Stefan Sirucek

It may look like a billowing piece of garbage, but this odd-looking purple creature is actually a rare discovery that has scientists giddy with excitement. Scientists aboard the E/V Nautilus research vessel, led by Titanic discoverer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard, recently recorded this siphonophore swimming at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico (map). Siphonophores, a…

Changing Planet

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Nature is full of expert climbers, but perhaps none is more impressive than the gecko. Many of the small reptiles are known for sticky toes that allow them to crawl up sheer walls, hang from ceilings, and grip surfaces as smooth as glass, Spider-Man style. The gecko’s superlative stickiness is so impressive that scientists have been hard…

Wildlife

You could call it a lucky catch: A fisher recently captured an extremely rare “calico” lobster in New Hampshire. Josiah Beringer found the 1.5-pound (0.6 kilogram) animal in one of his traps this week and donated it to the Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium in Hampton, New Hampshire. (See “Odd-Colored Lobsters Decoded.”) The colorful crustacean is already a…

Wildlife

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On the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard (map), reindeer are bucking the trend followed by other animals affected by global warming: The population of reindeer is growing—even thriving—according to new research. The findings are the latest in a 30-year population study that’s focused on counting reindeer in the valley of Adventdalen on the island of Spitsbergen….

Wildlife

Controlling pests is a constant challenge for farmers. Months of hard work can disappear in no time as insects munch their way across a planted field. Synthetic insecticides can beat back the swarms, but they also affect other creatures. A new study, just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, offers hope for…

Wildlife

Last December, passengers on a boat trip down Costa Rica‘s Puerto Viejo River were treated to a strange sight: a butterfly and a bee drinking the tears from a crocodile’s eyes. The encounter between the insects, a Julia butterfly (Dryas iulia) and a bee (Centris sp.), and the spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) lasted more than 15 minutes,…

Wildlife

The alligator snapping turtle, the biggest freshwater turtle in North America, is actually three species, according to a study that appeared April 9 in the journal Zootaxa. The prehistoric reptile is already known for its size—it weighs up to 200 pounds (90 kilograms)—and longevity of nearly a century. Loosely related to common snapping turtles, alligator snappers have a dinosaur-like…

Wildlife

Harvestmen, familiarly known as daddy longlegs, once had an extra set of eyes, according to an analysis of a 305-million-year-old fossil from France. Though they share spiders’ eight-legged appearance and penchant for hanging out on bathroom ceilings, harvestmen are more closely related to scorpions, mites, and ticks. The arachnids are as ancient as they are ubiquitous,…

Wildlife

Humans aren’t the only species bugging out from the polar vortex, the winter weather system that’s still menacing large swaths of the United States with bone-chilling temperatures.  Be glad you’re not an Asian stinkbug, which are dying off in large numbers due to the cold, a new experiment shows. The invasive insect, commonly called the brown marmorated…

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