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In this week’s episode of Natural News from The Field Museum, we’ve got updates about the sex lives of peregrine falcons, mouse lemurs as time machines, and new research on the formation of our solar system! Nbd.
↓ More info + Links! ↓

1. Peregrine Promiscuity.
“Sex in the City: Breeding behavior of urban peregrine falcons in the Midwestern US,“ Caballero et al. PLOS One (2016):

“Sex in the City: Peregrine falcons in Chicago Don’ Cheat,” K. Golembiewski. (2016):

2. Most Lemur Update (The best kind of update)
“Geogenetic patterns in mouse lemurs (genus Microcebus) reveal the ghosts of Madagascar’s forests past,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Yoder et al. (2016)

“Ridiculously cute mouse lemurs hold key to Madagascar’s past,” K. Golembiewski. (2016):

3. Starstuff and Nanodiamonds - revisited!

“New constraints on the relationship between 26Al and oxygen, calcium, and titanium isotopic variation in the early Solar System from a multielement isotopic study of spinel-hibonite inclusions,” Kööp et al. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2016):

“A link between oxygen, calcium and titanium isotopes in 26Al-poor hibonite-rich CAIs from Murchison and implications for the heterogeneity of dust reservoirs in the solar nebula,” Kööp et al. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2016):


Host, Producer, Set Design:
Emily Graslie
Written by:
Emily Graslie, Mark Alvey, and Kate Golembiewski
Contributions by: Steve Goodman, John Bates, Mary Hennen, Isabel Caballero, Anne Yoder, Philipp Heck, Levke Kööp

Camera, Editor, Graphics, Sound:
Sheheryar Ahsan

Camera, Graphics, Animation:
Brandon Brungard

Jason Weidner
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This episode is supported by and filmed on location at:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL
Welcome back to Natural News from the Field Museum.

There's a healthy mix of adorable images and time travel in this episode, and in one story those two things overlap Let's start with an update on the love lives of falcons. [title music] Peregrine promiscuity! 'Sex in the City' mentality need not apply to the world's fastest fliers! You won't be seeing them on the Maury Povich show any time soon.

Peregrine Falcons have made a comeback in Illinois over the last few decades... ...thanks to monitoring efforts by Field staff and volunteers... ...and ongoing research to see how they're adapting from their cliff-dwelling environments... ... to our city high-rise buildings. We know that these birds mate for life in the wild... ...but Field curator John Bates, collections staffer Mary Hennen, and UIC grad Isabel Caballero... ... were curious to know - since Peregrine Falcons are in much closer proximity to other breeding pairs... in the city, are they inclined, to er, 'go visit the neighbours' more often? And their research shows that: no.

Breeding pairs in Chicago remained faithful to one another... ...same as their rural counterparts. The researchers examined a combination of field observations and DNA testing... ...looking at small samples of blood taken from baby chicks in order to compare their DNA with their parents'.. ... in basically the same way Maury conducts paternity tests on his weekday talk show. DNA testing revealed out of the 35 offspring tested, only 1 showed their parents 'cheated'.

Even so, it's also possible that the male had lost his mate and... ...ended up pairing with a new female who laid eggs that weren't his. Aww that's kinda cute. The point is: understanding the reproductive behaviours of these falcons enhances our knowledge of how... ...the animals can make transitions from rural to urban environments... ...and what sort of impact our cities have on different species.

And on that note... MOUSE LEMURS! Mouse lemur update, the best kind of update.

What if I told you mouse lemurs, the world's smallest primates, are actually time machines? To explain, we need to talk about Madagascar... ... so let's go to our local affiliate 'M. Lee Graslie' who is there right now. [light, playful music] Thanks Emily.

So Madagascar is a super-unique country, having been isolated from the rest of Africa... ... has allowed for its species to diversify incredibly... ...resulting in unique organisms that are found nowhere else. "Golly, a lemur!" It's also had a lot of variability in its landscape and geography... ... but studies show the island was once covered in many more patches of forest. For a long time, nobody was certain how, or why, the island's geography managed to change so dramatically... ... in the last few thousand years. One argument is that humans were responsible for these shifts in the changing landscape, but... ... 'The Mystery of Madagascar's Geographic History' has largely gone unsolved.

This is M. Lee Graslie in the rainforest of Madagascar, back to you. Thanks M.

Lee. So this mystery may have finally been solved. A recent study co-authored by Field Museum research associate Anne Yoder, field biologist Steve Goodman... ... and a cohort of collaborators, published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences... ... has found that mouse lemurs and their evolution hold the answer.

See, mouse lemurs are unique to the island, and fast breeding - reaching reproductive maturity within a year. Change, in this case speciation, happens over many generations. So in fifty years you get fifty generations of mouse lemurs.

Additionally, they're dependent on forest environments. If the whole island is a forest, they're free to move anywhere and hang out with all the other mouse lemurs. But removing part of the forest would isolate certain populations from one another and they're probably not... ...going to be venturing out across open areas to go chill with the mouse lemurs on the other side of the island.

The isolation of such groups has resulted in five unique species found on Madagascar. Steve and his colleagues examined the DNA from the separate species to pinpoint when the groups... ...became genetically distinct. And it turns out the habitat changes which isolated the mouse lemur groups, happened 50,000 years ago.

Tens of thousands of years before people arrived on the island. This research indicates that it has been natural climate changes that affected Madagascar's geography. Not to say that humans haven't instigated some impacts too... ... but by separating out what sort of environmental changes are natural, and which are spurred by people... ... helps us understand change over time.

And to wrap up this episode of the Natural News, another story about change over time. This one dealing with change over hundreds of millions of years. Star-stuff and nanodiamonds - revisited!

There are two new publications co-authored by... ... star-stuff and nanodiamond proto-planetary associate curator Philipp Heck... ... and post-doctoral student Levke Kööp... ... about our collective origins! You may remember him from previous episodes where we discussed the make-up of meteorites. Just like how there are different species or kinds of biological life... ... meteorites are also grouped together based off of similarities.

Philipp's work deals with the carbonaceous chondrites, an ultra-rare group. Only 4.6% of all meteorites that fall on Earth are carbonaceous chondrites. But they hold some of the best clues about the formation of our Solar System.

That's because these meteorites house what are called 'calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions' - CAIs... ... which are tiny light-coloured dots within the meteorite. These dots consist of minerals from some of the first solid material that developed out of a gaseous cloud... ... while our Solar System was forming, circling around a growing centre... a spiral of water heading down a drain. [pause] if the drain was our future Sun. By studying these CIAs, we can determine what type of exploding stars and ... ... events contributed to the formation of our own Solar System... ... and improve our understanding of the different stages of its evolution.

After examining the make-up of these CIAs, Philipp and his colleagues report that they contain a wide range... ... of different minerals, suggesting that our Solar System inherited material from a number of stars... ... when it was forming. Meaning our Solar System could have resulted from a rare 'supernova' event type 1A. Where two stars orbit one another and eventually EXPLODE.

And to think, all of this awesome knowledge from looking at a meteorite. Hey! Thanks for watching this episode of Natural News from the Field Museum... ... and thanks to everybody who called in the hotline number for the film-reel for 'Pre-Historic Workout'... ... but we don't actually have one of those for you.

We do have merch from and we're going to send... ... some of those callers some of the merch just to say 'thanks for calling in and for watching'. So make sure you guys subscribe so you can get updates every time we upload a new video... ... and stay tuned for the next episode in two weeks. [inaudible: it still has brains on it]