Carrie Arnold

Why a Swordfish’s Sword Doesn’t Break

A swordfish’s “sword” is its most prominent feature, but scientists have only now discovered the unusual properties that keep the sword strong and ready to slash. A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the fish have an unusual way to repair their bone, keeping it strong and stiff. Billfish like marlin…

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Mystery Solved? How Birds Weather Turbulence

When a bird hits turbulence while flying, it can’t turn on the “fasten seatbelt” sign. Instead, new research shows that it tucks its wings to stabilize its flight. Scientists were studying the flight of a captive Eurasian steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) when they noticed a curious behavior. While soaring, the bird would often briefly fold its wings…

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Mystery Solved: How Archerfish Shoot Water at Prey With Stunning Precision

Like a major league pitcher throwing a baseball, archerfish aim a powerful jet of water at their prey—and they do it by changing the shapes of their mouths, a new study says. Previously, researchers knew simply that the rain forest fish squirted water at their intended victims, knocking the bugs or small animals off their perches and…

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Scientists Solve Mystery of How Hummingbirds Taste Sweetness

Hummingbirds feel the sweet lure of nectar, but they taste it in the most unexpected of ways. This group of feathered friends doesn’t have a sweet taste receptor, which means they shouldn’t be able to taste sweet at all. But a new study published Thursday in Science reveals that hummingbirds have repurposed their umami receptor (which…

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Mystery Solved: How Snakes Climb Trees

When climbing a tree, a snake thinks “safety first,” according to new research published Tuesday in Biology Letters.  Instead of gripping the tree with just enough force to keep from sliding back down, snakes overcompensate and grip with a force that far exceeds what’s necessary. Researchers think that in doing this, snakes are choosing between getting up the tree…

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Researchers Discover “Bizarre” Jurassic Insect With Giant Sucker

Scientists have discovered a “bizarre” parasite from the Jurassic era that really sucked. An international team of researchers recently described this 165-million-year-old fossilized fly larvae that they found in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northeastern China once studded with volcanoes and freshwater lakes. They named the species Qiyia jurassica (“Qiyia” is derived from the Chinese word for “strange”),…

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Vampire Bats Gain the Taste of Blood, Lose Their Taste of Bitter

In gaining their taste for blood, vampire bats may have nearly lost their ability to taste bitter. A new study in Proceedings of the Royal Academy B reveals that vampire bats, unlike nearly all other mammals, have a significantly reduced ability to taste bitter compounds. Bitter tastes can be unpleasant, but—because many toxic compounds taste bitter—they…

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Lionfish Flare Their Fins to Hunt Together

For the first time, scientists have documented how lionfish use their pointed, venomous fins to hunt prey together. “Cooperation requires high cognition, but fish have traditionally been perceived as being at the bottom” of the cognition scale, said the study‘s lead author, Oona Lonnstedt, a graduate student in marine biology at James Cook University in Queensland,…

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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