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Here’s Why We’re Not Overrun With Adorable Baby Giant Pandas

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo has been part of an international effort to breed highly endangered giant pandas in captivity ever since Richard Nixon visited China in 1972. But in 43 years, they’ve had only two solid successes–cubs Tai Shan and Bao Bao. They hope the new twins born this weekend will make it four. » 8/25/15 12:32pm Tuesday 12:32pm

40 Years of Bad Science: How Jaws Got Everything Wrong About Sharks

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original release, Jaws will be shown on the big screen once more on June 21st. Few other movies have cast such a long shadow into the “real” world as the first summer blockbuster. As a marine biologist whose research focuses on shark conservation, I’ve been living in that… » 6/19/15 10:00am 6/19/15 10:00am

"Virgin Births" Won't Save The Smalltooth Sawfish From Extinction

The critically endangered smalltooth sawfish was recently found to be capable of asexual reproduction. It’s an exciting discovery for many reasons, but breathless claims by the media that sawfish could save their species from extinction by resorting to virgin births are wrong, wrong, wrong. Let’s explore why. » 6/18/15 7:10pm 6/18/15 7:10pm

Far From Sterile, Some Hybrids May Start New Species

Your schoolteachers probably told you most species wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) successfully interbreed with one another. If some did, their hybrid offspring, like mules, couldn’t have babies of their own. That explanation was a bit oversimplified. Hybridization happens, and it may be one way new species arise. » 6/09/15 6:22pm 6/09/15 6:22pm

Here's What Sharks Do When You Give Them Cameras

Fisheries biologist John Shepherd once said that “counting fish is like counting trees—except you can’t see them and they move.” This can make animal behavior research extremely difficult. And while increasingly advanced electronic telemetry tags can tell us a lot, there’s just no substitute for seeing a behavior on… » 5/20/15 11:10am 5/20/15 11:10am

Top Predators May Be the Most Important Animals on Earth

Humans have always had a complicated relationship with other predators. Grizzly bears, crocodiles, great white sharks—these are among our planet's most awe-inspiring creatures. Still, we'd never want these deadly animals in our backyards. But new scientific evidence suggests that we need them far more than we realized. » 3/09/15 12:30pm 3/09/15 12:30pm

How the Smithsonian Is Restoring the Original USS Enterprise Model 

The USS Enterprise is, in popular imagination, a futuristic spaceship. The actual USS Enterprise model used on the Star Trek show is, in reality, a 50-year-old creaker that has endured at least one misguided new paint job. The Smithsonian is hard at work restoring the model, though, and they've even got the National… » 1/02/15 10:40am 1/02/15 10:40am

United Is Using Its Planes To Track Butterflies and Birds From Above

United Airlines is working with the Smithsonian on a conservation project that will tag and track the smaller members of the animal kingdom. More specifically, the project will use radio receivers mounted on planes to create a low-altitude network of vanishing species like the monarch butterfly. All while you enjoy… » 6/30/14 12:20pm 6/30/14 12:20pm