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The remains of whales that sink to the ocean floor become biological oases. Since 1977, scientists had only identified about 50 such whale falls across the world’s oceans, but a recent effort uncovered a startling density of them off the coast of Los Angeles.

Why Have So Many Whale Remains Been Found on the Ocean Floor Near Los Angeles?

Scientists have discovered more whale falls there than in the rest of the world combined

Some historians have suggested the giant turtle reported in 1948 was an alligator snapping turtle, pictured here. Other experts disagree with this theory.

Could Citizens of This Indiana Town Have Seen a 500-Pound Turtle?

Two men said they saw such an animal, dubbed the Beast of Busco, in 1948

A light painting made in Delhi, India, in December 2016 shows high air pollution levels a month after an extreme air quality event.

These Alluring Images Capture the Threats of Air Pollution Around the World

Researchers combined long-exposure photography with pollution sensor data to create representations of pollution in India, the United Kingdom and Ethiopia

With their distinct shape, hammerheads are among the most recognizable sharks.

20 Shark Week Photos That Will Terrify and Delight You This Summer

In a collection pulled from the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest, catch a wave with these predators of the sea

Asteroid impacts and volcanism have led to mass extinctions on our planet.

Has Life on Earth Survived More Than Five Mass Extinctions?

Scientists aren’t just arguing whether humans are causing a sixth mass extinction event now, but whether many more occurred in the past

Estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 individuals, the koala population is the largest and healthiest in the state of Victoria, and second only in size to that of Kangaroo Island in the whole country.

This Island Is Inhabited by More Koalas Than Humans

Australia’s French Island is home to one of the country’s largest and healthiest koala populations, but it’s not impervious to the species’ struggles

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The Wild Story of What Happened to Pablo Escobar’s Hungry, Hungry Hippos

Ever since the demise of infamous drug kingpin, his pet hippos have flourished, wreaking havoc on the ecosystem and terrorizing local communities

For some animals, romance goes more smoothly when it comes with gifts.

When It Comes to Romantic Gift-Giving, Humans Aren’t Alone. Snails, Birds and Flies All Woo Each Other With Presents

Throughout the animal kingdom, sweethearts bestow offerings with their amorous advances

Maidenhair ferns frame the cavernous entrance to a 350-foot-long cave that opens in the backyard of an Auckland suburban home.

Bringing Auckland’s Volcanic Underworld to Light

Scientists are working to map and protect the city's underground tunnels so they aren’t destroyed during construction

Winged Life Winner

View 11 Breathtaking Images From the BigPicture Photography Competition

This 2024 showcase of life on Earth shines a light on some of our planet's most amazing species and places

One of Cassini's last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance, produced by combining images taken in October 2016

Here’s What We’ve Learned About Saturn Since Cassini Entered Its Orbit 20 Years Ago

The Cassini-Huygens mission increased our understanding of the planet’s rings and moons

A popular display in the Whatcom Museum’s Hall of Birds features several owls.

Meet the Taxidermists Who Care for the Animals at Your Favorite Museums

Only a few U.S. museums still employ the specialists. The rest rely on a small group of highly skilled contractors

A baby musk ox stands with an adult in the Arctic.

The Quest to Resurrect a Lost Ecosystem in Siberia

A father-and-son team of scientists are trying to revive ancient grasslands by reintroducing large grazers

Two sides of a single ceramic lion's head and a female figurine from Dolni Vestonice

Did Prehistoric Children Make Figurines Out of Clay?

Fingerprints and scratch marks found in artifacts in the Czech Republic suggest youngsters of the Upper Paleolithic used the soil like Play-Doh, according to a pending new study

Could different backyard birds, such as a robin and a bluebird, produce viable offspring? 

Could a Robin and a Bluebird Have Babies? And More Questions From Our Readers

You’ve got questions. We’ve got experts

Scientists are getting better at keeping premature baby sharks alive in aquariums—a boon when captive sharks give birth early, or when aquariums receive donations of living shark fetuses taken from mothers that die in fishing nets.

Preemie Sharks Get by With a Little Help From an Artificial Uterus

Scientists manufactured a womb that could potentially help bolster populations of endangered shark species

Rice coral grows over another species of coral.

These Supercorals Are Causing Problems

As rice coral spreads it reduces biodiversity

Water breaks against Galveston Island’s century-old seawall. The barrier was an engineering marvel in the early 1900s, but the island needs more protection today.

Galveston’s Texas-Size Plan to Stop the Next Big Storm

In the wake of Hurricane Ike, engineers have been crafting a $34 billion plan to protect the city. Will it work when the next disaster arrives?

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Keeping the Spirit of Maine’s Wild Blueberry Harvest Alive

In the far reaches of New England, an unusual convergence of farmworkers renews an ancient and increasingly threatened agricultural practice

Spinner dolphins swim in the Red Sea. Research has shown some dolphins are shy, while others are extroverted.

Five Amazing Dolphin Behaviors, Explained

From calling each other by name to using tools, these social creatures are a lot like us

Photo of the day

The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington D.C., commonly known as Washington National Cathedral, is an iconic landmark for worshippers and visitors from all over the world. Barely 3 miles from our home, I pass this venue daily and it is a special joy to visit it, with the lights, during Christmas and New Year. Moon & the Cathedral