Wildlife

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

This fossilized Buronius tooth is roughly a third of an inch long.

Do These Fossilized Teeth Belong to the World’s Smallest Great Ape?

Researchers say two teeth and a kneecap belong to a previously unknown species that lived in what is now Germany

Otters in the Aleutian Archipelago, the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Smithsonian Photo Contest Galleries

You Ought to See These Otters

View 15 outstanding otter images from the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

Wedge-tailed shearwaters surprised scientists by showing up after rats were eradicated on Tromelin Island—a place, in the Indian Ocean, where the seabirds hadn’t been documented breeding before.

After Rats Were Eradicated From This Small Island, Seabirds Thrived

Tromelin Island became a safe place for birds once the invasive mammals were eliminated

A sea turtle enters the waters of the Galápagos Islands to join divers who are exploring its home.

Celebrate World Turtle Day With 15 Photographs of the Delightful Reptiles

These shots from the Smithsonian Magazine Photo contest show why turtles are so terrific

Evidence suggests blue whales were an important food source for Icelanders.

Medieval Icelanders Likely Hunted Blue Whales

New research suggests Viking-age hunters took down the biggest animal on Earth

Rangers clear deceased birds from Staple Island in England, where avian flu had a devastating effect on a seabird colony.

Four Important Questions About Bird Flu, Answered

The virus has killed tens of millions of birds and infected hundreds of species of animals, including dairy cattle in the United States. Here’s what you should know about it

A diving bell spider with a captured bug under the water

These Funky Spiders Are Lurking by the Water

Some make nests inside seashells, while others tote bubbles of air on their backs

A male western snowy plover stands guard over his nest. During breeding season, males tend to the chicks while females seek a new mate. 

How Scientists Are Protecting Plovers’ Beachfront Lifestyle

Camouflaged by the sand, these threatened shorebirds aim to hide from predators. Now conservationists are trying to give their breeding efforts a boost

A mother Siphonops annulatus with newborn babies.

Inside the Wild Ways Many Creatures Make Milk

Mammals aren’t the only animals that provide nutritious secretions for their young

In the late 1960s, Bob Paine described the Pisaster sea star as a “keystone species” in Pacific Northwest tide pools. The concept has since taken on a life of its own.

Has the Term 'Keystone Species' Lost Its Meaning?

More than 50 years after Bob Paine’s experiment with starfish, hundreds of species have been pronounced “keystones” in their ecosystems

A bat clings to the roof of an abandoned cellar—an unlikely but vital habitat type for Europe’s bats.

How a Fantastical Labyrinth Became a Crucial Habitat for Europe’s Bats

After scientists documented the flying mammals in the Piusa Sand Caves, dug by miners a century ago, conservationists strove to protect the vital habitat

Exceeding 50 feet in length, Mosasaurus hoffmannii was among the largest mosasaurs.

Massive Mosasaurs May Have Evolved More Than Once

The predators, which were made famous in the “Jurassic World” franchise, likely arose at least three times

A moose moves through the forest.

How Should Colorado Handle Its Booming Moose Population?

Roughly 3,000 animals now roam the state's mountain ranges

A variety of plants and animals go through periods where they are dormant or in the dark.

Move Over, Cicadas: These Living Things ‘Go Dark’ For a Long Time, Too

From frogs to orchids, many organisms go dormant or move underground for lengthy stints

The bamboo octocoral Isidella sp. displaying bioluminescence in the Bahamas in 2009.

Glowing Sea Creatures Have Been Lighting Up the Oceans for More Than Half a Billion Years

New research on branching animals known as octocorals pushes the early days of bioluminescence back over 200 million years

A hawksbill sea turtle munches away on a sponge near Juno Beach.

Smithsonian Photo Contest Galleries

Journey Under the Sea With 15 Amazing Photos of Marine Life

These Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest images feature the captivating creatures that live beneath the waves

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There's More to That

What Happens When Animals Cross the Road

Our byways are an unnatural incursion into the natural world, especially when they’re allowed to fall into disuse. Meet a roadkill scientist and a journalist tracking how roads mess with nature—and what we can do about it

Visitors left notes, photos and mementos at the base of an oak tree Flaco the Eurasian eagle-owl had favored after escaping from the Central Park Zoo. A memorial for Flaco was held there on March 3.

What Flaco the Owl’s Death Teaches Us About Making Cities Safer for Birds

Ornithologists and conservationists say humans can take key steps to make urban environments less hazardous for our avian friends

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