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Elephants Have 10,000 Genes for Smell—Most Ever Found

The large mammals have 10,000 genes related to smell, the most ever discovered in an animal, a new study says.

Bats Set Their Internal Compass at Dusk—A First Among Mammals

Bats may be known for their stealth in the dark, but a new study shows they need light from the setting sun to navigate.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #71

Woodpeckers, nutcrackers, flycatchers, sunbirds, roadrunners and babblers in this 71st Edition! Astonishing what can be achieved with a bit of patience, care and a passion for birds. Wild birds have become the subject of choice for thousands of photographers around the world. They extremely hard to photograph. You need the best equipment you have access to…

Poaching Crisis in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic News Watch blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world. Text and photo from iLCP Fellow Paul Hilton. UPDATE FROM THE FIELD: Paul Hilton and FKL Rangers Expose Wildlife Poaching in…

Breathtaking Destruction

Earlier this year, aerial photographer Alex MacLean invited me to survey the tar sands of northeast Alberta from the air with him. He’d reserved a plane, complete with pilot, at the diminutive airport of Fort McMurray, the de facto tar sands capital of Alberta. Alberta contains about 170 billion barrels of reasonably accessible oil, the…

We’re Seeing the End of Our Livelihood

Violet Clarke’s home sits virtually in the center of the vast Athabasca tar sands, a colossal deposit of extremely heavy crude oil in the western Canadian province of Alberta. She vaguely recalls seeing the gooey black stuff, which seeped naturally from the banks of the Athabasca River, during her childhood. Her father, a Cree Indian,…

Return of a Native: Reflections on the 38th Voyage of the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, July 11, 2014

By Patricia Paladines and Carl Safina The first whale was spotted at around 11am. We approached it with the quiet stealth afforded by a light wind in our sails. To the best of our knowledge the animal could not imagine or have any concern that a wooden whale-hunting ship was nearing its magnificent, enormous body.…

4 Sky Events This Week: Saturn Stands While Meteors Fly

Saturn, the true “Lord of the Rings,” dominates the evening sky this week, while the summer’s first meteor shower gets under way. Saturn at full stop. On Monday, July 21, the ringed world will appear at a standstill in the sky, relative to the background stars in the zodiacal constellation Libra, the Scales. Astronomers call this…

Time Passes at an Elephant’s Pace

Time passes at an elephant’s pace here at Mushara waterhole in the northeast corner of Etosha National Park, Namibia. The mornings are slow to materialize, a few solitary bulls drifting in like a lazy late morning gust from the northeast and then later from the southwest, each gliding through on non-overlapping paths. By early afternoon…

Science on the Edge of the World: Tales From Madagascar’s Sakalava Menabe

Cara Brook is a disease ecologist from the Andrew Dobson Lab at Princeton, studying diseases that can leap from bats to humans. Her work is well underway, and it involves a lot more than just tagging and indexing bats.

Climate Change Already Having Profound Impacts on Lakes in Europe

For perspective on how climate change is affecting lakes, those of us here in the U.S. can just look across the pond, where scientists and the agencies involved in meeting the European Union’s Water Framework Directive have amassed an impressive body of research on the topic. Not only are extreme weather events such as droughts…

Global Warming Boosting Reindeer on Norwegian Island—For Now

Reindeer on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago are bucking the trend and thriving, according to a long-term study.

45th Anniversary of First Men on the Moon: Spot Apollo Landing Sites

This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Learn how you can spy two of the Apollo landing sites with a set of binoculars.

Going on a Rock Cruise

Imagine two, 60-mile-thick slabs of rock running into each other. Which gives first and why? This is what happens when two oceanic plates go head to head, and one must buckle down, or subduct into a trench. In the western Pacific Ocean south of Japan, this is thought to have first occurred 52 million years…

Health Concerns Downstream of Alberta’s Tar Sands

I first met Doctor John O’Connor at the Wood Buffalo Brewing Company, one of the only places to eat or drink at in the tar sands capital Fort McMurray that’s not a chain. O’conner had also invited Laurie McDaniel, a candidate from the New Democratic Party for the Candadian parliament, and her assistant Shannon. (McDaniel…