Go to Samplings Special-Occasion Dress—Why would a tunnel-dweller sport flashy skin?

Aphid Sandbag Brigade—Insects coax a plant to heal its wounds.

Going Steady—A coral and a brittlestar pair up for life.

Botanic Mechanics—Grasses make the simplest ratchets.

Detour on the Silk Road—South Asians mastered silk-making independently from the Chinese.

Misaligned by Power Lines—Electric fields test the magnetic alignment of cattle and deer.

Mum's the Word—Monkey moms give in to babies’ tantrums with an eye to who’s watching.

Fireproofing for a Flame—Bowerbirds’ bachelor pads remain unburned after fires.

The Warming Earth

Dust Up—Rising Atlantic temperatures are caused by a lack of dust in the overlying atmosphere.

New species of robber fly


From the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Backyard Biodiversity

The Malaise trap—a tent-like apparatus with an attached collecting bottle—is not named for some sinking feeling but for its Swedish inventor, entomologist René Edmond Malaise. When Brian Brown, Curator of Entomology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, set up a trap in his yard, he was not expecting to find anything particularly unusual. But one “robber fly” proved to be a new species in a genus unknown on the U.S. west coast. Since then Brown (who previously led Angelinos in an informal citywide spider survey) has bagged other rare specimens.

Members of any of Natural History’s Museum Partners receive the magazine as a benefit of membership. Our Partnersnatural history museums and science centersregularly contribute notes from the field, research reports, and other features to their editions of the magazine. View the list of our Museum Partners and links to their Web sites, as well as a selection of past Partner articles.

Cordillera central treefrog, Colombia and Ecuador


Muscle Bound, June
by Robert Anderson

Skylog for May by Joe Rao:

Where Have All the Frogs Gone?
Of all the suspects, is the culprit an infective fungus?

The Cosmic Perspective
Neil deGrasse Tyson on embracing cosmic realities

Seeing Corals with the Eye of Reason
A rediscovered painting celebrates Charles Darwin’s view of life

Virtual Universe
Video-game technology offers a new perspective on our place in space.

Island of Corsica
NASA satellite image

Historical and entertaining selections from a century’s-worth of Natural History

The Island Sweepstakes
This month’s Pick from the Past

Darwin’s Worms
Darwin’s study engaged a generation of scientists (1958)

The Darwin Celebration
In honor of the centennial of Darwin's birth (1909); 2009 marks the bicentennial.

The Watch that Lincoln Gave
Lincoln’s reward for an act of bravery (1948)

Flotsametrics and the Floating World REVIEWS

On May 27, 1990, 78,932 Nike shoes went overboard in the mid-Pacific. Their arrival on Oregon beaches launched Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a consulting oceanographer, on a long and distinguished career as a scientific beachcomber and expert on ocean currents. In Flotsametrics and the Floating World, reviewed by Laurence A. Marschall, Ebbesmeyer shares tales of drifting objects he’s encountered over the years, from rubber ducks to bowling balls. He reminds us that before setting out in 1492, Columbus saw tropical seeds, stalks of bamboo, carved sticks, and abandoned kayaks washed ashore on the Azores. Those alien objects beckoned him to follow the ocean drift back to where they came from. Simple drifting objects have enabled Ebbesmeyer and his colleagues to trace the paths of eleven gigantic ocean gyres. Also under review are Opening Goliath, a book about a network of underground tunnels in Minnesota—and the dangers of caving; and Pineapple Culture, a book about the history of what European colonial powers considered the quintessential tropical fruit.


Craig Packer, “Rational Fear” (May Feature) is interviewed by Vittorio Maestro, Editor in Chief of Natural History.

(June author interview online soon.)

Hear interview

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