Just So Science

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0101How The Whale Got His Throat2013011420130724

Vivienne Parry presents the science behind some of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, with wondrous tales of how things really came to be.

In Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, we're told how the leopard got his spots, the camel his hump, the whale his throat and so forth. But what does science make of these lyrical tales? For the most part, just-so stories are to be dismissed as the antithesis of scientific reasoning. They're ad hoc fallacies, designed to explain-away a biological or behavioural trait, more akin to folklore than the laws of science. But on closer inspection, might Kipling's fantasies contain a grain of truth? And might the "truth" as science understands it, be even more fantastic than fiction?

In Just So Science, Vivienne Parry meets researchers whose work on some of Kipling's 'best beloved' creatures is helping us to answer a rather inconvenient question: how do traits evolve? Why are some animals the way they are?

Excerpts from five of the Just So Stories are read by Samuel West

1. How the Whale Got His Throat. How does the largest creature that has ever lived feed itself? Howard Roe and Nick Pyenson, discuss the wonders of "lunge feeding", said to be the largest biomechanical event on Earth.

Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0102How The Leopard Got His Spots2013011520130731

Vivienne Parry presents the science behind some of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, with wondrous tales of how things really came to be.

In Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, we're told how the leopard got his spots, the camel his hump, the whale his throat and so forth. But what does science make of these lyrical tales? For the most part, just-so stories are to be dismissed as the antithesis of scientific reasoning. They're ad hoc fallacies, designed to explain-away a biological or behavioural trait, more akin to folklore than the laws of science. But on closer inspection, might Kipling's fantasies contain a grain of truth? And might the "truth" as science understands it, be even more fantastic than fiction?

In Just So Science, Vivienne Parry meets researchers whose work on some of Kipling's 'best beloved' creatures is helping us to answer a rather inconvenient question: how do traits evolve? Why are some animals the way they are?

Excerpts from five of the Just So Stories are read by Samuel West

2. How the Leopard Got His Spots. Chemist Andrea Sella and biologist Buzz Baum explain why a leopard could change its spots, thanks to mathematician Alan Turing.

Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0103The Beginning Of The Armadillos2013011620130828

Vivienne Parry presents the science behind some of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, with wondrous tales of how things really came to be.

In Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, we're told how the leopard got his spots, the camel his hump, the whale his throat and so forth. But what does science make of these lyrical tales? For the most part, just-so stories are to be dismissed as the antithesis of scientific reasoning. They're ad hoc fallacies, designed to explain-away a biological or behavioural trait, more akin to folklore than the laws of science. But on closer inspection, might Kipling's fantasies contain a grain of truth? And might the "truth" as science understands it, be even more fantastic than fiction?

In Just So Science, Vivienne Parry meets researchers whose work on some of Kipling's 'best beloved' creatures is helping us to answer a rather inconvenient question: how do traits evolve? Why are some animals the way they are?

Excerpts from five of the Just So Stories are read by Samuel West

3. The Beginning of the Armadillos. Part mammal, part reptile, part just plain weird. Why the story of the Armadillo is stranger than fiction, according to Richard Dawkins and Mariella Superina.

Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0104How The Rhinoceros Got His Skin2013011720130807

Vivienne Parry presents the science behind some of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, with wondrous tales of how things really came to be.

In Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, we're told how the leopard got his spots, the camel his hump, the whale his throat and so forth. But what does science make of these lyrical tales? For the most part, just-so stories are to be dismissed as the antithesis of scientific reasoning. They're ad hoc fallacies, designed to explain-away a biological or behavioural trait, more akin to folklore than the laws of science. But on closer inspection, might Kipling's fantasies contain a grain of truth? And might the "truth" as science understands it, be even more fantastic than fiction?

In Just So Science, Vivienne Parry meets researchers whose work on some of Kipling's 'best beloved' creatures is helping us to answer a rather inconvenient question: how do traits evolve? Why are some animals the way they are?

Excerpts from five of the Just So Stories are read by Samuel West

4. How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin. Rhinos and horses have much in common. John Hutchinson studies both, but just don't ask to look inside his freezer.

Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0105 LASTThe Cat That Walked By Himself2013011820130814

Vivienne Parry presents the science behind some of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, with wondrous tales of how things really came to be.

In Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, we're told how the leopard got his spots, the camel his hump, the whale his throat and so forth. But what does science make of these lyrical tales? For the most part, just-so stories are to be dismissed as the antithesis of scientific reasoning. They're ad hoc fallacies, designed to explain-away a biological or behavioural trait, more akin to folklore than the laws of science. But on closer inspection, might Kipling's fantasies contain a grain of truth? And might the "truth" as science understands it, be even more fantastic than fiction?

In Just So Science, Vivienne Parry meets researchers whose work on some of Kipling's 'best beloved' creatures is helping us to answer a rather inconvenient question: how do traits evolve? Why are some animals the way they are?

Excerpts from five of the Just So Stories are read by Samuel West

5. The Cat That Walked by Himself. Do we keep cats, or do they keep us? The myths and the mysteries of felis catus explored by Patrick Bateson and John Bradshaw.

Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0201How the Camel Got His Hump20140623

0201How the Camel Got His Hump2014062320150105 (R4)

Returning for a second series, Vivienne Parry considers the animals of Rudyard Kipling's much loved Just So Stories for Children. Assisted by researchers of 'infinite sagacity' (that means they're awfully clever) she'll discover if science can yet explain how the camel got his hump, the kangaroo his hop or the elephant his trunk. Kipling's tales are brought to life by the actor Samuel West.

In How the Camel Got his Hump, Kipling's beast is as grumpy as they come and is punished for his laziness. Vivienne talks to Dr Lulu Skidmore, Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai about the tricky business of Camel IVF and the truth about just how grumpy (and lazy) these beasts are. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0201How the Camel Got His Hump2014062320150105 (R4)

Returning for a second series, Vivienne Parry considers the animals of Rudyard Kipling's much loved Just So Stories for Children. Assisted by researchers of 'infinite sagacity' (that means they're awfully clever) she'll discover if science can yet explain how the camel got his hump, the kangaroo his hop or the elephant his trunk. Kipling's tales are brought to life by the actor Samuel West.

In How the Camel Got his Hump, Kipling's beast is as grumpy as they come and is punished for his laziness. Vivienne talks to Dr Lulu Skidmore, Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai about the tricky business of Camel IVF and the truth about just how grumpy (and lazy) these beasts are. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0201How the Camel Got His Hump20140623

0201How the Camel Got His Hump20140623

Returning for a second series, Vivienne Parry considers the animals of Rudyard Kipling's much loved Just So Stories for Children. Assisted by researchers of 'infinite sagacity' (that means they're awfully clever) she'll discover if science can yet explain how the camel got his hump, the kangaroo his hop or the elephant his trunk. Kipling's tales are brought to life by the actor Samuel West.

In How the Camel Got his Hump, Kipling's beast is as grumpy as they come and is punished for his laziness. Vivienne talks to Dr Lulu Skidmore, Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai about the tricky business of Camel IVF and the truth about just how grumpy (and lazy) these beasts are. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar.

0201How The Camel Got His Hump20140623

Returning for a second series, Vivienne Parry considers the animals of Rudyard Kipling's much loved Just So Stories for Children. Assisted by researchers of 'infinite sagacity' (that means they're awfully clever) she'll discover if science can yet explain how the camel got his hump, the kangaroo his hop or the elephant his trunk. Kipling's tales are brought to life by the actor Samuel West.

In How the Camel Got his Hump, Kipling's beast is as grumpy as they come and is punished for his laziness. Vivienne talks to Dr Lulu Skidmore, Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai about the tricky business of Camel IVF and the truth about just how grumpy (and lazy) these beasts are. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar.

Returning for a second series, o best beloved, Vivienne Parry considers the animals of Rudyard Kipling's much loved Just So Stories for Children. Assisted by researchers of 'infinite sagacity' (that means they're awfully clever) she'll discover if science can yet explain how the camel got his hump, the kangaroo his hop or the elephant his trunk. Kipling's tales are brought to life by the actor Samuel West.

1. In How the Camel Got his Hump, Kipling's beast is as grumpy as they come and is punished for his laziness. Vivienne talks to Dr Lulu Skidmore, Director of the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai about the tricky business of Camel IVF and the truth about just how grumpy (and lazy) these beasts are. The Reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0202The Crab That Played With The Sea20140624

0202The Crab That Played With The Sea20140624
0202The Crab That Played With The Sea2014062420150106 (R4)

In The Crab that Played with the Sea, Kipling tells the tale of arrogant and mischievous Pau Amma the mighty King Crab who eventually gets his comeuppance. For Palaeontologist Richard Fortey, it's the indestructible horseshoe crab that should be regarded as truly regal, with its copper-rich blue blood and incredible longevity, having remained almost stubbornly the same for nearly 500 million years. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0202The Crab That Played With The Sea20140624

0202The Crab That Played With The Sea20140624

In The Crab that Played with the Sea, Kipling tells the tale of arrogant and mischievous Pau Amma the mighty King Crab who eventually gets his comeuppance. For Palaeontologist Richard Fortey, it's the indestructible horseshoe crab that should be regarded as truly regal, with its copper-rich blue blood and incredible longevity, having remained almost stubbornly the same for nearly 500 million years. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0202The Crab That Played With The Sea20140624

In The Crab that Played with the Sea, Kipling tells the tale of arrogant and mischievous Pau Amma the mighty King Crab who eventually gets his comeuppance. For Palaeontologist Richard Fortey, it's the indestructible horseshoe crab that should be regarded as truly regal, with its copper-rich blue blood and incredible longevity, having remained almost stubbornly the same for nearly 500 million years. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0203The Sing-song Of Old Man Kangaroo20140625

0203The Sing-song Of Old Man Kangaroo2014062520150107 (R4)

Jon Hutchinson and Maria Nilsson discuss how the Kangaroo got his hop and why Skippy is no longer considered Australian - at least, genetically. The Reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0203The Sing-song Of Old Man Kangaroo20140625

The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo. Jon Hutchinson and Maria Nilsson discuss how the Kangaroo got his hop and why Skippy is no longer considered Australian - at least, genetically. The Reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0204The Butterfly That Stamped20140626

Kipling tells the story of a boastful butterfly who threatens to bring down a palace with the beat of his wings. But as Vivienne discovers, the butterfly effect is a real phenomenon in science. With chemist Andrea Sella and meteorologist Paul Davies. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0205 LASTThe Elephant's Child20140627

0205 LASTThe Elephant's Child2014062720150108 (R4)

In Kipling's tale, the elephant got his trunk from a crocodile on the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo river. But does science understand how the trunk really evolved? Vivienne talks to researchers Kathleen Smith and her husband William Kier about the wonders of muscular hydrostats (trunks, tongues and tentacles to you and me) whilst vet Jon Hutchinson ponders the elephant's aquatic origins. Last of the series. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar

0205 LASTThe Elephant's Child20140627

In Kipling's tale, the elephant got his trunk from a crocodile on the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo river. But does science understand how the trunk really evolved? Vivienne talks to researchers Kathleen Smith and her husband William Kier about the wonders of muscular hydrostats (trunks, tongues and tentacles to you and me) whilst vet Jon Hutchinson ponders the elephant's aquatic origins. Last of the series. The reader is Samuel West. Producer: Rami Tzabar