Articles by Jason Bittel

The lowland streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar.

Defensive Spines on Tenrecs Could Come at a Cost to Brain Size

The little mammals of Madagascar appear to have undergone an evolutionary tradeoff between brain size and defensive armor

Gourds come in all shapes and sizes—some sweet and delicious, some stiff and bitter, and some that are just plain odd.

Halloween

The Science Behind Decorative Gourd Season

Gourds are the runts of their family of fruits, too tough and bitter to eat, but they remain one of the most popular crops of fall

A harmless toilet plunger really takes the snap out of a snapping turtle.

The Musk Turtle Beer Koozie and Other Household Items We Use for Science

When the going gets tough, creative researchers turn to plastic lizard protectors, monkey loofahs and deer vagina trackers

Koalas eat 200 to 500 grams of eucalyptus a day. So when all shipping routes go down, what's an animal nutritionist to do?

When Disaster Strikes, the Zoo Must Go On

Zoo nutritionists have the Herculean task of feeding thousands of charges, come hurricane, tornado or terrorist attack

A close-up of a camel spider's multifaceted mouthparts, taken in Namibia's Namib Desert.

New Research

Camel Spiders Are Fast, Furious and Horrifically Fascinating

Yet another mystery about these arachnids: Why are they so intent on mass-murdering ants?

Every species lights up the night in its own unique sequence of patterns, colors and flashes.

Illuminating the Secret Language of Lightning Bugs

For these light-up lovers, each flash in the night could mean sex or death

Male deer grow these impressive face ornaments every year, in a cycle of life, death and itchiness.

New Research

Antlers Are Miraculous Face Organs That Could Benefit Human Health

There’s so much more to deer antlers than fighting and impressing the ladies

A raccoon butterflyfish on a coral reef in Egypt's Red Sea. The vast majority of aquarium fish come from countries with known cyanide fishing problems.

Future of Conservation

Soon, You Could Be Able to Tell if Your Aquarium Fish Was Caught With Cyanide

A new handheld detector aims to root out this widespread, destructive practice

Every cupful of pond water is swirling with DNA sequences. Now, scientists are putting them to work to solve stubborn conservation mysteries.

Future of Conservation

How Scientists Use Teeny Bits of Leftover DNA to Solve Wildlife Mysteries

Environmental DNA helps biologists track rare, elusive species. It could usher in a revolution for conservation biology

Nearly blind, Typhlomys cinereus thrives in the high forests of southeastern China and Vietnam—with a little help from another sense.

New Research

This Echolocating Dormouse Could Reveal the Origins of One of Nature’s Coolest Superpowers

Mice, moths and even humans use clicks and echoes to "see" the world around them

Ecologists tend to think of mobbing behavior as primarily a way that smaller birds protect their nests and chicks from larger predators. Shown here, a Willie wagtail attacking an Australian raven.

New Research

Why Do Male Birds Take on Larger Predators? Maybe Just to Impress the Ladies

Some mobbing behavior may be less about survival, and more about sexual selection

Here, a Gila woodpecker peacefully eats a pyracantha berry. But don't be fooled by appearances.

Weird Animals

This Woodpecker Will Drill Into Your Skull And Eat Your Brains—If You’re a Baby Dove

Think those needle noses were only made for eating insects? Think again

The tongue-eating louse will leave you speechless.

Hollywood Has Nothing on These Real Life Halloween Horror Shows

Face-unfurling, chest-exploding, zombie-making fiends: They're all around us

These are the creatures snakes have nightmares about.

The Animals That Venom Can’t Touch

Meet the creatures who look into the face of venomous death and say: Not today

These glow-in-the-dark roaches have the goods.

I Am Officially in Love With Cockroaches

And after you read this, you will be too

If you're going to be riding a horse for a while, you're probably going to want to amble.

New Research

Today’s Smooth-Running Horses May Owe Their Genetics to the Vikings

Scientists have determined the likely origin for the "gaitkeeper" gene, which controls gaitedness in horses

You ain't seen nothing yet.

There’s No Wrong Way to Make a Tadpole (or Froglet)

Marsupial frogs, “vomit frogs” and foam-spewers reveal the glorious range of frog baby-making techniques

Collector urchins can protect themselves from the sun by covering themselves with bits of algae, coral and other detritus.

Urchin Sunscreen and Other Ways Animals Beat the Burn

Species have come up with a variety of ways to protect themselves from the sun

Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt holds the notorious tarantula hawk, one of the only creatures to rate a 4 on his pain index.

This Guy Got Himself Stung 1,000 Times For Science—Here’s What He Learned

A new book reveals what it’s like to be stung by nearly 100 species of insect, and some of the secrets of things that sting

Important information about a cheetah can be found in its feces.

A Fecal Pellet’s Worth A Thousand Words

Scientists can learn a surprising amount about an animal just by analyzing its poop

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