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

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


There's More to That

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

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

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

Making a U-turn is more fun when traveling the Mount Carmel Highway in Zion National Park.

Smithsonian Photo Contest Galleries

Explore the Great Outdoors With Photography From U.S. National Parks

Travel the country's beautiful natural wonders from home with these breathtaking highlights from the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

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

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

The male Morrison bumblebee relies on its enlarged compound eyes to spot—and then pursue—desirable queens to mate with.

These Cute, Fuzzy Bumblebees Are Precision-Engineered Pollinators

As numbers of these key pollinators decline, conservationists are eyeing new federal protections for one vulnerable species

A hippo crosses a rural road near Doradal, Colombia. Experts say that left unchecked the hippo population could grow to 1,400 by 2040.

Pablo Escobar’s Abandoned Hippos Are Wreaking Havoc in the Colombian Jungle

Decades ago, the drug baron smuggled the beasts into South America for his private menagerie. They’ve been multiplying ever since. Now officials are taking extreme measures to counter the problem

A fake foot helps researchers at California State University, Long Beach, determine how stingrays react when they come in contact with people.

When Do Stingrays Strike?

A California researcher and his team simulate stepping on round rays to learn more about their behavior

While scientists have seen colossal squid before—like this specimen examined by New Zealander researchers in 2014—their interactions have always been with animals that were either pulled from the depths, washed up on shore or otherwise removed from their natural habitat.

Is This the First Recorded Footage of a Colossal Squid Living Freely?

The only sightings of the animals so far have come from corpses or creatures dragged up from the depths

Monarchs, some frogs and other animals feed on toxic plants or bugs for protection

A Poisonous Diet Gives These Animals Their Own Toxic Defense

From monarchs to sea slugs, various creatures consume chemicals that keep predators at bay

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