evolution

By Marlene Cimons Brown anoles are one of the most successful species on the planet. These resilient creatures have settled throughout a large portion of the Western Hemisphere, even landing in such distant places as Hawaii and Singapore by hitching rides across the Pacific in shipments of ornamental plants. In the southeastern United States, they…

Changing Planet, Wildlife

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I’ve had the life-altering experience of living in Galapagos for two months while volunteering on the communications team at the Charles Darwin Foundation. But rather than detailing the ins and outs of my daily tasks, I thought I would share some of the loco, mindboggling facts I have learnt about this enigmatic archipelago (and the planet) while living here….

Wildlife

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Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend. Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below! Hour 1 – Having a partner can help competitors survive…

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By Karl Gruber They don’t exactly say achoo, but sponges can “sneeze,” according to a new study that shows the simple aquatic creatures are more complex than previously thought.  Sponges are stationary animals, found in both marine and fresh water, that lack nervous and digestive systems. The porous invertebrates have a central cavity called an…

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It’s not easy being a rodent in the U.S. Great Plains. Animals like black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are under constant threat of being preyed upon from land and air by predators that include hawks, eagles, and coyotes. To cope with this danger, the social animals are in constant communication, including via so-called “contagious” displays, in which…

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Wild cats are charismatic creatures, so you’d think we’d know them all pretty well by now. Just how little we understand—at least in some cases—is reflected in the identification of a new species of cat known as a tigrina in northeastern Brazil. Scientists have discovered that two populations of tigrina previously thought to be one species do…

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By 6:00am, the sun is shining, everyone in camp is up and getting breakfast and gathering for the morning briefing from expedition leader Lee Berger. Today’s assignments were clear: set up more shower tents, get the gear ready, and finish installing the lights. The lights are going into the cave. Deep in the cave are…

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When it comes to choosing a mate, even lizards have certain standards. Tracy Langkilde, an associate professor of biology at Penn State University, and Lindsey Swierk, a graduate student in Langkilde’s lab, recently looked at the relationship between body-color patterning and mating behavior in the fence lizard Sceloporus undulatus, and found that the sex lives…

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In the remote mountain forests of Halmahera (map), the largest island of the Maluku archipelago in Indonesia lurks the newest member of the rodent family sporting spiky brown fur and a stubby tail. Scientists first discovered the distinctive rodent, called the Boki Mekot rat (Halmaheramys bokimekot), while on an expedition to Halmahera in 2010. When lead researcher…

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In the remote mountain forests of Halmahera (map), the largest island of the Maluku archipelago in Indonesia lurks the newest member of the rodent family sporting spiky brown fur and a stubby tail. Scientists first discovered the distinctive rodent, called the Boki Mekot rat (Halmaheramys bokimekot), while on an expedition to Halmahera in 2010. When lead researcher…

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  These are gecko feet. Notice their crazy toes. The “stripes” are made of modified scales covered in thousands of “hairs,” only twice as long as our hairs are thick. Each hair branches into thousands of tips. Each tip branches into hundreds of tinier tips. These tiny-tips are so tiny (like size-of-the-wavelength-of-visible-light tiny) that they…

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When we call a person two-faced, it’s an insult. But for some clever animals, being two-faced is a high compliment. Many animals evolve eyespots and even false heads—like the thorny devil—to look more menacing and fake out potential predators. But a 2010 study showed that the deceptive body parts don’t really have to look like anything—just…

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When we call a person two-faced, it’s an insult. But for some clever animals, being two-faced is a high compliment. Many animals evolve eyespots and even false heads—like the thorny devil—to look more menacing and fake out potential predators. But a 2010 study showed that the deceptive body parts don’t really have to look like anything—just…

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We’ve told you about an urchin that can eat with its anus and a tadpole that can see through its tail.  And now, in the latest discovery of a surprising use for body parts, scientists say there’s a frog that can hear through its mouth. Scientists had thought that the Gardiner’s Seychelles frog—at 11 millimeters…

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