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The Sad Ballad of Menes, the Egyptian #Spyduck

Menes wasn’t a spy, and neither was he a duck. Thanks to a combination of xenophobic paranoia and spotty Arabic-to-English translation, this one-year-old White Stork was unfairly painted as both and clapped into jail.

Days later he was exonerated, released, and eaten.

What You See Is What You Taste, Says Scientist

When it comes to tasting, what you see is not always what you get. Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Terry E. Acree, Ph.D., announced his findings that the appearance of foods and drinks can make people “see” flavors before they actually taste anything, a phenomenon that can influence their flavor…

The Leader of the Plaque: Iceman Ötzi had bad teeth

Ötzi the Iceman, the world’s oldest wet mummy, may have had many things in life, but a dazzling smile and fresh breath were not among them. A team of researchers from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich announced  that Otzi’s oral hygiene left a lot to be desired, to put it…

Easy Peasy, Ancient Cheesy

Whether you’re gaga for Gruyère, bonkers for Brie, or wild about Wensleydale, all cheese lovers have a new reason to celebrate—a breakthrough discovery in the history of cheese-making. A team of scientists announced that they have found the earliest evidence of human cheese-making dating back more than 7,000 years ago in Northern Europe. Blessed Were…

Ugly Christmas Sweaters Spread Far and Wide

“Ugly” Christmas sweaters have been around for decades, but their popularity has been soaring the past few years. Many people are dressing up in festive knits throughout the winter holidays; some because they think it is “ironic” to don the garments of yesteryear, others because they just like the way they feel in them. With…

Liar, Liar, Nose on Fire!

New research from the University of Granada’s Department of Experimental Psychology makes it as plain as the nose on your face: When people lie, their noses get hotter. Nicknamed the “Pinocchio effect,” the phenomenon was observed during a study that applied thermography to psychology to see what the body’s temperature could reveal about the mind.…

Brains Got Game: The Amazing Minds of Freestyle Rappers

Listening to freestyle rap can be humbling. When an artist easily improvises on the spot, coming up with smooth lyrics and effortless rhymes that flow to the beat in real time, it makes you wonder what amazing things are going on in that brain. A team of scientists decided to find out. The Sounds of…

Halloween Lobster Sports Orange and Black

  To celebrate the spooky season, the New England Aquarium revealed its latest acquisition: a half-orange, half-black “Halloween” lobster. Caught last week off the shores of Massachusetts, the one-pound, female lobster made her debut at the aquarium on Halloween 2012. A Lobster Named Pinchy Dana Duhaime, a lobsterman who hails from the appropriately “witchy” town…

Weird Tales for Halloween: Dead People Give Life to Coral Reef

We’ve heard of coral dying, but did anyone imagine that dead humans could contribute to keeping reefs alive?

19 Ferns Go Gaga!

Famous for infectious dance tunes and memorable meaty fashion choices, superstar Lady Gaga has another claim to fame: botany. Nineteen species of fern native to Central and South America, Mexico, Arizona, and Texas are being named in her honor by the Duke University research team who found them. Their findings will be published in the…

Heat-Sensing Vampire Bats and Other Weird Tales from National Geographic

Just in time for Halloween, our new book, Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories, was released this week.

The Deadly Thumbs of Japanese Flick Knife Frogs

The Japanese Otton frog (Babina subaspera) may look harmless, but don’t be fooled by its ordinary green, warty appearance. This frog carries concealed weapons. A new study has discovered that the Otton frog has sharp retractable claws that shoot out of its thumbs. The rare frog, native to the Amami islands of Southern Japan, uses…

Drudgery and Dragons – Is “Housework” Fatal to Female Komodos?

An international team of researchers has found that female Komodo dragons are living half as long as males do. The reason? “Housework.” That’s right. Housework: The physically demanding tasks of building large nests, maintaining them, and guarding their eggs are shortening the lives of female Komodo dragons. Members of the research team come from Australia,…

Giant “Daddy Longlegs” Discovered in Laos

The sight of a daddy longlegs scurrying across your backyard can be unnerving—typically the spindly legs of these creatures, also called harvestmen, are an inch or two long. But how would you feel about finding a giant one in a dark cave? If you’re an arachnologist, like Dr. Peter Jäger of the Senckenberg Research Institute…

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond Planet

There’s a gigantic diamond in outer space, according to new research from a team led by Yale University scientists. About as twice as big as Earth and with eight times more mass, the rocky planet is a “Super Earth” and orbits a star 40 light years away in the constellation Cancer. First detected in 2004, …