About 150 miles northwest of Tahiti lies Raiatea, 65 square miles, and the spiritual center of the Polynesian world. This week, a holy site there, Taputapuatea, was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Another world-famous marvel on the island is the tiare apetahi, an incredibly rare flower found only on Raiatea, and […]
When marine biologist Julia Lowndes started graduate school in California in 2006, she expected to spend the next several years learning about the behavior of the Humboldt squid, which had recently—and dramatically—expanded its range north along the California coast. But before she learned anything about the squid, she discovered, she had to learn to code.
Let’s talk about de-extinction. Actually, let’s not. Let’s talk about what the as-yet-unrealized technology known as “de-extinction” really is, which is the creation of hybrid organisms using genetic material from both extinct and extant species. Last month, a team of scientists announced that a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo—”more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits,” […]
The Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, a patch of restored prairie and wetland in southwestern Indiana, is a a favorite stopover for migratory birds and itinerant birders. On January 3, while driving the grid of ruler-straight county roads around the wetland, a birder saw an unmistakable large, white shape: it was a whooping crane, one of the most endangered birds […]
A few years ago, while working on a story on the shark fin trade, I found myself freezing in the back of a panga 25 miles out from the Baja shoreline wishing I was dead. Partly it was tossing seas that pitched the skiff from side to side and slapped over the gunwales. Partly it […]
Sometimes, while out on the job, I have to pinch myself and think, ‘hold on to this moment.’ Because the moments that make up my workday can be truly fabulous. Here’s what last week’s pinch was for: I was squatting on the ground at the Bifengxia panda base in central China, on a cloudy but pleasantly […]
Last Thursday, a study in Science predicted that if global carbon emissions continue on their current “business-as-usual” trajectory, climate change will extinguish one-sixth of the species on earth. The figure comes with the usual caveats, which you can read about here and here. As a rough estimate of what lies ahead, though, the study is useful—and […]
You may have heard that conservation biologists are arguing with each other. Some say nature should be protected for humans; others say it should be protected from humans; others say it’s possible to do both. This may sound like an academic debate—and in many ways it is—but it has become a very nasty one, and […]