Today’s debate is a poisonous, blood-sucking battle between two dangerous creatures. One hides out in a decorative shell, the other buzzes ‘round like a carousel. It’s Cone Snails vs. Tsetse Flies! Radiolab co-host and science historian Latif Nasser gives it his all for the stealthy, seriously poisonous cone snail and Radiolab co-host and award-winning science reporter Lulu Miller defends the humdinger of blood suckers, tsetse flies. Who will be crowned the Smash Boom Best?

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Audio Transcript

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SPEAKER 1: From the brains behind Brains On, it's Smash Boom Best.

The show for people with big opinions.

MOLLY: Hi. I'm Molly Bloom, and this is Smash Boom Best, the show where we take two things, smash them together, and ask you to decide which one is best. Today's debate is a poisonous blood-sucking battle between two dangerous creatures.

One hides out in a decorative shell. The other buzzes round like a carousel. Its cone snails versus tsetse flies. We've got Radiolab co-host and science historian, Latif Nasser, ready to give it his all for the stealthy, seriously poisonous cone snail.

LATIF: Hero in a half shell. Cone snail power.

MOLLY: And Radiolab co-host and award-winning science reporter, Lulu Miller, here to defend the humdinger of bloodsuckers, tsetse flies.

LULU: Only the most tsetse-rific aviator in the sky.

MOLLY: Excellent. And here to judge it all is Elise from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has a huge sweet tooth, double-jointed thumbs, and once broke her ankle in the ocean. Hi, Elise.

ELISE: Hey. How you doing, Molly?

MOLLY: Good. I'm so glad to have you back. So, Elise, last time you were here, we heard about your turtle.

ELISE: Tortolito.

MOLLY: Can we get a little Tortolito update?

ELISE: Oh, yeah, he is shedding like crazy, guys. I mean, it's been a while. Like, he was itty bitty when I first talked about him. He's huge now.

MOLLY: OK, I've never seen a turtle shed before, so what does that look like when a turtle sheds?

ELISE: Oh, it's like so cool. It's like a snake, if you ever seen a snake shed. It's like that. But if you see that in the water, it's like gross. But it's like, oh my god, you're shedding. And his shell-- it's this weird thing with turtles, like their shell breaks off.

So it's likem, oh, wow, you guys are growing, really. Like they're teenagers just like I am. So it's like we're both moody. We both need our food. All the things.

MOLLY: Well, will Elise side with team cone snail or team tsetse flies? Only time will tell. Elise, are you ready to judge today's debate?

ELISE: I am. Let's go.

MOLLY: Before we dive in, let's review the rules of the game. Every debate consists of four rounds of argumentation-- the declaration of greatness, the micro round, the sneak attack, and the final six. After each round, our judge, Elise, will award points to the team that impresses her the most, but she'll keep her decisions top secret until the end of the debate. Listeners, we want you to judge, too. Mark down your points as you listen. At the end of the show, head to our website and vote for whichever team you think won. OK, Latif, Lulu, and Elise, are you ready to get this debate started?

ELISE: Oh, yeah.

LULU: Here we go.

LATIF: Let's escargot.

LULU: Unlike you, I don't need kelp from the internet.

LATIF: Ooh. Ouch.

MOLLY: All right, it's time for the--

SPEAKER 1: Declaration of Greatness.

MOLLY: In this round, our debaters will present an awesome argument in favor of their side. Then, they'll have 30s to rebut their opponent's statements. We flipped a coin, and Latif, you're up first. Tell us what makes cone snails so smashing.

LATIF: Stealth, power, sophistication. Underneath that delicate shell is an International mollusk of mystery.

CONE SNAIL: The name's Snail, Cone Snail. Codename, Agent Bubble 07.

LATIF: You're probably thinking, that's your stealth assassin of the sea? But never underestimate a cone snail, my friends.

CONE SNAIL: Oi, pipe down, pal. I'm fishing here.

LATIF: Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Here comes a fish now.

CONE SNAIL: Target acquired. And--

LATIF: Whoa, that cone snail just shot a hidden harpoon from its body right at that fish, and bullseye. That harpoon is no joke. It delivers a dose of deadly venom that can paralyze a fish like that. In seconds, the venom forces the fish's muscles to clench, and the cone snail gobbles it up, like a fish taco.

CONE SNAIL: Come to papa. I don't need to swim quickly or be the biggest predator around because my body is a perfectly evolved poison-making machine. I even make two different kinds of venom, one to hunt prey, and one to fend off any predators foolish enough to try to eat me.

LATIF: That's how to hunt with style.

CONE SNAIL: Quite so, unlike tsetse flies, who just suck away messily at their victims. No class at all.

LATIF: Ew. Yeah. And speaking of class, your shell is looking very sophisticated today. So pearly, so spirally.

CONE SNAIL: Why, thank you. Just a few hundred years ago, collectors flocked to get their hands on rare cone snail shells. They were worth more than some famous artworks at the time and with good reason. Our delicate spirally shells are dazzling.

SPEAKER 2: I can't believe how many fabulous works of art are being exhibited in this show, darling.

SPEAKER 3: I know, darling. Oh, look over there, a Suzanne and a Rembrandt and a-- oh, is that a--

SPEAKER 2: A cone snail shell? Stunning.

SPEAKER 3: Breathtaking. The delicate colors, the elegant shape, Louver Shmura. Now, this is art.

LATIF: For me, the coolest thing about cone snails is their venom, a complicated concoction of hundreds of different ingredients. Scientists are studying a bunch of these to figure out what they do. And they've already used that research to develop a powerful painkiller called ziconotide that could help a lot of people.

Studies show that it's a thousand times stronger than a different dangerous painkiller called morphine. And unlike morphine, ziconotide isn't addictive, which is huge.

CONE SNAIL: And that medicine comes from just one of hundreds of ingredients in my venom.

LATIF: There's so much more to learn, so much potential for new medicines to help fight diseases, like cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and so many more.

CONE SNAIL: I'm practically a living pharmacy, and I'm willing to share. Otherwise, I'd be shellfish.

LATIF: Yeah. And tsetse fly bites cause diseases in humans, like African sleeping sickness, which can be fatal. Cone snails, on the other hand, are incredible hunters, whose venom has the potential to help humanity. So who do you want on your side? A germy, bitey tsetse fly or--

CONE SNAIL: Snail. Cone snail.

MOLLY: Wow, a delightful declaration that really celebrated the cone snail. Elise, what stood out to you about Latif's argument?

ELISE: The venom. I thought that was really, really powerful. That could be very helpful to people. I'm very into art, so it did make me think. Thank you, guys, for that. That was amazing.

MOLLY: You have a very artful argument. But Lulu, it's time for your rebuttal. Tell us why cone snails are a big snooze. You've got 30 seconds, and your time starts now.

LULU: Well, Latif, I appreciate your attempt to put a little sheen on these bottom feeders by talking about their place in museums, but your mollusks of mystery will soon be history when Elise hears about some of their gnarly underside. So, yeah. OK, both tsestse and cone snails are both gnarly predators, but tsetse flies have, at least, the decency to leave their snacks alive, leaving behind just a little peck of a bite, while your cone snails paralyze and then eat them. I think tsetse score higher on the classy scale.

MOLLY: And time.

LATIF: Bottom feeders? That's rich. I feel like the tsetse flies. It doesn't matter where they're eating. It matters what they're eating, and the thing they're eating is us. Tsetse flies don't always leave their snacks alive, Lulu. You got to tell the truth.

The sleeping sickness is a deadly disease. There are a lot of people who don't survive their brush-ups with tsetse flies, unlike cone snails. Cone snails are much, much, much less deadly to humans. That is.

LULU: Can I fact check and rebut the rebut to the rebut?

LATIF: Yeah.

MOLLY: Sure.

LULU: Cone snails can and, as I believe, you said, have hurt and possibly even killed humans. They have the ability. But also, if you want to bring humans into it, you're all talking about the potential of the venom's help to humanity, where tsetse flies have already helped humanity via environmental conservation at the planetary scale, which you will learn about shortly.

LATIF: Wait, could I just rebut the rebuttal of the rebuttal to the rebuttal? Because I went ahead of time and looked up the numbers, knowing that Lulu would bring this up. As far as we know, cone snails have killed, ever, 36 human beings.

Tsetse flies, the number of people that die from sleeping sickness, the number's in the thousands every year. So really, the scales here, we're talking about-- if you're talking about human damage to us, damage to people, tsetse flies are serial killers.

ELISE: Way to put the boom in Smash Boom Best.

LULU: Yeah. All right, let's hear more. Right now, it's your turn, Lulu. Tell us why tsetse flies are tops.

SPEAKER 4: It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's super mom.

LULU: The most magnificent caring mother, it's super mom. Watch her fly. Her big bulging eyes give her supervision. Her antennae give her super smelling powers. And don't forget her straw-like mouth, perfect for super slurping.

SPEAKER 4: Wait, bulging eyes, antenna, straw-like mouth? Hold up, is super mom a bug?

LULU: Indeed, this super mom is a tsetse fly. You will find tsetses across Africa, in forests, rivers, and streams. They might only be the size of a grain of rice, but they really pack a punch.

SPEAKER 4: OK, so what makes this fly so super?

LULU: Well, first of all, tsetse flies are extraordinary moms. So most insects lay tons and tons, sometimes, hundreds of eggs out in the world and leave them alone to hatch. But tsetse flies are not like most insects. Instead, much like mammals, tsetse flies get pregnant and give birth to one baby at a time.

SPEAKER 4: Like they grow a baby in their belly?

LULU: Well, not in their belly the baby grows a little closer to their backside, meaning the baby bump is on the booty.

SPEAKER 5: Booty baby bump.

LULU: But it doesn't stop there. Tsetse flies also make milk-- actual milk that the baby drinks.

SPEAKER 4: Bug milk? Awesome. I didn't even know bugs could make milk.

LULU: Only a very few can, making the tsetse fly mathematically exceptional. And the mama tsetse fly will carry their little baby until it is almost full grown, like the equivalent of giving birth to a high schooler.

And tsetse flies aren't just super moms. They are super strong. So remember how their mouths are shaped like straws? Well, their mouth parts are also really sharp. We're talking sharp enough to cut through crocodile skin.

And they use these super sharp straws to pierce through that thick skin and drink blood. That's their go-to meal. I know it might seem a little gross or scary, but you cannot deny that that's impressive. Right, friendly vampire?

VAMPIRE: Exactly. Tsetses can drink up to three times their own weight in blood. 1, 2, 3 times.

LULU: That would be like if I, a human, drink over 1,000 milkshakes.

VAMPIRE: An exceptional amount of dairy.

LULU: Do you think a cone snail could drink three times its weight in blood?

VAMPIRE: No way. It would explode out of that shell. Kaboom.

LULU: Good thing cone snails live in the cold ocean water because that was a sick burn.

VAMPIRE: Give me five.

LULU: Nice. Back to the tsetses. Now, it's true. They do spread some serious diseases to humans and animals. But modern medicine has helped cut cases way down in the last few years. And if we focused only on what tsetse flies do to us, we'd miss what incredible caregivers they are to their own babies and, in an unexpected way, to the planet.

That's right. They are planet protectors. Tsetse flies have a fierce reputation, which is fair, but it's this exact reputation that has kept humans out of wildlife areas, where tsetses live. In fact, when you look at a map of some of the most protected places in Africa, it's also where some of the biggest tsetse populations are.

Some people think that maybe if tsetses hadn't been in these areas, humans would have taken over, possibly destroying the wildlife and the environment in the process. Think about it. The majestic elephants, the beautiful forests, the national parks, all of them might not be here without the tsetse fly.

In local Kenyan languages, the tsetse fly is literally called a guardian. So give it up for tsetses, some of the best caretakers, not just of their own young, but of our entire planet.

MOLLY: Wow, a moving declaration of greatness there for the super powered tsetse fly. Elise, what stood out to you about Lulu's declaration of greatness?

ELISE: How she was talking about how they were really great moms. I thought it was a really great start. And how they could produce milk, which I never knew, which was a really, really cool fact, and also how they had sharp mouths to get through the skin to get through blood, which is yuck, but that is cool.

And last off, I thought that the planet protectors part was really, really interesting. And how if the tsetses haven't been protectors, then some people might not even be here today.

MOLLY: Excellent work, Elise. Latif, it's time for your rebuttal. Tell us why tsetse flies are weak-weak guys. You've got 30 seconds. And your time starts now.

LATIF: Lulu is championing these flies as planet protectors, but why are they protecting those parts of the planet? How are they doing it? They're doing it by killing humans. There are better pacifist ways to protect the environment.

Their bites are painful. Lulu is amazed at how much of our blood they drink. That's our blood. They are drinking our blood and giving us diseases. And then she's amazed at the milk. Ask Lulu if she's ever drank the milk and what it tasted like. They are drinking our blood. We are not drinking their milk.

LULU: OK, well, I have not drinking milk, but I have drinking other insect milk. And it's true. It doesn't taste currently at this particular moment, what I would call, great. But scientists are working on the taste, and many believe that it is a far more agriculturally sustainable, environmentally sustainable way to produce milk than the gassy methane-producing cows that currently produce milk and contribute to global warming. So get get yuck in check. And when you look behind your yucks, you might see an, aw shucks.

ELISE: Oh, wow.

LATIF: I will buy that argument when Lulu eats a bowl of cereal with tsetse fly milk.

LULU: You line it up. I'll knock it down.

ELISE: Ooh, these comebacks are really great, guys. I'm loving this. Loving this.

MOLLY: OK, Elise, it is time to award some points. Please give one point to the declaration of greatness you liked best and one point to the rebuttal that won you over. And I guess also the rebuttal to the rebuttal to the rebuttal. You get to decide what makes a winning argument. Did one team's jokes really slap? Was another team's scientific communication skills superior? Award your points, but don't tell us who they're going to. Have you made your decision?

ELISE: I think I have.

MOLLY: Wonderful. Lulu and Latif, how are you two feeling so far?

LULU: Feeling fly as always.

LATIF: Yeah, that fly is in in my soup. But I'm feeling great.

MOLLY: Well, go sharpen your harpoons and draw some more blood samples, and we'll be right back with more Smash Boom Best.

SPEAKER 1: You're listening to State of Debate, home to rage and rhetoric and awe-inspiring argumentation.

TODD: I'm Todd Dinkley Dangly Douglas, and I'm here with--

TAYLOR: Taylor Loosey Goosey Lincoln.

TODD: How are you today, pal?

TAYLOR: Oh, not bad. We're having some toasty summer weather, but I'm ready to beat the heat. I've got to blow up jumbo- sized kiddie pool, an economy-sized tub of sunscreen, and a freezer full of ice pops. You should come over.

TODD: Oh, that sounds so nice. Count me in. But I have to do some chores first, then I will be there with my pineapple print swim trunks and a cooler of snacks.

TAYLOR: OMG. That reminds me, Todd. I have to show you this video I saw last night. It's so full of fallacies. You got to falla-see it to believe it.

TODD: Hey, nice one. Fallacies are holes in arguments that don't stand up to scrutiny. Plus, they make it easier to defeat your side in a debate.

TAYLOR: This one is called a false equivalency. That's when you argue two things are totally the same, but they really only have one thing in common. Here's the tape.

SPEAKER 6: Hey, kiddo. You really need to clean your room. It's like an overgrown jungle in here. I can't even walk across the floor.

SPEAKER 7: Oh, sweet. I'm a jungle guy now, like Tarzan. Gotta get some vines, so I can swing from my desk to the bed. Problem solved.

SPEAKER 6: I meant you should pick up your laundry and all of these toys from the floor.

SPEAKER 7: Tarzan never had to clean his room. If my room is a jungle, like where Tarzan lives, then I shouldn't have to clean it either. We should leave the environment as it is.

SPEAKER 6: That's very eco-minded of you, sweetie. But I need to vacuum. You can start by putting your books back on the shelf where they belong.

SPEAKER 7: But mom, you said it was a jungle in here. What if the monkeys and jaguars want something to read?

SPEAKER 6: I'm not sure they can read. And while you might be my silly little monkey, I don't think there are any jaguars in the room, dear.

SPEAKER 7: But there could be because it's a jungle.


TODD: Ha, that's good entertainment, Tay, but not a good argument. That kid got stuck on a false equivalency fallacy.

TAYLOR: He sure did. He was trying to argue that his room was just like a jungle because both are a bit on the wild side, but that's only one thing they have in common.

TODD: A jungle and a messy room might both be difficult to walk through, but the similarities end there.

TAYLOR: And I'd never do any vacuuming in a jungle. You know what they say.

TODD: What do they say?

TAYLOR: Nature can't stand vacuum.

TODD: Har-har. OK, I'm going to go do my cleaning, but I'll come over later for pool time. Save me some popsicles.

TAYLOR: And we'll be back soon with more State of Debate.

SYNTHESIZED VOICE: Best. Boom. Smash. Smash. Boom. Best.

MOLLY: You're listening to Smash Boom Best, I'm your host, Molly Bloom.

ELISE: And I'm your judge, Elise.

MOLLY: And we love getting debate suggestions from our listeners. Take a listen to this daring debate idea from Sienna.

SIENNA: My name is Sienna, and my debate idea is Groot versus Baby Yoda.

ELISE: Funny, this debate is.

MOLLY: We'll check back in at the end of this episode to see which side Sienna thinks should win.

ELISE: And now it's back to our debate. Cone snails versus tsetse flies.

MOLLY: That's right, and it's time for round 2, the--

SPEAKER 1: Micro Round.

MOLLY: For the micro round challenge, each team has prepared a creative response to a prompt they received in advance. For Latif and Lulu, the prompt was life coach. For this assignment, we asked Lulu and Latif to pretend to be their animal and dole out advice.

We want to know how to live our lives better, and we're pretty sure cone snails and tsetse flies have the answers. Latif went first last time, so Lulu, you're up. Let your tsetse advice fly.

KAI: Hey, there. It's me, Kai, the tsetse fly, here with another installment of Living the Fly Life. Today's lesson-- accidents don't just happen. They keep you flapping. What the buzz am I talking about? Give me two minutes, and I will explain.

So as tiny as I look, I am known for my strength. I can fill up with three times my body weight in another creature's blood. That's like a human drinking almost an entire bathtub full of milk. But here's the thing.

To actually fly away., I need to lighten my load, and I get rid of some of that liquid. So I go to the bathroom. I pee my pants. I mean, I don't wear pants, so I pee my host. That's right. I take a little sip of blood from the animal, and then I have a little accident on them.

Do I waste my time feeling embarrassed about it? No, because I know accidents are the key to my success. I've been around for millions and millions of years. I've outlived thousands of other bug species. How? By having my accidents with pride, reframing shame as a gain.

So whether it's a little accident in your in your pants, or you trip on something, or you say something awkward. Know that it's all part of moving forward. Don't waste time on shame. Just leave your accident behind and fly higher into the sky. Just had one. Bye-bye.

MOLLY: Happy accidents. We can learn from our mistakes. Great advice. OK, Latif, now it's your turn. Tell us how cone we improve ourselves?

CHEF CONEY: Has anyone ever told you, you're too small to do what you want to do or too slow to get what you want? Well, they're wrong. You have secret super powers they don't even know about. It's me, Chef Coney.

You may know me from my massively successful restaurant chain, the Deep Dish. But I wasn't always a famous seafood chef. In fact, when I was a hatchling, everyone told me. I'd never eat or even catch a single fish.

"You're too small," they'd say. "You can't even swim. You don't have eyes. You're basically made of snot. Just eat the slimy algae on your plate, and stop daydreaming." But I let them think they were right.

In the meantime, I used my super slick cone snail super powers to start snagging the fish of my dreams. I used my chemistry smarts to whip up deadly venom. I used my patience to stay up all night, waiting for the perfect prey.

I used my sense of smell to sniff out little guppies nearby and my lightning fast reflexes to spear them in a fraction of a second. Ding, ding, ding, winner, winner, sushi dinner. Nowadays, I catch, eat, and serve the fastest fish in the sea.

So, yeah, I've got some super slick super powers, but we all do. What are yours? How can you dazzle the people that doubt you? By playing the ukulele? By being really good at fractions? By recreating the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks?

There are a million ways, more than there are fish in the sea. And the best part? One day, you're going to turn to the people who teased you and say, hey, hold my fish bones.

MOLLY: Yes, don't let the haters keep you down. Excellent, excellent advice. Elise, what did you like about Latif and Lulu's micro rounds?

ELISE: I'll start out with Lulu. I like this notion that accidents do happen. and don't let those accidents define you. I really felt that was powerful and how that connected to a little fly. Now with the snails, I also like this notion of showing all sides of this snail's feelings, how they feel too small or too slow, and they can't do anything right.

And you know, I guess that has to do with peer pressure and everybody pressuring you, but also this sense of they have all these senses that make them smart and how they can move slow. But they also are thinking really fast and all of that and how they're pretty smart.

So I thought that this was a really good argument. This one was a hard one to grade.

MOLLY: Mhm. I do not envy you having to make this decision, but it's time to award a point. Again, the criteria are up to you. Did someone inspire you to live your best life? Was there coaching successful? Did they slip some facts in there? Did they make you laugh, make you think? Whatever the criteria are, they're up to you. Did you award a point?

ELISE: Yes, I have.

MOLLY: Fantastic. Then, it's time for our third around the super stealthy--

SPEAKER 1: Sneak Attack.

MOLLY: Your sneak attack is called what's that word? Latif and Lulu, we're going to provide you with three keywords related to your topic in secret, and it's going to be your job to get Elise to guess what they are without using the words themselves.

So you're going to have 30 seconds to get her to guess all three. You can always pass as well, if we're having trouble and move on to the next word. Does that make sense?


LULU: Mhm.

MOLLY: So Lulu went first last time, so Latif, you're up first.

LATIF: All right.

MOLLY: You've got 30 seconds on the clock.


MOLLY: And your time starts now.

LATIF: OK, this is a person who, maybe, would shoot an animal with a gun.

ELISE: Hunter.

LATIF: Yep. Opposite of big.

ELISE: Small.

LATIF: Another word for that.

ELISE: Tiny.

LATIF: Yeah, and last thing. This is something you go to a museum to see, like painting or a sculpture.


LATIF: You got it. Bingo.

MOLLY: Nice.


MOLLY: All right. You got all three in 23 seconds.

ELISE: Oh, yeah.

LATIF: Nice.

MOLLY: Very nicely done. Let's see if Lulu can beat that. Lulu, we've got 30 seconds on the clock.

LULU: I'm ready.

MOLLY: Your time starts now.

LULU: A vampire wants to suck your--

ELISE: Blood.

LULU: When you leave some cookies, make sure you also leave him a nice tall glass of--

ELISE: Milk.

LULU: And Saturn, Earth, and Jupiter are all these.

ELISE: Planets.

LULU: Yes.

MOLLY: Oh, nicely done. That was 17 seconds. So six seconds quicker than Latif.

LULU: We got that winner's buzz on.

MOLLY: All right, Elise, it's time to award that fourth point.

ELISE: OK, I've got it.

MOLLY: It's time for our final around.

SPEAKER 1: The Final Six.

MOLLY: In this round, each team will have just six words to sum up the glory of their side. All right, Lulu, let's hear your six words for the flip-flop fabulous, tsetse fly.

LULU: OK, here we go. Booty baby bumped bodyguards of Earth.

MOLLY: Ooh. I love it. I love alliteration. Delightful. OK, Latif, it's your turn. Give us your coolest six-word collection for cone snails.

LATIF: Using ninja assassin powers to heal.

MOLLY: Very good. Oh, man, Elise, it's time to award your final point for this final six. It's a tough decision, and it's up to you. Have you awarded your final point?

ELISE: Yes, I have.

MOLLY: Wonderful. Tally up those points. Are you ready to crown one team the Smash Boom Best?

ELISE: I am.

MOLLY: All right, drum roll, please. And the winner is--

ELISE: Tsetse fly.


ELISE: I really wanted the snail to win. I'm not even going to lie. But that--

LATIF: Wow, even worse.

ELISE: That title was weak.

LULU: Oh, words.

ELISE: I was expecting something better, snail.

LATIF: Wow. So you picked a thing that bites us, pees on us, drinks our blood, and sometimes kills us.

ELISE: I didn't want to do it because I didn't like the tsetse fly, but that title was a little bit better than the snail.

LULU: You just weren't up to your usual chillariousness, Latif. I mean, he's usually pretty chillarious.

LATIF: I'm going to call him the SWAT team here.

MOLLY: It all came down to the final six. Was it a tie to that point?

ELISE: It was a tie, 2 to 2.


MOLLY: Oh my goodness. A close as debate as it could possibly be. Excellent work, both of you. And excellent judging, Elise.

ELISE: Thank you.

LULU: Well, Latif Nasser, you truly were-- I know I was a little salty the whole way through, but you were chillarious as usual. And I learned so much. I learned about the fact that these tiny little humble slow things are actually powerful assassins, who might truly hold a key to human health in a serious way. So it was, as always, a pleasure to hear you expound upon the world, and I learned so much.

LATIF: Thank you, Lulu Miller. I appreciate your appreciation of even something that on the surface hurts us so bad. And for you to be able to see them as supermoms, yeah, there's something beautiful in that. And I would like to invite you cordially, and Elise, you're welcome, too, to have a bowl of cereal in tsetse fly milk.

ELISE: No, thank you.

MOLLY: Does a body good. And that's it for today's debate battle. Elise crowned tsetse flies the Smash Boom Best, what about you?

ELISE: Head to and vote to tell us who you think won.

MOLLY: To learn more about the tsetse fly, Radiolab has a kids series called "Terrestrials." It's excellent. Go check it out. They have a whole episode about the tsetse fly called The Guardian. Just search for "Terrestrials" wherever you get your podcasts.

And to learn more about the cone snail, Radiolab has an episode called Golden Goose, all about a cool scientist who discovered the cone snail's superpowers.

ELISE: Smash Boom Best is brought to you by Brains On and APM Studios.

LATIF: It's produced by Molly Bloom, Rosie DuPont, Ruby Guthrie, Anna Wegel, and Aaron Woldeslassie.

MOLLY: We had engineering help from Josh Savageau and Gage Bingham, with sound design by Rosie DuPont, Marc Sanchez, and Anna Wegel. Our editors are Shahla Farzan and Sanden Totten.

LATIF: And we had production help from Anna Goldfield, Marc Sanchez, and Nico Gonzalez Wisler.

MOLLY: Our executive producer is Beth Perlman, and APM Studios executives-in-charge are Chandra Kavati, Alex Schaffert, and. Joanne Griffith. Our announcer is Marley Feuerwerker-Otto, and we want to give a special thanks to Austin Cross and Taylor Kaufman. Latif, is there anyone you'd like to give a shout out to today?

LATIF: To Toto Oliveira, who's the scientist, who was learning about cone snails, and who got this award called the Golden Goose Award, which is how I got interested in all of this. And I just want to thank all the scientists who are out there studying cone snails.

MOLLY: Thank you, scientists. How about you, Lulu? Any special shout outs?

LULU: Yes, to Dr. Paul Meraji who did a lot of the work on the tsetse fly. He's out in Kenya, and he taught me all about this. And to Dr. Sami Ramsey who helped me learn about bug milk. And then, of course, Latif and I said huge thanks to Kenny Keith.

LATIF: Very true.

LULU: For keeping us in check.

MOLLY: Excellent. And how about you, Elise? Any special thanks or shout outs today?

ELISE: I would like to give a shout out to all the kids who are coming home from school and are tired and who do work for podcasts who are very tired after the school day and pushing through.

MOLLY: We appreciate those kids, especially one in particular today, very, very much. Before we go, let's check in and see who Sienns thinks should win her Groot versus Baby Yoda debate.

SIENNA: I think Groot would win because he's super cute and very funny.

MOLLY: If you're between the ages of 13 and 18, and you'd like to be a judge like Elise, or if you're any age and you have an idea for a knock down drag out debate, head to and drop us a line. That's it for this season of Smash Boom Best. We'll be back February 1, with a whole new season of debate battles. Bye.

ELISE: See ya.

SINGERS: Oh, you're the Smash Boom Best. Oh, put you through the test. Oh, you're the Smash Boom Best. Oh, better than the rest. It's Smash Boom Best. It's Smash Boom Best.


MOLLY: Oh, you OK?

ELISE: We're all good.

MOLLY: Did we lose you?

LATIF: Is there a tsetse fly in the studio with you? Is that what's-- is that what's doing this?

LULU: Are you dodging a cone snail?

ELISE: Oh, I think I'm good now.

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