Extinction

Emperor penguins are the world's largest penguin, standing almost four feet tall and weighing around 88 pounds. They live almost exclusively in Antarctica and need sea ice to survive.

Climate Change Poised to Push Emperor Penguins to the Brink of Extinction

Study estimates 98 percent of colonies will be quasi-extinct by 2100 unless the world drastically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions

The butterflies have experienced major losses in populations on both the East and West coasts.

Climate Change Is Decimating Monarch Populations, Research Shows

Western monarchs have lost 99.9 percent of their numbers since the 1980s

This is the 93-year-old Xerces blue butterfly specimen that researchers collected tissue samples from for this study.

This Butterfly Is the First U.S. Insect to Be Wiped Out by Humans

Genetic tests using museum specimens suggest that the Xerces blue was a distinct species and that it disappeared in 1941

The ancient mammal Gobioconodon (right) squabbles with a therian mammal over a meal in the Late Cretaceous.

Other Mammals, Not Dinosaurs, Kept Our Ancestors Down

The asteroid impact that ended the Cretaceous gave our mammalian ancestors, the therians, an edge over their mammalian competitors

Genetic tests reveal that the Shark Bay mouse (pictured) from Shark Bay, Western Australia, is actually a living population of Gould's mouse, which had been thought to be extinct for more than a century.

Australian Mouse Presumed Extinct for More Than a Century Found Alive on Island

The living Shark Bay mouse turned out to be genetically identical to the formerly extinct Gould’s mouse

An artist’s illustration shows an asteroid hitting Earth. Large impactors hit the planet every one to three million years.

New Research of Impact Crater Blows Away Previous Estimates of Its Age

Scientists say the Boltysh crater in Ukraine formed well after the impact in Mexico that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct

Illustration of Smilodon fatalis cubs playing
together.

The Softer Side of Sabercats

The iconic fanged predators may have raised their young for years—dragging baby mastodon bones home for them and slowly teaching them how to hunt

The Irish elk, or Megaloceros giganteus, ranged across northern Eurasia from Siberia to Ireland and shed its giant antlers every year. It is on display in the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils—Deep Time at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Biggest. Antlers. Ever. Meet the Irish Elk

On view at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, this specimen of the extinct species unlocks an evolutionary mystery

A new study suggests the lush, hyper-diverse rainforests of South America were shaped by the asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs.

How the Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Spurred the Evolution of the Modern Rainforest

New evidence from fossil plants shows today’s South American rainforests arose in the wake of Earth’s fifth mass extinction

Panamanian golden frogs—such as F1, seen here—are native to the rainforests and cloud forests of Panama but haven't been seen in the wild since 2009. Each creature's bright coloration warns predators of its deadly skin, which contains enough toxins to kill 1,200 mice.

A Small Band of Panamanian Golden Frogs Is Saving Their Species From Oblivion

Victims of a deadly fungus, the amphibians are now being selectively bred through a program at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

These brightly colored geese have no modern, real-world counterpart.

Tomb Painting Known as Egypt's 'Mona Lisa' May Depict Extinct Goose Species

Only two of the three kinds of birds found in the 4,600-year-old artwork correspond to existing kinds of animals

Steppe mammoths evolved shaggy coats over a million years ago, a trait inherited by woolly mammoths.

Oldest DNA Sequenced Yet Comes From Million-Year-Old Mammoths

Genetic material from three ancient molars reveals secrets of about how the Ice Age elephants evolved

Published in Scientific Reports, the new study by astronomers Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, propose that a series of break-ups and chance events sent the huge chunk of space rock our way.

Astrophysicists Chart Source of Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs

A new model explains a possible route for the extraterrestrial rock before it blasted Earth

A paleontologist excavating a 98 million-year-old fossil which may belong to the largest land animal ever. Researchers first started unearthing the creatures remains in 2012 at the Candeleros Formation in the Neuquen River Valley, Argentina.

Dinosaur Unearthed in Argentina Could Be Largest Land Animal Ever

The skeleton is still far from complete but paleontologists say what they've found suggests the dinosaur may be more than 120 feet long

An artist's illustration of two gray wolves (lower left) vying with a pack of dire wolves for a bison carcass near the tar pits in Rancho La Brea roughly 15,000 years ago.

Dire Wolves Weren't Actually Wolves, DNA Analysis Reveals

Ancient DNA extracted from fossils shows the beast split off from Canis lupus and coyotes nearly 6 million years ago

Swinhoe’s softshell turtles were pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat destruction and by hunters who sought the turtles' meat and eggs.

The 'Last' Female Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle Died in 2019. Now, Researchers Found Another, Renewing Hope for the Species

Conservationists have been scrambling to save the most endangered turtles in the world from extinction

By studying recent mass extinctions on islands like Hawaii, Dr. Helen James is painting a picture of bird biodiversity today. Her research involves digging up fossils in caves to study bygone species, like the Kioea.

Meet One of the Curators Behind the Smithsonian's 640,000 Birds

Helen James' work on avian extinction helps in understanding how bird species today respond to threats like human encroachment and environmental change

Researchers say some of this woolly rhino's internal organs may still be preserved.

Melting Russian Permafrost Yields New Woolly Rhino Specimen

Russian researchers say this may be the best-preserved woolly rhino ever found

Some 1,280 of these species will lose a quarter or more of their remaining habitat and 350 are projected to lose more than half of the areas they currently call home.

Agriculture's Growing Footprint Could Threaten 17,000 Species With Habitat Loss

New research projects 1.3 million square miles of habitat will be converted to croplands by 2050

The flower of a newly discovered orchid species from Madagascar called Gastrodia agnicellus. It's looks are, shall we say, unconventional.

Behold the World's Ugliest Orchid, According to Botanists

Surprisingly, the plant’s fleshy, brown flowers don't smell so bad

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