There are times when I wish that everyone in the world spoke the same language. I'm in awe of people who have mastered languages other than their own because I find it so difficult. While I might want English spoken everywhere I visit for my own ease, though, I'm also saddened by the loss of any of...
October 07, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
This past Saturday, geologist Callan Bentley, of Northern Virginia Community College, led a couple of dozen local science writers on a trip back through Washington, D.C. history. We didn't learn about Abe Lincoln or George Washington, though. This was geological history, a record of events that occ...
September 21, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
To better understand the ancient Roman world, one archaeologist looks at the graffiti, love notes and poetry alike, left behind by Pompeians
July 27, 2010 | By Kristin Ohlson
In 2009, nearly 6,700 volunteers labored for well over half a million hours for the Smithsonian Institution. “I feel pretty confident in saying the Smithsonian has one of the largest (if not THE largest) volunteer base of any cultural organization in the world,” Amy Lemon, coordinator of Smithsonia...
July 22, 2010 | By Brandon Springer
If I told you that "ants don't sleep," would you believe me? What if I were speaking with a foreign accent?Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that we judge non-native speakers to be less believable, though not because of any bias against foreigners. Instead, they say, it's simply b...
July 21, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Fifty years ago today, Jane Goodall arrived at Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve (now Gombe National Park) in Tanzania and began documenting the lives of the chimpanzees that lived there. When Goodall ended her fieldwork to advocate for the chimps and the environment in general, other researchers too...
July 14, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
In modern times, rhinos are exotic creatures that inhabit faraway lands in Asia and Africa. There are only five living species; all but one is threatened with extinction. But rhinoceroses are an old lineage. They have been around for 50 million years or so, and they once roamed areas in North Ameri...
June 25, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
When humans first set foot on Australia’s northern shores, a bird three times the height of an emu, would have been on their menu
June 02, 2010 | By Brendan Borrell
Excavations of villas where Roman emperors escaped the office are giving archaeologists new insights into the imperial way of life
June 2010 | By Paul Bennett
It's one of the great questions of human evolution: Did Homo sapiens interbreed with Homo neanderthalensis? The two species had many similarities: they lived in caves, used similar types of tools and hunted the same prey. And they lived in the same place for long periods of time, most notably in Eu...
May 07, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Medical 3-D imaging makes it possible to study the world's greatest stringed instruments – and uncover the secrets of its makers
May 2010 | By Erica R. Hendry
Bureaucrat is a dirty word to some people in modern society, so how can a bureaucracy be a good thing? Charles S. Spencer, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, argues this week in PNAS that bureaucracy was essential to the growth and expansion of the first states that formed...
April 21, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Last week I got to look behind the scenes of the entomology collection at the National Museum of Natural History. I learned how the collection of insects and spiders, one of the world's largest, is used by Smithsonian and Department of Agriculture scientists to help port inspectors identify potenti...
April 12, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Poor Rick Potts. He just put the finishing touches on the National Museum of Natural History's new Hall of Human Origins a few weeks ago, and it's already out of date. Now there's a new branch on the human family tree—Australopithecus sediba—and we can thank a 9-year-old kid for its discovery.Throu...
April 08, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
In Pennsylvania, amateur archaeologists unearth a mass grave of immigrant railroad workers who disappeared in 1832
April 2010 | By Abigail Tucker
From the 9th to the 13th centuries, Angkor was the center of the Khmer Empire and the largest city in the world. Roads and canals connected the sprawling complex, which included hundreds of temples. But it didn't last.Today, two million people each year visit the site in Cambodia, though much of it...
March 30, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
A series of statues by sculptor John Gurche brings us face to face with our early ancestors
March 2010 | By Abigail Tucker
The Smithsonian anthropologist turned heads when he proposed that climate change was the driving force in human evolution
March 2010 | By Beth Py-Lieberman
A rare cache of hominid fossils from the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq offers a window on Neanderthal culture
March 2010 | By Owen Edwards
Studies of hominid fossils, like 4.4-million-year-old "Ardi," are changing ideas about human origins
March 2010 | By Ann Gibbons