Feb 3, 2021 Episode 32
How dogs went from predators to pets, app translates dog-talk, Flaming Lips bubble gig, wombat poo mystery solved, terra carter
Special thanks this week to artist Edie Cizeika Bower for the fab cover art!
OPENING STING: LEELA: Newsy Jacuzzi
LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Jacuzzi – a whirlpool of news and information… and whole lot of fun too if I do say so, myself! I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.
MAMA: And I’m Lyndee Prickitt – the official side-kick.
LEELA: And since we’re still in cheery ol’ England…
LEELA AND MAMA TOGETHER: Hullo, darlings.
LEELA: This week on Newsy Jacuzzi… OK, we have a little bit of important vaccination news we must bring you, but really, our big story is all about…
SFX – DOGS
LEELA: Yep, you guessed dog news! It’s official the route domestic dogs took on their journey from wolf to cute canine is now known. And it had a lot to do with cold climate and scraps of food.
Not just that – heard the one about the genius dogs who could learn our language? Or what about the dog collar that can tell you… how your dog is really feeling? Stay tuned and we’ll tell you all the latest dog news – as there just so happens to be a lot of it around!
And don’t worry in case you’re not a dog lover I’m more of a cat girl myself! we have other news too. Royal news in fact: the future king of England wants your help, yes you! And talk about bubblicious one band gives new meaning to the word “pop” in a pandemic-special performance.
Last but not least… the mystery of wombat poo is solved. But first…
STING: “Now it’s time to tackle the Big NEWS story of the week!”
MAMA: So, we know we really should be talking about.
MAMA: Yes, how India is defying expectations with its vaccination roll-out
LEELA: with over one-and-a-half million people vaccinated in just a few weeks!
MAMA: Or the spat in Europe over companies not providing as many vaccines as they’d promised.
LEELA: Or the news of the new vaccine
MAMA: From Johnson and Johnson
LEELA: That only requires ONE shot, not two! And is easier to store.
MAMA: Or the Novavax Covid vaccine, which is proving to work against these new strains found in the UK and South Africa. We could discuss all this in detail.
LEELA: Or we could figure you got the gist of it… and move on to other important news.
SFX OF DOGS
LEELA: Yep… There’s just SO much dog news these days!
MAMA: From the historical
LEELA: to the emotional AND the tech-no-logical
MAMA: to the faithful. So, let’s begin.
LEELA: At the beginning. Really!
MAMA: As in about 21,000 years ago when dogs were not domesticated.
LEELA: That means they were not pets but… predators.
SFX of wolf
MAMA: Siberian wolves to be precise, according to new investigation published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
LEELA: Yep, they reckon at the height of the last brrrrrr Ice Age
MAMA: Around 21,000 to 17,000 BC
LEELA: It got soooo cold in Siberia which is that freezing part of northern Russia that reindeer, wild horses, and bison, died off there in the Ice Age… leaving the wolves very hungry. So, what did those clever carnivores do?
MAMA: They started hanging around and eating the leftovers of those funny two-legged creatures.
LEELA: That would be humans!
MAMA: And, according to another recent study this one coming from the Finnish Food Authority, published in the journal Scientific Reports homo-sapiens were carnivores, meat eaters, yes, but by no means exclusively. Their bodies couldn’t process a diet of only meat. So, there would have been a lot of scrappy leftovers.
LEELA: Which those wolves were quite happy to help themselves to.
MAMA: And the scientists reckon the ancient humans would have happily done this for a few reasons… first it meant they both weren’t trying to hunt the same animal.
LEELA: Yeah, I get that. How many times have you thrown a dog a bone, so it wouldn’t bother your picnic?
MAMA: Oh, yeah. But also, wolves have super-duper hearing and would start to make a fuss if they heard something.
LEELA: Ah, so they were the first-ever guard dogs?! “Yes, you’re a good little wolfy, aren’t ya?”
MAMA: Exactly. And… then, of course, some clever human realized that if you could tether, or tie, a piece of wood on a rope to those wolves
LEELA: You mean a sleigh!
MAMA: Bingo! Which could transport your supplies or firewood or even
LEELA: And that’s how wolves became part of the family: domesticated!
MAMA: Yep, they started to lose their blood-thirsty hunting instincts and developed all sorts of other genetic quirks which give us all the different breeds we have today.
LEELA: But it all started with the Siberian Grey Wolf!
MAMA: So, the researchers reckon.
LEELA: From predator to pet!
MAMA: And… communicators too! Another study this one by some Hungarian researchers also published in Scientific Reports show how some dogs are able to learn human words.
LEELA: Uhhhhh… wait, don’t we know that already? Most dogs know “sit” “stay” “no” “biscuit, Buddy, cookie!”
MAMA: Yes, but that’s after a lot of training. Some “genius” dogs can learn new words after hearing them just four times Leela. Especially when they learn them during play.
LEELA: Oh, like “Lookie, Lookie – here’s a fluffy frog called Fru-Fru. Isn’t Fru-Fru funny? Fru-fru is also very green and very fast. Go! Go get Fru-Fru! There’s a good girl.”
MAMA: Yeah. Something like that. There’re speculating it’s the way children learn new words around 2 or 3 years old. But not all dogs. Twenty other dogs couldn’t do this
LEELA: So, there are “genius” dogs!
MAMA: So, it seems.
LEELA: Now if only dogs could talk so we could know what they were thinking… Wait didn’t we do a story months ago about an app that could do just that?
MAMA: Funny you should say that. We did indeed the Australian-developed Happy Pets app which reckoned it could determine a pet breed and emotion based on its face. But we have an update on that story.
LEELA: Oh, you mean a top-up, get it?
MAMA: Oh, top up, I like that!
LEELA: Let’s call it “top up time.”
MAMA: Ok, whenever we update a story it will be Top up time! So, the top up is that a South Korean tech firm has gone one step further.
LEELA: Oh! That sounds like…
TECH STING: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”
MAMA: The South Korean smart dog collar can tell you what your dog is thinking or at least it takes a good guess.
LEELA: For more on this story let’s go to our Asia Tech correspondent, Yuching Liu
YUCHING: Thanks, Leela. This new technology is from a South Korean start-up called Petpuls Lab. Get it? It sounds like people but it’s actually PETpuls. It’s also pretty different from the Australian App, Happy Pets, in two big ways. First of all, it’s both software and hardware.
There’s a special artificial intelligence or A.I. – dog collar which has a microphone and WIFI that communicates with your smartphone. And instead of analyzing, or studying, your dog’s face to read its emotion, Petpuls listens to the bark! After all, that’s how dogs talk, right?
For over three years developers gathered different types of barks, analyzing the dogs’ emotions: happy, relaxed, anxious, angry and sad. They studied 10,000 samples from fifty different breeds of dogs! All of which they fed into a computer and developed the first-ever “A.I. voice recognition technology.”
This allows the app to listen to your dog’s bark and give back a pretty good guess at what it means! It’s also tracks your pooch’s exercise and rest. Like a “Fit-bit” for dogs! I’d say that’s a pretty cool canine collar, wouldn’t you? I’m Yuching Liu reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thanks, Yuching! Super cool canine collar indeed!
MAMA: Yeah, that’s a real breakthrough. Dog-talk-translator this year it might be Hindi or English one next!
LEELA: Oh, yeah…! Well, there’s one dog in Turkey whose loyalty and devotion needs no translating did you hear that story?
MAMA: Oh my gosh, I love this story “Boncuk” the dog who followed the ambulance taking its owner to hospital and despite being sent home several times kept returning practically a week later until her human was released.
LEELA: Ahhh… hard to think these faithful friends were once predators.
STING WORLD WRAP: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”
MAMA: Calls are growing for the release of the Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman seen as the leader of the Asian country Myanmar. This comes a day after a military coup – which means the military took control of a country by force.
Over 5000 people were arrested across Russia as people take to the streets in continued protest. They’re angry over the arrest opposition politician Alexei Navalny. The outspoken critic of the government was recently in hospital after being poisoned.
The owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is promising to make the social media platform less political. This comes as Facebook received criticism for denying its role in giving a platform to people spreading hate and misinformation.
Staying in the US, winter storms are unleashing their fury across the states with up to 20 inches over 50 centimeters of snow in some places. The heavy snowfall in the northeast of the country is disrupting the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
And Archaeologists have unearthed 2,000-year-old mummies with golden tongues placed inside their mouths in northern Egypt, An Egyptian-Dominican team working at discovered 16 different burials in rock-cut tombs popular in the Greek and Roman eras.
LEELA: Thank you very much for that wrap up of what’s making headlines all over the world…. And now for some “royal” nature news… It’s time for…
SCIENCE STING: For the world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!
MAMA: The next king of England
LEELA: That would be Queen Elizabeth’s son, Prince Charles.
MAMA: Indeed. He’s making an urgent appeal to all of us especially leaders and big businesses around the world to give their support to the Terra Carta.
LEELA: Terra what?
MAMA: Well, terra is the old Latin word foe earth or land. And carta
LEELA: The old Latin word for…?
MAMA: Charter, which is an official document, usually outlining an organization.
LEELA: Got it.
MAMA: And the Prince of Wales, as Charles is also called, is a big environment campaigner.
LEELA: With a plan!
MAMA: A terra carta plan… And here to tell us more is our South of England correspondent, Jackson Hosking.
JACKSON: Thanks, you guys. Prince Charles is talking to us.
SOUNDBBITE: PRINCE CHARLES (not transcribed)
JACKSON: Yes, us Kids. I’m serious. You see, he was on the cover of a weekly children’s newspaper I get, called First News. Because he thinks we ALL need to change the way we live. Yep, the cars we drive… the amount of single-use plastic we use and throw away.
And, yes, that’s the sound of my washing machine, because we should even think about the cheap polyester clothes we buy, wear, wash and throw away every year.
I think Prince Charles is talking to us kids because we’ll be the ones inheriting this earth, damage and all. And also, because soon WE will be the ones making the big decisions. Prince Charles is also encouraging businesses to do more. He says the planet can recover if we follow the Terra Carta recovery plan. And it’s not just for big businesses and world leaders we kids can do our bit.
I try to avoid single-use plastic. And I’m a big recycler. We’ve also planted wild flowers in the garden and my Mum is always nagging me to turn off the lights when I leave the room that’s something I still have to work on! How about you, Leela?
LEELA: Good question, Jackson. It’s really hot in India and the tap water isn’t safe, so I try to always carry my own water bottle. Plus, we walk to the store as much as possible and if we’re ordering things online, we try to order as much as possible from one single store, so there are fewer drivers stinking up the roads. And as for those microplastics. Mama?
MAMA: Yes, well we researched it and I’ve ordered and just received bags in which we can put our synthetic clothing when we wash it in the washing machine so that the microplastics don’t leech out into the water a big problem as you mentioned we reported on a couple episodes ago. We’ll use them soon and report back. Wont we
JACKSON: Impressive! Now if we can just find a device to remind me to turn off the lights when I leave a room.
LEELA: Yeah, good luck with that one, Jackson. Let me know, will ya! That was Jackson Hosking our south of England reporter thanks for keeping us royally green, Jackson Hosking!
ACE STING – LEELA: Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and/or Entertainment.
MAMA: You know, a global pandemic stinks without a doubt. Bu… adversity that means difficulty does have a way of sparking creativity.
LEELA: I know. The amount of super cool – or downright silly – things we humans have gotten up to during the lockdowns is impressive
MAMA: Or in the case of the US band, The Flaming Lips.
LEELA: Oh, they’re downright bubblicious!
SFX FROM CONCERT “welcome to the world’s first space bubble concert.”
LEELA: Yep, you heard correctly he said “welcome to the world’s first space bubble concert.” Being in a bubble is nothing new for the leader of the Flaming Lips.
Wayne Coyne has often sang, and rolled through, rock venues in a big plastic bubble.
But a few days ago, in Oklahoma, USA the band AND their audience were inside individual inflatable balls. Yep, imagine a dark, crowded bar… now looking like something from a space station as a hundred clear, plastic balls big enough to hold three people filled the venue.
Inside each bubble was an extra speaker, a water bottle, a battery-operated fan, a towel and two signs that guests could hold up. One read “hot in here” since the bubble has oxygen to last just over an hour and ten minutes.
Never fear, an attendant with a leaf blower would soon pump in fresh air. The other sign was, of course, “I gotta go pee,” prompting a masked attendant to escort you to the loo. More such bubblicious concerts are being planned. It is a good thing the Flaming Lips aren’t a “pop” band, though – I wouldn’t like to see those bubbles going pop!
LEELA: And finally… as if that story wasn’t odd enough.
STING: Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? And odd ball, no doubt!
LEELA: An odd cube in fact!
MAMA: Yes, a biological mystery vexing scientist for decades has been solved.
LEELA: That’s right have ya ever wondered why wombats poo in little cubes?
MAMA: And we’re talking about the cute Australian marsupials – meaning animals that carry their young in a pouch not the fabulous British band by the same name.
MAMA: So, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry, new research published a few days ago in their aptly named journal called Soft Matter digests previous work demonstrating that wombat poo forms its distinctive cube shape within the wombat’s intestines, not at the, er, point of exit as previously thought.
LEELA: Yeah, it’s pretty funny because, believe it or not, there was a theory that the cute little marsupials had, well, square-shaped, ummm, bottom holes.
MAMA: Eewwwww! But no. That’s now been disproved by Australian scientists from the University of Tasmania.
LEELA: Well, I’m very happy they’ve gotten to “the bottom of it” get it?!
STING: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top… five fab facts heard today. Here goes”
FAB FACT NUMBER 1
MAMA: Dogs are thought to have been domesticated during the last Ice Age. When was that?
The last Ice Age was around 21,000 to 17,000 BC.
FAB FACT NUMBER 2
LEELA: Research shows dogs all came from wolves based where?
Scientists believe all dogs derive from Siberian grey wolves.
FAB FACT NUMBER 3
MAMA: How do scientists believe Siberian grey wolves became domesticated?
Scientists believe wolves became domesticated during the last ice age when the animal’s wolves’ prey on became locally extinct and they ate scraps of meat that humans didn’t want.
FAB FACT NUMBER 4
LEELA: Terra Carta is the environmental recovery plan by Britain’s Prince Charles. But what does terra carta mean?
Terra Carta is Latin for Earth Charter. And a charter is a document outlining an organization.
FAB FACT NUMBER 5
MAMA: Wombats are cute little Australian marsupials that produce cube-shaped poo. But what is significant about marsupials?
Marsupials are creatures, like wombats and kangaroos, that carry their young in natural pouches.
LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Jacuzzi!!!!!
MAMA: But boy oh boy do we have some exciting news…
LEELA: Oh, yes, we do!
MAMA: We are thrilled to be included on the US School Library Journal and Kid cast playlist of top news podcasts for kids to listen to.
LEELA: Whhhooo! Thank you SLJ and Kid cast!
MAMA: Totally it’s awesome to receive recognition for doing what we love getting you fired up about what’s happening in the world.
LEELA: And if you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then do subscribe, rate and review us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts.
And since we’re signing off in London for the last time… in a wee while…
MAMA: Tra la…
LEELA: Ta-ta… See you next week in the Newsy Jacuzzi!