In soap operas, if an infant gets switched at the hospital or given up for a secret adoption, you can guarantee that the infant will grow up to fall in love with a sibling. (They never consummate their love, though—some evildoer always gets a pang of conscience and interrupts the wedding ceremony j...
December 03, 2009 | By Laura Helmuth
Understanding how corals reproduce is critical to their survival; Smithsonian's Nancy Knowlton investigates the annual event
December 2009 | By Megan Gambino
High in the Simien Mountains, researchers are getting a close-up look at the exotic, socially adventuresome primates known as geladas
December 2009 | By Abigail Tucker
A reporter follows the lucrative, illicit and heartrending trade in stolen wild animals deep into Ecuador's rain forest
December 2009 | By Charles Bergman
Ah, Thanksgiving, the day when families across the United States sit down for a delicious feast of dinosaur with all the trimmings.You read that correctly. Scientists have recognized that birds and dinosaurs are closely related for over a century, and within the last thirty years a tidal wave of di...
November 25, 2009 | By Brian Switek
Forget about bomb-sniffing dogs or cats that travel hundreds of miles to get home. If you're looking for signs of intelligent life, no animal (and that includes you, chimpanzees) is as impressive as a bird. Birds can use scent, landmarks, magnetic fields, the location of the sun, the motion of star...
November 25, 2009 | By Laura Helmuth
The “urban ecosystem” serves as a research lab for scientist Gregory Glass, who studies the lives of the Charm City’s rats
November 18, 2009 | By Abigail Tucker
Last week, the U.S. government took the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) off the endangered species list. The birds' numbers had been depleted first by feather hunters and then by the pesticide DDT. But the pelicans made a comeback, starting with the 1972 ban on DDT, and now there are more th...
November 17, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
Generally, having white fur is only good if you live in a white environment. The arctic fox, for example, would probably be eaten pretty quickly if it lived in Florida. Likewise, black bears that inherit two copies of a recessive gene for a white coat tend not to live very long, becoming victims of...
November 09, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
Thomas Vignaud of Marseille, France took this photograph, labeled Young fish dart by a jellyfish in the sea, in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2007. With it, he won the Natural World Category of Smithsonian magazine's 5th Annual Photo Contest.Have you taken an amazing photograph? Hurry up and e...
November 06, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
When Charles Darwin's reached the Falkland Islands on his famed voyage, he discovered there a "large wolf-like fox" found nowhere else in the world. "As far as I am aware," he would later write in The Voyage of the Beagle, "there is no other instance, in any part of the world, of so small a mass of...
November 04, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
Roosters are funny-looking creatures. They have a red bit that sticks out from the top of their heads—the comb—and another that dangles beneath their chin—the wattle. And then they perform this little dance called "tidbitting" (see first part of video below), in which they make sounds (food calls) ...
November 03, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
New species are born in the turbulence of the Congo River
November 03, 2009 | By Kyle Dickman
In Worcester, Massachusetts, authorities are battling an invasive insect that is poised to devastate the forests of New England
November 2009 | By Peter Alsop
A land of silvery light and astonishing peaks, the country's largest state perpetuates the belief that anything is possible
November 2009 | By Pico Iyer
Birds produce special chemicals in their preen gland that they spread over their skin and feathers to protect themselves from pathogens and parasites. The secretions of European hoopoes (Upupa epops) and green woodhoopoes (Phoeniculus purpureus), however, are different from those of other birds. Th...
October 19, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
Invasive beetles of various colors and sizes have infiltrated U.S. forests, despite efforts by government experts
October 18, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
Zebra longwing butterflies (Heliconius charithonia) can be found flitting about the southern United States through Central and South Americas. Like several other species of the Heliconius genus, male zebra longwings often find a mate before she has emerged from the pupal stage of life, guarding her...
October 15, 2009 | By Sarah Zielinski
The discovery of new kinds of feathered dinosaurs regularly makes the news these days, but it is important to remember that modern vertebrate paleontology encompasses much more than the search for the origin of birds. Indeed, this week scientists described an equally-spectacular fossil that fills i...
October 15, 2009 | By Brian Switek
Modern birds grow amazingly fast. After hatching, many species grow to adult size in a matter of days to weeks. But a new study published in the journal PLoS One suggests that birds did not always exhibit the same rapid rate of growth. By looking at chips of bone taken from the legs of some of the ...
October 14, 2009 | By Brian Switek