New Research at Smithsonian

The Innovative Spirit

When a Trip to the Zoo Resulted in an Engineering Breakthrough

Megan Leftwich, an engineering professor at George Washington University, is building a robotic flipper based on her observations of sea lions

Scientists have for the first time identified the four people buried in Jamestown's first church. They are (from left) minister Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, Captain Gabriel Archer and Captain William West.

New Jamestown Discovery Reveals the Identities of Four Prominent Settlers

The findings by Smithsonian scientists dig up the dynamics of daily life in the first permanent British settlement in the colonies

Tissue samples in test tubes, like the one D.C. high school student Asia Hill is holding above, are wrapped tin foil and dropped into the team's portable liquid nitrogen tank.

These Scientists Hope to Have Half the World's Plant Families on Ice By the End of Summer

Teaming up with botanical gardens, researchers at the Natural History Museum are digging deep into garden plant genomics

A reconstruction of "grandfather turtle."

New Research

This Ancient Creature Shows How the Turtle Got Its Shell

The 240-million-year-old "grandfather turtle" may be part of the evolutionary bridge between lizards and shelled reptiles

Week of Making

Maker’s Week at the Zoo is Business as Usual

When the right product doesn't exist for a fish ultrasound or other procedure, scientists build it themselves

To discourage the harmful trade that is having a catastrophic effect on elephant populations, nearly one ton of illegal ivory was crushed Friday, June 19, 2015, in Times Square.

Where Do Important Ivory Artifacts Fit in the Race to Save Elephants from Poaching?

The fight against poaching and trafficking came to a head in Times Square last week with the destruction of a one-ton cache of illegal ivory

Tiny ovenbirds wore an even tinier backpack equipped with a GPS tracker that monitored their migratory paths over the course of a year—offering new data on their routes.

The Hottest New Accessory for Songbirds: Tiny GPS-Enabled Backpacks

Peter Marra and Michael Hallworth of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center test a groundbreaking device that tracks birds' migrations

If a lobster’s home territory is written into its genetic code, it just may be possible to distinguish a legally captured lobster from one with a shady background—maybe even after it’s made it to the dinner plate.

To Make Lobster Fisheries More Sustainable, Scientists Attempt to Decode Crustacean DNA

As the battle escalates to combat illegal fishing, Smithsonian scientists offer up a possible genetic tool

This second hatchling is even more notable for the emergency efforts that the animal keepers took to keep it alive.

UPDATE: Second Critically Endangered Tortoise Hatches from a Cracked Egg

To get the critically endangered Madagascar spider tortoises to breed successfully took both tenacity and a whole lot of luck

The sperm, taken from a nine-year old panda named Hui Hui will be used to impregnate the Zoo’s 16-year-old female panda Mei Xiang (above).

To Transport Frozen Panda Semen From China, Zoo Officials Went All the Way

After consulting a "stud book," the Zoo brought a male panda's sperm back to D.C., setting an exciting precedent

The oceans are teeming with tetrapods—“four-legged” birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians—that have repeatedly transitioned from the land to the sea, adapting their legs into fins.

Take a Deep Dive Into The Reasons Land Animals Moved to the Seas

Synthesizing decades of discoveries, scientists have revealed links between changing environments and animal movements

The Panamanian golden frog has become the flagship species for amphibian conservation around the world.

The Race to Protect Frogs from a Deadly Pathogen Gets a Much-Needed Boost

A new amphibian lab in Panama will help researchers to return charismatic golden frogs to the wild

A blue whale specimen, dating from 1936, from the Gulf of Mexico is part of a rare Smithsonian collection of whale fetuses.

New Research

Rare Collection of Whale Fetuses Reveals the Evolution of Cetacean Hearing

Smithsonian researchers offer up an unprecedented glimpse at the development of the “acoustic funnel,” an ear area found exclusively in whales

Though threatened by adverse conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, oysters are filter feeders and may provide a much-needed solution for better water quality.

Let Oysters Get Sick to Clean Up the Chesapeake

The delicious oyster you love to slurp might be the best bet for clearing away pollutants

Art Molella delivers his speech on innovation.

The Innovative Spirit - OLD

The Recipe for Innovation Calls for a Little Chaos and Some Wall Bashing

Scholar Art Molella chronicles the habits, habitats and behaviors of the men and women who invent

Faced with the only high-cost options, Smithsonian researcher Whitman Miller began building his own portable, inexpensive monitoring stations.

Saving Money is Great, but Saving the Chesapeake Bay Will Be Even Better

Whitman Miller's “off the shelf” technology may answer complicated questions about rising CO2 and ocean acidification

Monarch Butterflies, Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary, Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico

Where to See Thousands of Monarch Butterflies

The species is being reviewed for potential addition to the Endangered Species list. Can tourism help save the butterfly?

An Asian tiger mosquito in action.

New Research

Could GM Mosquitoes Pave the Way for a Tropical Virus to Spread?

Modified insects designed to stop dengue fever could make it easier for another disease-carrying species to take root

This artist's depiction shows a gas giant planet akin to Jupiter rising over an alien ocean.

New Super-Earths Double the Number of Life-Friendly Worlds

Three studies looking at small, rocky planets are helping astronomers figure out how common worlds like ours are in the galaxy

Researchers found that human joint-bone density remained pretty high until recently in our evolutionary history, around the same time that humans began switching from hunting and gathering to farming.

Switching to Farming Made Human Joint Bones Lighter

A more fragile skeleton evolved about 12,000 years ago, probably driven by a shift from hunting to agriculture

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