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Elizabeth Ann Is the First Cloned Black-Footed Ferret

Elizabeth Ann Is the First Cloned Black-Footed Ferret

Scientists have successfully cloned a wild black-footed ferret that died more than 30 years ago, according to a from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The young clone, born December 10, 2020 and named Elizabeth Ann, is the first ever native endangered species to be cloned in the United States, reports Douglas Main for .Once thought to be globally extinct, black-footed ferrets are one of North America’s rarest land animals, clinging to the hem of existence through painstaking captive breeding and reintroduction programs. With her unique DNA, Elizabeth Ann has the potential...

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Alex Fox
5d ago
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Meet Farfarout, the Most Distant Object in the Solar System

Meet Farfarout, the Most Distant Object in the Solar System

A planetoid called Farfarout is now officially the most distant object in our solar system, reports Passant Rabie for .Researchers determine distance in space using astronomical units, or the average distance between the Earth and the sun—roughly 92 million miles. Farfarout is 132 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, which is four times farther away from the sun than Pluto. That staggering distance from the sun means it takes Farfarout around 1,000 years to complete a single lap around the sun, according to a .The former record holder, , is “only” about 120 AU from the sun, holding onto...

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Alex Fox
Feb 17
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Magnetic Fields Detected in Venus Flytraps

Magnetic Fields Detected in Venus Flytraps

When the vegetal “jaws” of the carnivorous Venus flytrap plant snap shut, they produce a small magnetic field, according to new research published last month in the journal . This discovery is one of very few magnetic fields ever detected in plants, reports Yasemin Saplakoglu for .Researchers in Berlin used a sensitive instrument called an atomic magnetometer inside a special room that blocks out the modern world’s electromagnetic chatter to detect the magnetic fields emanating from the plants, reports Isaac Schultz for .The magnetic field the researchers’ equipment picked up coming from...

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Alex Fox
Feb 10
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Chameleon Discovered in Madagascar May Be World's Smallest Reptile

Chameleon Discovered in Madagascar May Be World's Smallest Reptile

Researchers discovered what may be the smallest reptile on the planet in the rainforests of northern Madagascar, reports Jason Bittel for . The new miniscule lizard is a species of chameleon named Brookesia nana, and is so small its entire body can fit on a fingertip, according to a new paper published last week in the journal .A lizard called the Caribbean gecko (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) is the former record holder for smallest reptile on Earth, but the changing of the guard is made somewhat murky by the fact that only the male B. nana specimen found by scientists is smaller than the...

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Alex Fox
Feb 3
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Study Estimates Clean Air Act Has Saved 1.5 Billion Birds

Study Estimates Clean Air Act Has Saved 1.5 Billion Birds

Over the past 40 years, the improved air quality demanded by the United States’ Clean Air Act saved the lives of roughly 1.5 billion birds across the country, according to a study published last week in the journal the . That whopping total equates to roughly one fifth of all birds fluttering in U.S. skies today, reports Sara Tabin for .“Our research shows that the benefits of environmental regulation have likely been underestimated,” says Ivan Rudik, an economist at Cornell University and co-author of the study, in a . “Reducing pollution has positive impacts in unexpected places and...

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Alex Fox
Dec 2
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Oldest-Ever Python Fossil Found in Europe

Oldest-Ever Python Fossil Found in Europe

Paleontologists have identified four fossilized snake skeletons as belonging to a new species of ancient python. At roughly 47 million years old, the specimens are the oldest python fossils ever found, a discovery which has reconfigured the evolutionary tree of these serpents, reports Katherine Kornei for the .The fossils emerged from Germany’s Messel Pit, a former shale mine that is now a . The fossil bed is famous for providing a window into the evolution of early mammals during the Eocene (57 to 36 million years ago).Discovering this early python, named Messelopython freyi, in Europe...

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Alex Fox
Dec 31
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Amateur Fossil Hunter Discovers New 'Sea Dragon' Species on British Beach

Amateur Fossil Hunter Discovers New 'Sea Dragon' Species on British Beach

An amateur fossil hunter scouring an English beach discovered a new species of bug-eyed, barrel-chested marine reptile that patrolled the area’s prehistoric seas roughly 150 million years ago, reports Christa Leste-Lasserre for .When Steve Etches started to extract what he soon recognized as an ichthyosaur fossil from a white band of coastal limestone near Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset, he thought the teeth looked unusual. Unsure of exactly what he’d dug up, Etches sent the mineralized bones off to paleontologists at the University of Portsmouth for a closer look, reports Jack Guy for...

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Alex Fox
Dec 16
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Minnesota Wolves Are Eating Beavers and Reshaping Wetlands

Minnesota Wolves Are Eating Beavers and Reshaping Wetlands

Gray wolves in in Minnesota are killing beavers in droves and reshaping the watery park’s interconnected wetlands in the process, reports Ben Goldfarb for .Beavers are what biologists like Thomas Gable, who is based at the University of Minnesota, call ecosystem engineers. That’s because the hefty, flat-tailed rodents have a penchant for felling trees and damming streams, creating beaver ponds that dramatically alter the local habitat and, in aggregate, the entire ecosystem.Within Voyageurs, this concept is especially true. Ponds and wetlands created by beavers are a huge part of the...

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Alex Fox
Nov 20
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Lizards Fell From Palm Trees During a Florida Cold Snap, but Now They've Toughened Up

Lizards Fell From Palm Trees During a Florida Cold Snap, but Now They've Toughened Up

Back in January, Florida had a serious cold snap. Meteorologists warned of temperatures dipping down into the 30s and 40s. But the National Weather Service forecast didn’t stop there, it also cautioned residents to watch out for large green lizards falling from the treetops.As predicted, temperatures dropped as did a large number of reptiles. Around that time, evolutionary ecologist James Stroud of Washington University in St. Louis received a photo from a friend in Florida showing a nearly two-foot-long iguana lying flat on its back in the middle of the sidewalk.“When air temperatures drop...

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Alex Fox
Nov 4
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See Strange Squid Filmed in the Wild for the First Time

See Strange Squid Filmed in the Wild for the First Time

Last week, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveying the depths off the northern Great Barrier Reef encountered a mysterious cylinder hanging vertically in the dark water around 2,790 feet. “It looks like a pale eggplant,” remarked one of the ocean enthusiasts who had tuned in to watch a .While that may not sound like a flattering first impression, that pale eggplant turned out to be an elusive species of squid that had never before been caught on camera in the wild, reports Nicoletta Lanese for .The cephalopod in question is called a , the only living member of a unique family of...

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Alex Fox
Nov 3
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Future Moon Walkers Will Get 4G Cell Reception

Future Moon Walkers Will Get 4G Cell Reception

NASA has selected Nokia to put the first ever cell network on the moon, reports the (AP).Nokia’s Bell Labs subsidiary plans to build a 4G cellular communications network that will be deployed via a lunar lander near the end of 2022, per the AP.In a , the Finnish telecommunications manufacturer says its “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened” system will be integrated with , which will deliver it to the moon’s surface. Nokia’s system is expected to include a base station, antennas and software, according to the AP.Per Nokia’s statement, cellular connectivity on the moon will facilitate...

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Alex Fox
Oct 22
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Four New Species of Prehistoric Flying Reptiles Unearthed in Morocco

Four New Species of Prehistoric Flying Reptiles Unearthed in Morocco

In recent weeks, paleontologists have reported four new species of dating back to the mid-Cretaceous, or about 100 million years ago all found in Morocco.These leathery-winged predators, part of an extinct group known as , were excavated from the in southeastern Morocco. Three new species of toothed pterosaur, all part of the Ornithocheiridae family, identified from chunks of jaws studded with pointed teeth, were first reported last month in the journal . A , Afrotapejara zouhrii, which had no teeth, is the first of its kind found on African soil, identified by part of its skull, according...

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Alex Fox
Apr 3
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NOAA Predicts Droughts Gripping Nearly Half of Continental U.S. Will Intensify This Winter

NOAA Predicts Droughts Gripping Nearly Half of Continental U.S. Will Intensify This Winter

The (NOAA) predicts this winter will be a dry one for much of the South and the Southwest, suggesting that droughts already impacting those regions are likely to intensify, reports Henry Fountain for the .The parts of the Southwest and Intermountain West currently experiencing drought comprise nearly half of the continental United States, reports Jeremy Jacobs of . And NOAA’s new winter outlook has those drought conditions, the most widespread since 2013, expected to spread west."The big story is likely to be drought," Mike Halpert, the deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center,...

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Alex Fox
Oct 16
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Wildlife Suffers as Brazil’s Pantanal Wetland Burns

Wildlife Suffers as Brazil’s Pantanal Wetland Burns

The Pantanal—the world’s largest tropical wetland, which stretches across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay—is home to Indigenous peoples and an array of wildlife including jaguars, tapirs and giant armadillos. But for months now the region has been in flames.Beginning sometime in late 2019 and becoming more intense in June and July of this year, fires have incinerated some 8.1 million acres—22 percent of the lush, biodiverse region, reports Elizabeth Claire Alberts of . To put that figure in perspective, the unprecedented, destructive fires in California have burned less than half that, at just...

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Alex Fox
Oct 5
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New Species of Burrowing Dinosaur May Have Died During 'Cretaceous Pompeii'

New Species of Burrowing Dinosaur May Have Died During 'Cretaceous Pompeii'

Paleontologists have unearthed a new species of burrowing dinosaur that once walked on two legs some 125 million years ago in modern-day China, reports Jon Haworth for . A new paper describing the species, published this month in the journal , argues it is the most primitive —the family of dinosaurs that includes bipedal “duck-billed” species such as Iguanodon—ever found.Found in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, researchers named the dinosaur Changmiania liaoningensis after the serene postures of the two almost perfectly preserved skeletons that underpin the discovery—changmian means...

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Alex Fox
Sep 24
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Toxic Algae Caused Mysterious Widespread Deaths of 330 Elephants in Botswana

Toxic Algae Caused Mysterious Widespread Deaths of 330 Elephants in Botswana

At the start of summer, were spread across Botswana’s Okavango Delta. For months, what killed the more than 300 elephants between late April and June was a mystery, with many wondering if poachers were somehow involved or if something sinister might be at play. Now, officials say the pachyderms were laid low by toxic blue-green algae that had polluted their drinking water, reports .Botswana is home to the world’s largest population of elephants—roughly 130,000 and rising—making the country a premier destination for wildlife tourism, report Mqondisi Dube and Max Bearak for the .The blooms of...

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Alex Fox
Sep 23
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Human Footprints Found in Saudi Arabia May Be 120,000 Years Old

Human Footprints Found in Saudi Arabia May Be 120,000 Years Old

Seven footprints pressed into the parched sediment of an ancient lake bed in northern Saudi Arabia may testify to humans’ presence in the region some 115,000 years ago, reports Maya Wei-Haas for .Archaeologists scouring the Nefud Desert spotted the impressions while examining 376 footprints left in the mud of the bygone body of water by such animals as giant extinct elephants, camels, buffalo and ancestors of modern horses.Now, a new analysis published in the journal argues that anatomically modern humans created the seven footprints between 112,000 and 121,000 years ago. If confirmed, the...

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Alex Fox
Sep 21
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A New Solar Cycle Promises Calm Space Weather

A New Solar Cycle Promises Calm Space Weather

may sound like one forecast Earthlings can comfortably ignore, but it actually has the potential to wreak serious havoc.esearchers are forecasting a period of relatively placid space weather as the sun enters its 25th solar cycle, reports Nell Greenfieldboyce of .last roughly 11 years, and we’re about nine months into number 25, which began in December 2019, according to a released by the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, a joint effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.The end of one solar cycle and the start of a new one is marked by what’s called the...

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Alex Fox
Sep 18
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Thousands of Migrating Birds Drop Dead Across Southwestern U.S.

Thousands of Migrating Birds Drop Dead Across Southwestern U.S.

Thousands of dead migratory birds in the southwestern United States have scientists baffled, reports Algernon D’Ammassa for the . “Unprecedented” numbers of dead birds have turned up in and around New Mexico in the last few weeks, and researchers aren’t yet sure why, Martha Desmond, an ecologist at New Mexico State University (NMSU), tells the Sun-News.The phenomenon first gained notice when hundreds of dead birds were found at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on August 20 but has since spread across at least five U.S. states and four Mexican states, per the Sun-News.Speaking...

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Alex Fox
Sep 17
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Researchers Discover What May Be 37 Active Volcanoes on Venus

Researchers Discover What May Be 37 Active Volcanoes on Venus

Venus, an inhospitable planet where surface temperatures hover around , just became an even tougher sell for Earthlings looking to switch planets. New research has identified 37 structures on the second planet from the sun that appear to be massive, active volcanoes, reports (AFP).Venus’ volcanism has long been known to scientists but was thought to be a thing of the planet’s distant past, reports Will Dunham for . The new paper, published this week in the journal , suggests the planet’s volcanoes are not dormant and that its geologically volatile days are not yet behind it.“People have...

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Alex Fox
Jul 23
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1.4-Million-Year-Old Ax Made of Hippo Bone Found in Ethiopia

1.4-Million-Year-Old Ax Made of Hippo Bone Found in Ethiopia

Archaeologists in Ethiopia have discovered a 1.4-million-year-old bone hand ax likely made by the ancient human ancestor , reports Bruce Bower for .The five-inch-long tool—unearthed at the in southern Ethiopia—is one of two known bone axes crafted more than one million years ago. Prehistoric implements made out of bone are exceptionally rare: According to Kiona N. Smith of , researchers have only identified a “handful … from sites older than [one] million years.”The findings, published this week in the journal , note that the tool’s maker created the ax’s honed edge by carefully flaking off...

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Alex Fox
Jul 15
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Bright Patches on Saturn’s Largest Moon Are Dried-Up Lake Beds

Bright Patches on Saturn’s Largest Moon Are Dried-Up Lake Beds

New research suggests mysterious bright spots seen at the equator of ’s moon may be dried up lake beds, reports Lisa Grossman for . The new research, published this week in the journal , offers an explanation for a phenomenon first observed in 2000.is the ringed planet’s and is the second largest moon in the entire solar system. The mega-moon is also the only one known to have a substantial atmosphere.Between 2000 and 2008, radio telescopes at the in Puerto Rico and the in West Virginia identified roughly a dozen spots at Titan’s equator that were bouncing anomalously bright radio signals...

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Alex Fox
Jun 19
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The International Space Station Just Became a Powerful Tool for Tracking Animal Migration

The International Space Station Just Became a Powerful Tool for Tracking Animal Migration

In 2018, scientists launched an antenna into space dedicated solely to tracking the world’s animals. From its perch 240 miles above Earth on the International Space Station, the antenna receives signals from tiny transmitters attached to more than 800 species of animal ranging from elephants to bats, reports Katharine Gammon for . After some early setbacks, the tracking system was switched on in March. Data from the project may be available to researchers on Earth as early as this fall, according to a ."The sensors allow animals to be our eyes and ears and noses in the world, and we are...

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Alex Fox
Jun 11
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The Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies at Age 90

The Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies at Age 90

As protests against and continue, Confederate monuments across the nation have been with spray paint, by crowds and even .The weathered, oxidized surfaces of these monuments seemingly suggest that the battle over slavery is a distant chapter in American history. But until May 31, the United States government was still paying out a Civil War pension, reports Michael M. Phillips for the .Irene Triplett, who died last month at the age of 90, received a check for $73.13 every month. Her father, Mose Triplett, served as a private in the Confederate Army before deserting and shifting his...

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Alex Fox
Jun 8
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One-Thousand-Year-Old Mill Resumes Production to Supply Flour Amid Pandemic

One-Thousand-Year-Old Mill Resumes Production to Supply Flour Amid Pandemic

With stay-at-home orders in effect across the United Kingdom, bulk buyers and consumers alike have been purchasing much more flour than normal, according to the (NABIM).To help meet this spike in demand, a 1,000-year-old has resumed commercial production for the first time in decades, reports Jason Lewis for the .The has occupied its picturesque spot on the banks of the River Stour in North Dorset since 1016. It earned a mention in the —a survey of England penned in 1086 at the behest of William the Conqueror—and was reportedly updated during the Elizabethan era in 1566, writes the ’s Cathy...

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Alex Fox
May 8
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