Today only! Professor Ceiling Cat to expatiate to the BBC on zonkeys

UPDATE 2: Reader Miranda, notes, in the comments below, that you can hear my expatiation on zonkeys broadcast again at this link; the second Newshour broadcast will start at 4 pm EST (US) and 9 pm London time. My short zonkey segment begins about 24 minutes after the hour. [Click on the episode entitled “Observers seized in Ukraine”; Jerry’s segment begins at 19:41 GCM.]

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UPDATE: The only information I have is that this will be on the BBC World Service “Newshour” starting at 2000 hours and again at 2100 hours, and my piece is about 15 minutes in.

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I’ve just been given a preliminary interview by the BBC on the zonkey, of all things—the zebra/donkey hybrid I wrote about this morning. Based on this (they always check you out to see how you come across), the Beeb decided to interview me live on ZONKEYS  on the BBC (radio) News Hour today at 3:15 p.m. EST, 2:15 Chicago time, and 8:15 UK time (that will be repeated in the UK at 9:15). I’m told that you can also hear the News Hour broadcast on some National Public Radio Stations in the US.

This is right up my alley, actually, since it’s about speciation and hybrids, and I had a grand old time teaching the BBC interviewer about the nature of biological species and the meaning of reproductive isolation. Now I’ll try to do that for the British public.

If for some reason you want to hear me talk about the enigmatic zonky, warm up your radios in about 40 minutes.

Italy-s-First-Zonkey-Born-at-Animal-Reserve-in-Florence

A zonky born in Italy

43 Comments

  1. Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Well I never! Congrats :)

  2. Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Will be sure to catch this! Sounds like a welcome break from essay writing!

  3. eric
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    That’s an interesting photo. IIRC, zebra striping is all in the hair – its not a skin pattern. But that picture makess it look like its “underneath” the donkey hair. I guess the animal has two coats?

    Also that’s quite a big head for that little colt body! Poor thing looks like he’s about to tip forward.

  4. Douglas
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    @MrDouglasNelson: @Evolutionistrue KPCC 89.3 from 1:00 to 2:00, L.A. and Orange County

  5. GrahamH
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Do you know which BBC station this is (they have six domestic stations plus the world service)? I can’t see anything on the schedules. The most likely station (radio 5 live) has sport scheduled from 7 to 10 PM.

  6. Mal
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    This doesn’t seem to be on live in the UK. The only hour long radio news programme I can find in the BBC schedules is ‘Newshour’ on the World Service at 0915pm

  7. Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Readers might like to be reminded of Gould’s essay, What, if anything is a zebra (or words to that effect), and Bard’s work on why zorses (and, it seems, zonkeys) are more closely striped than zebras: J. theor. Biol. (1981) 93, 363-385

  8. Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    The only information I have is that this will be on the BBC World Service “Newshour” starting at 2000 hours and again at 2100 hours, and my piece is about 15 minutes in.

  9. Scote
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Ah, I just heard the “coming up, what is a zonkey” teaser on

    http://tunein.com/radio/Newshour-%28BBC%29-p5/#

    • JoeyM
      Posted April 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Just heard the piece….sounds like they were editing it down from a longer explanation. It is a pity that they could not play the complete explanation

  10. Avis James
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Jerry! What BBC station? I am trying to stream is but cannot find it.

    • Avis James
      Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Scote, I think that is going to work.

  11. pulseteresa
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    When I visited the Creation Museum 5 years ago they had a zonkey. It was supposed to represent one of the biblical “kinds,” in this case the horse “kind.”

    • pulseteresa
      Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      That’s the only time I’ve encountered this particular bit of “evidence” for creationism. For some reason I remain unconvinced.

  12. Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s on right now at http://tunein.com/radio/BBC-World-Service-1079-s67089/

  13. Scote
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Just heard the interview. Cool. :-)

    So, donkeys and zebras are different species because they don’t produce viable hybrids in nature (I don’t remember your exact wording). How does that apply to the brown bear/polar bear hybrids you talked about? Are they different species?

    • eric
      Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      If you really want to blow your mind in terms of interbreeding and species definition, look up “ring species.”

      • Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        They are different species separated by ecological barriers, but, with global warming, those barriers will disappear as the brown bear moves north, and I suspect the species will fuse into one eventually (not in our lifetime).

        • Scote
          Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          So, a species can be a different species regardless of whether if it can successfully genetically interbreed with another if the two species have incompatible habitats?

          (I hate to show off my ignorance on this topic, but as long as we happen to have Marshal McCluhan right behind this sign I figure I might as well ask…)

          • moarscienceplz
            Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

            IANA expert, but I think two gene pools are considered to be two separate species if they don’t intermix appreciably. Whether or not they COULD intermix is not as important as what actually happens in the natural world. So if a rock fall blocks a narrow canyon and separates two populations of a species of rabbit, they would be considered two species (or at least sub-species) from that point on.
            Wikipedia has a good article on Species.

        • Posted April 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          I remember reading some years ago that there already has been some interbreeding between Polar and grizzlies in the wild. I couldn’t tell you which article on which media, though, but a quick Google search has produced a large number of results – http://tinyurl.com/kcj26ng including this video:

      • Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        I have a big discussion of ring species in chapter 3 of my book (with Allen Orr), “Speciation”. It turns out that there’s only one viable example of a ring species, and that (greenish warblers) probably isn’t a classical ring species, either.

        • moarscienceplz
          Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          I so want to read Speciation, but $75 is a bit steep, and my public library doesn’t stock it.

          • Hempenstein
            Posted April 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Ask if they can get it on interlibrary loan.

  14. Posted April 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I hope everyone knows there’s another one in Nova Scotia ( a zonkey, that is ) at Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford (not far from my house) – it’s been there for years. Just sayin’. . .

    • Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, this latest one is not the first zonkey ever. Those recorded go as far back as the 19th century, maybe earlier.

  15. Posted April 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s on again right now http://tunein.com/radio/BBC-World-Service-1079-s67089/

  16. Posted April 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s sweet, the Sun should definitely rescue it.

  17. Posted April 25, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Damn. Missed it.

    b&

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      It looks to me that it will be available as a podcast tomorrow at the same link that Miranda provided.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      I know, between work and my perpetual flu, I miss everything but I usually download the internet version later.

      • Posted April 26, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        The archive is available, and linked to by a couple others in this thread, if you haven’t heard it yet….

        b&

  18. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Missed the broadcast, but from the timing, I suspect World Service as opposed to Auntie Beeb.
    BTW, Did Prof CC give any thought to my emailed suggestion a couple of weeks back of doing Desert Island Discs. I’m sure there are enough Brits on the bl^H^H website to swing it if Prof CC fancies flashing his musical tastes to the outside world. Cowboy boots optional!
    And there’s a “Happy retirement” pressie in the post, but I’ve not seen a date, so I guessed and posted. (Hint about date and postal details.)

  19. Dermot C
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    You can usually hear the programme up to 7 days after it was broadcast live. Here it is on BBC i-player: Jerry’s piece starts 19:12 in. I think that people outside the UK can get it, too.

    Congrats, Jerry!

    Add your own http etc.

    //www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01xmswk

    • Posted April 26, 2014 at 5:22 am | Permalink

      Merci – will try, being in central Africa linking to BBC Worldservice in a francophone country can be challenging indeed.

      • Dermot C
        Posted April 27, 2014 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        Je vous en prie.

  20. Christopher
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01xmswk

    Here at 19:00 minutes.

    • Posted April 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the link; I just listened to it.

      Shame they only gave Jerry a couple minutes. That aside, no complaints. Jerry, here’s hoping you become one of their “go-to guys.”

      b&

  21. Jim Thomerson
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    If two populations are allopatric, do not occur together in nature, one can do lab hybridization experiments. If viable fertile hybrids are not produced this is evidence of separate species. If viable fertile hybrids are produced, this does not support two species. However the question still remains, what will they do if they come together naturally? There are species who live sidebeside, and produce fertile hybrids in the lab, but do not do so in nature.

    So lab hybrid experiments support separate species if they fail, but may not prove same species if they succeed.


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