A 150-mile fence in the Kalahari Desert appeared to threaten Africa's zebras, but now researchers can breathe a sigh of relief
March 2011 | By Robyn Keene-Young
It took 120 hours of observing 40 cat-human pairs for scientists to conclude that the bond between the two can be similar to other human relationships. And, yes, I know that most of you who have cats---or know someone who has a cat---will not find that surprising, so let's delve into the details. I...
February 28, 2011 | By Sarah Zielinski
Before I go any further, I have to warn any balding individuals reading this hoping for a solution to their hair loss problems that I'm going to talk about a study in mice. Nothing—yet—has been tested in humans, so don't get too excited.Our story starts with a group of scientists studying chronic s...
February 17, 2011 | By Sarah Zielinski
Animal sex can get pretty weird. And we're not comfortable with some of its variants. I'm sure I'm on someone's watch list after researching this post; while searching for juicy examples, I kept coming across sites barred by the Smithsonian's internet filter—such as the Wikipedia entry on "sexual c...
February 14, 2011 | By Sarah Zielinski
Crested gibbons of the genus Nomascus are small apes that live in the dense rainforests of Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam. All seven species communicate by singing—they sing to define their territory and find a mate, and male-female pairs sing duets to strengthen their bond, rather like a Bollyw...
February 08, 2011 | By Sarah Zielinski
February 2011 | By G. Wayne Clough
Before the captive animals can go free, they have to hone their killer instinct at a conservation center in Colorado
February 2011 | By Morgan Heim
Rare and maddeningly elusive, the "ghost cat" tries to give scientists the slip high in the mountains of Montana
February 2011 | By Abigail Tucker
Some readers of recent Smithsonian stories on wild pigs in Texas and the world's worst invasive mammals list have argued that we may have left out the worst invasive species of them all: Homo sapiens. But are humans really an invasive species?Let's start with the definition of an invasive species. ...
January 31, 2011 | By Sarah Zielinski
Clouded leopards—named for their large, cloud-like spots—are rare. They are medium-sized (a bit bigger than a housecat) tree dwellers with big teeth and big paws that let them hang upside down among the foliage. In 2006, scientists used DNA studies to determine that there were two species of cloude...
January 25, 2011 | By Sarah Zielinski
Now numbering in the millions, these shockingly destructive and invasive wild hogs wreak havoc across the southern United States
January 2011 | By John Morthland
Are you getting impatient for scientists to resurrect an extinct species? Me, too. Jurassic Park popularized the idea that ancient DNA could be used to reanimate dinosaurs. The cloning of Dolly the sheep provided a plausible mechanism, and the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones and the reco...
December 27, 2010 | By Laura Helmuth
Young female chimps that live in a Ugandan park sometimes treat sticks in the same ways a little girl might treat her dolly, according to a new study in the journal Current Biology.Studies have shown that human girls tend to play more with dolls and boys with toy vehicles and fake weapons. Captive ...
December 21, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
Animals as common as goats, deer, rabbits or mice can have a devastating effect on other wildlife
December 20, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
In 2007, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey said that if humans didn't do anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be gone by the middle of this century. Now a new study has addressed the next question: Is there still time to help the bears? T...
December 17, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
I was watching the Botswana special episode of the British television show Top Gear earlier this week, the one in which the three hosts use sub-standard cars to make their way from the Zimbabwean border to the Namibian one, and a certain scene got me thinking. In it, the hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Ric...
December 09, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski
The lumbering beasts coexisted with the first humans for tens of thousands of years and then died off. Why?
December 2010 | By Andrew Curry
Birute Mary Galdikas has devoted her life to saving the great ape. But the orangutan faces its greatest threat yet
December 2010 | By Bill Brubaker
Originally mistaken for dinosaur fossils, whale bones uncovered in recent years have told us much about the behemoth sea creatures
December 01, 2010 | By Brian Switek
The 1940 documentary short "Quicker'n a Wink" fascinated people with its slow-motion imagery of things like the beating of a hummingbird's wings; it won a 1941 Academy Award. One of the revelations from the movie was that a cat curls its tongue backwards into a "J" when it goes to take a drink of l...
November 12, 2010 | By Sarah Zielinski