collectors … So we had to take a rather ‘creative’ (but not desperate) curatorial approach. The display which now stands in the Melbourne Museum foyer features an interview with Charles Darwin. Yes, an interview … No séances, no monkey business, just some academic research, curatorial interpretive power and a dash of wondrous imagination.

I have evolved a podcast version of the interview for you here.

Stay fit, Dr Andi

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An image of Darwin from a Museum Victoria lantern slide | The Melbourne Museum Darwin showcase | Charles Darwin (as played by Bernard Caleo)An image of Darwin from a Museum Victoria lantern slide | The Melbourne Museum Darwin showcase | Charles Darwin (as played by Bernard Caleo)