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    The Psychic Toll of Severing the Hunter-Prey Relationship

    The emotional connection between hunter and hunted raises important questions about what happens when an animal species disappears—what is the human response to such ill-fate?Wellcome Images / Wikicommons A productive hunt is a violent act—success requiring as it does the dismemberment of a living creature. Yet, to focus alone on the concluding moment, the bloody […]

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    What an Extinct Bird Re-Evolving Says About “Species”

    How could the same species evolve more than once?Photograph by Janos Rautonen / Flickr You may have heard the news of what sounds like a resurrection story on the small island of Aldabra, off the coast of Madagascar. Around 136,000 years ago, the island was submerged in water and a layer of limestone captured the […]

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    How “Useless” Science Unraveled an Amphibian Apocalypse

    One spring day in 1984, Joyce Longcore got a phone call from Joan Brooks, a biologist at the University of Maine. Brooks had received a National Science Foundation grant to study the interactions of fungi and bacteria in peat bogs. She needed a hand, and she heard through the grapevine that Longcore knew a bit […]

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    To Bring Back Extinct Species, We’ll Need to Change Our Own

    Passenger pigeon eggs at the Maine State MuseumBrandon Keim; displayed courtesy of Paula Work, registrar & curator of zoology at the museum The last passenger pigeon died just over a century ago, though they’ve lived on as symbols—of extinction’s awful finality, and also of a human carelessness so immense that it could exterminate without really […]

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    Biologists’ Clever Way to Detect Animals They Can’t Find

    A hellbender at the National Zoo in WashingtonBrian Gratwicke via Flickr Wildlife doesn’t get much weirder than the hellbender, a frilly, crayfish-gobbling salamander, about the length of a baby alligator, whose bizarre aliases include “snot otter,” “devil dog,” and “grampus.” The giant amphibian stalks rocky streambeds throughout the eastern United States—or at least it did, […]

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    Where Endangered Vultures Go for a Healthy, Rotting Meal

    A young, captive Cape vultureChelsea Biondolillo   The sun is hot and high over Hartbeetspoort, South Africa, the air thick with humidity and flies. On the dirt in front of us are the remains of three cows. Bridgette Cahill asks, “Ready to get your hands dirty?” Her fellow volunteer Nobuhle Thelma Mabhikwa nods. They work […]

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    If Half of All Species Go Extinct, Will One of Them Be Us?

    Biodiversity JengaMartin Sharman How many animal species do you think go extinct every year? Last week I conducted a highly unscientific polling of around 20 of my Facebook and Google Chat contacts, asking that same question. I’m not trying to brag, but I have some really smart friends, many of them with degrees in biology. […]

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    Searching for Disappearing Species in the US’ Deepest Wilds

    Michael Lucid photographs samples found during the Multispecies Baseline Initiative (MBI).Ben Goldfarb In 2010, Michael Lucid, a biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, captured a surprise in a beer-baited gastropod trap—a slug that didn’t genetically resemble any of the ones he’d caught before. On a hunch, Lucid sent the mysterious invertebrate to […]

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    Zombie Sponge Reefs Are Lurking at the Bottom of the Sea

    The resurrection of glass sponge reefs proves extinction doesn’t have to be eternal.

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    How to Build a Better Bat Cave

    Paul Kingsbury/The Nature Conservancy In the winter of 1975, a biologist named Merlin Tuttle bought himself a state-of-the-art digital thermometer and set out on a road trip from Wisconsin down to Florida. Tuttle, who was in his mid-30s and sporting a brown, push-broom mustache, was trying to measure something that no one had really measured […]