All-Natural Superheroes Part 1 : Wow in the World Forget Spiderman, The Hulk and Captain America, there are already thousands of real superheroes already lurking among us; in nature. From heat vision to the immortality join Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas on their superhero recruitment drive as they discover the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How and Wow in the World of nature's all natural superpowers!
NPR logo

All-Natural Superheroes Part 1

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/598363611/598364162" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
All-Natural Superheroes Part 1

All-Natural Superheroes Part 1

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/598363611/598364162" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MINDY THOMAS, HOST:

Hey, guys. Before we start the show, we just wanted to remind our D.C. wowzers that this weekend, WOW IN THE WORLD will be at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And we'd love to see you there. Parents, to find out when Mindy and I will be there in person, just visit tinkercast.com/events.

THOMAS: Yeah, and if you're a member of the World Organization of Wowzers, you can RSVP for a special members-only meet-and-greet on Friday. So come meet us. We'll shake your hand off.

RAZ: We're not going to be shaking anyone's hands off, Mindy.

THOMAS: We will gently shake your hand off your wrist.

RAZ: Once again, for more information on this or our upcoming live show in Boston, Mass., visit tinkercast.com/events.

THOMAS: WOW IN THE WORLD is getting out in the world this spring.

RAZ: All right. Let's start the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Stay seated. Three, two, one, ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportions.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age - so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We're on our way, Houston.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) You haven't seen the last of me, Revengers (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I think we have, Dr. Mean Face.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) No.

(SOUNDBITE OF SNORING)

RAZ: Mindy, Mindy, wake up. The movie's over. Mindy, you fell asleep. Why do you drag me to all these movies if you're just going to fall asleep?

THOMAS: I was not asleep, Guy Raz. I was just watching it with my eyes closed.

RAZ: Well, we better get out of here, Mindy. They're starting to clean up this theater. Anyway, Reggie's about to run out of time on the parking meter.

THOMAS: OK. Well, let me just pack up all my stuff here. Can you...

RAZ: Did you really need to bring a suitcase full of snacks?

THOMAS: Do me a favor and just sit on it here, so I can try to latch it shut. We didn't eat as many as I thought we would. There we go. Perfect. All right. Let's go. So what did you think of the movie?

RAZ: You know, I was a little skeptical about a ninth sequel in the Revengers series, but this one really seemed to hold up a really inspiring story.

THOMAS: I know, right? I am so inspired now to put together our own pack of superhero revengers.

RAZ: Well, that's not the kind of inspiration I was thinking about, but...

THOMAS: I'm thinking we could get my great-uncle Godfrey (ph) to be our super sniffer, since he's always got a runny nose. And then maybe grandma G-force could be our super souper (ph), since she loves soup so much. Or - wait a minute.

RAZ: Well, hang on, Mindy. We don't have to go and recruit all of your relatives if we want to put together a team of superheroes.

THOMAS: We don't?

RAZ: Well, you know, there are actually amazing natural superheroes all around us.

THOMAS: Natural superheroes all around us - like that guy?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: Can I help you, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: Yes, I'm gong to do the colossal-size Coke, please. But can I do half Coke, half nacho cheese?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: You got it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: Thank you.

RAZ: No, I'm talking about animals with extreme superpowers, like Reggie, for instance.

THOMAS: Reggie?

RAZ: Yes, Mindy. Our pigeon Reggie is a superhero.

THOMAS: Well, he does swoop in to save the broccoli when it gets stuck between my teeth. So...

RAZ: Well, that is true. But, Mindy, I'm talking about how homing pigeons, like Reggie, have some really incredible natural abilities that, to us humans, can seem like superpowers.

THOMAS: Like what?

RAZ: Well, for starters, pigeons like Reggie are amazing navigators.

THOMAS: That's true. I've never seen him pull up Google Maps or even stop and ask for directions.

RAZ: Well, Mindy, this amazing sense of direction that pigeons have - well, it's the reason why they are such reliable messengers.

THOMAS: Yeah. Pigeons are basically just email with wings.

RAZ: Well, not exactly. You see, long before the Internet or cellphones, people used to communicate with each other over long distances by sending teeny-tiny letters that were attached to the feet and legs of pigeons.

THOMAS: Talk about a footnote. So would these pigeons just deliver the messages from one place to another?

RAZ: Yeah. In fact, humans have been working with pigeons for thousands of years, from ancient Mesopotamia up until as recently as World War II, where pigeons would dodge bullets to deliver important messages from the frontlines of battle.

THOMAS: Whoa. That must have been bonkerballs (ph). So how are these birdbrains able to find out where they're going if they don't even have a map?

RAZ: Well, no one knows for sure, Mindy. But scientists from the University of Auckland in New Zealand believe that pigeons are able to detect or feel the Earth's magnetic field and use that as a sort of built-in compass to know where to go.

THOMAS: Earth's magnetic field? Oh, you mean that invisible force field that comes from deep in the center of the Earth?

RAZ: Exactly. Earth's magnetic field is like a giant magnet that helps to protect our planet from ultraviolet radiation. And it also helps animals like Reggie know up from down and north from south.

THOMAS: Oh, that's so wow. It's like these pigeons have a built-in GPS system or something.

RAZ: And, you know, Reggie isn't the only one with superpowers.

THOMAS: He's not?

RAZ: No, the animal kingdom is full of amazing creatures with remarkable abilities. And most of them are just living among us in plain sight.

THOMAS: Really? Huh, let me just see here. Hey, little ant, what's your superpower?

RAZ: Well, I would guess his superpower is the power of cooperation. I mean, have you ever seen how ants work together so well?

THOMAS: Yeah. They did a great collaborative job eating the deck off my gingerbread mansion last week.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHOOSH)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (In high-pitched voice) Team Alpha...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (In high-pitched voice) Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (In high-pitched voice) ...You will be taking out the joists here and here.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (In high-pitched voice) You got it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (In high-pitched voice) Mindy uses diagonal sway bracing, so the assault team will focus at these junctures here. Once we secure the - oh.

THOMAS: What in the - hey, you ants, you better spit out that deck right now. Man, where am I going to barbecue now?

(SOUNDBITE OF WHOOSH)

RAZ: Anyway, like I was saying, Mindy, there are animal superheroes all over the place. Here, look. We're almost at my house. I'll show you.

THOMAS: Oh, this is exciting.

RAZ: I just need to punch in the code. And...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #7: (As character) Opening up archive.

THOMAS: Whoa. Guy Raz, what is this? What's going on? I didn't know you had this secret door.

RAZ: Well, this is my vault where I keep my archive. You know, for the past few years, Mindy, I've been putting together a team.

THOMAS: Wait. You've already been putting together a team?

RAZ: Yes. Can you believe it? Great minds think alike, Mindy. I was thinking about putting together a team of animals with extraordinary abilities.

THOMAS: You stole my revengers idea that I stole from you without knowing it.

RAZ: Yeah, the animal revengers.

THOMAS: Wait. You keep the team of animal revengers in this vault?

RAZ: Well, there are no actual animals in this vault.

THOMAS: Because I was going to say - wait. Then what is in this vault?

RAZ: Inside this vault is all of the information I've collected on some of the most extraordinary animals in the world. And I think it's about time we started recruiting.

THOMAS: Recruiting? Yes, I'm in. So where do we start?

RAZ: Well, according to the archive, we should search in the rainforests of South America.

THOMAS: OK. (Yelling) You hear that, Reggie?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: We're going to South America. Come on, let's go.

RAZ: Well, hold on. Don't you think we should pack some sunscreen first?

THOMAS: It's all in my adventure toolbox. For the rest, we'll just fly by the seat of our pants.

RAZ: But I thought we were going to fly on Reggie.

THOMAS: Here we go.

RAZ: Hold on, Mindy. I just need to lock up the house here. All right. I'm all set.

THOMAS: Now, come on, Guy Raz, climb on Reggie. We got to go.

GUY RAZ AND MINDY THOMAS: Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

THOMAS: Nice work avoiding those branches, Reg (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: And congratulations on the super powers. I just heard.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Oh, stop being so modest.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: All right. Now go fly free, and we'll call you when we're ready to be picked up, OK?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: OK, Guy Raz, I've got my spy goggles on, and I'm ready to recruit. So who are we looking for?

RAZ: Well, let's see, Mindy.

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: If you look up just there in those trees...

THOMAS: Where?

RAZ: ...You might be able to see him, though he's probably already seen - or, rather, felt - our presence.

THOMAS: I don't see any - is that a snake, Guy Raz?

RAZ: It sure is, Mindy. It's a pit viper.

THOMAS: A pit viper? So what makes this animal so super?

RAZ: Something known as heat vision.

THOMAS: Heat vision? Ooh la la.

RAZ: This viper has small sensors on the side of its face that allows it to see infrared radiation.

THOMAS: Oh, and infrared radiation is the kind of energy that living things give off as heat, right?

RAZ: That's right. And from there, the snake is able to make a picture of what's around it using this heat information.

THOMAS: Kind of like built-in heat-seeking goggles.

RAZ: Exactly. And not only that, but these sensors also send signals to the snake's brain - or, rather, the somatosensory system in the brain.

THOMAS: Wait, the slo-mo tomato what system in the what?

RAZ: The somatosensory system. It's the area of the snake's brain that's responsible for its sense of touch. And that means that the snake can literally feel the heat coming off of its prey or from the animal it's about to eat, even when that animal is several feet away.

THOMAS: Wow. That is a serious superpower. OK, so do you want to ask her to join our team of revengers? Or I guess I could do it.

RAZ: Well, my snake communicating abilities are a little rusty, so...

THOMAS: OK, I got this. Excuse me. I mean (hissing).

(SOUNDBITE OF SNAKE HISSING)

RAZ: What'd she say, Mindy?

THOMAS: She's in as long as she gets a warm rock to sit on, three mice a week, paid vacation and dental.

RAZ: Man, she's really pushing it.

THOMAS: Hey, those fangs aren't going to take care of themselves.

RAZ: OK. I guess she's got herself a deal.

THOMAS: All right, Ms. Pit Viper, now just find a way to grab your things and follow us. OK, Guy Raz, so what's the next superpower we're looking to knock off our list?

RAZ: How about immortality?

THOMAS: Immortality? You mean, like, living forever?

RAZ: Yes, immortality because, you know, Mindy, we humans live for about 70 to 80 years on average, which isn't bad compared to an animal like the mayfly, which only lives for about five minutes.

THOMAS: A five-minute life? What's the point? It takes longer than that to eat ice cream.

RAZ: Well, Mindy, five minutes is actually just about long enough for that fly to find a mate and lay her eggs.

THOMAS: Wow. Talk about speed dating.

RAZ: But compared to other creatures, our 70 to 80 years is like a drop in the bucket. I mean, the Arctic bowhead whale, for example, can live for more than 200 years.

THOMAS: Wow. That's a lot of candles to fit on one birthday cake. The whole thing would catch on fire.

RAZ: And that's nothing. In 2006, researchers from Bangor University in the United Kingdom dredged up a clam off the coast of Iceland that was 507 years old, meaning that it was born in 1499.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHOOSH)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #8: (As character) Hello. You found me. My name is Hafrun (ph). Nice to meet you. Tell me - what day is it?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #9: (As character) It's 2006.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #8: (As character) 2006? Oh, no. I'm so old now. Well, tell me - is the Ming dynasty still a thing?

(SOUNDBITE OF WHOOSH)

THOMAS: Wow. So what's its secret? Yoga? Kale smoothies? Raw water?

RAZ: Actually, Mindy, it's none of the above.

THOMAS: Well, then what is it?

RAZ: Well, the common factor among all of these long-living animals is that they all live in very cold water. And scientists think that these cooler environments lower the animal's body temperature. And then in turn, it slows down their metabolism.

THOMAS: Oh. And metabolism is just a scientific word for how quickly an animal can turn the nutrients from their food into energy for their body.

RAZ: Yup. And because of their slowed-down metabolism, researchers believe that these animals had, amongst other things, slower heartbeats and were able to make their food last longer in their bodies.

THOMAS: So you're saying that the secret to a long life is to basically just chill out? I mean, literally?

RAZ: Yeah. I guess that's probably right.

THOMAS: OK. So I guess we're going to get one of these cool clams for our team of revengers?

RAZ: Well, reaching your 500th birthday is a pretty big deal, especially when it comes to immortality. But for our team of revengers, Mindy, I have someone else in mind - a creature that can literally live forever.

THOMAS: OK. So here we are back at this living-forever business. And, Guy Raz, I'm really not sure I buy it. I mean, nothing lasts forever. Had to learn that one the hard way when I tried to achieve my 500th bottomless breadstick at the Olive Greenhouse.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHOOSH)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #10: (As Waiter) Anything more for you, Madam?

THOMAS: (Muffled) More breadsticks, please.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #10: (As Waiter) I'm sorry. What was that?

THOMAS: (Muffled) More breadsticks, please.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #10: (As Waiter, sighing) Ma'am, you've had 431 breadsticks. According to the surgeon general, I simply cannot...

THOMAS: (Muffled) You said these breadsticks were bottomless. I want my money back.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHOOSH)

THOMAS: See? Nothing lasts forever.

RAZ: It's true, Mindy. Hold on. I think I have a photo of the little guy on my phone here.

THOMAS: I could go for a bottomless breadstick right now.

RAZ: Ah, yes. Here it is. Say hello to Turritopsis dohrnii - or the immortal jellyfish. When this little guy gets injured or is close to starving to death, he'll just transform himself back into one of his previous life stages.

THOMAS: What? How?

RAZ: So it would be like you getting a cut on your finger and transforming back into a 5-year-old and just trying again.

THOMAS: Whoa. Like a big, fat, built-in reset button.

RAZ: Yeah.

THOMAS: OK. So I guess next stop is a visit to this incredible invertebrate?

RAZ: Well, actually, we don't have to because my great-great-grandfather Herschel Siegfried Bartholomew Raz (ph)...

THOMAS: Who?

RAZ: ...Talked the immortal jellyfish into joining our revengers team, like, 200 years ago.

THOMAS: Wait. But we just thought of this idea, like, 5 minutes ago. So how did your great-great-grandfather Herschel even know 200 years ago that - I don't know. We'll worry about that later. In the meantime, I think I know a guy who might be perfect for the team.

RAZ: Who's that, Mindy?

THOMAS: Oh, you'll see.

RAZ: OK.

THOMAS: (Yelling) Reggie.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: OK. So, Reg, we need you to take us to - come here. Get closer. (Whispering unintelligibly).

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Hop on, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Mindy, where are we going?

THOMAS: Oh, you'll see. You ready? Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

THOMAS: Thanks for the ride, Reggie.

RAZ: Yeah. Thanks, Reg.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: OK. Now I need you to trust me and just let me do the talking, OK?

RAZ: I don't like the look of this place, Mindy. Where are we?

(SOUNDBITE OF THUNDER)

RAZ: (Screaming).

THOMAS: Now I just need you to stay cool as we open this door and walk down that hall, OK? Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. Walk normally, Guy Raz. Just normal. Keep it cool. Walk, walk...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #11: (As character) Where is Mindy taking Guy Raz? Who is this mystery animal? Will Guy Raz ever learn to walk casually?

RAZ: Hey...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #11: (As character) Find out in part two of this episode next week on (in spooky voice) WOW IN THE WORLD.

Brought to you by Bloaty Oats Cereal (ph), the only cereal that makes you say, ooh, I don't feel good.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: WOW IN THE WORLD will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you. That's it. Back to the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

THOMAS: Hi. Thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

DUA: Hi. I'm Dua (ph). And I live in the village of Chappaqua, N.Y. My wow in the world is that blue whales weigh 400,000 pounds and only eat krill and shrimp. And they are 90 feet. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

VENETIA: Hi. My name is Venetia (ph). I live in Maplewood, N.J. I'm 6 next month - really soon. And my wow in the world is I went to the huge crayon factory and learned how to make crayons. They're made out of wax. Bye. Is Reggie real? (Imitating beeping sound).

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

NISHA: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Nisha (ph). And I live in San Jose, Calif. And my wow is capybaras. And they're the world's largest rodent.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

LONDON: Hi. My name is London (ph), and I am 9 years old. I live in Shenzhen, China, but I am from Boston, Mass. My wow in the world is I found your podcast. Without you, I would not know stuff I know now. Keep up the good work. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

RHETT: Hello. My name is Rhett (ph). And I'm from Asheville. And my wow is that bats use echolocation to see what's in front of them or to find food. I love your show, Mindy and Guy Raz. Bye-bye. (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

LIAM: Hi. My name is Liam (ph). I am from Orem, Utah. And my wow is that geckos can climb on slippery, slimy glass.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

MAY: Hi. My name is May (ph). And I'm 6 years old. And I live in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. And my wow in the world is that a sperm whale's brain is the size of a Jeep. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz. I love your videos.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us this week on WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And if you want to keep the conversation going, check out some of the questions we've posted on this episode at our website wowintheworld.com.

THOMAS: And grown-ups, there you can find more details on how your kids can become part of the World Organization of Wowzers. Lots of cool perks - exclusive T-shirts, autographed pictures of us and a bunch of other cool stuff - wowintheworld.com.

RAZ: Our show is produced by Jed Anderson...

THOMAS: Say hello, Jed.

JED ANDERSON, BYLINE: Yello.

RAZ: ...With help from Thomas Van Calkin (ph), Chelsea Ursin and Jessica Bodie (ph). Meredith Halpern-Ranzer is the big boss.

THOMAS: Our theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. You can find more of their awesome, all-ages music at thepopups.com.

RAZ: And parents and teachers, if you want to send us an email, our address is hello@wowintheworld.com.

THOMAS: Grown-ups, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @wowintheworld.

RAZ: And if you want to be featured at the end of the show, call us up and tell us your wow in the world.

THOMAS: Our phone number is 1-888-7-WOWWOW. That's 1-888-7-WOWWOW.

RAZ: And parents, if you want to upload any photos or videos or messages to us, please visit wowintheworld.com and find a link where you can do just that.

THOMAS: And if you haven't already done so, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or however you get your podcasts. Leave us a few stars and a review and be sure to tell a friend about the show. Until next time, keep on wowing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.