Recent maps reveal trouble spots for the world’s imperiled birds.
In South America, two swaths light up with unusually high concentrations of birds at risk of extinction: southeastern Brazil plus a strip along the northwest coast of the continent, say nine eminent biologists in a status review of biodiversity in the May 30 Science.
Warmer colors indicate a greater number of birds...
Elephant shrews — including so-called “giant” species the size of a squirrel — are more closely related to elephants than to shrews. As for their basic lifestyle, elephant shrews may be more like really mixed-up antelopes.
“Take an antelope and an anteater and slap them together,” says Galen Rathbun of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
Elephant shrews, or sengis...
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TamboraGillen D’arcy WoodPrinceton Univ., $29.95
For many residents of the Northern Hemisphere, 1816 was known as the “year without a summer.” In Europe, summer heat waves were replaced by freezing temperatures while New England saw snowstorms in June. The ruined crops, hunger and social turmoil that followed the next year led many others to remember 1817 as the “year of the beggar...
A new species of one of the toughest creatures on Earth has been found on the Antarctic coast. Mopsechiniscus franciscae is a tardigrade, or water bear. These microscopic animals can survive nearly any condition, including a vacuum, because of their ability to enter a deep resting state when water is not available. The new species was collected among moss growing on gravel during a 2011 survey...
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Kidding OurselvesJoseph T. HallinanRandom House, $25
People believe the darnedest things — despite doubts, common sense and even evidence to the contrary. For example, a large majority of people are convinced that they drive better than others do, which of course isn’t possible. We can’t all be above average, no matter what Garrison Keillor says.
Hallinan, a Pulitzer Prize–...