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Smithsonian Institution

Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, eight research centers, numerous education and cultural centers, and the National Zoological Park.

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Displaying 1 - 20 of 25 articles

The bamboo coral Isidella displaying bioluminescence in the Caribbean in 2009. Sönke Johnsen

From glowing corals to vomiting shrimp, animals have used bioluminescence to communicate for millions of years – here’s what scientists still don’t know about it

Dozens of animals, some on land but many in the ocean, can produce light within their bodies through chemical reactions. Scientists are still trying to understand when and why this trait developed.
Ancestral seal hunting happened at the edge of the Sít Tlein (Hubbard) glacier. Emily Kearney-Williams © Smithsonian Institution

Scientists and Indigenous leaders team up to conserve seals and an ancestral way of life at Yakutat, Alaska

Collaborative research by archaeologists, environmental scientists and tribal elders combines science and Indigenous knowledge to tell the story of centuries of life at a glacier’s edge.
I feel a song coming on … Paul Starosta/Stone via Getty images

Why don’t female crickets chirp?

Only male crickets have wing structures that produce sound, but females are very good at following the signal.
Planting trees on deforested lands in Panama. Jorge Aleman/Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Paying people to replant tropical forests − and letting them harvest the timber − can pay off for climate, justice and environment

It might seem counterintuitive to suggest timber harvesting when the goal is to restore forests, but that gives landholders the economic incentive to protect and manage forests over time.
Indigenous Coast Salish women wove woolly dogs’ fur into blankets. Artist's reconstruction by Karen Carr

Mutton, an Indigenous woolly dog, died in 1859 − new analysis confirms precolonial lineage of this extinct breed, once kept for their wool

Dogs have lived with Indigenous Americans since before they came to the continent together 10,000 years ago. A new analysis reveals the lineage of one 1800s ‘woolly dog’ from the Pacific Northwest.
Ilustração mostra carcaça de preguiça gigante enquanto um dos ocupantes do Abrigo de Santa Elina trabalha na fabricação de joias com seus ossos. Júlia D’Oliveira

Joias de ossos de preguiça gigante encontradas no Brasil entram no debate da ocupação humana das Américas

Novas evidências arqueológicas reforçam a hipótese de que a ocupação de humanos modernos nas Américas ocorreu muito antes do que se pensava
Researchers discovered five new species of black corals, including this Hexapathes bikofskii growing out of a nautilus shell more than 2,500 feet (760 meters) below the surface. Jeremy Horowitz

Scientists discover five new species of black corals living thousands of feet below the ocean surface near the Great Barrier Reef

Black corals provide critical habitat for many creatures that live in the dark, often barren, deep sea, and researchers are learning more about these rare corals with every dive.
Eelgrasses covered with small snails, which keep the leaves clean by feeding on algae that live on them. Jonathan Lefcheck

Restoring seagrasses can bring coastal bays back to life

Healthy seagrasses form underwater meadows teeming with fish and shellfish. A successful large-scale restoration project in Virginia could become a model for reseeding damaged seagrass beds worldwide.
Footprints, preserved in solidified ash, hint at human behavior from as long as 19,000 years ago. Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce

Prehistoric human footprints reveal a rare snapshot of ancient human group behavior

The footprints of over 20 different prehistoric people, pressed into volcanic ash thousands of years ago in Tanzania, show possible evidence for sexual division of labor in this ancient community.

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