Deserts

The Dixie Valley toad lives only in a remote Nevada valley. 

Nevada Toad Receives Rare Emergency Protection

The construction of a geothermal power plant could create problems for the amphibian

A wooden trestle bridge near Terrace, Utah. The state has more intact miles of original railroad grade than any other in the West.

What Archaeologists Are Learning About the Lives of the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

In the sparse Utah desert, the vital contributions of these 19th-century laborers are finally coming to light

The anthropomorphic carvings represent one of the earliest examples of artistic expression in the Middle East.

Well-Preserved, 9,000-Year-Old Shrine Discovered in Jordan Desert

Researchers uncovered two standing stones featuring anthropomorphic carvings and a model of a "desert kite" used to trap wild gazelles

Flamingos in the Atacama region of Chile

Mining Lithium for Electric Vehicle Batteries May Threaten Flamingos, a Study Finds

A lake in Chile has seen decreases in two flamingo populations over the last 11 years, which researchers link to lithium mining

In the mountains of southwestern Nevada, the dark fossilized remnants of extinct archaeocyath reefs dot the tops of the hills. Millions of years ago, these peaks were at the bottom of the sea.

Fossils From One of the World's First Reefs Can Be Found on Mountains in Nevada

Archaeocyaths were the original reef builders, and one of the best places to see them is in the desert

Chemical analysis of the glass identified minerals only found in extraterrestrial rocks and minerals, such as cubanite, troilite, pyrrhotite lath, or calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions. These minerals were also found in dust collected from the Wild-2 comet in 2004 by NASA during the Stardust mission.

Ancient Meteorite May Have Created Large Patches of Glittering Glass in South American Desert

An exploding comet may have transformed the sandy landscape into pieces of black and green twisted minerals

A donkey digging a well in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

New Research

Wild Donkeys and Horses Dig Wells That Provide Water for a Host of Desert Species

A new study finds these equine wells attracted 59 other vertebrate species, boasting 64 percent more species than the surrounding landscape

Sidewinder snakes most likely phased out the spikes along their bellies in favor of a smoother belly that can move with no frictional drag.

Snakeskin Reveals Secrets Behind a Sidewinder's Twisted Wiggle

Serpent bellies seem smooth, but on a microscopic level, their species-specific scale structures may show how they adapted to their environments

A helicopter crew discovered this odd monolith in the middle of the Utah desert on November 18.

Cool Finds

A Mysterious Monolith in the Utah Desert Vanished Overnight

Theories regarding the 12-foot-tall metal structure's origins—and ultimate fate—abound

Each bare patch of clay-crusted earth is about 13 feet across.

New Research

The Magical Mathematics Behind 'Fairy Circles'

Competing theories suggest that the patches come from termite activity, grass competition over water, or a combination of both

Researchers identified seven prehistoric human footprints at Alathar, a dried-up lake bed in Saudi Arabia.

New Research

Human Footprints Found in Saudi Arabia May Be 120,000 Years Old

If confirmed, the footfalls would represent the oldest evidence of Homo sapiens' presence on the Arabian Peninsula

A unique moss species thrives underneath translucent quartz rocks in the hot, dry Mojave Desert while its neighbors shrivel.

New Research

Desert Moss Beats Heat by Growing Under Quartz Crystals

Researchers find the translucent rocks keep the moss moist while letting just enough light pass through its milky interior

A visitor walks on the Badwater Basin salt flats on August 18, 2020 in Death Valley National Park, California.

Death Valley Hits a Blistering 130 Degrees, Potentially Setting New Record

If confirmed, this scorcher would be the hottest temperature recorded on Earth since at least 1931

Bald Eagles Found Nesting in Arizona Saguaro Cactus for First Time in Decades

The prickly perch is an exciting sign of success for the birds, which came off the endangered species list in 2007

The Blue Mountains of Niger. Arable land in the fast-growing country shrank nearly 50 percent per capita from 1996 to 2016.

Photographs From One of the World's Most Troubled, and Least Understood, Regions

A photojournalist journeys to the Sahara-Sahel desert of remote northern Africa to catalogue the state of emergency on the ground

Cool Finds

This Little Brazilian Dinosaur Ran Across the Desert on One Toe

The recently unearthed dog-sized theropod is a rare example of monodactyl dinosaurs

Wildflower enthusiasts waiting to exit toward Walker Canyon on March 9, 2019.

Trending Today

Superbloom Turns Southern California City Into a #Poppynightmare

Lake Elsinore has seen tens of thousands of people descend on Walker Canyon to see the recent superbloom, overwhelming local resources

Trending Today

Southern California Will Soon See Another Booming Superbloom

If the rain keeps up, the deserts and burn scars will soon explode with acres of colorful poppies, lupines, lilies and other ephemeral flowers

Mansa Musa as seen in the Catalan Atlas.

Cool Finds

New Exhibition Highlights Story of the Richest Man Who Ever Lived

Read about Mansa Musa, emperor of Mali, who once disrupted Egypt's economy just by passing through

"Slab City: Dispatches from the Last Free Place" is a new book that explores a one-square-mile patch of desert in Imperial County, California, that once served as a military base. Seen here is a sentry box that once guarded Camp Dunlap’s southwest perimeter.

Inside Slab City, a Squatters’ Paradise in Southern California

Architect and author Charlie Hailey and photographer Donovan Wylie capture one of America’s last free places

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