Biology

An image of stem cells on a computer screen from 2010. Stem cells have the potential to develop into various types of cells.

Scientists Create 'Synthetic Embryos' From Monkey Cells

By studying lab-grown stem cells, scientists hope to shed light on miscarriages and birth defects

Brazilian reef octopuses, like other types of cephalopods, defend themselves against predators by inking and extending their mantles. 

Octopuses May Have Vivid Nightmares, Video Suggests

Costello, a male Brazilian reef octopus, had "bizarre" defensive outbursts while sleeping in a lab

Christopher Heckscher, ornithologist by day and firefly hunter by night, at work in the Nanticoke Wildlife Area, Delaware.

The Illuminating Science Behind Fireflies

A dedicated ornithologist with a passion for lightning bugs scours bogs and beaches to discover previously unknown species

Male California sea lions are polygamous and must fight to defend their territories and their harems.

Why Male California Sea Lions Are Getting Bigger

The “raccoons of the sea” have varied diets, allowing them to grow large to compete for mates

One of the many Edicaran biota fossils within the bounds of Nilpena Ediacara National Park, which is now open in South Australia.

The World's Newest National Park Protects 550-Million-Year-Old Fossils

The 148,000-acre Nilpena Ediacara National Park in South Australia is helping scientists unravel the mysteries of life's evolution on Earth

Park-goers hoping to catch a glimpse of the synchronized flashing of fireflies can soon enter a lottery.

How You Can See Tens of Thousands of Fireflies Flash in Unison

The lottery for viewing these bioluminescent bugs at Great Smoky Mountains National Park opens Friday

Ellie, an 11-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo, video chats with a friend.

Scientists Taught Pet Parrots to Video Call Each Other—and the Birds Loved It

Wild parrots tend to fly in flocks, but when kept as single pets, they may become lonely and bored

Sarracenia pitcher plants typically live in bogs in the southeastern United States.

Carnivorous Plants May Lure Insects With Specially Tailored Scents

Pitcher plants appear to use different odor cocktails to attract bees, moths, ants and other bugs into their death traps

One-third of the world’s population can’t see the starry band of light in the night sky that makes up the Milky Way (above). The new show “Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky” at the National Museum of Natural History looks at the devastating impacts of artificial light.

Why It’s Time for a Worldwide Lights-Out Program

A new Smithsonian exhibition delves into the issue of light pollution, with easy solutions offering an immediate change

A wild Asian elephant in Sri Lanka

Watch This Elephant Peel a Banana With Her Trunk

Pang Pha likely learned to de-skin the yellow fruits while observing her human caretaker in her youth

Now extinct, thylacines are carnivorous marsupials that once roamed freely around Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea.

Extinct Tasmanian Tigers May Have Survived Longer Than Previously Thought

Though the last documented thylacine died in 1936, a new study based on alleged sightings suggests the species lived for decades more

Technician Yesmarie De La Flor prepares cultures of probiotics in the Smithsonian Marine Station’s microbiology laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida. These probiotics were used for testing on diseased corals.

Probiotics May Help Corals Fight a Dangerous Disease Off Florida’s Coast

The new treatment shows promise in lab experiments

Top: The citizen science photo of an alleged juvenile goblin shark found on the beach of Anafi Island in Greece. Bottom: A juvenile female goblin shark found near Shimizu, Japan.

Were Scientists Duped by a Plastic Shark Toy?

Researchers withdrew a report of a rare and elusive goblin shark spotted in Greece after their peers raised concerns about the alleged discovery

Zebrafish experience what's known as "emotional contagion" and react when their peers are afraid.

Fish May Sense Each Other's Fear

Zebrafish respond when their peers act afraid, an ability regulated by the same hormone that drives human empathy, a new study shows

Wandering albatross pair in courtship in South Georgia. Researchers have found some birds have bolder personalities than others.

Animal Personalities Can Trip Up Science

Individual behavior patterns may skew studies, but researchers have a solution to this problem

To collect a saliva sample, technicians instruct a person to tilt their head for two to five minutes and spit the accumulated saliva into a sterile tube. The saliva-filled tube is kept on ice and sent to the laboratory to test for the presence of biomarkers for cancer or other diseases.

Is Saliva the Next Frontier in Cancer Detection?

Scientists are finding tumor signals in spit that could be key to developing diagnostic tests for various types of cancer

The strategy an animal uses to track a scent depends upon a number of factors, including the animal’s body shape and the amount of turbulence in the odor plume.

Scientists Are Trying to Figure Out How Animals Follow a Scent to Its Source

Uncovering the varied strategies that animals employ could help engineers develop robots that accomplish similar tasks

In the study, members of bee colonies mimicked the strategy of a "demonstrator" bee, which had been trained to open a puzzle box in a specific way.

Bumblebees Learn to Open Puzzle Boxes From Each Other

New findings might suggest the insects have a capacity for culture, researchers say

Giant lacewings date back to the Jurassic Era and hadn't been seen in eastern North America for more than 50 years, until this discovery.

Rare Jurassic-Era Insect Discovered at Arkansas Walmart

The species had not been recorded in eastern North America for more than 50 years—and never documented in the state

Sharpshooters use an appendage called an anal stylus to catapult droplets of pee.

These Tiny Bugs Urinate by Flinging Droplets of Pee

Sharpshooters are the first example of “superpropulsion” in a living organism, according to new research

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