This Animal Life
Badass, Beautiful Wolves and the Dog in Us All

Badass, Beautiful Wolves and the Dog in Us All

January 9, 2022

This final episode of This Animal Life is devoted to my fellow wolf-lovers. Sit down for a gripping conversation with Rick McIntyre, author of The Redemption of Wolf 302 in the Yellowstone Wolf series. Do wolves really have a moral code? Are some wolves more ethical than others, or are we humans just projecting?

Through Rick's compelling stories, you’ll find out why humans are more similar to wolves than to any other creature. You’ll also learn why anthropomorphism can be accurate and necessary, what our astonishing similarities to wolves teach us about our better nature, and why we’re wise to show mercy in this animal life.

Show Notes:

Animals Are Moral Creatures, Argues Scientist,” by Tia Ghose, Live Science, November 2012.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? By De Waal, Frans. WW Norton, 2016.

Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition, by Miklosi, Adam, Dr.  Oxford University Press 2016.

A Dog’s World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans, by Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff. Princeton University Press, October 2021.

The Moral Lives of Animals, by Dale Peterson, Bloomsbury Press, 2011.

The Redemption of Wolf 302: From Renegade to Yellowstone Alpha Male, by Rick McIntyre. Greystone Books, October 2021.

Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, by Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff. University of Chicago Press, 2009.


Does Magic the Therapy Horse Really Care About People?

Does Magic the Therapy Horse Really Care About People?

December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas! Meet Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, the bestselling author of Mini Horses, Mighty Hope and cofounder of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. The charity's miniature horses interact with an estimated 25,000 people all over the country each year, including survivors, first responders, hospital patients, and more. One of their horses, Magic, was named one of history's ten most heroic animals by Time magazine and declared the Most Heroic Pet in America by AARP. The question I pose to Debbie is this: do therapy horses really care about the strangers they comfort?

Our gift to you is the greatest insight into the nature of unconditional love from animals. Is it real or are we imagining it? When a therapy animal comforts a stranger in distress, does the animal understand or even care what it's doing? Join Debbie Garcia-Bengochea and me as we get to the bottom of animal hearts. I promise, you will be comforted and amazed.

Mini Horses, Mighty Hope: How a Herd of Miniature Horses Provides Comfort and Healing is an exquisitely poignant book that quickly brings readers to tears of empathy and joy with stories of how the Gentle Carousel Therapy Horses bring comfort, hope, and healing to children, the elderly, first responders, survivors, their families, and others experiencing life’s most difficult challenges. While the book brings you along on their many interactions with people, this episode focuses on what life is like for these tiny equines with such heavy jobs to do. 

The Astonishing Truth About Rudolph‘s Nose and More

The Astonishing Truth About Rudolph‘s Nose and More

December 12, 2021

In the home stretch of this holiday season, wildlife veterinarian Jerry Haigh, author of Reindeer Reflections: Lessons from an Ancient Culture, sits down with you for a one-of-a-kind romp through the reindeer lore and science. Reindeer are sure to put you in the mood for peace on Earth.

Get to know these stunningly gorgeous and supremely gentle creatures, find out when and why to call them "caribou," and learn how spellbinding their lives are under the northern lights. Included in the Show Notes, below and on the This Animal Life website, you'll find many links to videos that will further immerse you in their beauty and wonder. 

Jerry Haigh is a cross between James Herriot and Farley Mowat, a wry and compassionate veterinarian who’s ventured far from his native Scotland to travel four continents, all to bring health and healing to animals, both wild and domestic. He's written books about everything from porcupines to rhinos, but his latest book finds him tending to the reindeer of Finland and Mongolia. 

So strap on your snowshoes and tromp along as Jerry regales you with mind-blowing facts about reindeer. For example what, if anything, is so special about Rudolph's nose? Discover the stunning truth about this supremely peaceful animal.



Adopt a Reindeer Foundation

Cairngorm Reindeer Herd on Facebook

Cairngorm Reindeer Herd: Home  The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd is Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer found in the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland. These tame and friendly animals are a joy to all who come and see them. Reindeer are not just for Christmas!

Caribou (Reindeer),” National Geographic.

Follow Thousands of Reindeer on an Epic Journey,” Nature on PBS, YouTube, November 2020.

Haigh, Jerry, Reindeer Reflections: Lessons from an Ancient Culture, Rocky Mountain Books, October 2021.


Highly competitive reindeer males control female behavior during the rut,” by G. Body et. al, PLoS One, National Library of Medicine, April 2014.

Intelligence of reindeer. “On Reindeer and Men,” by Tim Ingold, Man, New Series, Vol. 9, No. 4, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, December 1974, pp. 523-538. 

Living With Reindeer,” Nat Geo WILD, Youtube, December 2016. Winter is coming and indigenous Sami reindeer herders make preparations for their domesticated reindeer. 

Norway, the Twilight of Reindeer,” Show Me The World, YouTube, November 218. Sami herders struggle with the threat of global warming. 

Red noses on reindeer.

Reindeer” by Travis Kemp, podcast, Calming Facts, December 2020. A hilarious (and relaxing) list of cool reindeer facts.

Reindeer Cyclone Videos

Top 5 Reindeer Moments,” on BBC Earth -- 20 amazing minutes just chilling with reindeer and their peaceful personalities. All about riding in a sleigh and witnessing the northern lights. Chockfull of beauty and fascinating facts. Super charming!

Pigeons: The Greatest Love You Lost and Never Knew

Pigeons: The Greatest Love You Lost and Never Knew

November 28, 2021

Join me and my guest, cartoonist Rosemary Mosco, author of The Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching, for a look at one of Earth's greatest love affairs--human and pigeon.

Not too long ago, pigeons were our darlings, and we were theirs, but now pigeons are just somebody that we used to know. What did we see in each other, what went wrong, and can we fall in love again? Rosemary Mosco brings back the magic.

Her conversation, like her book, is freewheeling, informative, and super-cute. Reawaken your appreciation for this clever, loyal, and lovable friend. Learn everything you never knew you dearly wanted to know about the lowly pigeon, your true love bird, who's been right there at your feet all along. 

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes or see below.


Boomerang the racing pigeon returns to the owner who gave her away TEN years ago,” by David Wilkes, Daily Mail, June 2008.

Bouget and Blanchon in “Pigeon is 80-year-old French pensioner’s best friend,” Gulf News, June 14, 2021. 

Carlen, Dr. Elizabeth, pigeon expert, her website.

Cher Ami, the WWI hero, Wikipedia.

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesy by Kathleen Rooney, Penguin/Random House, August 2020.

Homing Pigeons--Teach Your Birds to Come Home!” Standing Stone Kennels, YouTube, October 2019. 

Mosco, Rosemary, The Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching: Getting to Know the World’s Most Misunderstood Bird: , Workman Publishing Company, October 2021.

Palomacy Pigeon and Dove Adoptions


--and crop milk, Wikipedia.

--and math, “Turns Out, Pigeons Are Just As Good As Monkeys When It Comes to Math,” NPR, December 2011.

-- intelligence, “The Surprising Neuroscience of Pigeon Intelligence,” by Dr. Sebastian Ocklenburg, Psychology Today, July 2019.

--in the movies, Pigeon Movie Database.

--and pants, Pigeon pants on Etsy.

--and reading ability, “Orthographic processing in pigeons” by Damian Scarf et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2016.

-- as term of endearment on Disney’s 1955 Lady and the Tramp, YouTube clip.

--and tail whistles, “Pigeon Whistles in Beijing,” 11 minutes of eerie sound, Mark Zuiderveld, YouTube, December 2017.

--and tricks, Pigeon Trix YouTube Channel.

--and wing clap, “Slow Motion Pigeon Clap,” BBC Earth Unplugged, YouTube, 2013

--and whistle wing alarm, “Pigeons sound a warning call--with their feathers,” Science Magazine, YouTube, November 2017.

Pollan, Michael, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Random House, 2001.

Renton, Alice, Biography of a Pigeon, Ivy Books 1988.

Trick/Task Fun Training a Pigeon,” starring Freckles, Pigeon Trix, YouTube April 8, 2021.

Vaugh, Don, “Nikola Tesla’s Weird Obsession with Pigeons,” Britannica.


Why People Love These Wicked, Wanton Flying Monkeys

Why People Love These Wicked, Wanton Flying Monkeys

November 14, 2021

Join Lisa for a rollicking conversation with Jonathan Meiburg, musician and author of A Most Remarkable Creature: the Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Bird of Prey. Called "Johnny rooks," "false eagles," "flying monkeys," "shiftless wanderers of rubbish pits," and so much more, the caracara is a cheeky Muppet of a bird. Each of the ten species is notorious for curiosity, charm, and chicanery. You might not want to share an apartment with one, but you will never regret getting to know them. 

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes or see below.



An Evening with Jonathan Meiburg and Jeff VanderMeerBooks & Books, YouTube, April 2021. 

De Waal, Frans. Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? WW Norton, 2016.

Fallowfields Falconry - Meet Boo the Intelligent Caracara” YouTube, December 2011.

Geoff & Tina,” Caught by The River, March 2021. 

Geoff Pearson and Tina video, “Clever Bird,” YouTube, August 2008.

Genius Dog Challenge about word-learning in dogs, “Squall the Genius Dog,” This Animal Life, podcast, August 2021. 

Gibson, Graham, The Bedside Book of Birds, Nan A. Talese, 2005.

The Great Ape Escape” the story of the orangutan Fu Manchu who fashioned a key and hid it in his lip, This Animal Life, podcast, August 2021.  

Harrington, Katie, & Jonathan Meiburg “Use of appeasement display and recruitment by an adult Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis) to overcome territorial defense,” Wilson Journal of Ornithology, August 2021.

Larue the Crested Caracara and fearful behavior,” with Hillary Hankey, Avian Behavior Institute, June 2003.  

Sean McCann, “Red-Throated Caracara’s are Way Cool Because . . .” YouTube, February 2014. Keep up with caracara expert Sean McCann on Twitter

Meet Kevin the Caracara” Falconry and Me, YouTube, April 2020.

Jonathan Meiburg interviewed on “The Bedside Book of Birds with Margaret Atwood, David Sibley, Jonathan Meiburg, and Jessica Leber” Doubleday Publishing, YouTube, March 2021.

Jonathan Meiburg’s most remarkable book is A Most Remarkable Creature: 

The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey

Jonathan Meiburg interviewed on “Science and Nature: From the Page to Wilder Places,” Los Angeles Times Events, April 23, 2021. 

Jonathan Meiburg interviewed for Paris Review Interview, by John Jeremiah Sullivan, April 2021.

 Morrison, Joan, lecture on “Crested Caracaras,” Orange Audubon Society, YouTube, December 2020. 

Pepperberg, Irene M., Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence—and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process, Collins, 2008.

Pilley, John W. Dr., Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2013.

Project Aims to Save Rare Bird,” Tampa Bay Times, 2005.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which sent Jonathan to the Falkland Islands in 1997.

 Vanderbilt University, “Study Gives New Meaning to the Term ‘Bird Brain.’” Neuroscience News, June 2016.

 Wallace, Amy, “Meet the Birds: Zorro the Striated Caracara,” Falconry and Me, YouTube, April2020.



The Happy, Scrappy Super Genius Who Survives Better Despite You

The Happy, Scrappy Super Genius Who Survives Better Despite You

October 31, 2021

Today let's consider one thrifty, scheming, and supernaturally resilient animal--kind of like the character of Wile E. Coyote himself.

Sit down and face coyote's music with today's guest, Sam Wilber, Naturalist. “So much of ecology and biology is such a bummer in this day and age," says Wilber. "There are so many things that are on the endangered list . . . it’s important to remember the species who are doing awesome. . . . Coyotes are winning against us, and I love that.” Stop fearing and start marveling about the brilliant resilience of this little (and we do mean LITTLE) meso- (not "apex-") predator who is, for all intents and purposes, just another super-smart pup. 

Sam Wilber is a naturalist, zoologist, photographer, and artist based in Tucson, Arizona. She works for Reid Park Zoo and volunteers for the Arizona Master Naturalists and Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. She also runs her own art business at Sam Wilder Art LLC. Sam has experiences ranging from zoo-keeping to wildlife fieldwork to environmental education and endless stories about her favorite wild animals and wild places.

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes or see below.



Sam’s Resources

Population/General Info:

Nat Geo


Arizona Sonora Desert Museum


Farm and Dairy:

Feral/Outdoor Cats:

HSUS - problematic stance on protecting cats from coyotes

Ecological impacts of cats

Wildlife Society Fact Sheet on outdoor cats

Science News: Feral cats avoid coyotes and are therefore less ecologically harmful

Tohono O'odham:

Creation story:

Coyote tales

Map of ancestral homelands to reference indigenous peoples of your area

Coyotes and Badgers:

My favorite video!

New video just shared recently:

Article on the mutualism:



Lisa’s Resources

Attacks by Coyotes on Humans, Wikipedia. Only two attacks are known to have been fatal ever, whereas domestic dogs kill 30 - 50 people per year in the US alone

Caught on Camera: Cat Fights Off 3 Coyotes,” CBS Los Angeles, January 11, 2020.

Colangelo, Lisa L., “Coyotes deserve a warmer welcome from New Yorkers, says wildlife biologist,” New York Daily News, April 2015.

Coyotes Are the New Top Dogs,” Scientific American

Coyote Attacks Wikipedia 

Flores, Dan, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History, Basic Books, June 2016.

Gehrt, Stanley D. “Urban Coyote Research Project,” 

Gehrt, Stanley, D. et al. “Is the Coyote a Misanthropic Synanthrope?” Cities and the Environment, Vol. 4 Issue 1, July 2011.

How to Haze a Coyote,” YouTube

Humane Society, “Coyotes and people: what to know if you encounter a coyote,” 2021.

iNaturalist interactive website 

Interactive Map of Coyote Sightings in Florida

Lovejoy’s Islands, Wikipedia redirects to Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project.

Martin, Douglas, “Central Park Coyote Will Live in Queens,” New York Times, April 1999.

NYC Coyote Existential: Where do they come from and where are they going?” Out Walking the Dog blog.

Otis (Full Song),” by Moose & Elephant, YouTube, April 2021.

Perkins, Chris, “Coyote population booms in Florida,” Channel 4 News, June 20, 2021. 

Pollan, Michael, “Why Mow? The Case Against Lawns,” The New York Times Magazine, May 1989. 

Ryden, Hope, God’s Dog: A Celebration of the North American Coyote, iUniverse, May 2005.

Thompson, Linda Briggs, “Living with Coyotes,” Broward County Parks, YouTube, April 22, 2021.  Excellent history of coyote population trends.

Wegner, Helena, “Aggressive coyote attacks woman walking dog--nips at others, Arizona police say,” Charlotte Observer, October 19, 2021.

Wild Dog Foundation




A Savvy Animal Agent Recalls America‘s Most Famous Dog

A Savvy Animal Agent Recalls America‘s Most Famous Dog

October 29, 2021

Learn all about animal acting with Dawn Wolfe, an Animal Talent Agent and Wrangler for almost thirty years. Dawn runs her own talent agency, PAWSITIVELY FAMOUS, a national Animal Modeling and Talent Management firm. It all began when Dawn was a little girl and fell in love with the scrappy dog known as Benji. Benji was one of the most popular animals ever in the history of cinema. Learn all about Benji, aka. Higgins the dog, and fascinating, hilarious, behind-the-scenes stories of animal actors and their handlers seeking fame, glory, and belly laughs.

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes.  Interested in KLIMB tables and other Blue-9 products? Click here to learn more and apply our promo code, ANIMAL2020 to get free shipping and $20 off.


lgonquin, the Story of a Great Dog, by Dion Henderson, Western Publishing Company, 1953. 

Benji--The Full Movie, 1974, EncourageTV, YouTube, October 2020.

The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever, by Chris Perondi and Larry Kay, Workman Publishing, 2019.

Beverly Hillbillies, Wikipedia.

Captain (Arthur) Haggerty, Master Dog Trainer, Wikipedia.

Clicker Training for Cats, Karen Pryor, Sunshine Books, 2001.

Cooper, Diana C., “Higgins--from Shelter Dog to Beloved Benji,” Famous Dogs in History, July 2017.

Dawn Wolfe Social Media

Dawn Wolfe Instagram

Pawsitively Famous, Dawn Wolfe’s animal talent agency’s website

Pawsitively Famous Facebook Page

Do More With Your Dog Dog Trick Titles and Stunt Dog Titles

Do More With Your Dog Animal Actors Academie Internationale

First Born, starring Elisabeth Shue and Dawn Wolfe’s dog, Nikki, 2007.

Frank Inn: Animal Trainer,” full 4-hour interview, interviewed by Michael Rosen, Television Academy Foundation, The Interviews, August 8, 2001

Frank Inn on the dog who worked on Petticoat Junction and starred in Benji,” Foundation Interviews, 

“Higgins the Dog ~ Star of Benji, Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies, Lassie, Mooch,”

The Humpy Awards, Miss Hope wins the humping competition, YouTube, June 2012.

Hope in the “Westminster Commercial” for Treasure Island Resort & Casinos, YouTube.

London, Jack, Call of the Wild/White Fang, Ann Arbor Media, 2006.

Maverick the Surfer Cat,” Cat People, YouTube, Netflix Futures, July 2021.

Pawsitively Famous YouTube Channel

Petticoat Junction, Wikipedia.

Petticoat Junction, Betty-Jo’s Dog,” Season 2, Episode 1, YouTube March 2017.

Prose, Eileen, “Remember Benji? Meet the movie dog and his trainer. See his tricks!,” YouTube, June 2017.

Sasha, My Friend, by Barbara Corcoran, Atheneum, 1973. 

Stanley Steemer, “Toby’s New Trick,” The Loomis Agency, YouTube.

TV Guide, “The Benji Issue,” December 2-8 1978.

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, Yearling, 2000.


Behind the Scenes in the Genius Dog Challenge

Behind the Scenes in the Genius Dog Challenge

October 7, 2021

Lots of people live with smart dogs, but what is it like to live with a canine genius? Meet border collie Squall and his housemate Bobbie Kurivial, one of only six dog-human teams to make it to the end of the international Genius Dog Challenge. 

On a quest to find "canine Einsteins or Mozarts," ethologists at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary issued the Genius Dog Challenge, winnowed the contestants down to just the few true geniuses, studied their world learning capabilities to much astonishment, and took Bobbie and Squall on the adventure of a lifetime.

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes.  Interested in KLIMB tables and other Blue-9 products we discuss? Click here to learn more and apply our promo code, ANIMAL2020 to get free shipping and $20 off.



Csányi, Vilmos, If Dogs Could Talk: Exploring the Canine Mind, translated by Richard E. Quandt, North Point Press, December 2005.

Dror, Shany, “Do Dogs Understand Us?” The Family Pupz Podcast, by Tanya & Charles Lim, Apple Podcasts, September 2021. 

Dror, Shany, & Adam Miklosi, “Max & Squall,” Genius Dog Challenge, YouTube, November 18, 2020.

Dror, Shany, & Claudia Fugazza, “Finals: Nalani & Squall,”  Genius Dog Challenge, YouTube, December 16, 2020. 

Family Dog Project, founded by Vilmos Csányi, Ádám Miklósi, and József Topál to study the behavioral and cognitive aspects of the dog-human relationship.

Fugazza, Claudia, Dr.,  Do as I Do: Using Social Learning to Train Dogs, Dogwise Publishing, June 30 2014.

Fugazza, Claudia, “Word learning dogs (Canis Familiaris) provide an animal model for studying exceptional performance,” Nature, July 7, 2021. 

Genius Dog Challenge, research conducted at Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Ethology and The Family Dog Project. If your dog knows the names of more than 10 objects or toys and you are interested in cooperating, you may apply to participate with your dog here.

Genius Dog Challenge social media:




And if you think your dog is a genius, reach out to Shany Dror directly at!

Inskeep, Stephen, “Researchers study very smart dogs for their grasp of human language,” NPR Morning Edition, October 6, 2021.

Miklosi, Adam, Dr.  Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition, Oxford University Press 2016.

Morell, Virginia, “Some dogs are geniuses--just like humans,” National Geographic, July 14, 2021.

Morrison, Ryan, “Is your dog gifted?” Daily Mail,  October 6, 2021.

Shany Dror, Ádám Miklósi, Andrea Sommese, Andrea Temesi and Claudia Fugazza, “Acquisition and long-term memory of object names in a sample of Gifted Word-Learner dogs,” Royal Society Publishing, October 6, 2021.

Pilley JW, Reid AK. 2011Border collie comprehends object names as verbal referents. Behav. Processes 86, 184-195. (doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2010.11.007) Crossref, PubMed, ISI, Google Scholar

Pilley, John W. Dr., Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2013.

Robins, Mary, “How Much Language Do Dogs Really Understand?American Kennel Club News, March 2021.


Root For Yourself In The Ninja Warrior Squirrel Challenge

Root For Yourself In The Ninja Warrior Squirrel Challenge

October 3, 2021

Have you ever watched a relentlessly clever squirrel outwit a squirrel-proof bird feeder? Few things are more entertaining. In fact, stumping squirrels is big business, and studying how different squirrel personalities respond to environmental challenges is actually some people's day job. And yes, you read that right: "squirrel personalities." Finally, scientists have the intellectual freedom to admit animals have personalities. In today's episode, Ann and Lisa discuss animal personality science in the context of squirrels. We also introduce you to the four game show contestants, Rick, Marty, Frank, and Phat Gus, who competed in an obstacle course for a cache prize of walnuts. Bored and isolated during the early days of the pandemic, YouTube engineer and inventor. Mark Rober decided to become a birdwatcher, but before he knew it, he was producing and hosting a crazy new YouTube show, Backyard Squirrel Maze 1.0: Ninja Warrior Course

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes.  

Aliperti, Jaclyn R., et. al., “Bridging animal personality with space use and resource use in a free-ranging population of an asocial ground squirrel,” Science Direct, Vol. 180, October 2021. 

Darwin, Charles, essay, “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” Darwin Online, 1872.

Ebert, Roger, review of “Day of the Jackal,” Roger Eber. Com, July 1973. “One hell of an exciting movie.”

Kerlin, Kat, “Personality Matters, Even for Squirrels,” UC Davis, September 2021.

Luckey, Bud, animator, “Sesame Street: That’s About the Size,” YouTube.

Luscomb, Richard, “Squirrels have human-like personality traits,” The Guardian, September 2021.

Meerkat Manor,” Wikipedia page.

Micu, Alexandra, “Understanding squirrel Personalities can help us better protect endangered species,” ZME Science, September 22, 2021.

Morgan, Lloyd, “Morgan’s Canon,” Oxford Reference.

O’Leary, Denyse, “Why Do Researchers Wonder Whether Animals Have Personalities?” Mind Matters, February 2021.

Rober, Mark, “Backyard Squirrel Maze 1.0: Ninja Warrior Course,” YouTube, May 24, 2020.

Shivik, John A., “Do animals have personalities? Why scientists are starting to admit they do,”  NBC News, December 2017.

Sorcerer, directed by William Friedkin, starring Roy Scheider, Universal Pictures and Paramount, 1977. Be patient with the early backstories or just skip them till Roy gets to the jungle.

Young, Miriam, Miss Suzy #1, Purple House Press, 1964, 2004.

Sure-Fire Ways to Be Brainless, From An Inspiring Slime

Sure-Fire Ways to Be Brainless, From An Inspiring Slime

September 26, 2021

What's it like to think like a slime mold? Join Lisa and American writer, scholar, and film critic Steven Shaviro for a wildly erudite and imaginative look at the nature of consciousness in Physarum polycephalum, otherwise known as "The Blob," a brainless amoeba that thinks, learns, and inspires so much more than science fiction.

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes.  

Barnett, Heather, “What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime,” Jul 17, 2014.  A TED talk about slime mold.

The Blob: A Genius Without a Brain (TV Movie). Directed by Jacques Mitsch, 2019.

Can Slime Mould Solve Mazes?, BBC Earth Lab, Dec 5, 2018. Reproduction of the Tokyo Metro study.

The Creeping Garden Documentary.Directed by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp, 2014. Click here for the trailer.

Dussutour, Audrey, “Le Blob,” Tout ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir sur le blob sans jamais oser le demander, Des Equateurs, April 27th 2017. 

Dussutour, Audrey, “Decision-making in Slime Molds,” ACM Collective Intelligence 2020, June 2020. 

Eaglemann, David, Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain, Pantheon Books, 2020.

Hollowman, Luke M.S., “Anesthesia Works on Plants Too, and We Don’t Know Why,” Medium, July 2020.

Mould Time-lapse – The Great British Year: Episode 4,” Preview – BBC One. Oct 18, 2013.

Nagel, Thomas. “What is it like to be a bat?” The Philosophical Review. 83 (4), 1974. [Link to Wikipedia page].

Pollan, Michael, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Random House, 2001.

Shaviro, Steven, Discognition Repeater, 2016.

Slime Molds: No Brains No Feet No Problem” PBS News Hour, April 2012.

The Slime Mould Collective “The Slime Mould Collective is a portal for interesting, progressive and ground breaking research and creative practice working with the simple yet intelligent organisms. If you are involved with or interested in slime moulds as a scientist, artist, designer, teacher, philosopher… (etc), please join and share what you do.” Can put you in touch with sources of slime mold.

Tchaikovsky, Adrian, Children of Time,  PanMacmillan, 2015. The mind-blowing spider novel.

Tchaikovsky, Adrian, Children of Ruin, Macmillan Digital Audio, 2019. The super-cool octopus novel that includes an all-consuming slime-like creature.

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