Christine Dell’Amore

The world’s largest spider has crept back into the spotlight, thanks to a scientist who describes a harrowing encounter with a tarantula. Harvard entomologist Piotr Naskrecki recently recounted on his blog coming across a puppy-sized, foot-long (0.3-meter) South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) a few years ago in Guyana (map). “I could clearly hear its hard feet hitting the…

Wildlife

Lonesome George, the famous Galápagos tortoise that was the last of his kind when he died in 2012, is due to get some company. A taxidermic mount of George was recently put on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. When he was alive, George lived in Ecuador’s Galápagos National Park. Visitors can gaze at…

Wildlife

Butterflies can evolve new colors rapidly and simply by tweaking the structures of their wings, a new study says.  A team of researchers who bred a species of brown African butterfly in the lab were shocked to discover that the offspring could turn purple in just six generations, or about a year. (See: “Pictures: Butterfly…

Wildlife

We’ve long known that African elephants have a great sense of smell—but a new study shows that the large mammals have truly superior schnozzes. Compared with 13 other mammal species studied, African elephants have the most genes related to smell: 2,000. That’s the most ever discovered in an animal—more than twice the number of olfactory genes in…

Wildlife

People looking for love may already feel like their dating lives are pretty wild. But you may not know exactly how wild until you read Jennifer Verdolin‘s new book Wild Connection, which reveals how our relationships and courtships often mirror those of other species in the animal world. (Related: “Wild Romance: Weird Animal Courtship and Mating Rituals.”) Take the prairie…

Changing Planet

Mention hamsters and most people recall a fond childhood memory, often of an escaped pet that’s found with its cute little cheeks stuffed full of loot. Mine involves Chipper, my dwarf Russian hamster, which was bitten by my cat and died a few days later—a lesson to my 11-year-old self to be more cautious. (Read more…

Wildlife

An egg-laying, spiny mammal with a four-headed penis is already pretty bizarre, but it turns out short-beaked echidnas are even stranger than we thought. Weighing up to nine pounds (four kilograms) and resembling a big hedgehog, the short-beaked echidna is one of only three species of monotremes—or egg-laying mammals—left in the world, along with the platypus…

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An egg-laying, spiny mammal with a four-headed penis is already pretty bizarre, but it turns out short-beaked echidnas are even stranger than we thought. Weighing up to nine pounds (four kilograms) and resembling a big hedgehog, the short-beaked echidna is one of only three species of monotremes—or egg-laying mammals—left in the world, along with the platypus…

Changing Planet