Bats on the wing

Bats on the wing
Bat wings are built like a mammal’s arm—and so their flight is fiendishly complex. Scientists have decoded the fluid dynamics of the flight of a fruit bat—and this airborne mammal has some nifty tricks for staying aloft! More »

Menace to monarchs

Menace to monarchs
20 years ago, up to 1 billion monarch butterflies wintered in Mexico’s mountains. This January, a few tens of millions are roosting there after their long migration across North America. What menaces the marvelous monarch migration? More »

As snow goes, where go the animals?

As snow goes, where go the animals?
Animals like the wolverine evolved to live in the snow, and they excel in conditions that defeat most animals. How will they fare if (when?) snow continues to decline in their homes? And whassup with the balmy but hidden ecosystem under the snow? More »

Stopping the slaughter of the bats

Stopping the slaughter of the bats
In 7 years, white-nose syndrome has spread to 24 states and 5 provinces. Why is the fungus so deadly? Why don’t bats die in Europe? And where are the chinks in its armor? More »

Got gears? Let’s leap, says the leafhopper!

Got gears? Let's leap, says the leafhopper!

25 Simple machines are rare in biology, but gears create microsecond timing in one high-jumping insect. Quiz question: What other natural structure pivots at the rate of 550 times a second? More »

Poaching problem

Poaching problem
As elephant poaching soars, carbon dating, a mainstay of archeology, could be used to date ivory, based on heavy isotopes left over from the atom-bomb era. More »

Wolf mystery solved at last!

Wolf mystery solved at last!

And how did it traverse 460 kilometers of ocean? Apparently by crossing a narrow band of ice during the last Ice Age. A new study echoes evolutionary giants Darwin and Wallace and highlights the role of sea level in animal migration. More »

Moles smell in stereo!

Moles smell in stereo!

A common mole never sees the light of day, but it can pinpoint the source of food in just a few seconds — thanks to its newfound stereo smelling ability. If two ears help you hear in stereo, what good are two nostrils? More »

Odder than odd!

Odder than odd!

Dig the dung beetle. Sample the belly button. Tilt your brain — and see what happens. Watch bees cook their enemies. Drive through the cabbie’s brain. Check out pretty pix of pretty chicks. All weird. All here! More »

Amphibian anxiety

Amphibian anxiety

Amphibians are disappearing faster than any other animals. A new study looks at the effects of changes in climate, land use and disease. The picture isn’t pretty, but looking at three threats at once shows the true danger facing frogs, toads, salamanders and their relatives. More »

Cattle, wildlife: No real conflict?

zebra in foreground, cattle in background

In African savannas, cattle graze the same grass as zebras, elephants and gazelles. Obviously, wildlife are stealing food from the mouths of cattle, and from the people who depend on cattle. But new data show that in the wet season, grazing wildlife actually benefit cattle! More »

The secret life of cats

The secret life of cats

Humans and cats have enjoyed each other’s company for millennia, but scientists have discovered some troubling secrets of free-roaming felines that have wildlife and health experts worried. A new study reveals what free-roaming cats do all day, and The Why Files investigates some implications of their outdoor habits. More »

Giant snake invasion!

Giant snake invasion!

Pythons, anacondas and boas are breeding in South Florida. What are these snakes eating, besides alligators? Can they be trapped, hunted, poisoned? More »

Thanksgiving: What’s what with wild turkeys?

Thanksgiving: What’s what with wild turkeys?
Turkeys got help for 75 years from conservation agencies. Coyotes spread across half the country all on their own. Why have these animals succeeded? How have they changed the environment? More »

Raising (Whooping) Crane

Raising (Whooping) Crane

Refuge is site of effort to use ultralight aircraft to guide crane chicks toward Florida wintering grounds. Dangers remain, but it’s a step ahead for Americas’ largest flying bird, once reduced to 21 animals. More »