James Owen

Stone Age hunters didn’t need to tell fish tales—the fish they caught really were whoppers, according to a new study. Remains of prehistoric fish dinners from caves in northern Spain suggest that Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) have shrunk significantly in size over the past 20,000 years—from a combined average of up...

Otters, meerkats, and Galapagos tortoises at the London Zoo are the latest guinea pigs in testing a new technology that could allow us to spy on wildlife in real time almost anywhere in the world.   The action will be coming to you thanks to a new wildlife “channel” known as TV whitespace. These are...

A poison dart frog from Peru that mimics its neighbors in incredible detail is evolving into a new species, scientists believe.  The mimic frog (Ranitomeya imitator) is the first vertebrate, and only the second known animal, to suggest that mimicry can split populations into separate species, according to a study published recently in Nature Communications. The...

A new species of poison dart frog so teeny it can fit on a fingernail has been discovered in a rain forest in Panama, a new study says. Scientists found the toxic, electric-orange amphibian in a single hilly area near the Caribbean coast, according to a study published this week in the journal Zootaxa. Measuring just 12.7 millimeters in length,...

Bigger males may get a lot of attention, but sometimes being smaller—and sneakier—is more successful when it comes to mating. In the East African cichlid fish, Lamprologus callipterus, males come in two sizes: giants or dwarves that are 40 times smaller than their beefier rivals. (Watch a video of male cichlid fish fighting.) It’s an example...

The stunning array of weaponry brandished by male animals—be they antlers, horns, mandibles, spurs, or claws—is driven by each species’ individual fighting style, scientists have revealed. The finding, which may solve a long-standing evolutionary puzzle, is thanks to perhaps the most impressive weapons proliferator of them all, the male rhinoceros beetle—also the world’s strongest animal....

Four new species of see-through frogs, three of which reveal green bones, have been discovered by researchers in northern Peru. Showing their beating hearts and other body organs in x-ray detail, the newfound amphibians belong to the aptly named glass frog family (Centrolenidae). Uncovered during extensive surveys in the Peruvian Andes, the “four remarkable species”...

A golden bat recently discovered in Bolivia has joined the ranks of nature’s richly gilded creatures. The newly described Myotis midastactus is named after Midas, the king of Greek legend who turned everything he touched to gold. (See National Geographic’s pictures of nature in yellow.) Despite its yellow coloring, the bat was previously mistaken for another...

Talk about tough love: Mating with a male of another species can be lethal, at least if you’re a nematode worm. Scientists have found that female worms that mate with other nematode species often become infected by “killer sperm,” leading to sterility and an early death. The newfound phenomenon could shed light on the evolutionary puzzle...

The Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot, and their ilk are literally a load of bull—plus several other mammals, according to the first peer-reviewed scientific study of the shaggy, supposed humanoid creatures. A team led by Bryan Sykes, a human geneticist at the University of Oxford, analyzed snippets of hair that people have claimed came from various rumored...

Losing the bees and other pollinators would make life difficult, as we’d also lose most of the flowering plants we rely on both for food and our green environment.  The vital service that pollinators provide has been drawn into focus by concern about the honeybee‘s alarming decline in many parts of the world—a focus of...

A new species of frog with some bizarre mating rituals has been discovered in India, a new study says. Found in swampy forests of the Western Ghats (map), the Kumbara night frog (Nyctibatrachus kumbara) mates while doing a handstand and then daubs its eggs with mud to protect them—the world’s only known frog species known to...

Fourteen new species of tiny “dancing frogs” have been discovered in the jungles of western India, scientists report. The spectacular haul more than doubles the number of Indian dancing frogs, a family named for the bizarre courtship displays of their foot-waving males, to 24 species. (Also see “Pictures: Meowing Night Frog, Other New Species Found.”) The...

Men can stress out rodents—and probably most other mammals, including pets—merely with a whiff of their armpit sweat, a new study says. The far-reaching discovery, whose findings about male-induced stress may also apply to humans, comes from observing mice and rats that were found to be so unsettled by the masculine aroma that it numbed...

Dogs have a human side. That’s not just their mushy-eyed owners talking, but scientists who study the companionable canines we’ve lived alongside for 30,000 years or more.  Indeed, such is our mental bond with the earliest domesticated animal that researchers are turning to them as models to gain insights into the workings and maladies of...