July 22, 2012: Biking Africa’s Indian Ocean Coast, Studying Life in Antarctica, and More

National Geographic grantee and his team excavates the thousands of tiny mummies found in Egypt’s Dog Catacombs – dedicated to the jackal headed of the afterlife. (photo by Paul Nicholson)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!


As the crow flies, Cape Town, South Africa is nearly 4,000 kilometers from Mount Kilimanjaro. But unfortunately for August Carstens, he doesn’t have the luxury of flight. The adventurer is taking a meandering, circuitous path riding his bike along Africa’s Indian Ocean coast. He tells Boyd that, fortunately, he hasn’t run into any lions, but a mock charge from a trio of elephants got his heart rate up. Listen here.

For the first time in human history, more than half of the world’s residents live and work in cities. Two centuries ago, only 3% of humans did. P.D. Smith joins Boyd to discuss the rampant growth of cities detailed in his book City: A Guidebook for the Urban AgeListen here.

Cyborgs hold a special place in our cultural imagination. The Terminator, Robocop and Darth Vader are all examples of cyborgs in popular culture. But National Geographic Emerging Explorer and cyborg anthropologist Amber Case says that we are all cyborgs. She tells Boyd that smart phones are essentially “external brains,” that meld humans into a type of technology enhanced human-machine hybrid. Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, tells Boyd that Greenland sharks are so slow that they’re able to sneak up on sleeping seals and grab them before they wake up. Listen here.


Scientists who study life in extreme conditions like in Antarctica and high on mountains have to take precise measurements in order to maintain the integrity of their data. And when National Geographic writers go to write about these scientists, they, too, must endure hardship conditions. Following her July 2012 article in National Geographic magazine Olivia Judson tells Boyd about the difficulties of peeing into a bottle, and sleeping with the bottle in her sleeping bag so it didn’t freeze before she had a chance to pour out the contents in the morning. Listen here.

The summer is a great time to catch up with old friends who you haven’t heard from in a while. So, National Geographic Weekend checked in with adventurer Sarah Marquis, who is walking from Siberia to Australia. She is finally on her destination continent, but still has another year of walking to go. Marquis reflected back on her time in Thailand’s jungles and shared why she loves walking across Australia’s dry, inhospitable Outback. Listen here.

In the world of conservation, the concept of “biodiversity” has become a staple that must be protected, or else face a collapse that could affect nearly every species of animal in a region. While working in the Amazon region in the 1970’s and 80’s, National Geographic Fellow Dr. Thomas Lovejoy first coined the concept to describe the very diverse ecosystem. He was awarded the Blue Planet Prize in recognition of his life’s work. Listen here.

Few creatures provide better companionship to man than dogs. They were created by us, and of all animals on the planet, they seem to have a better understanding of their human companions than any other. So, it’s not surprising to assume that Ancient Egypt’s gods might like some canine companionship. National Geographic Grantee Paul Nicholson has been exploring a dog burial site at Saqqara, where as many as eight million puppies were offered as tribute to various gods in exchange for divine intervention. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares some of his own experiences on difficulties using urine bottles while camping and sharing a tent with his son. Listen here.

Human Journey

Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.