After Hurricane Maria, these lizards got a serious grip

In response to devastating hurricanes, Dominican anoles have developed a grip that's 10 times stronger. Are we witnessing evolution in real time?

  • After Hurricane Maria, anole species on the island of Dominica developed super strong grips.
  • This development may be one of the fasted rates of evolutionary change ever recorded.
  • Climate change will likely to result in more intense hurricanes, but not all species will adapt so quickly.
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Surprising Science

FEMA's most whimsical metric? The Waffle House index.

What does a fast-casual diner have to do with natural disasters? Quite a lot, actually.

Flickr user Chris Harrison
  • FEMA employs many metrics to assess the severity of natural disasters, but one of the strangest is the Waffle House index.
  • Because Waffle Houses have incredibly robust disaster management policies, their response to a natural disaster can be used to assess how quickly a community can get back on its feet.
  • If your area is about to be hit by a hurricane or an earthquake, look to the local Waffle House: it's not time to panic unless they're closed.
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Politics & Current Affairs

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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Videos

Earth at 2°C hotter will be horrific. Now here’s what 4°C will look like.

This is what the world will be like if we do not act on climate change.

  • The best-case scenario of climate change is that world gets just 2°C hotter, which scientists call the "threshold of catastrophe".
  • Why is that the good news? Because if humans don't change course now, the planet is on a trajectory to reach 4°C at the end of this century, which would bring $600 trillion in global climate damages, double the warfare, and a refugee crisis 100x worse than the Syrian exodus.
  • David Wallace-Wells explains what would happen at an 8°C and even 13°C increase. These predictions are horrifying, but should not scare us into complacency. "It should make us focus on them more intently," he says.
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Videos

NASA and ESA team up for historic planetary defense test

Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.

ESA's Hera mission above asteroid 65803 Didymos. Credit: ESA/ScienceOffice.org
  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
  • The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
  • A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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Surprising Science