China plans to ban ivory trade “within a year or so.” US official: Yes it's a “huge” deal.


During his visit to Washington last month, China's President Xi Jinping vowed to stop the commercial trade in ivory in his nation, but didn't say much about when or how.

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'Dracula fish' and snub-nosed monkeys among 200+ new species discovered in Himalayas

Bompu litter frog,  newly discovered in India. [Sanjay Sondhi]

“A sneezing monkey, a walking fish and a jewel-like snake are just some of a biological treasure trove of over 200 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas in recent years,” reports the World Wildlife Foundation today.

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Genocide, not genes: indigenous peoples' genetic alcoholism is a racist myth


I've heard -- and repeated -- the theory that addiction rates among indigenous people in the Americas was caused by genetics -- specifically, that "new world" populations hadn't gone through the European plague years' genetic bottleneck that killed everyone who couldn't survive on alcoholic beverages (these having been boiled during their production and thus less likely to carry infectious diseases). Read the rest

Scientists discover that giraffes "hum" at night


Giraffes aren't known for their vocalizations, a limitation thought to be caused by their long necks, but biologists have know determined that they do "hum" at night. According to cognitive biologist Angela Stöger at the University of Vienna, the animals produce a low frequency hum with "a complex acoustic structure." Hear it below!

"It could be passively produced – like snoring – or produced during a dream-like state – like humans talking or dogs barking in their sleep,” Stöger told New Scientist.

Stöger adds that the hum could also be how giraffes communicate with each other when it's too dark to see.

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Watch ants weirdly circle an iPhone when it rings


These ants circle an iPhone like it's the Ka'aba in Mecca. Read the rest

BBC TV host is very excited about this Blue Whale that just showed up

“I can see it now!”

New species of Crayfish named after Edward Snowden


Scientists named this newly-identified species of Indonesian crayfish Cherax snowden, after Edward Snowden. Read the rest

Video: How do pygmy seahorses end up on matching corals?

Pygmy seahorses come in many colors, and biologists wondered whether they seek out coral that matches perfectly, or changed color somehow to match the coral they find. Read the rest

Why magenta doesn't appear in the rainbow


Steve Mould's colored flashlights (sometimes called "coloured torches" in distant lands) are useful props in this excellent 5-minute lecture on color mixing. I learned that magenta is not a color. Rather, it is the absence of green.

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WATCH: You probably need more cute sea slugs in your life

Jorunna are colorful sea slugs with what appear to be a puffy tail and rabbit ears (actually rhinophores). They have many variations in color and markings. Read the rest

We've evolved to disbelieve evolution

Experimental psychologists find that humans prefer explanations for events that have certainty and a sense of purpose over undirected randomness. Read the rest

Parasite playing cards

The lucky attendees at this year's meeting of the American Societe of Parasitologists got a gorgeous deck of parasite-themed playing cards into their conference bags. Read the rest

Culturing the critters on an 8-year-old's hand

Tasha Sturm, a lab tech, sampled her 8 year old son's hand when he came in from playing outside in an agar medium, then cultured the microbes that came off in the dish. Read the rest

What it's like to share consciousness with an octopus

Marine biologist/US police brutality survivor/science fiction writer Peter Watts, in a brilliant vignette that, I hope, will be part of a novel someday: Read the rest

Mind-controlling parasites (and the parasites that infect them)

A great, full-body-squick-inducing article in National Geographic provides an overview of the current research on parasites that use a combination of techniques to control their hosts' behavior, making them sacrifice themselves for the sake of the parasites and their offspring. Read the rest

Whale vaginas are amazing

Mammal penises, including those of cetaceans, are pretty easy to find, while vaginas are more difficult to examine; historically, accounts of animal reproduction have emphasized the features of penises and theories of sperm competition, but a burgeoning scientific emphasis on whale vaginas is revealing structures and strategies that are amazing and wonderful. Read the rest

Aloha shirt featuring critters from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur

The 19th century German biologist's seminal illustrations of weird sea-life have been adapted for a gorgeous Betabrand cabana shirt. Read the rest

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