The pursuit for a high quality genome begins with this rare bird

The Vertebrate Genomes Project may spell good news for the kakapo and the vaquita.

The flightless kakapo of New Zealand is in trouble.
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'Ghost forests' visible from space spread along the coast as sea levels rise

Seawater is raising salt levels in coastal woodlands along the entire Atlantic Coastal Plain, from Maine to Florida.

Photo by Anqi Lu on Unsplash
Trekking out to my research sites near North Carolina's Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, I slog through knee-deep water on a section of trail that is completely submerged.
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Discovered: A tiny, glowing, poisonous, singing toadlet

Roughly the size of a thumbnail, this newly discovered toadlet has some anatomical surprises.

Credit: Nunes, et al. / PLOS ONE
  • A new species of "pumpkin toadlet" is discovered skittering along the forest floor in Brazil.
  • It's highly poisonous and brightly colored, and some if its bones glow under UV light.
  • An analysis of the toadlets' chirp song helped scientists establish that it's something new.
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Unusual creatures uncovered beneath an Antarctic ice shelf

The organisms were anchored to a boulder 900 meters beneath the ice, living a cold, dark existence miles away from the open ocean.

Credit: Huw Griffiths/British Antarctic Survey
  • A new study details the discovery of sessile organisms living under the Antarctic's Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.
  • In recent years, scientists have discovered more creatures living in environments once thought inhospitable to life.
  • It's currently unknown how these new organisms find food in such an environment, nor how plentiful they are beneath the continent's ice-blanketed coastlines.
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    Why do some species evolve to miniaturize?

    The island rule hypothesizes that species shrink or supersize to fill insular niches not available to them on the mainland.

    Credit: Frank Glaw
    • Brookesia nana, the nano-chameleon, may be the smallest vertebrate ever discovered.
    • The "island rule" states that when new species migrate to islands, they may shrink or grow as they evolve to fill new ecological niches.
    • It remains unclear whether the island rule can explain the nano-chameleon or nature's other extreme miniaturizations.
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