If you pictured a fight between a snake and a squirrel, you probably wouldn’t bet on the squirrel coming out on top. But that’s exactly what happened in a particularly gruesome case in 2009, caught on camera by William Leggett, who was a ranger at West Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The photo below shows
If you think your mom is laying it on thick about producing grandchildren, take heart: At least you’re not a male bonobo. Bonobo mothers have been seen performing a variety of behaviors that seem to lend their sons an advantage when it comes to fathering babies, according to a study published Monday in Current Biology
It’s long been known that cannabis plants are indigenous to Central Asia, but a new study provides a fresh focus on where exactly this genus may have first evolved millions of years ago. Documents dating back to the middle ages show humans have been hypothesising about the geographical origins of cannabis for over a thousand
Researchers have pinpointed a previously unknown source of volcanoes in the extreme depths of Earth – in the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle. Until now, we thought we had a handle on the ways in which volcanoes form, welling up from the molten regions in the upper mantle beneath our planet’s crust,
Unlike human history, when nature repeats itself, there’s usually a good reason. For the white-throated rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri), all it took was a peaceful reef Eden, free from predators and competition. On the remote Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean, scientists have discovered that the same species of bird has lost its ability to fly
Peacock spiders are so adorable, they stand a chance to sway the feelings of the most seasoned spider hater. These creatures are tiny – a mere 5 millimetres (0.2 inches). They’re also fluffy, the males have incredibly colourful butts, and they love to dance. Now we’ve discovered these spiders also have an interesting superpower – the
Scientists have found a bunch of microscopic creatures that could be totally new to science – but it’s an exceptional challenge to determine who is who when the tiny things you’ve discovered are actually the larva of animals that look completely different in their adult stage. The little-known animals in question are called phoronids, or
Amber from Myanmar in Southeast Asia is turning out to be an incredibly rich resource for examining the natural world of 100 million years ago. In the last year, it’s turned up frogs, snails, a snake, weird feathers, and some pretty wacky bugs. What do all of those have in common? They’re land-dwellers. But now
For most of us, the jump from meat-eater to vegetarian is a big one. For the giant panda, the switch was all too easy. Despite a long family history of meat-heavy meals, this large bear now feeds almost exclusively on tough bamboo – a change its ancestors made more than 2 million years ago. For
There’s no denying that keeping livestock has deeply benefited humanity over the millennia. But, while sheep and cows may have adapted well to farm life, there’s one animal humans like to eat that would fare poorly in farms. Octopuses, scientists have argued in a new essay, should never be farmed – not just because of
In recent years, it’s emerged that some dinosaurs – considered scaly and reptilian for many years – were actually wearing feathers. But a newly discovered species of scansoriopterygid dinosaur sports a different style. This tiny creature had bat-like wings: leathery, not feathery. It’s called Ambopteryx longibrachium, and it was just 33 centimetres (13 inches) long.
When you’ve been surviving in all sorts of environments for billions of years, you pick up a few tricks for harvesting light as efficiently as possible – and now long-living, light-emitting microalgae could be about to help us develop the next generation of solar panels. These fluorescent algae are able to capture up to 95%
Today the Australian Koala Foundation announced they believe “there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia”, making the species “functionally extinct”. While this number is dramatically lower than the most recent academic estimates, there’s no doubt koala numbers in many places are in steep decline. It’s hard to say exactly how many koalas are
In the mountainous cloud forests of Borneo, nothing goes to waste, and that includes waste itself. Here, the largest carnivorous plant on Earth has evolved to become a sort of customised outhouse for local tree shrews (Tupaia montana). With a toilet seat perfectly contoured to the mammal’s backside, this huge, jug-shaped pitcher plant (Nepenthes rajah)
Here’s a question for you. If A is greater than B, and B is greater than C, then is A greater than C? It’s a simple puzzle, something children can solve. In fact, even animals have demonstrated the form of reasoning – called transitive inference – that we use to answer this kind of problem.
Along the Black River in North Carolina, bald cypress trees have been quietly growing for millennia. Quite literally so: Scientists recently found trees over 2,000 years old – including one that is at least 2,624 years old. That makes it the fifth-oldest known non-clonal tree in the world. (Utah’s Pando, an ancient quaking aspen forest,
Two tiny tyrannosaurid skeletons have just filled in the fossil record, elucidating the humble origins of the Cretaceous’ mightiest predator, Tyrannosaurus rex. Dating back to around 92 million years ago, the two tyrannosaurs hail from the Zuni Basin in New Mexico. They stood just 1 metre (3 feet) tall and have been named Suskityrannus hazelae.
Amongst the huge variety of life on Earth, there are some mighty resilient microorganisms out there. Now, scientists have tracked down an ocean microbe that survives by breathing arsenic – the chemical element we humans regard as a notorious poison. The researchers think this is an ancient survival strategy used in the distant past when oxygen
Life isn’t easy at the bottom of Challenger Deep – at nearly 11,000 metres (36,000 feet) the deepest point of the oceans – and scientists just shed some light on how tiny creatures are able to survive at these phenomenal depths. It turns out that the Hirondellea gigas amphipods (small crustaceans) manufacture themselves tiny suits
During the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago, the bridge between North and South America was guarded by a daunting array of beasts, including a wolf-like carnivore and the largest bear ever to roam the Earth. An ancient graveyard, buried at the bottom of an underwater cave in Mexico, has turned up not