Episodes

  • Photographer Anand Varma details his very first natural history adventures—not in Amazonian rainforests or on Polynesian coral reefs but in suburban Atlanta—and how a childhood fascination with catching frogs and turtles in his backyard led to a career documenting the fantastical worlds of “zombie” parasites, fire ant colonies, vampire bats, hummingbirds, and jellyfish.
     
    Want More?
    Read about the zombie parasites that control their hosts, and watch a video of these mindsuckers here.
    Also check out Mexico’s carnivorous bats, and go behind the lens with Anand as he attempts to capture the iconic shot of a honeybee emerging from a brood cell for the first time.
     
    Also explore:
    The science of hummingbirds and what makes these birds the perfect flying machines.
     
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    Contact us: overheard@natgeo.com

  • Anastasia Taylor-Lind talks about how she grew up living the life of a modern gypsy, traveling across southern England in the back of a horse-drawn wagon, and how her experiences covering conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine forever changed the way she views storytelling and war photography.
     
    Want More?
    You can see the photo of the female Peshmerga soldier that launched Anastasia’s career on her website along with many of her other projects.
    Read Anastasia’s essay “The Most Frightening Thing About War” here.
    Check out the story Peter Gwin and Anastasia collaborated on about riding Arabian horses in Oman.
    You can watch Anastasia’s TED talk “Fighters and Mourners of the Ukrainian Revolution.”
     
    Also explore:
    See our story on soldiers using art to reveal the trauma of war and learn about today’s battlefields, where more women than ever are on the front lines of armed conflict and as peacekeepers in the world’s hot spots.
     
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  • Chirp. Whistle. Creak. Beluga whales, the canaries of the sea, have a lot to say. But noise from ships can drown out their calls, putting calves in danger. What happens when humans press pause during the coronavirus pandemic—and finally give ocean life some peace and quiet?
    For more on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard.

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    Ever wonder why ocean animals eat plastic? The answer is surprisingly complicated. 
    Whales around the world are still being hunted for their meat. But in Iceland that might be ending.
    Also explore:
    Take in the breathtaking sight of hundreds of beluga whales gathering in the Arctic.
    Check out the very first episode of Overheard for another story on how whales communicate.
    And for paid subscribers:
    The graphics team at Nat Geo has mapped out the effects of shipping on Arctic sea ice.
    Read Craig Welch’s reporting on the changing Arctic, including how the thawing of permafrost affects us all.
    See photos of whales taken by a Nat Geo explorer who’s spent 10,000 hours underwater. 
    Got something to say? Contact us!
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  • Humans face an existential problem: feeding billions of people in a warming world. But there’s a ray of hope. And it all starts with microbes. 
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    Microbes are everywhere! Learn about the bacteria living in the depths of the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean, and what they might tell us about life in outer space on one of Jupiter’s moons.
    Microbes have been around a long time! Check out the world’s oldest fossilized fungus.
    Also explore:
    Read more about the “communication” between fungi and plants happening under our feet.
    Listen to Nat Geo contributor Joel Bourne Jr. discuss his book, The End of Plenty.
    And for paid subscribers:
    How the tiny country of the Netherlands is pioneering the future of sustainable agriculture.
    And learn all about the trillions of microbes that live inside us!
    Got something to say? Contact us:
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  • A harrowing journey is all in a day's work for a Nat Geo explorer trying to find the world’s southernmost tree. But what happens when a self-proclaimed "normal human being" tags along? For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard.

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    Read Craig’s story, and see pictures of the journey and the world’s southernmost tree.
    A nature reserve in the Cape Horn archipelago has the “world's cleanest rain and cleanest streams.” Learn how scientists are protecting it.
    Nat Geo Explorer Brian Buma is no stranger to scientific adventures. Read about the time he went into the field with old photos, a metal detector, and bear mace.

    Also explore:
    Take a virtual trip with these photos of 19 iconic trees from around the world.
     
    And for paid subscribers:
    Follow as Craig witnesses “the big meltdown” in Antarctica.
     
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  • When a Mongolian paleontologist sees a dinosaur skeleton illegally up for auction in the United States, she goes to great lengths to stop the sale. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

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    Read about the latest discoveries in paleontology, such as the T.Rex's survival strategy for when food was scarce.
    Find out about the entrepreneur from Florida who went to jail for smuggling Mongolian fossils.
    Learn about the two leading theories for why dinosaurs went extinct in the first place.

    Also explore:
    Watch the final return of the fossil that was auctioned off in New York to Bolor Minjin and other representatives of the Mongolian government.
    Bolor once took a Winnebago filled with dinosaur exhibits off-road, across the Gobi. Read more about how she's helping to educate Mongolians about paleontology at The Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs.

    And for paid subscribers:
    Take a look behind the scenes at the private collectors who are buying dinosaur bones.
    Bones are the most common type of dinosaur fossil, but in the right conditions, scales and even skin can be preserved. See pictures of a petrified nodosaur on our website.

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  • They're smart, they're sneaky, and they aren't moving out any time soon. Meet your new neighbor, the coyote, and find out why these cunning canids are on the rise in North America-and beyond. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard.

    Want more?
    Read more of Christine Dell'Amore's reporting about coyotes' remarkable spread.
    See Chicago through a coyote's eyes with video from a Nat Geo Crittercam.
    It's not just coyotes: other animals are finding homes in cities. Dive into Nat Geo stories about urban wildlife.
    Learn about the U.S. government program that killed millions of coyotes in "the most epic campaign of persecution against any animal in North American history."

    Also explore:
    Meet the National Geographic Explorer trying to save jaguars, a key coyote predator in Central America.
    Be prepared: here are tips to avoid coyote conflict and a guide to Hazing 101.
    Check out Roland Kays' podcast, Wild Animals, for more fun animal stories.

    Got something to say?
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  • A mechanical engineer teams up with an unlikely band of students who use middle school math and science to create artificial glaciers that irrigate Ladakh, a region in India hit hard by climate change. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard.

    Want More?
    Read Arati's story about Sonam Wangchuk and his artificial glaciers in this month's issue of the magazine.
    It's not just Ladakh that's facing a water crisis. Learn more about India's struggles with water infrastructure, with more reporting by Arati Kumar-Rao.
    You can read about the complicated history of Kashmir, an area that's witnessed two wars and a longstanding insurgency.

    Also explore:
    Check out photos of Sonam's solar-powered school built from mud.
    You can also make your own pledge to live simply by visiting the I Live Simply movement's website.

    Got something to say?
    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com

  • Smuggled dinosaur bones. Man-made glaciers. An audacious quest to find the world's southernmost tree. Each week, we'll dive into one of the curiously delightful conversations we've overheard around National Geographic's headquarters. You'll be introduced to the explorers, photographers and scientists at the edges of our big, bizarre, and beautiful world. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.

  • Coronaviruses aren't new. For more than 20 years, German virologist Rolf Hilgenfeld has been looking for ways to slow or stop the virus. What does it take to find a treatment for coronaviruses, and what might that mean for the future of COVID-19? For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want more?
    Rolf Hilgenfeld is one of the many people who are trying to test and develop medicine for COVID-19. Nat Geo reporter Michael Greshko has put together an article explaining the other approaches out there.
    On our Coronavirus Coverage page you can find National Geographic's most up-to-date articles on the pandemic, including news and explanations of the science.
    On that page, other articles provide new perspectives, such as how astronauts handle social isolation, and what people used to do before toilet paper was invented.
    And if you've had too much news about the pandemic, Nat Geo has put together a new newsletter called Escape, full of awe-inspiring pictures, compelling stories, and no COVID-19 updates whatsoever.

    Also explore:
    If you'd like to dive deeper into the antiviral compound Rolf Hilgenfeld has been developing, check out the research paper.
    The CDC website is the best source for new information about COVID-19 and how you can stay safe and keep others around you safe.

    Got something to say? Contact us:
    overheard@natgeo.com

  • Right now, one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. Conservation scientists are doing whatever they can to save them, or at least of piece of them. For the last 45 years, a team of researchers at the San Diego Zoo has been freezing the cells of endangered animals. With these time capsules of DNA, researchers continue to study endangered animals, and hope to maybe even bring some back from the brink of extinction. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

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    National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale has covered conflict and nature. She was with Sudan when he died and she believes that the survival of creatures like the northern white rhino is intertwined with our own.
    Move over, Noah. Joel Sartore is building his own ark - out of photographs. He's on a decades-long mission to take portraits of more than 15,000 endangered species before it's too late.
    Stuart Pimm has a lot more to say about species revival. In this editorial he makes a case against de-extinction - and explains why bringing back extinct creatures could do more harm than good.
    It's been a long time since Jurassic Park hit theaters. Today, our revival technology straddles the line between science fact and science fiction - but do we want to go there?

    Also explore:
    Read Kate Gammon's original reporting for InsideScience, which inspired this conversation here at Overheard HQ.
    Want to dive further into the debate? Hear George Church's talk - and talks by some of the greatest minds in conservation - at the TedxDeExtinction conference.
    The Frozen Zoo is working on a lot of exciting research that didn't make it into the episode. For example, they've already managed to turn rhino skin cells into beating heart cells. To learn more about what they're up to, check out the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research for yourself.
    Some of the most promising applications for the Frozen Zoo come from new technology that lets us turn one kind of cell into any other kind of cell. Read more about the first mouse that was created from skin cells.

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    Click here to give us feedback on Overheard: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/snoverheard

  • Social Media is not just for modern folk. In ancient Pompeii, people also shared what they thought, who they met with, what they ate... It's just, they had to use different technology. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

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    Pompeii is not just an archaeological site, it's one huge graveyard. But it was very much a living city right up until it was snuffed out by Mt. Vesuvius.
    When you think of an avalanche, you probably think of snow. But volcanoes also cause avalanches. Archaeologists believe that it was an avalanche of rocketing, boiling gas and sediment that cooked Pompeiians alive in 79 A.D.
    In the late 1800s, archaeologists started pouring plaster into voids left in the hardened volcanic ash covering Pompeii. The result? Full-sized casts of Vesuvius' victims -- human and otherwise.
    Do you live in the shadow of a volcano? Here are a few safety tips for when that telltale rumbling begins.
    Could Chernobyl be our contemporary version of Pompeii? Some archaeologists think so.

    Also explore:
    Curious about how Pompeii's graffiti compares to the stuff in your own backyard? Check out imagines of ancient Pompeiian graffiti at the Ancient Graffiti Project.
    Vesuvius will erupt again. The question is when, and what will Pompeiians do when it does?

    Got something to say?
    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com
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  • A fireball from outer space crashed into one of Earth's biggest lakes. Scientists didn't know how to find it. So, they called in just the right people for the job -- an actor and a bunch of teenagers. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard.

    Want more?
    See eyewitness reports and videos from the February 2017 fireball that sparked the Aquarius Project.
    The Aquarius Project is no longer the only group to look for a meteorite in a massive body of water. Using a similar method, a NASA scientist recovered meteorite fragments from the ocean floor off the Washington coast.
    Read about other extraordinary lengths people take to find meteorites -- like the explorer, fueled by reindeer milk, who trudged deep into Siberia to find the site of a monstrous meteor impact.
    Meet the only person in recorded human history to be struck by a meteorite.

    Also explore:
    Almost all meteorites originate from our solar system. But scientists discovered one interstellar interloper that may have slammed into earth.
    Nearly 50 tons of space debris hit Earth every day. Watch Meteor Showers 101.
    Listen to the Adler Planetarium's podcast series chronicling the Aquarius Project.

    Got something to say?
    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com
    Click here to give us feedback on Overheard: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/snoverheard

  • The desolate Alaskan tundra - a landscape that has literally been frozen solid for thousands of years - is suddenly caving in on itself. Colonizing beavers are engineering new wetlands that thaw the soil, rapidly releasing greenhouse methane into the atmosphere. Beavers can survive in the arctic because - like people - they change the environment to make homes for themselves, and their carbon footprint can be seen from space. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

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    Permafrost covers an area more than twice the size of the United States. Read about why it's thawing faster than we expected.
    There are drunken trees in forests across Alaska, Canada and northern Eurasia. Check out pictures of some drunken forests.
    Ben Goldfarb believes that beavers aren't only not to blame for climate change, they're actually helping fight against it.

    Also explore:
    Not only is methane a greenhouse gas, it's also flammable. Watch Katey Walter Anthony set frozen lakes on fire.
    Ever wonder why beavers make such great hats? And why they eventually went out of style? Wonder no more.

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    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com
    Click here to give us feedback on Overheard: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/snoverheard

  • Crawl into the Maya underworld, where science meets spirits, shamans, and snakes. A long-forgotten cave could shed light on one of history's most enduring questions: why did the ancient Maya collapse? For more information on this episode, visit https://www.nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard

    Want more?
    See the incense burners, plates and grinding stones found in the Cave of the Jaguar God.
    Learn how Guillermo de Anda uses ground-penetrating radar and other high-tech tools to investigate Chichen Itza.
    Read about jaguars and their place as the divine feline in Mesoamerican cultures.

    Also explore:
    Travel inside the world's longest underwater cave system -- spanning 215 miles underneath the Yucatan Peninsula.
    What can you find inside the longest underwater cave? Remains of ice age giant sloths and an ancient relative of the elephant.
    Check out more of Guillermo's work through the Great Maya Aquifer Project.

    Got something to say?
    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com
    Click here to give us feedback on Overheard: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/snoverheard

  • What do tigers, sloths, elephants and bears have in common? They're all part of the incredibly lucrative captive wildlife tourism industry. Travelers from around the world clamor for opportunities to pose with these magnificent creatures and get that perfect selfie. This week - we look at the complicated nature of elephant tourism in Thailand. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want More?
    Read Natasha's cover story on wildlife tourism to learn more about the global industry.
    Learn more about Ban Ta Klang the "elephant village" at the center of Thailand's captive elephant trade.
    Want to know how to approach wildlife tourism in a way that's better for animals? We've got some tips on how to make sure you're having an ethical encounter.
    Why do people risk their lives for animal selfies? Natasha talked with psychologists to find out.
    Learn more about Puerto Alegria - a Peruvian town on the banks of the Amazon that was once a hotbed of wildlife tourism.

    Also Explore
    Get some tips from National Geographic photographers on how to photograph wild animals ethically.
    Learn more about Think Elephants International, the organization that Joshua Plotnik co-founded.
    The advocacy group World Animal Protection studied the impact of wildlife selfies in the Amazon. Read more about what they found.

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    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com
    Click here to give us feedback on Overheard: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/snoverheard

  • Half a mile below the surface of the earth, in a cave too hot to explore without an ice-packed suit, NASA scientist and Nat Geo explorer Penny Boston clambers around glassy crystals that are taller than telephone poles and wider than dinner tables. But it's not The Crystal Cave's grandeur she's interested in -- it's what may be hibernating inside the crystals. Astrobiologists like Penny Boston scour the Earth's most hostile environments for microorganisms, to see if they hold clues to what life might look like on other planets - maybe even planets in our solar system. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want More?
    Hear Penny Boston speak on stage about her search for extremophiles all over the world.
    Inside the Cave of Crystals, Penny Boston discovered organisms that have been alive for tens of thousands of years, trapped inside the crystals.
    Kevin Hand has been eager to search for life on Europa for a long time. He's been testing robots in the arctic to see if they can withstand the extreme conditions there.
    Europa isn't the only planet with the potential for life. Europa isn't the only planet with the potential for life. Scientists are hunting the galaxy for other planets that are just the right size and temperature. It turns out there may be billions of them.

    Also explore:
    Watch President Bill Clinton give a speech about the Allan Hills meteorite - a rock from Mars that looked like it might contain fossilized life.
    You can see a photo of the strange shapes in the Allan Hills meteorite and read more about why scientists thought those shapes might be signs of life.
    Penny Boston is the director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. They're working hard to study what alien life might be like.
    Kevin Hand is part of a team of scientists who are building the Europa Clipper - a probe designed to search the moon orbiting Jupiter for the right conditions for life.
    Europa has a huge liquid water ocean. Here's more information from Kevin Hand about why that ocean might be inhabited.

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    Contact us! overheard@natgeo.com
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  • How did an ancient Roman harbor end up in ruins? Scientists realized the culprit was a long-forgotten natural disaster that left tell-tale geological clues -- and possibly an eyewitness account in an ancient religious text. But solving this mystery led to a bigger question: what if it happens again? For more information on this episode visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want more?
    Learn about the science of tsunamis -- including why Indonesia may be due for another big one.
    Could earthquakes explain some biblical stories? Scientists matched a tale of "fire and brimstone" with geological records of Israel's seismic history.
    A surprise tsunami in 2018 was far worse than early-warning systems expected. Here's what we're learning about different types of earthquakes.

    Also explore:
    A forgotten, 600-year-old tsunami explains the rise of a powerful Islamic kingdom.
    More about Beverly Goodman and her work at the Charney School of Marine Sciences.
    And want to learn more about the Talmud? Henry Abramson helps teach it, one page a day.
    Scientists didn't know an area in Mexico was prone to big earthquakes - until they factored in centuries-old Aztec records.

    Got something to say?
    Contact us: overheard@natgeo.com
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  • Exploring the ancient Maya Cave of the Jaguar God. The graffiti of Pompeii. Searching for alien life underground. New season of Overheard at National Geographic starting October 15th.

  • What is a honeybee chop shop, and why do they exist? Turns out the answer has everything to do with the food on our tables. We dig into the sticky business of beekeeping and commercial agriculture. For more information on this episode visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

    Want More?
    Read more about the seriously sticky problem of honeybee theft.

    Also Explore:
    Watch an amazing time-lapse of bees hatching.
    See how honeybees are each assigned their distinct jobs.
    Read about an unlikely feud between Maya beekeepers and Mennonites in Mexico.
    Learn more about honeybees.
    Without insects, we might all die, argues this author.

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