Wild Things: Giant Pandas, an Ancient Ibis and More…

Panda-friendly forests, one bizarre bird and foxes on junk food

(Pete Oxford / Minden Pictures)
smithsonian.com

Decline and Fall

tree ring
(© Tom Bean / Corbis)
A new analysis of tree rings from more than 9,000 European pines, larches and oaks provides a climate record going back 2,500 years. Scientists in Switzerland and elsewhere linked the data to history. For instance, the Roman Empire thrived during a period of above average rainfall and steady temperatures, which ended around A.D. 250, followed by 300 years of extreme variability—and the fall of the empire.
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