BBC Inside Science

BBC Inside Science by BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4

A weekly programme that illuminates the mysteries, challenges and the controversies behind the science that's changing our world.

Categories: Science & Medicine

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Why are non-African monkeypox cases causing concern? Also, the first complete human genome from a Pompeiian cadaver, and how YouTube is aiding animal behaviourists. As cases of monkeypox appear strangely dispersed around Europe and elsewhere in the world outside of Africa, BBC health and science correspondent James Gallagher outlines to Vic the symptoms and some of the mysterious elements of this outbreak. In Pompeii, scientists have for the first time managed to sequence the whole genome of an individual killed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Serena Viva of the University of Salento describes the site of two individual's tragic demise all that time ago, one female aged around 50 years, and a younger male, both leaning on a couch in a dining room. Geneticist Gabriele Scorrano describes how the ancient DNA (aDNA) was preserved and extracted, and how the male individual's genome was so well preserved it could be sequenced in full. As they suggest this week in Nature, there weren’t too many surprises in what they found, but the ability to do this sort of science opens up a new era of Pompeiian archaeological treasure. Faced with covid lockdowns and unable to observe in the wild, elephant conservationists Nachiketha Sharma and Sanjeeta Sharma Pocharel decided to see if videos uploaded to YouTube could enlighten science on rare behaviours of Asian elephants. African Elephants are known to have a strange fascination, even respect, for the death of other elephant individuals, especially those near to their families such as calves and parents. Asian elephants’ thanatological (death related) behaviour is less well observed however. But the researchers turned to videos of strange grieving-like behaviour to begin a catalogue of the different reactions such as carrying dead calves, standing guard, or vocalizing. They dedicate their work, published by the Royal Society, to the elephants involved. This sort of research, using video observations captured and shared by members of the public are proving rather useful to zoologists and animal behaviourists. Ximena Nelson of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand was one of the first scientists to suggest the usefulness of trawling the internet for odd video of animals and explains a bit more to Vic. Presented by Victoria Gill Produced by Alex Mansfield

Previous episodes

  • 464 - Monkeypox, Pompeii aDNA, and Elephant Mourning Videos 
    Thu, 23 Jun 2022
  • 463 - Buried Mars Landers, Freezing Species, and Low-Tide Archaeology 
    Thu, 16 Jun 2022
  • 462 - Running Rings Around Matter 
    Thu, 09 Jun 2022
  • 461 - Precious Metals, Earlier Eggs, and Meaningful Meteorites 
    Thu, 02 Jun 2022
  • 460 - The Ebb and Flow of the Tidal Power Revolution 
    Thu, 26 May 2022
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