These days, it seems like everything’s coming up sloths. The tree-dwelling mammals are fodder for all sorts of loving memes and online jokes. And don’t be surprised if a visit to your favorite retailer includes tempting merchandise of sloths being, well, sloths: sleepy, slow-moving and cute. But meme makers aren’t the only people intrigued
Seismologists in California have recorded more than 3,000 earthquakes since the Fourth of July, when a 6.4 magnitude temblor rattled the southern part of the state. Officials now believe that the initial jolt was a foreshock. Since Thursday morning, there have been 340 earthquakes with a magnitude stronger than 3, 54 with a magnitude
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 magnitude hit Southern California Friday evening, just one day after another massive quake (6.4 magnitude) hit the region on the Fourth of July. According to United States Geological Survey, the quake, occurred around 8:19 p.m. local time, with the epicentre 11 miles away from Ridgecrest, California,
Earth is full of bizarre landscapes. Some are land formations moulded over thousands of years, while others are human-made creations that have altered the planet in strange ways. From the bubbling lava lakes of Ethiopia, to a lake that has been nestled in the desert for 2,000 years, here are 29 landscapes that are so
Down in the deep ocean, where the Sun’s rays don’t penetrate, there dwells a beast so perfectly efficient it has remained practically unchanged for 200 million years. It’s called the bluntnose sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus), and, like many deep-sea creatures, its lifestyle remains something of a mystery. Scientists have managed to bring them up
For most animals, the structure of their day – and indeed their year – depends on the light-dark cycle. These regular and rhythmic cycles in the length of days tell animals when they should be foraging, when they should be asleep, when it’s time to migrate and when it’s time to breed. Animals can
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 rattled Southern California on Thursday and prompted a series of aftershocks that sprawled across the region. The quake centered near the California town of Ridgecrest, roughly 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, according to the US Geological Survey. Ridgecrest has a population of roughly 29,000 people.
Scientists working in the field of connectomics – the study of connections inside the nervous systems of organisms – have announced they’ve mapped out the complete nervous system of a tiny creature. The nervous system in question belongs to the Caenorhabditis elegans roundworm, which has a rich history as a model organism: a simple
When we think about volcanoes, we tend to conjure visions of bubbling pools of molten lava ready to consume anything that ventures too close. The reality is a bit different. Such terrifying lava lakes do exist, but they’re a lot rarer than you might imagine. Only a handful of persistent lava lakes exist among the
A new report argues that the way plant cells signal isn’t something we can easily compare with nervous systems in animals, an idea that goes directly against the little-known discipline of plant neurobiology. If we’ve learned one thing about the chemistry of greenery over recent decades, it’s that plants are far more dynamic than we
In the centre of the South Pacific, there’s a place as far away from land as anyone on Earth could ever hope to get. The ocean is different there. These distant waters lie at the heart of the South Pacific Gyre, the centre of which holds the ‘oceanic pole of inaccessibility’: the ocean’s remotest extreme,
When it comes to survival, the denizens of the animal kingdom have a number of different strategies to stay safe. Some creatures use bright colours and get all puffed up to make themselves intimidating. Some disguise themselves as other, more dangerous creatures. And some make themselves invisible. Not by literally disappearing, of course. But
At first, the scientists wondered whether it was a mistake. Just 21 days after leaving the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, an arctic fox had arrived in Greenland. And in less than three months, it made it to Canada. The fox averaged nearly 30 miles a day (50 kilometers) – some days, though, it walked almost
For thousands of years, humans have flocked to the Dead Sea to immerse themselves in one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. Amazingly enough, the Dead Sea – which is actually a hypersaline lake cut off from the ocean waters of the Mediterranean Sea – is actually getting saltier with time, even
Crocodilians today are fearsome meat-eating reptiles, but new research shows that wasn’t always the case. Turns out some of the ancestors of crocodiles and alligators had a preference for a vegetarianism that was hard to shake. “Our work demonstrates that extinct crocodyliforms had an incredibly varied diet,” lead author of the new study, University
The last time something like this happened was 2006. Most years, Alabama sees only one or two wasp ‘super nests’: giant wasp fortresses that sometimes even professional pest controllers won’t touch. In 2006, things were different. Nature kicked into overdrive that year, and Alabama turned out at least 90 of these dangerous super-formations. Now,
Just when you think orcas couldn’t possible be any more awesome, they get even better. New evidence shows these whales are really good at scaring off the most feared beast in the sea. Yep. Orcas have toppled the great white shark off their ‘apex predator’ throne. A team of marine scientists has found that
During winter time, some snapping turtles like to hibernate in ponds and lakes. Safely tucked away underneath a thin layer of ice, these freshwater reptiles can survive up to six months without any oxygen to speak of. How their bodies can cope with this depends on the way they were raised, it turns out.
For the first time, scientists have found a blue-feathered bird in the fossil record, thanks to a new discovery that lets us tell which fossilised pigments are, in fact, blue. After millions of years of fossilisation, feathers are long gone, but melanin pigment packages called melanosomes can be preserved – up until now the problem
You’ve got to hand it to the cockroach. Human progress might be an apocalypse for other animal species, but not these guys. And now it’s clear they’re having a jolly good laugh at our puny attempts to control them with pesticides. A study on how quickly populations of German cockroach (Blattella germanica) bounce back
As far as feathered animals go, Pachystruthio dmanisensis was a monster. With an estimated mass of about 450 kilograms (nearly half a tonne), it would make a 150-kilogram adult ostrich – the world’s largest living bird – look like a canary. Bigger birds have existed, but it’s not so much its size that makes this
With the ability to use tools, solve complex puzzles, and even play tricks on humans just for funsies, octopuses are fiercely smart. But their intelligence is quite weirdly built, since the eight-armed cephalopods have evolved differently from pretty much every other type of organism on Earth. Rather than a centralised nervous system such as vertebrates
In latest gruesome nature news, scientists have discovered new details on a fungus that compels its cicada hosts to mate long after their genitals have gone and their bodies have turned into what one researcher colourfully describes as ‘flying salt shakers of death’. The fungus is called Massospora cicadina, and its effects read like an
You’d think it would be easy to spot a whale shark having sex – after all, they’re amongst the largest creatures on Earth. But to this day, we have no record of their encounters, even though this week one human did get tantalisingly close. Flying above the remote Ningaloo reef in Western Australia, pilot
Tucked away in a remote valley of Brazil’s Serra da Capivara National Park, a group of bearded capuchin monkeys use round quartz stones to crack open cashew nuts on tree roots or other rocks. Beneath their feet, archaeologists have found at least 3,000-years-worth of discarded tools. The chimpanzees of Côte d’Ivoire have been using stone tools
It’s called the ‘White City’: a fabled settlement hidden deep in the lush rainforests of Honduras, said to be all that now remains of a mysterious civilisation that existed in Central America long before the Europeans came. But this lost city has its non-believers. For much of the last century, doubts have swirled around
The harsh bark of the seal certainly doesn’t spring to mind when you’re thinking of melodious singing voices in the animal kingdom. But it seems the puppies of the sea have been holding out on us: When it comes to replicating a tune, they’re surprisingly talented. While studying the vocal learning of grey seals
There aren’t many North Pacific right whales left, with vague estimates in the low hundreds. Those last few populations aren’t known for waxing lyrical either, so when scientists heard a population recently break out into song, they had to go see them live in concert. For the first time, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
A skull long suspected of belonging to a rare Arctic hybrid has now had its unusual biology confirmed via DNA analysis. According to the results, this strange beast had a beluga whale for a dad and a narwhal for a mum, and would have forged its own path, distinct from the lifestyles of both parents.
Most clams are happy to make their burrow in a nice, soft bed of sand or mud. Not this mollusc. A recently uncovered relative of the shipworm puts the hard into hardcore, chewing holes into rocks and excreting the debris as sand. Lithoredo abatanica joins a short list of freshwater animals capable of literally
On the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, a strange, rarely seen beast stalks the night. Locals call it ghjattuvolpe – the cat-fox – and for the last decade, scientists have been hot on its trail, trying to unravel the mystery. Now agents with France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) have revealed
Paul McCully was having a relatively normal Tuesday in Myrtleford, Australia. Then he looked up. “It looked like inverted waves moving quickly across the sky,” wrote McCully, who was driving at the time. He pulled over to snap a remarkable photo. “It was a stunning sight.” The wavelike ripples resembled choppy seas, as though
Once again, Australian fauna have provided the world with a gruesome surprise. This time, it comes at the expense of a tiny little possum, who fell prey to a large and ubiquitous spider. While we’re all wary of spiders, knowing their bites can pack a punch, seeing a big spider capture a small vertebrate
Why zebras evolved to have their distinctive stripes has long puzzled scientists, with one of the leading hypotheses the idea that the stripes are a temperature control mechanism. A study last year suggested that wasn’t the case, but now there’s new evidence on the table. In this latest study, researchers measured temperature differences between
Nearly 200 million years ago, Earth’s skies were home to a creature unlike anything seen today. Neither bird nor dinosaur, this long-extinct reptile was, quite literally, born to fly. A fresh look at the fossilised embryos of pterodactyls has revealed just how independent these so-called flaplings truly were. Discovered in China for the first
Carnivorous plants are known for being brutal and opportunistic predators, but an unexpected and fascinating discovery in Canada has proved especially gruesome. Described as a “WTF moment” by researchers, it appears that pitcher plants in the wetlands of Ontario are not just luring in insects and spiders. They are also regularly capturing and devouring vertebrates.
In the beginning, life was simple. Then, about half a billion years ago, biology got complicated. Identical cells shrugged off the shackles of conformity and divided up the chores between them, evolving into the first members of the animal kingdom. Exactly what this animal prototype looked like has long been the subject of debate.
Many comparisons have been made between humans and dolphins, those sleek mammals of the sea. Now scientists have found another point of similarity between us and our cetacean cousins: Like us, dolphins make friends based on mutual interests. In the case of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) specifically, individuals tend to hang out
A huge wolf head preserved since the last Ice Age has been found in incredible condition in Siberia, an estimated 40,000 years since being entombed in frozen wilderness. The giant head, discovered by a local man in 2018 along the shores of the Tirekhtyakh River in the Russian Republic of Sakha (aka Yakutia), measures a
Around 1.2 billion years ago, the biggest asteroid ever to hit the British Isles is thought to have slammed into Earth. Now, experts have identified where the exact impact point may have lain hidden this whole time. The spot in question is estimated to be about 15 to 20 kilometres (9 to 12 miles) off
Mountains are some of the mightiest geographic features on our planet, and no two ranges are the same. Some have soaring peaks, ragged ridges, and deep ravines, while others gently roll away in wavy hills and wide valleys. No matter where they appear, or even how, their branched structures share a universal similarity, and
Meteorologists in Southern California got a strange surprise on Tuesday night when they spotted a huge blob on the National Weather Service radar. Appearing to be about 130 by 130 kilometres (80 miles), it was moving southward over San Bernardino County. “It was very strange because it was a relatively clear day and we
The dragonfish is a top predator at the bottom of the sea. A bioluminescent lure on its head and spots on its belly beckon prey, like a lantern draws in moths. The rest of its body, as long as a pencil and almost as slender, is an inky black that blends in with water deeper
As a rule, your brain’s activity doesn’t influence the physiological development of your sex cells. In simpler terms: What you ‘think’ can’t be inherited. But now it looks like we may need to rethink this rule for at least one species. The activity of nematode neurons has been shown to influence the foraging behaviour
Feathers are not simply the domain of birds, nor did they arise solely for flight. New research on China’s rich fossil record suggests instead that these structures arose 100 million years before birds, and maybe even before dinosaurs themselves. The breakthrough came late last year, when researchers were studying two new fossilised pterosaurs in
Not everything on Earth has sex. While the vast majority of creatures on the planet reproduce this way, some animals prefer to go it alone. Sometimes when they do this, they thrive – successfully rejecting sex for millions of years. Sometimes animals even switch between sexual and asexual reproduction. So, sex is a tricky thing.
New York is one signature away from becoming the first state in the country to ban cat declawing, a practice advocates say serves no benefit to felines and is done typically out of convenience. The bill, which passed by a wide margin Tuesday in the state’s majority-Democrat Assembly and Senate, would impose a US$1,000
Do you need another reason to love bees? Not only can our fuzzy little flower friends perform basic arithmetic, scientists have now discovered that they can recognise symbols associated with numbers. Just as we humans recognise the symbol 7 or VII is associated with a quantity of seven, it seems that bees can make