New Research at Smithsonian


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


A New Species of Leech Is Discovered Near Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian researcher describes a previously unknown species of olive-green bloodsucker that has three jaws with up to 59 teeth

Unlike seeds of other plants, orchid seeds (above, a seed packet) do not contain the nutrition they need to sprout. They get it from fungi.

Why the Conservation of Orchids Is No Simple Matter

Smithsonian's Sidedoor podcast visits with researchers working to understand the conditions these threatened plants need to grow

Ginkgo has survived three mass extinctions, including the one that killed the dinosaurs.

Smithsonian Scientists Are Using Ginkgo Leaves to Study Climate Change—They Need Your Help

Citizen scientists can submit leaf samples from their hometowns through the end of August

This bat gleans insects from leaves. A team of researchers discovered that by approaching a leaf at an oblique angle, it can use its echolocation system to detect stationary insects in the dark.

Bats Use Leaves as Mirrors to Locate and Catch Their Prey

The latest discovery in the arms race between bats and insects reveals that even silent, motionless dragonflies aren't safe

Watch First Footage of Giant Squid Filmed in American Waters

The deep-sea footage also marks a rare sighting of a giant squid in its natural habitat

The almost 3-year-old female offspring (left) and her 12-year-old mother (right)

The National Zoo’s Female Asian Water Dragon Successfully Reproduced Without a Male

This is the first time facultative parthenogenesis has been recorded in both the species and the reptilian Agamidae family

The descendants of Cudjo Lewis and Abache (above) heard stories of the ship that tore their ancestors from their homeland and now the wreck of the Clotilda has been confirmed to be found in Alabama's Mobile River.

The 'Clotilda,' the Last Known Slave Ship to Arrive in the U.S., Is Found

The discovery carries intense personal meaning for an Alabama community of descendants of the ship's survivors

The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun.

Astronomers Capture First-Ever Image of a Supermassive Black Hole

The Event Horizon Telescope reveals the silhouette of a black hole at the center of a galaxy 55 million light-years away

Colors in nature can be produced by both pigments that absorb some light and microscopic structures that change the wavelength of light.

How Do Scientists Know What Colors Prehistoric Animals Were?

Fossil expert Maria McNamara explains how paleontologists are starting to investigate the hues of the past

The Smithsonian's Mary Hagedorn and hundreds of colleagues collaborated on the project, which used cryopreserved elkhorn coral sperm to fertilize live eggs to create larvae.

To Help Corals Fight Back, Scientists Are Breeding Populations Separated by Hundreds of Miles

A new study demonstrates that assisted reproduction using cryopreserved sperm leads to offspring that might be more resilient in the face of climate change

Varieties of maize found near Cuscu and Machu Pichu at Salineras de Maras on the Inca Sacred Valley in Peru, June 2007.

Rethinking the Corny History of Maize

A new genetic study traces the movement of one of the world's most vital crops from Mexico to South America

Rake marks on humpback flukes may be literal tallies of battles won—like the scars seen on the upper right fluke fin here—but little is known about the losses.

New Research

With Humans Out of the Way, Humpbacks Are Flourishing—But So Are Orcas

Researchers are just now beginning to understand what happens when one whale species attacks another

In areas made up of less than 70 percent native plant biomass, Carolina chickadees will not produce enough young to sustain their populations. At 70 percent or higher, the birds can thrive.

Ecologists Have this Simple Request to Homeowners—Plant Native

A new study shows how quickly songbird populations fall off when gardens are planted with exotic trees and shrubs


The Innovative Spirit

The Innovative Spirit: Changing Our World For the Better

In partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, we look at the innovative spirit within the Smithsonian and beyond

“It is especially exciting to see Sukiri bonding with and successfully raising these cubs,” says the Zoo's cheetah biologist Adrienne Crosier.

New Cheetah Mom Earns High Marks Caring for Her Three New Smithsonian Cubs

Cubs born to Sukiri on September 22 are latest in the National Zoo’s efforts to diversify gene pool of captive born cheetahs

Mosquito researcher Kelly Bennett, turkey baster in hand, is on the prowl, collecting specimens for study

Hunting Deadly Mosquitoes in Panama

The latest podcast “Sidedoor” travels with Smithsonian experts on the trail of the buzzing beasts known as the Aedes

A fisher from a small-scale fishery in Honduras hooks a yellowtail snapper—a species of fish that may vary its shape depending on where it's sourced.

To Pinpoint the Origin of a Fish, Check Out Its Physique

A new cost-effective tool may help small-scale fisheries simply and accurately determine the origins of a day's catch.

Scientists don full-body suits to minimize contamination and disturbance of the precious artifacts uncovered in the 1617 church in Jamestown, Virginia, where a new skeleton awaits identification.

A Jamestown Skeleton is Unearthed, but Only Time—and Science—Will Reveal His True Identity

Jamestown Rediscovery archeologists use new technology to uncover the bones of one of the first English colonists

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