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The historic Maya’s sophisticated stargazing knowledge, and whether there is a cost to natural cloning

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On this week’s show: Exploring the historic Maya’s astronomical knowledge and how grasshoppers clone themselves without decreasing their fitness

First this week, Science contributing correspondent Joshua Sokol talks with producer Meagan Cantwell about the historic Maya’s sophisticated astronomical knowledge. In recent decades, researchers have set out to understand how city structures relate to astronomical phenomena and decipher ancient texts. Now, collaboration between Western scholars and living Indigenous people hopes to further illuminate the field.

Also this week, Mike Kearney, a professor at the school of biosciences at the University of Melbourne, chats with host Sarah Crespi about a species of grasshopper that can reproduce asexually. After studying the insect’s genetics, Kearney and his group didn’t find harmful mutations—or traits that made the grasshopper better adapted to its environment than the two species of grasshopper it hybridized from. Kearney and his team suggest this way of reproducing might not be rare because it’s harmful, but because most animal have safeguards in place to prevent asexual reproduction from arising.

This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.

[Image: Sergio Montúfar/—Estrellas Ancestrales “Astronomy in the Maya Worldview”; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

Authors: Meagan Cantwell; Joshua Sokol; Sarah Crespi

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