New Research at Smithsonian

Landscapes have been managed by humans for thousands of years – some sustainably, others less so. The Martu people of Australia burn the grasses in continent’s Western Desert. The practice yields food, but also increases biodiversity in the area.

Smithsonian Voices

New Study Pushes Origins of Human-Driven Global Change Back Thousands of Years

Understanding people’s past land use strategies could help us better conserve global biodiversity now.

As many commercial operators and homeowners are shifting to LEDs, which tend to fall somewhere in the blue-white spectrum, the new results may have important implications beyond tropical rainforests.

Using Amber-Filtered Bulbs Instead of White Light Attracts Fewer Bugs

In a tropical rainforest study, 60 percent fewer insects visited traps illuminated in a golden glow. Researchers say the results may be widely applicable

All modern dogs are descended from a wolf species that when extinct around 15,000 years ago. Grey wolves, pictured here fighting for food with now extinct dire wolves (red), are dogs’ closest living relative.

Smithsonian Voices

Meet the Scientist Studying How Dogs Evolved From Predator to Pet

Learn about how humans of the past helped build the bond between us and our favorite furry friends

In makeshift home laboratories, a team of scientists discovered that cotton flannel is the optimal fabric, and their latest study says that the moisture from our breath makes the mask more effective.

How to Build a Better Homemade Face Mask, According to Science

When Covid-19 hit, Smithsonian researchers set up makeshift home laboratories to conduct groundbreaking studies on mask fabric materials

Sylvester Musembi Musyoka, a Kenyan colleague and field crew leader, recording a large mammal fossil bone during a virtual field project to collect fossils in Kenyan excavation sites that were in danger of being damaged by severe weather.

Smithsonian Voices

How the Pandemic Changed Scientific Exploration

Seven Smithsonian scientists continued to discover the secrets of the natural world safely during the pandemic

Foster mother, BD, feeds her adopted vampire bat pup in a captive bat colony at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama.

Smithsonian Voices

Baby Vampire Bat Adopted by Mom's Best Friend

The strong relationship formed between two female adult vampire bats may have motivated one of the bats to adopt the other’s baby

Bryophytes in the tropics are threatened due to lack of information and research.

Smithsonian Voices

Step Into the Mossy World Where Tiny Plants Play an Outsized Role in the Environment

Bryophytes are an important part of our environment, but in the tropics, there's still much to learn about them

The cyanobacteria species that produces gatorbulin-1, tentatively identified as Lyngbya confervoides, forms these reddish-green, hair-like structures which are a collection of connected single cells rather than a true multicellular organism.

Smithsonian Voices

Scientists Find Blue-Green Algae Chemical With Cancer-Fighting Potential

The discovery shows how studying marine biodiversity can enhance biomedical research.

This fossilized dinosaur head and vertebrae were discovered in 1883 but only recently gained its name, Smitanosaurus agilis.

Smithsonian Voices

Scientists Name Old Dinosaur for the Smithsonian

A new study has reclassified a fossil discovered in 1883 as a dicraeosaurid—a family of long-necked dinosaurs rarely found in North America

A new study analyzes the downy feathers of 249 Himalayan songbird species, including this brown-throated fulvetta, using specimens from the National Museum of Natural History's vast collections.

Himalayan Songbirds Adapted to the Cold by Sporting Thicker Down 'Jackets'

High-elevation birds might use their downy feathers to keep from wasting energy shivering to stay warm

"We didn’t think there was a lot of wind-driven activity on Mars because the atmosphere is so thin,” says the Smithsonian's Mariah Baker. “We’ve discovered that Mars is a very active place."

Exploring Mars

Why a Smithsonian Researcher Is Tracking the Wind on Mars

When Perseverance lands, Mariah Baker will collect data that will prepare the way for crewed missions to the Red Planet

Published in Scientific Reports, the new study by astronomers Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, propose that a series of break-ups and chance events sent the huge chunk of space rock our way.

Astrophysicists Chart Source of Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs

A new model explains a possible route for the extraterrestrial rock before it blasted Earth

This is a giant spindle magnetofossil, created by a mysterious creature over 50 million years ago. So far, the iron fossils have only been found during two periods of intense global warming.

Smithsonian Voices

New Way to Study Magnetic Fossils Could Help Unearth Their Origins

Now that scientists can detect these fossils in geologic materials faster, they will be able to look for past evidence of the fossils more efficiently

An artist's rendering of the five-planet system that orbits star HD 108236, or TOI-1233. In the foreground is a hot, rocky planet that resembles Earth.

Balancing Homework and A.P. Classes, These High Schoolers Discovered Four Exoplanets

Thanks to a Harvard-Smithsonian mentoring program, high school students Kartik Pinglé and Jasmine Wright helped discover new worlds

The Tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus, is a unique reptile found in New Zealand. New research suggests the species has two mitochondrial genomes.

Smithsonian Voices

Scientists Discover This Peculiar New Zealand Reptile Has Two 'Powerhouse' Genomes

The research could help zoologists understand what makes tuataras so genetically different from all other reptiles.

These walrus ivory carvings were collected in the mid-1880s. They were featured in a catalogue for the exhibition "Looking Both Ways: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People" at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 2003.

Smithsonian Voices

How Arctic Anthropologists Are Expanding Narratives About the North

Studying past Arctic cultures and working with today's northern communities to address present-day socioeconomic and environmental challenges

The Volta’s electric eel, Electrophorus voltai, emits the strongest shocks of any animal on Earth. Although these eels were thought to be loners, the species was recently seen hunting in a group.

Smithsonian Voices

Shocking Study Finds Electric Eels Hunt Together

The study challenges what researchers know about eels’ supposed loner behavior

This is the first time that dwarfism has been documented in captive or wild giraffes.

Scientists Report First Instances of Dwarf Giraffes

Two individuals spotted in the wild seem to have classic long necks but unusually short, stubby legs

Sequencing entire genomes from ancient tissues helps researchers reveal the evolutionary and domestication histories of species.

Smithsonian Voices

How Ancient DNA Unearths Corn's A-Maize-ing History

New study shows how extracting whole genomes from ancient material opens the door for new research questions and breathes new life into old samples

None

Smithsonian Voices

Rare Iridescent Snake Discovered in Vietnam

The discovery could help scientists piece together new information about snake evolution.

loading icon