Why Are These Sloths Wearing Tiny Backpacks?

This episode of the InsideNATURE podcast is all about sloths–perhaps the strangest group of creatures evolution has ever produced. While other species get ahead by being the fastest, the biggest or the strongest, sloths do everything as slowly as possible, using the least amount of energy and remaining largely unnoticed. But don’t be deceived by […]

The Uncertain Future of the Vaquita

The vaquita is the smallest porpoise in the world and also the most endangered. Last year, a scientific survey determined there were about 30 vaquitas left in wild, down from the 60 or so found the previous year. With such low numbers, the species appears to be teetering on the edge of extinction, and scientists […]

Yosemite and Climate Change with Wildlife Filmmaker Joe Pontecorvo

In the latest episode of the InsideNATURE podcast, I spoke with filmmaker Joe Pontecorvo, producer of the recent NATURE film Yosemite. As the name suggests, Joe’s film is about Yosemite National Park, one of America’s oldest parks, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. The film features a diverse cast of animal characters including […]

The Crab with the Kung Fu Grip

Poking around on the beach, you may have encountered a hermit crab — a typically petite crustacean whose home is the shell it carries around on its back. Now imagine that tiny crab grew bigger and bigger until it could no longer find a large enough shell. With no means of defense, it develops a […]

Meet the Snail-Smashing, Fish-Spearing Mantis Shrimp

Contrary to their name, mantis shrimp aren’t actually shrimp. They belong to another group of shelled critters called stomatopods that split from other crustaceans about 400 million years ago. However, like their land-based namesake, the preying mantis, they use their lightning-fast forelimbs to snag a meal. Mantis shrimp apply two main strategies — spearing or […]

Could We Bring Back the Passenger Pigeon (or Other Extinct Species)?

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from “The Unnatural World: the Race to Make Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age” by journalist and broadcaster David Biello. The excerpt is from a chapter that describes a ‘de-extinction’ talk given by biologist Ben Novak and others at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Novak’s plan is to bring back […]

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 […]