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Why Skunks Evolved Their Smelly Spray

Skunk spray is so potent that it can knock you out or even kill you—and now we know why the North American mammals evolved the noxious stuff.

New Tapir Discovered—One of Biggest Mammals Found This Century

Talk about a big discovery—a new tapir has been found in the Amazon, the largest land mammal discovered in recent history, a new study says.

Cute Pictures: Baby Olinguito Found in Colombia

Cute new pictures of baby olinguitos—a new mammal recently discovered in South America—have emerged.

Camera Trap Pictures: Rare Badgers, Mongooses Spotted in Gabon

Honey badgers, mongooses, civets, and other small carnivores roam Gabon’s forests, according to the first such survey of its kind.

Nature Sketchbook: New “Olinguito” Species Close-Up

Drawn from the same skulls and skins that led NG Explorer Kristofer Helgen to realize he’d found an unknown species of mammal, these sketches reveal the science and the beauty of the newly described “olinguito.”

3 Mammals That “Choose” Their Babies’ Sex

A new study says mammals can “choose” the sex of their offspring—does that include us?

Ancient Embrace: Amphibian, Mammal Ancestor Buried Together

An injured amphibian and a sleeping mammal ancestor shared a home before a flash flood trapped them 250 million years ago, a new study says.

BioBlitz Finds 489 Species in Rocky Mountain National Park

A 24-hour BioBlitz by some 150 scientists and 2,000 students this weekend identified 489 species alive and well in Rocky Mountain National Park. Or did a last-minute flyover by a bald eagle make the final count 490? Presenting the tally confirmed by scientists this afternoon, BioBlitz coordinators said there were 89 species of birds, 12…

Photographers document endemic species of Tompotika, Sulawesi

Tompotika, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia An international team of photographers gathered on the island of Sulawesi for a Tripods in the Mud  photographic expedition in partnership with the Alliance for Tompotika Conservation / Aliansi Konservasi Tompotika (AlTo).  Joining the effort were ILCP Fellows Sandesh Kadur (India), and Kevin Schafer (USA), joined by Riza Marlon, a well-known Indonesian…

BioBlitz Identifies 859 Species in Saguaro National Park, and Counting …

When the clock stopped at noon on Saturday, more than 170 scientists and 2,000 students had collected or identified 859 species in the 94,000-acre park.

An Earful of Jawbones

The middle ear of mammals contains a chain of three tiny bones (auditory ossicles), the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). This chain transmits and amplifies sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. The eardrum (tympanic membrane) itself is stretched across an additional bone, the ecto­tympanic. In all other land vertebrates, a…

Conservation is Working, but One in Five Animals is Running Out of Time

Do we need to double our conservation efforts? One fifth of the world’s vertebrates–mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fishes–is threatened with extinction, according to a worldwide assessment by thousands of scientists. But had it not been for conservation measures, they say, the number of species on the threatened list would be doubled. Legislation enacted to ban…

Making Babies in Space

Alien cultures might be happy to know that if we humans ever do start colonizing the universe, we may have a few problems going forth and multiplying. A team of Japanese scientists has found that microgravity significantly lowers the birth rate in mammals, based on their study of mice embryos subjected to space-like conditions in…

Name That Mammal

As I mentioned not long ago, National Geographic Weekend radio host Boyd Matson (at right above) and producer Ben Shaw invited me to join them on a trip across town to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Boyd and Ben had an appointment with biologist Kristofer Helgen, a 2009 National Geographic Emerging Explorer who…

The Future of Exploration: A Different Lens

Four National Geographic Emerging Explorers share their novel paradigms for understanding the world in these highlights from the 2009 Explorers Symposium: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Curator of Mammals Kristofer Helgen talks about discovering new mammals, both out in the wild and deep in museum archives. “I’ve described about 25 species of mammals in…