The Whole Saga of the Supercontinents

By now, you’ve surely picked up on the idea that the study of natural history is basically the study of how the world has changed. The study of how we all got here. And of course, the world continues to change, all the time. I mean, literally. I’m not just talking about how life adapts, or how the climate is changing. I mean the planet itself, as an object, is in a constant state of flux — because the ground beneath your feet is always moving. So, the place where you are right now was not always … there. For […]

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Can We Get DNA From Fossils?

More than 120 million years ago, in a hot, conifer-filled forest in what’s now India, a small insect made a terrible mistake. While searching for a tasty meal of pine pollen it wandered one step too far, only to find itself trapped in sticky, yellow resin. Tired from its flight, this small weevil was quickly entombed in the fragrant yellow material, which eventually became the substance we know today as Amber. Then, in 1993, scientists cracked open this very same piece of amber. They took the body of the weevil, and they sampled its DNA. Now, this is not a […]

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Can Goats Predict Volcanic Eruptions?

The Argentata dell Etna is a breed of goat found nowhere else in the world. Each morning, Gaitano herds his animals out onto the slopes of the volcano. The goats will eat just about anything. But Gaitano knows that on the upper slopes of Etna, there are glades of a yellow flower that he thinks gives his goats milk a unique taste. Gaitano has been working on the mountain his whole life, and in that time, he’s noticed some bizarre behavior in his animals. He believes that the goats behave erratically, not just during one of Etna’s eruptions, but before […]

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