A Babylonian clay model dated to 1800 B.C.E. shows a nude couple on a couch engaged in sex and kissing.

Humanity’s First Recorded Kiss Was Earlier Than We Thought

Ancient texts suggest romantic smooching, and likely the diseases it transmitted, were widespread in Mesopotamia

Flint points from Grotte Mandrin in France and Ksar Akil in Lebanon

54,000 Years Ago, Humans and Neanderthals May Have Inhabited Europe Together

Similarities between artifacts found in Lebanon and France suggest Homo sapiens migrants brought tool traditions with them

One-third of the world’s population can’t see the starry band of light in the night sky that makes up the Milky Way (above). The new show “Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky” at the National Museum of Natural History looks at the devastating impacts of artificial light.

Why It’s Time for a Worldwide Lights-Out Program

A new Smithsonian exhibition delves into the issue of light pollution, with easy solutions offering an immediate change

A revolutionary new tool, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA, will monitor the chemistry and changing dynamics of major pollutants (above: an Arizona power generating station).

This Eye in the Sky Promises Major Insights Into the Air We Breathe

The satellite mission TEMPO will detect pollutants at a neighborhood scale across the nation

Technician Yesmarie De La Flor prepares cultures of probiotics in the Smithsonian Marine Station’s microbiology laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida. These probiotics were used for testing on diseased corals.

Probiotics May Help Corals Fight a Dangerous Disease Off Florida’s Coast

The new treatment shows promise in lab experiments

A cockatoo uses a sharp stick to poke through a membrane before using a scoop to fish out the cashew inside the box.

Like Humans and Chimps, Cockatoos Can Use a Set of Tools to Get a Meal

In lab experiments, the brainy birds carried a stick and scooped with them to get at cashews kept in a box

Two brothers’ remains were found buried together under the floorboards of their home. One had a hole in his skull consistent with surgery.

This Man Underwent Brain Surgery 3,500 Years Ago

Researchers discovered a punctured skull below the floor of a home in what is now Israel

A fossil hippo skeleton and associated Oldowan artifacts were exposed at the Nyayanga site.

Who Made the First Stone Tool Kits?

A nearly three-million-year-old butchering site packed with animal bones, stone implements and molars from our early ancestors reignites the debate

Large felids such as lions and tigers cause more deaths than other predators like bears and wolves. Most fatal felid attacks occur in low-income areas and are predatory, with humans stalked as prey.

What 70 Years of Data Says About Where Predators Kill Humans

A new survey of attacks by lions, wolves and other big carnivores shows that people in low-income countries are at greater risk

An artist’s reconstruction of Ignacius dawsonae surviving in the warm but dark forests of Ellesmere Island

Primate-Like Critters Survived in the Arctic When It Was a Lush, Warm Swamp

Even as darkness gripped the forests for months, two small species made it home

Red junglefowl, ancestors of wild chickens, are known to mix with domestic birds.

Why Chickens Need to Stop Breeding With Their Wild Cousins

The red junglefowl is losing important genetic diversity in its native Asian habitat

A grave with bones that were analyzed

Ancient DNA Charts Native Americans’ Journeys to Asia Thousands of Years Ago

Analysis of ten Eurasian individuals, up to 7,500 years old, gives a new picture of movement across continents

An image created using lidar data shows the structures at Aguada Fénix, in Mexico.

Mesoamericans Have Been Using a 260-Day Ceremonial Calendar for Millennia

New research has the earliest evidence yet of when the timekeeping guide was used to mark the seasons

Roughly 4 percent of adults in the United States have chronic nightmares.

Can a Musical Reminder Banish Bad Dreams?

Scientists hope that playing certain chords while sleeping can trigger positive memories and prevent nightmares

A mountain lion, P-22, known to live in the Los Angeles area

L.A.'s Cougars Were Driven to Extremes by Wildfire

With less suitable habitat, the big cats traveled further and crossed dangerous roads more often

A bull walks in front of a cow. If they mate, the bull’s sperm will likely cluster together as they swim through the female’s reproductive organs.

Bull Sperm Get by With a Little Help From Their Friends

Traveling together helps the sperm navigate a tricky, sticky migration through a cow's reproductive tract

The uncovered skeleton shows where the lower left leg was amputated at the tibia and fibula.

Earliest Known Amputation Was Performed in Borneo 31,000 Years Ago

Prehistoric hunter gatherers carried out the surgery thousands of years before the previous recognized example

Sahelanthropus likely walked on the ground and used all its limbs to move around in trees.

Seven Million Years Ago, the Oldest Known Early Human Was Already Walking

Analysis of a femur fossil indicates that a key species could already move somewhat like us

Archaeologists excavate the remains of friars buried at the former Augustinian friary in central Cambridge.

Why Were Medieval Monks So Susceptible to Intestinal Worms?

Friars in Cambridge, England, suffered from these parasites at nearly double the rate found among average unwashed citizens

Based on the remnants left on pottery fragments, researchers can say northern Europeans have been drinking milk for 9,000 years.

Why Did Europeans Evolve Into Becoming Lactose Tolerant?

Famine and disease from millennia ago likely spurred the rapid evolution of the trait on the continent

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