Minerals

DNA from the skin of this mummified sheep leg allowed researchers to study sheep husbandry practices in ancient Iran.

Researchers Recover DNA From 1,600-Year-Old, Naturally Mummified Sheep Leg

The molecules offer insights on ancient farming practices near the Chehrabad salt mine in Iran

From forests to fish to flakes of snow, the science behind ice cream reaches beyond the cone.

Smithsonian Voices

The Strangely Scientific Endeavor of Making Ice Cream

Ice cream's texture is the result of the same processes that govern concepts like forest recovery, rock formation and sub-zero survival in animals.

The blue areas in this composite image from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) aboard the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 orbiter show water concentrated at the Moon's poles. Homing in on the spectra of rocks there, researchers found signs of hematite, a form of rust.

Why Is the Moon Covered in Rust? Even Scientists Are Stumped by This Metal Mystery

Without oxygen and water, how is the substance

A Roman lead ingot recently unearthed in Wales

Cool Finds

Local Man Finds 2,000-Year-Old Roman Lead Ingot in Welsh Field

Rob Jones' discovery adds a tangible piece of evidence to the history of mining in Roman Britain

What makes the Whitney Flame topaz such an astonishing acquisition is its homogeneous fiery-red. “We recognized right away that this is something different than we’d ever seen,” says Smithsonian gems curator Jeff Post.

The Whitney Flame Topaz Smolders in Vibrant Red

A new gemstone at the Natural History Museum is already igniting wonder in viewers

New Research

Where Did the Aztecs Get Their Turquoise?

New analysis shows the blue-green mineral found in Aztec art was likely mined in Mexico, not the American Southwest as previously believed

Leif Erikson pointing toward North America. Did he use a sunstone to navigate the open seas?

New Research

Simulation Suggests Viking Sunstones of Legend Could Have Worked

If they existed, the crystals—used to locate the sun's position on cloudy days—could have helped Vikings sail to far away places

Never-Before-Seen Mineral Found Inside a Diamond

The diamond acted as a container, keeping a piece of calcium silicate perovskite stable as it moved towards the Earth’s surface

The 910-carat diamond discovered in Lesotho

Cool Finds

World's Fifth-Largest Diamond Found in Lesotho

The 910-carat gem is a D-color, type-IIa stone, meaning it is completely colorless and has no visible impurities

Ask Smithsonian

Do Other Animals Cry and More Questions From Our Readers

You asked, we answered

The Cavern Grotto restaurant is located 21 stories underground.

Dine 21 Stories Underground in This 345-Million-Year-Old Cavern

Cavern Grotto, a new restaurant in Arizona, opens inside the largest dry cavern system in the country

Parisite-(La), a carbon-bearing mineral that was predicted by computer model before it was discovered.

Big Data (and You) Could Help Find 1,500 Undiscovered Minerals

Researchers are using new tools to predict where to find new minerals as well as to locate new sources of valuable resources like copper

Statuary inside the salt cathedral.

Step Inside This Underground Cathedral, Carved Into the Walls of an Abandoned Salt Mine

An old mine has transformed into a subterranean worship space, 650 feet underground

A man fills up buckets with dirt while hunting for diamonds at Crater Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

American South

Finders, Keepers: Five of the Best Places to Go Gem Hunting in the U.S.

From diamonds to emeralds, the United States is full of buried bling

Cool Finds

Will Luxembourg Lead the Race for Space Mining?

The tiny nation announced its private industry partners for asteroid mining

Fossilized microbial mats, or stromatolites are one of the oldest fossils found on Earth. This one lurked in shallow waters 3.4 billion years ago.

Life and Rocks May Have Co-Evolved on Earth

A Carnegie geologist makes the case that minerals have evolved over time and may have helped spark life

Smithsonite, or zinc spar, is a carbon zinc ore.This mineral was named in 1832 after English chemist and mineralogist James Smithson (founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution).

We Are Missing At Least 145 Carbon-Bearing Minerals, and You Can Help Find Them

The Carbon Mineral Challenge is asking rock enthusiasts around the world to hunt for the undiscovered forms of this common element

Soon, space miners could lay claim to minerals in asteroids like this one.

Trending Today

Get Your Pickaxe and Spacecraft Ready, Space Mining Might be Legal Very Soon

The new Space Act would open up the potentially lucrative field of asteroid mining

Anthophyllite asbestos from Georgia

Trending Today

Why Are People Still Using Asbestos?

The story holds parallels with that of the tobacco industry

The famous "Big Hole" in Kimberley, South Africa

Peering Into Some of the World's Largest Mines

This interactive map will show you the sources of the planet's precious metals

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