Articles by Joshua Rapp Learn

Sri Lankan police stand next to over $33 million worth of heroin and crystal methamphetamine seized from two foreign trawlers.

The Number of Small Fishing Vessels Smuggling Illegal Drugs Has Tripled

A lack of options for commercial fishermen in coastal communities has led to a boom in trafficking

Red siskins, (above: a trapped female rescued at a local market by wildlife authorities) listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, face threats from habitat loss, and poaching for the pet trade.

Heavily Trafficked Songbirds Have a Path Back to Resiliency

Researchers see promise in recruiting red siskin pet traders as conservation partners

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Angkor Wat May Owe Its Existence to an Engineering Catastrophe

The collapse of a reservoir in a remote and mysterious city could have helped Angkor gain supremacy

An aye-aye lemur.

Extra Thumb Discovered on Aye-Aye Lemurs, Giving These Primates Six Fingers

Used for gripping limbs, a “pseudo-thumb” makes the hands of these bizarre primates even creepier

Images and measurements of the fossil beetle that revealed it was a different kind of beetle than originally thought.

Fossil Mix-Up Could Rewrite the History of Beetles, the Largest Group of Animals on Earth

The reclassification of a 226-million-year-old beetle species could change our understanding of insect evolution

Researchers hypothesize that magnetic figures may have been crafted to memorialize the dead, with the attractive forces of the sculptures representing a lingering life force.

Mesoamerican Sculptures Reveal Early Knowledge of Magnetism

Stone figures with magnetized cheeks and navels suggest the pre-Maya civilization of Monte Alto understood the attractive force

Typical Tiwanaku-period offerings at Khoa Reef in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, including stone carvings and sacrificial animal bones.

Before the Inca Ruled South America, the Tiwanaku Left Their Mark on the Andes

Artifacts including gold medallions and sacrificial llama bones reveal the ritual pilgrimages taken around Lake Titicaca

This moth specimen was mistakenly identified as a butterfly in 1793, leaving biologists to wonder what happened to the missing "butterfly" for more than 200 years.

One of the 'Rarest Butterflies Ever' May Have Been a Moth All Along

A species description from more than two centuries ago has fooled scientists until now

In the high altitudes of the Himalayas, many wolves have developed distinct traits from their gray wolf cousins.

Should the Himalayan Wolf Be Classified as a New Species?

Years of expeditions in the world's tallest mountain range reveal that Himalayan wolves have developed genetic adaptations to living at high altitudes

The axolotl genome is the largest set of genetic instructions that has ever been fully sequenced, more than ten times larger than a human genome.

Complete Axolotl Genome Could Reveal the Secret of Regenerating Tissues

The aquatic salamander's genome is one of the most complex sets of genetic instructions in the world

Researchers often depend on fishing communities to learn what life is like for sharks out in the deep ocean.

To Study Rare Sharks, Scientists Are Heading to Fish Markets

Marine biologists are combing fish markets around the world to study what comes up in the nets, and sometimes the catch is full of surprises

The Cruces de Molinos site in the Chilean Andes contains rock art depictions of llama caravans, possibly marking a ceremonial site for caravaners passing through the mountains.

Thousand-Year-Old Rock Art Likely Served as a Gathering Point for Llama Caravans Crossing the Andes

Trade caravans, whether supported by mules, camels or llamas, have helped archaeologists piece together the past in many corners of the world

Khoikhoi of South Africa dismantling their huts, preparing to move to new pastures—aquatint by Samuel Daniell (1805). Pastoralism has a rich history in Africa, spreading from the Saharan region to East Africa and then across the continent.

Ritual Cemeteries—For Cows and Then Humans—Plot Pastoralist Expansion Across Africa

As early herders spread across northern and then eastern Africa, the communities erected monumental graves which may have served as social gathering points

Puma skull from the Motmot burial.

The Maya Captured, Traded and Sacrificed Jaguars and Other Large Mammals

New archeological findings suggest the Maya city state Copan dealt in a robust jaguar trade

Toxic Chemicals Banned 20 Years Ago Finally Disappearing From Arctic Wildlife

But the appearance of new chemicals is creating an uncertain future for polar bears, orcas and seabirds

Beer-drinking cups being excavated at Khani Masi held some of the earliest chemical evidence of beer. Researchers had to take extra precautions to avoid contaminating the cups with modern compounds.

Ancient Ceramic Cups Reveal Oldest Direct Evidence of Beer in Mesopotamia

Researchers are working on resurrecting the recipe

Anolis scriptus, the Turks and Caicos anole, on Pine Cay

Lizards With Bigger Toes and Smaller Hind Legs Survive Hurricanes

A serendipitous study comparing the physical traits of lizards before and after 2017's hurricane season shows natural selection in action

Humans and other animals share large amounts of genetic material, making geneticists rethink the traditional notion of inheritance.

New Research

Genes That Jump Between Species Could Rewrite Our Understanding of Evolution

Horizontal movement of genetic material is widespread across animals, challenging traditional notions of inheritance

Elephants communicate in low rumbles, each listening for the resulting vibrations in the ground with their feet.

New Research

Some Animals Take Turns While Talking, Just Like Humans. Why?

Understanding their courteous exchanges—from frog croaks to elephant rumbles—could shed light on the origins of human conversation

You'd expect to see a raccoon snuffling around at midnight. A sun bear, not so much.

New Research

Fear of Humans Is Forcing Daytime Animals Into Night Mode

The stress is pushing some animals to adjust their schedules—but not all will be quick enough to adapt

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