All posts by Becca Cudmore

Becca Cudmore is a journalist from Oregon. Her work has appeared in Audubon, The Scientist, Scientific American ​a​nd elsewhere .

Rat Giggles Point to New ‘Joyous’ Area of the Brain

We’ve known for a decade or so that humans aren’t the only animals who are ticklish. In 2003, researchers learned that rats “giggle” when tickled. They don’t move their mouths or shake their stomachs, but they do let out a high-pitched, ultrasonic sound. A study published last week in Science follows up on that research […]

Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants

How Many Giraffe Species Are There Really?

This September, Earth’s single giraffe species suddenly became four. “A Quadruple Take on the Giraffe: There are Four Species, Not One,” wrote The New York Times. “Giraffes aren’t just giraffes,” reported The Washington Post. A study published in Current Biology, a prominent science journal, had reshuffled Africa’s nine recognized giraffe subspecies into separate species:the southern, […]

Meet the Fig Wasps Who Hacked the System

You’ll never see a fig’s flowers until you open one up. Unlike a blossoming plum, apple, or pear tree, figs hold their many microscopic white blooms inside of plump pouches at the end of their stems. On the tip of each pouch, there’s a small opening perfectly sized to host the tree’s only pollinator: the […]

Giant Manta Rays: Ocean Drifters or High Seas Homebodies?

For giant manta rays in the Indo-Pacific, home means a surprisingly small spot in the ocean. Sometimes called ‘pandas of the sea’, these gregarious, toothless, and more than 4,000-pound sea creatures call warm saltwaters across the globe home. Until this week, most experts also thought that, much like other large ocean filter-feeders, they travel far […]