Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Bryophytes in the tropics are threatened due to lack of information and research.

Step Into the Mossy World Where Tiny Plants Play an Outsized Role in the Environment

Bryophytes are an important part of our environment, but in the tropics, there's still much to learn about them

A male wrinkle-faced bat (Centurio senex) seen dangling from his perch. Beneath his chin is a furry skin fold that he pulls up to cover the lower half of the face like a mask during courtship.

These Bats Mask Up to Woo Mates

Male wrinkle-faced bats use a furry neck flap to cover their faces while serenading the opposite sex in never-before-seen behavior

A new study from scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center analyzed about 35,000 bone and shell fragments from the Maya city of Ceibal.

Bones Tell the Tale of a Maya Settlement

A new study tracks how the ancient civilization used animals for food, ritual purposes and even as curiosities

The face of a sweat bee (Megalopta amoena) that is half female (viewer's left, bee's right) and half male (viewer's right, bee's left)

Meet the Bee With a Body That’s Half Male, Half Female

So-called gynandromorphs are rare, but they can teach us a lot about development and evolution

Vampire bats, a highly social species, will continue interacting with each other even when they're feeling sick.

When Illness Strikes, Vampire Bat Moms Will Still Socialize With Their Kids

Studying how bats behave when they’re feeling ill could help researchers better understand how pathogens move through close-knit populations

Bees from the nest structures: A) Head, side, top and bottom views of bees found inside the cells, B) drawing of Eufriesea surinamensis and photograph of the head of a modern bee taken by David Roubik

150-Year-Old Mummified Bee Nests Found in Panama City Cathedral

The nests, covered in gold leaf and paint, act as a time capsule for the surrounding environment circa 1870

Coyotes are about to enter South America, a move that could soon make the species, native to North America, one of the most widespread carnivores in the western hemisphere.

Coyotes Poised to Infiltrate South America

The crab-eating fox and the coyote may soon swap territories, initiating the first American cross-continental exchange in more than three million years

Heliconius charithonia is one of the species of butterflies whose wing patterns scientists scrutinized to better understand the evolutionary process. This butterfly is wild-type; the genetically edited H. charithonia wings have wider swathes of yellow.

What Butterflies' Colorful Wing Patterns Can Teach Us About Evolution

Smithsonian scientists used genetically-engineered butterflies to learn that evolution can take a different path to achieve the same thing

By collecting images and GPS data from citizen divers, scientists can get a better sense of the health of the entire Great Barrier Reef.

Massive Citizen Science Effort Seeks to Survey the Entire Great Barrier Reef

Only about 1,000 of 3,000 individual reefs have been documented, but the Great Reef Census hopes to fill in the gaps

Three green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, on a coral reef, Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Coral Reefs Face the Dual Threats of Ocean Acidification and Erosion

As coral tissues die off, the exposed calcified skeleton becomes vulnerable to organisms that eat away at the dying reefs

This bat gleans insects from leaves. A team of researchers discovered that by approaching a leaf at an oblique angle, it can use its echolocation system to detect stationary insects in the dark.

Bats Use Leaves as Mirrors to Locate and Catch Their Prey

The latest discovery in the arms race between bats and insects reveals that even silent, motionless dragonflies aren't safe

Rake marks on humpback flukes may be literal tallies of battles won—like the scars seen on the upper right fluke fin here—but little is known about the losses.

With Humans Out of the Way, Humpbacks Are Flourishing—But So Are Orcas

Researchers are just now beginning to understand what happens when one whale species attacks another

Mosquito researcher Kelly Bennett, turkey baster in hand, is on the prowl, collecting specimens for study

Hunting Deadly Mosquitoes in Panama

The latest podcast “Sidedoor” travels with Smithsonian experts on the trail of the buzzing beasts known as the Aedes


Massive Animal Tracking Database Collects Its One-Billionth Creature Location

Guzmán and his team were only able to pinpoint the whale shark's whereabouts when it rose to the surface to feed.

What the Longest Known Whale Shark Migration Ever Tells Us About Conservation

Researchers in Panama tracked a specimen via satellite over an unprecedented 12,516 miles

Once common along highland streams in Costa Rica and western Panama, the variable harlequin frog, Atelopus varius, is now endangered throughout its range, thanks in large part to a disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus.

These Captive-Bred Frogs Are Facing Predators and the Chytrid Fungus to Make It in the Wild

Scientists in Panama release 500 harlequin frogs, some wearing transmitters, in a first attempt to reintroduce the endangered species

"Panama's Animal Highway" premiers on the Smithsonian Channel, December 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

New Documentary Delights With Spectacular Visuals of the Panama Isthmus, A Migratory Superhighway

Scientists from all over the world come to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center to study this unique region

The wings of a normal and CRISPR-edited Sara Longwing butterfly show how disabling a single gene can change the patterns

Scientists Identify the Genes That Paint Butterfly Wings

Using genetic editing, scientists isolated just two genes that play a major role in making butterfly wings as pretty as they are

A green bluebottle fly, part of the Calliphoridae family of carrion flies.

How Fly Guts Are Helping Researchers Catalog the Rainforest

These tiny, buzzing lab assistants provide scientists with a treasure trove of conservation data

Mateo-Vega (derecha) muestra a los compañeros Emberá y Kuna cómo tomar medidas forestales. De izquierda a derecha, los técnicos indígenas Edgar Gariboldo, Chich Chamarro, Baurdino López, Evelio Jiménez, Alexis Solís. (Sean Mattson / Smithsonian)

Cómo Los Científicos y Grupos Indígenas Pueden Aliarse Para Proteger Los Bosques y el Clima

Page 2 of 3