Wildlife

A female saltmarsh sparrow in a New Hampshire wetland is held by University of New Hampshire graduatet student Talia Kuras. The circular device reads the transponder-containing indentification tag on the bird's leg. 

Planet Positive

Saving the Imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow

Conservationists are racing to rescue a delightful coastal animal from rising seas

One reader wonders why men’s bicycles have crossbars but not women’s.


 

Why Do Only Men's Bicycles Have Crossbars? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

Horses have shaped human history over millennia, just as humans have influenced their evolution

When Did Humans Domesticate the Horse?

Only recently have scientists discovered exactly when and where the animal went from wild to tame

Some 1,500 rhesus macaques live a mile off the eastern shore of Puerto Rico on Cayo Santiago.

Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican Island Where 1,500 Monkeys Rule

The Caribbean Primate Research Center on Monkey Island is one of the world’s top institutions for studying primate behavior

A new book, coedited by Smithsonian entomologist Ted Schultz, explores and the fascinating ways in which human and nonhuman farmers compare, and asks what we might learn from other agricultural species.

Could Ants, Termites and Fishes Make Humans Better Farmers?

Scientists are now revealing the agricultural expertise that other species have cultivated for tens of millions of years

A gorilla sleeps in a forest in Rwanda.

Why Humans Sleep Less Than Their Primate Relatives

Ancient humans may have evolved to slumber efficiently—and in a crowd

Aseel Rawashdeh's innovation won sixth place in this year's Regeneron Science Talent Search, the country's most prestigious and oldest science and math competition for promising young scientists in their senior year.

Innovation for Good

This Teenager Found a Way to Control Mosquitoes Using Essential Oils and Baker's Yeast

Aseel Rawashdeh's inexpensive larvicide kills disease-spreading species and spares beneficial ones

Black turban snails are small marine snails that make tasty prey for crabs. Failed crab attacks leave scars on a snail’s shell. By analyzing the rate of scarring and the size of the snail when it was attacked, researchers can learn important details about crab populations.

Scars on Snails Offer a 100,000-Year Record of Crab Populations

A surprisingly simple technique for studying marks on shells shows how California’s crab population has changed over millennia

A snorkeler comes face to face with a humpback whale. If humans work to halt climate change, that may help prevent another mass extinction event in the oceans.

Without Action on Climate, Another Mass Extinction Event Will Likely Happen in the World's Oceans

Marine species at the poles will face increasing pressure if warming isn’t curbed

A male Philoponella prominens spider (top) mates with a female.

This Male Spider Catapults Itself Into the Air to Avoid Sexual Cannibalism

The arachnids propel themselves to safety at breakneck speeds after they’ve mated to avoid being eaten alive

As the climate changes, polar bears are increasingly coming into contact with people.

Researchers Develop a 'Bear-Dar' That Warns Humans of Approaching Polar Bears

The artificial intelligence-powered radar system is needed as climate change brings the animals closer to towns

Visible in the entrance to their den are a mother black bear, who has been sedated, and her female cub. Scientists are watching to see how bears will tweak their hibernation habits as the climate warms.

Why Amazing Discoveries About Bear Hibernation May Help Improve Human Health

The creatures' annual protracted snoozes have much to tell us about the biology of mammals, ourselves included

An artists's take on the insect

The Quest to Find the World's Largest Bee

The rediscovery of Wallace’s giant bee uncovers disheartening truths about the tenuous fate of hidden insect species

One reader wonders how birds stay balanced on tree branches while they’re asleep. 
 

Ask Smithsonian

How Do Birds Stay Upright When They Are Sleeping?

You've got questions. We've got experts

Bald eagles are intensely social in spite of also being fierce predators. Some 500 live near the remote fishing port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Planet Positive

The Bald Eagle's Soaring Return Shows That the U.S. Can Change for the Better

The true meaning of a national symbol

Biologists of the past often explained the vast spectrum of animal genitalia with "lock-and-key": the hypothesis that vaginas and penises had primarily evolved to fit into each other mechanically. Today, there is a growing appreciation for the myriad of forces acting on genitals.

Why Have Female Animals Evolved Such Wild Genitals?

From ducks to dolphins, females have developed sex organs that help them deter undesirable suitors and derive pleasure from non-reproductive behavior

Male Svalbard walruses cluster by the shore. Each weighs an average of about 3,000 pounds and is up to ten feet long.

Planet Positive

A Welcome Comeback for Norway's Walruses

A hunting ban has fostered the return of a nearly extinct species

Lions spritzed with the hormone oxytocin stayed closer together.

Planet Positive

Can Spraying Lions With the 'Love Hormone' Help Them Live Together?

Researchers administered oxytocin to captive animals, and preliminary results showed the big cats were less hostile towards strangers

A rare sighting of a northern spring salamander on migration night. These nocturnal creatures spend their days hiding under logs and stones.

Planet Positive

Why Did the Salamander Cross the Road?

To reproduce, of course. And a band of volunteers gathers at night to help it—and countless other amphibians—get to the other side

Dried cochineal insects — shown here in the center of the photo — can be processed to create several natural dyes such as carmine and cochineal extract. These products get their red hue from carminic acid, a chemical found within the insect.

Scientists Are Making Cochineal, a Red Dye From Bugs, in the Lab

Used to color foods and cosmetics, carminic acid is traditionally 'farmed' from an insect. But researchers are moving to engineer it in microbes

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