“No, we don't cuddle the seals,” says the Zoo's Rebecca Sturniolo says. “As cute and cuddly as they are, they are pretty feisty."

The Zoo's Baby Seal Is Cute and Cuddly, But Don't Be Fooled

The National Zoo's seal-breeding program has another gray seal pup success

One of the rarest orchids east of the Mississippi, the small-whorled pogonia, emerges from a long dormancy when there is an abundance of specific fungi in the soil.

A Mystery of Hiding Orchids, Solved

Smithsonian scientists have discovered what triggers the rare small-whorled pogonia to awaken from dormancy

Creatures so small that they had been overlooked in the past—sea urchins, Echinometra viridis, (above)  the size of ping-pong balls and a diminutive species of parrotfish, Scarus iseri, were grazing algae on the reef.

These Itsy-Bitsy Herbivores Could Stage a Huge Coral Reef Rescue

Tiny parrotfish and sea urchins can take over the job of their larger cousins to keep a reef free of algae

Harry Houdini by unknown artist, 1920

Escape Artist Harry Houdini Was an Ingenious Inventor, He Just Didn't Want Anybody to Know

More than just a magician, Houdini was also an actor, aviator, amateur historian and businessman

Poppies near Ribeira de Piscos, Côa Valley, Western Iberia, Portugal

A Project to "Rewild" Europe, Brings a Safari-Style Camp to Portugal

See Europe as it was five thousand years ago

Turns out, the Arctic squirrels (Urocitellus parryii) on Chirikof Island, long believed to be an invasive species, were native.

The Invasive Squirrel That Wasn't

Everyone thought that the Arctic ground squirrel was an invasive species on this remote Alaskan island. A pair of scientists beg to differ.

At the top of Dome A, an unmanned research station, is a smattering of antenna masts, small shipping containers, scientific equipment and a lot of footprints that take years for the snow and meager wind to cover up.

The Coldest, Driest, Most Remote Place on Earth Is the Best Place to Build a Radio Telescope

This remote Antarctic field station is an ice-covered arid desert, perfect for peering deep into space

Caribbean spiny lobster on a sea fan off the coast of Honduras

Proposed New Marine Reserve System Offers Rosy Outlook for Both the Lobster and the Lobster Fisherman

With the help of a supercomputer, Smithsonian scientists figure out how to help the lobster fishery off the coast of Honduras

The largest gem-quality diamond ever found in North America goes on view at the Smithsonian.

The Foxfire Diamond Bedazzles as Smithsonian's Newest Rock Star

The largest gem-quality diamond ever found in North America glows bright blue in the dark

A midwater creature has few ways to hide from predators. A new report says some tiny crustaceans use tiny spheres that might be bacteria to cloak themselves with invisibility.

These Sea Creatures Have a Secret Superpower: Invisibility Cloaks

Scientists have found that some crustaceans have just the trick for hiding from predators

Stegosaurus and Ceratosaurus are among one of the most successful groups ever to have evolved.

Celebrate Dino Month With Three New Dinosaur Books

From PhDs to 4th graders, something for everyone

From top left, clockwise: male orangequit; female tungara frog; purple mort bleu butterfly; sunflower; red coral; Galapagos marine iguana

Big Data Just Got Bigger as IBM's Watson Meets the Encyclopedia of Life

An NSF grant marries one of the world's largest online biological archives with IBM's cognitive computing and Georgia Tech's moduling and simulation

Osgood says he can walk peacefully in total anonymity if he leaves his bow tie at home; but people always make him cakes with bow ties.

Charles Osgood's Love Affair With the Bow Tie Began With a Dire Warning About Clip-Ons

As one of his iconic bow ties arrives at the Smithsonian, Osgood reflects on good and bad doggerel and how to tie a good knot

The Cultural Expressions exhibition celebrates the everyday.

How Did Smithsonian Curators Pack 200 Years of African-American Culture in One Exhibition?

The curators of the Cultural Expressions exhibition collected stories and artifacts and brilliantly packed 200 years into one round room

Mercury still has a molten core, like Earth does. As Mercury's core slowly cools, the density of that core increases and it gets slightly smaller.

Mercury Is Tectonically Active, Making It Uniquely Like Earth

A whole new picture of Mercury's geologic history emerges, showing its crust is being thrust up and its surface is changing over time

A fireman's hat dating to around 1860 was decorated for the Phoenix Hose Company of Philadelphia by David Bustill Bowser

In the Early 19th Century, Firefighters Fought Fires ... and Each Other

Fighting fires in early America was about community, property and rivalry

Founder James Smithson (1765-1829) published a paper in search of better way to brew coffee and then considered how his method might work with hops to make beer.

The Founder of the Smithsonian Institution Figured Out How to Brew a Better Cup of Coffee

Almost two hundred years ago, James Smithson devised a method for better brewing. We recreated it.

Batang and her infant are doing well and Zoo staff report she is nursing the new male Bornean orangutan.

UPDATE: Meet the National Zoo's Latest Bouncing Baby—an Orangutan (New Video)

A historical birth of a male Bornean orangutan, the first in 25 years, took place in Washington, D.C.

Envelopes and other artifacts from the 2001 anthrax attacks  are on view in “Behind the Badge: The U.S. Postal Inspection Service” at the National Postal Museum.

The Anthrax Letters That Terrorized a Nation Are Now Decontaminated and on Public View

Carriers of the deadly anthrax bacteria, these letters—on loan from the FBI—can be seen at the National Postal Museum


The Musical Lineup for the Opening of the African American History Museum Is Announced and It's Great

The 'Freedom Sounds' Festival includes D.C. Go-Go band Experience Unlimited, Public Enemy, The Roots, Living Colour and more

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