Tag: Endangered and Extinct Species

She Studies Sea Snakes by the Seafloor

Six to eight million years ago, a snake related to swamp snakes or tiger snakes slithered into the sea. Over evolutionary time, descendants of that snake developed flattened paddle tails, an ability to breathe through the skin and a valve to stop water from entering the lungs. Today these creatures live their entire lives in […]

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The Thick Gray Line: Forest Elephants Defend Against Climate Change

Poaching destabilizes nations, disrupts ecosystems and threatens biodiversity. A recent study suggests still another consequence: Some types of poaching may also accelerate climate change. Forest elephants — the smaller, endangered relatives of African savanna elephants — promote the growth of large trees that excel at storing carbon, according to research published in the journal Nature […]

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The Species Act, Endangered: ‘Like a Plan From a Cartoon Villain’

In early May, a United Nations panel on biodiversity released a deeply troubling 1,500-page report warning that as many as one million plant and animal species were at risk of extinction worldwide. It strongly urged nations everywhere to accelerate efforts to save the marine and terrestrial life that remain — the mammals, the birds, the […]

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The Great Western Public Land Robbery

Imagine if the head of Philip Morris were put in charge of the American Cancer Society. Imagine he had spent his career trying to fight cancer cures, while promoting one of the world’s leading carcinogens. For good measure, he mocked the mission of his new employer and insulted the prayers of those looking for hope. […]

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This Carnivorous Plant Invaded New York. That May Be Its Only Hope.

BIG POND, N.Y. — Across their kayaks, the three men passed the green shoot back and forth. Occasionally, one of them would cradle it in one palm and bring a hand lens to it with the other, inspecting the carnivorous plant that was their bounty. By day’s end, the group — Seth Cunningham and Michael […]

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Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, […]

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Wild Pups Romp Again in an African Paradise

Last summer, not long after releasing a pioneer pack of 14 African wild dogs into Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park as part of an ambitious wildlife restoration effort, Paola Bouley went to see for herself what in the name of Canis major could have happened to the wild dog pups. As Gorongosa’s carnivore expert, Ms. Bouley […]

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Glimpsing Our Post-Consumption Future at the Cooper Hewitt

Plastics transformed the material world after World War II. Today, they pollute our oceans. A better future will be made with … algae. Or bacteria. That’s the dominant theme of a sweeping exhibition, “Nature: Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial.” On display here at the Smithsonian’s temple to the culture of design, on upper Fifth Avenue, are […]

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How ‘The Lion King’ Gets Real-Life Lion Family Dynamics Wrong

It’s got everyone’s favorite farting warthog, graceful giraffes, lumbering elephants and a whole cast of realistic-looking animal characters. Watching Simba and his pals try to regain their rightful place in the kingdom may have you thinking that Disney’s “The Lion King” is a pretty accurate depiction of what happens in the African savanna. But it’s […]

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Lion Bones Are Profitable for Breeders, and Poachers

An international treaty prohibits the buying and selling of products made from any of the big cat species, save one: the African lion. If the animals have been bred in captivity in South Africa, then their skeletons, including claws and teeth, may be traded around the world. Lion parts legally exported from South Africa usually […]

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A Teenager Stole a Lemur From a Zoo, and Almost Got Away With It

It was a case worthy of Ace Ventura, the pet detective. Nearly a year after an endangered ring-tailed lemur named Isaac was abducted from a Southern California zoo and then abandoned in front of a nearby hotel with a note for the police, his captor was brought to justice, the authorities said this week. Aquinas […]

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Why Did This Extinct Bird Have Such a Weird, Long Toe?

Some 99 million years ago, a small animal with a weird elongated toe died and became partially entombed in amber. Its lower leg and foot remained undisturbed in the hardened tree resin until amber miners eventually discovered the fossil in Myanmar’s Hukawng Valley in 2014. The preserved toe measures less than half an inch from […]

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Interpol Operation Seizes More Than 10,000 Animals in Anti-Trafficking Campaign

Over 26 days in June, world law enforcement officers recovered dolphins and sharks, lion and tiger cubs, nearly two dozen primates and more than 10,000 reptiles, birds and marine animals, Interpol said on Wednesday, announcing the results of a major operation against wildlife traffickers. The campaign, called Operation Thunderball, was coordinated by Interpol and the […]

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Zoos Called It a ‘Rescue.’ But Are the Elephants Really Better Off?

The “Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley” enclosure at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan., is a dreamscape idyll of an elephant’s natural home: five and a half sprawling acres of tree-dotted mock savanna and a 550,000-gallon pond where boated people and wading pachyderms can nearly meet on opposite sides of a discreetly submerged […]

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Could This Be the End of Frankincense?

For thousands of years, cultures around the world have revered the sweet aroma of frankincense. In Ancient Egypt, embalmers stuffed it inside the bodies and tombs of pharaohs and queens and its ashes were ground into eyeliner. Religious texts say rabbis burned it as offerings in Jerusalem’s temples, the three biblical Magi gifted it to […]

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One Casualty of the Palm Oil Industry: An Orangutan Mother, Shot 74 Times

BUNGA TANJUNG, Indonesia — The men came at Hope and her baby with spears and guns. But she would not leave. There was no place for her to go. When the air-gun pellets pierced Hope’s eyes, blinding her, she felt her way up the tree trunks, auburn-furred fingers searching out tropical fruit for sustenance. By […]

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Crocodiles Went Through a Vegetarian Phase, Too

Imagine you’re a small mammal of the Mesozoic. Snuffling around one day, you run into a cat-size, scaly, big-eyed reptile that looks not unlike a crocodile found later in the 21st century. Spotting you, he opens his mouth wide to reveal … tiny, intricate teeth. Then he turns his head and munches on some leaves. […]

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Who Liked Hurricane Sandy? These Tiny, Endangered Birds

The wrath of Hurricane Sandy’s powerful winds and violent storm surge left considerable damage across New York and New Jersey in October 2012. But for one tiny bird, the cataclysmic storm has been a big help. “Hurricane Sandy was really good for piping plovers,” said Katie Walker, a graduate student in wildlife conservation at Virginia […]

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