Darwin Predicted This Animal's Existence Decades Before Its Discovery

Here’s a great Charles Darwin story you may not have heard before: In 1862, the famed naturalist foretold the discovery of an unusual animal, based on his observations of a species of orchid endemic to Madagascar. The creature was ultimately discovered in 1903—some 20 years after Darwin’s death. » 5/13/15 12:00pm 5/13/15 12:00pm

What Made the Y Chromosome So Tiny?

The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male mammals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 —and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes? » 5/07/15 7:40pm 5/07/15 7:40pm

Big Whales Have Nerves Like Bungee Cords

This nerve can stretch to twice its resting length. Did you just squirm? If you did, you probably know that the nerves of vertebrates are notoriously inelastic things, and that stretching them even a little bit can result in painful injury. But the nerve in this image is special. In fact, it’s evolved to stretch this… » 5/05/15 1:03pm 5/05/15 1:03pm

This Bird's Freaky Mating Display Comes Out Of Nowhere

Most of the time, the male Superb Bird of Paradise is a fairly nondescript black bird. But when it tries to attract a mate, it flips its feathers around to create a fluorescent kabuki mask that you’ll never forget. In this video, ornithologist Ed Scholes explains how the bird creates the illusion.
» 4/30/15 1:30pm 4/30/15 1:30pm

They’re Calling This Adorable Creature The ‘Platypus’ Of Dinosaurs

Meet Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, a newly described dinosaur discovered by a seven-year-old boy in Chile. The theropod was related to famous meat-eaters like T. rex, but researchers think it was a vegetarian. Stranger still: It possessed a mixture of anatomical features unlike anything researchers have seen before.
» 4/27/15 10:20am 4/27/15 10:20am

This Crazy-Looking Creature Was The Ocean's First Filter-Feeding Giant

Behold Aegirocassis benmoulae, an extinct creature that swam through the Earth's oceans some 480-million years ago. Discovered by paleontologists in Morocco, it possessed modified legs, gills on its back — and a filter system for feeding. Remarkably, it's the oldest known animal to fill an ecological niche now… » 3/12/15 1:40pm 3/12/15 1:40pm

How Nanoscale Optics Create Nature's Most Dazzling Colors

What do a butterfly's shimmering wings, a fish's opalescent scales, and a peacock's brilliant feathers have in common? Yes, their colors are beautifully iridescent. But they are also produced by the physical interaction of light with sophisticated nanoscale architecture that we are only just beginning to understand. » 2/19/15 2:14pm 2/19/15 2:14pm

Our Ancestors Developed a Love For Alcohol Millions of Years Ago

Obviously, alcohol's been a part of human society for a very long time. We started making it at roughly the same time we figured out agriculture, 9,000 years ago. A new study on our now-extinct ancestors revealed that they developed the ability to metabolize alcohol when they started going down to forest floors, about… » 2/05/15 9:00pm 2/05/15 9:00pm