New Research at Smithsonian

In a release the Zoo reported that last week: “Keepers noticed that Ambika’s right-front leg, which bore the brunt of her weight, developed a curve that weakened her ability to stand. Though she had some good days and some bad days, staff grew concerned when she chose not to explore her habitat."

National Zoo Mourns Death of Asian Elephant

The 72-year-old animal was the third oldest in the North American population

Ecologist and Smithsonian associate Aung Myo Chit soothes an elephant in Myanmar after it was fitted with a collar.

Planet Positive

Researchers Are Learning How Asian Elephants Think—in Order to Save Them

As the pachyderms increasingly clash with farmers and villagers over disappearing land, scientists study the way the animals' minds work

Vampire bats, a highly social species, will continue interacting with each other even when they're feeling sick.

When Illness Strikes, Vampire Bat Moms Will Still Socialize With Their Kids

Studying how bats behave when they’re feeling ill could help researchers better understand how pathogens move through close-knit populations

The first two cheetah cubs born via embryo transfer

In a First, Cheetah Cubs Born Through Surrogacy at the Columbus Zoo

Zookeepers and Smithsonian scientists successfully transferred cheetah embryos, marking a major conservation milestone for the vulnerable species

Three Cassiopea, or upside-down jellyfish, seen from above in a lab at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The cloudy matter floating above and to the left of the jellyfish is a mucus that they exude.

These Jellyfish Don't Need Tentacles to Deliver a Toxic Sting

Smithsonian scientists discovered that tiny 'mucus grenades' are responsible for a mysterious phenomenon known as 'stinging water'

Bees from the nest structures: A) Head, side, top and bottom views of bees found inside the cells, B) drawing of Eufriesea surinamensis and photograph of the head of a modern bee taken by David Roubik


150-Year-Old Mummified Bee Nests Found in Panama City Cathedral

The nests, covered in gold leaf and paint, act as a time capsule for the surrounding environment circa 1870

Coyotes are about to enter South America, a move that could soon make the species, native to North America, one of the most widespread carnivores in the western hemisphere.

Coyotes Poised to Infiltrate South America

The crab-eating fox and the coyote may soon swap territories, initiating the first American cross-continental exchange in more than three million years

Humpback whales being tagged by researchers off the coast of Antarctica in 2018. The data gathered revealed that diet largely dictates a whales' maximum size.

Whales Are the Biggest Animals to Ever Exist—Why Aren't They Bigger?

New research highlights the role diet plays in dictating a cetacean’s size

Reproductive biologist Pei-Chih Lee helped develop a new procedure to dehydrate and preserve samples of cat ovarian tissue without freezing.

Scientists Pumped Ovarian Tissue Full of Sugar and Microwaved It. Here’s Why

Though only tried in cat tissues so far, the technique could someday aid fertility preservation, wildlife conservation and more

A Savannah sparrow stands on a patch of melting snow in a warm-season grass field in Virginia.

Not All Birds Fly South for the Winter

Researchers in Virginia studied how mowing, burning or animal grazing helped or hindered birds that stayed home for the winter

Heliconius charithonia is one of the species of butterflies whose wing patterns scientists scrutinized to better understand the evolutionary process. This butterfly is wild-type; the genetically edited H. charithonia wings have wider swathes of yellow.

What Butterflies' Colorful Wing Patterns Can Teach Us About Evolution

Smithsonian scientists used genetically-engineered butterflies to learn that evolution can take a different path to achieve the same thing

The Spectacled Flowerpecker

The Spectacled Flowerpecker Is Now Known to Science

First spotted a decade ago, this elusive bird hangs out in the canopy of Borneo’s lowland forests

Coyotes are one of the most resourceful and resilient predators and play an important role in controlling populations of small mammals.

Connecting With Coyotes on the Prowl

Biologist Joe Guthrie embarks on a new study to track five adults in the Shenandoah Valley using GPS collars

The Global Change Environmental Research Wetland spans 173 acres in Edgewater, Maryland.

Marshes Grow Stronger When Faced With Increased Carbon Dioxide

Marsh plants respond to increased CO2 by growing many small stems, creating a denser wetland that may protect against sea level rise

Three green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, on a coral reef, Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Coral Reefs Face the Dual Threats of Ocean Acidification and Erosion

As coral tissues die off, the exposed calcified skeleton becomes vulnerable to organisms that eat away at the dying reefs

Birds are considered an indicator species, representing the health of entire ecosystems.

North America Has Lost Nearly 3 Billion Birds Since 1970

The staggering population loss of 29 percent of North American birds could signal an ecological crisis

This school year, three new Smithsonian lesson plans on the Inka Empire, Native American treaties and the history of 19th-century Cherokee removal became available to K-12 educators.

Inside a New Effort to Change What Schools Teach About Native American History

A new curriculum from the American Indian Museum brings greater depth and understanding to the long-misinterpreted history of indigenous culture

Electrophorus voltai, a newly discovered species of electric eel, pictured swimming in the Xingu River, a southern tributary of the Amazon.

Smithsonian Researchers Triple the Number of Electric Eel Species, Including One With Record-Setting Shock Ability

It’s literally shocking news


This Smithsonian Scientist Is on a Mission to Make Leeches Less Scary

Curator Anna Phillips is on a quest to make leeches less repulsive to the public

In a fit of pique, according to one of Aesop's fables, the god Hermes made the animal carry its house forever on its back.

How the Turtle Got Its Shell, With Apologies to Aesop

Smithsonian paleontologist Hans Sues unpacks the complicated evolution of how this creature grew a home upon its back

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