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NG Weekend: Smuggled Sarcophagus Saga


This week on National Geographic Weekend radio, host Boyd Matson speaks with guests about a smuggled Egyptian sarcophagus, Peru’s Nasca Lines, D.C.’s Environmental Film Festival, snakes versus dinosaurs, wallabies and crop circles, Shanghai, bird coloration, earthquakes in Chile, drunken bats, flightless birds, and poop pollution.

Hour 1

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection—both agencies within the Department of Homeland Security—returned a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus to Egypt this week. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawass was in Washington to accept the sarcophagus. Hawass joins Boyd in the studio to explain how the artifact was detained by the CPB during a routine inspection at Miami International Airport. (Watch a video about the repatriation or read more on our Intelligent Travel blog.)
  • Texas State University anthropologist and National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee Christina Conlee studies the mysterious Nasca Lines. The lines, enormous images and designs etched into the Peruvian desert, are the focus of the March 2010 National Geographic magazine article “Peru’s Puzzling Lines.” Conlee tells Boyd that she also uncovered evidence of human sacrifice at the site.
  • Flo Stone is founder and president of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. This is the 18th year of the festival and the 18th year that some of the films have been screened at National Geographic’s D.C. headquarters. Stone and Boyd discuss some of the 155 films selected for the festival this year.
  • University of Michigan paleontologist and National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration grantee Jeffrey Wilson has revealed a 60-million-year-old snapshot of a snake attacking a baby dinosaur. By reconstructing fossils, Wilson has been able to show a 3-meter serpent coiled in a dinosaur’s nest preparing to strike a dinosaur hatchling.
  • Are wallabies high on poppy plants making crop circles in Australia? David Braun, head of National Geographic News, joins Boyd to set the record straight.

Hour 2

  • The world is drowning in manure. Maybe it’s time to put diapers on our cows and chickens. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold joins Boyd in the studio to talk about the serious issue of poop pollution.
  • Why is a cardinal red or a bluebird blue? Do birds of a feather really flock together? Geoff Hill, author of the new book National Geographic Bird Coloration joins Boyd in the studio to answer these questions.
  • With a population of 20 million, Shanghai is considered China’s global city. Photographer Fritz Hoffman shot the city for the article “Shanghai Dreams” in the March 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine.
  • Central Washington University geology professor and National Geographic grantee Lisa Ely was studying historical earthquakes around Concepción, Chile when an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale hit in that very location. Ely shares with Boyd what studying past quakes can tell us about future tremblers.
  • Boyd shares some little-known facts about drunken bats and flightless birds.

Tune in to National Geographic Weekend on the Salem Radio Network or on XM/Sirius satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or get the show streamed to your iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, or Android OS phone with Stitcher Radio.

Photo of Zahi Hawass discussing the stolen sarcophagus by Megan Seldon