Revamping the Reputation of the Vampire Bat

vampire bat

Scientific studies indicate that the much-maligned vampire bat may hold the key for treating heart disease and strokes. (Photo credit: Kozoriz Yuriy/Shutterstock)

For many centuries, people have associated bats with eerie places. Perhaps its because most bats appear primarily at night and seem to move stealthily in the dark. [Read more…]

Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes to Birdsong

bird singing

Singing before daybreak helps songbirds to perfect their repertoire. (Photo credit: zakharov aleksey/Shutterstock Images)

It’s pitch black outside, but you can hear a bird trilling its little heart out. Why would a bird start singing before the sun rises? Doesn’t it know you’re still trying to get a little shuteye before the day begins? Scientists at Canada’s University of Lethbridge think they might have found the answer. [Read more…]

Singing Above the Din

grasshopper

Grasshoppers are increasing their singing volume to be heard over traffic noise. (Photo credit: Photodisc/Getty Images)

Road noise can be a nuisance for those who live near busy streets. But have you ever considered what effect road noise might have on other animals?

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A Green Idea: Composting Your Trash

Composting is an easy way to turn the organic waste you make each day–such as vegetable and fruit peels, egg shells, and newsprint into nutrient-rich soil. With only a few simple materials, you can easily make your own composting bin.

compost bin

Organic household wastes such as egg shells and non-meat food leftovers can be composted. (Credit: Andrew Walters/Alamy)

What is Composting?

Composting refers to the process of controlled decomposition of organic materials. In composting, organic material decomposes into a nutrient-rich material called humus. The resulting humus can be added to soils to improve its nutrient and moisture content. [Read more…]

Making Medicine From Snake Venom

Though feared for its bite, research indicates a snake’s venom could prove useful in combating many different diseases. (Photo credit: Tom McHugh / Photo Researchers, Inc.)

Venomous snakes have a bad reputation–and rightly so–because of their often deadly bites. But what makes a snakes bite so deadly–the venom–is the same thing that makes these snakes so valuable to the medical research community. [Read more…]

Unraveling the Mystery of Monarch Migration

monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies fly between 50 and 100 miles each day during their migration. (Photo credit: Didier Dorval / Radius Images)

The monarch butterfly is the only butterfly species that makes an annual round-trip migration. Scientists have wondered for quite some time what triggers the monarch’s migration behavior. New research may finally provide an answer to that question.

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The Glowing Ocean

glowing dinoflagellates

Dinoflagellates makes these ocean waters glow. (Photo credit: ArtTomCat/Shutterstock)

Whether seen from the beach or from the seat of a kayak, the glowing ocean is a phenomenon that, once experienced, is not soon forgotten. What causes this strange glow in the oceans water? And what purpose if any does it serve? [Read more…]

Using Stable Isotopes to Identify the Geographic Origin of Food

Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and what exactly is in it. Unfortunately, food labels are not always accurate. In fact, some products are mislabeled intentionally in order to garner a higher price in the marketplace. Can anything be done to determine if a product really is what it says it is? How can you tell if that wedge of Parmesan cheese was really made in Parma, Italy? [Read more…]

The Strange Story of a Sea Star’s Suppertime

sea star

Sea stars use an unusual method to digest their meals. (Photo credit: Photodisc/Getty Images)

Have you ever ridden a rollercoaster? If so, you probably well remember the feeling of that first, big drop. Many describe the sensation as feeling like my stomach fell out of my body. [Read more…]

52 Environmental Things to Do for Earth Day (and Every Day)

planet Earth

April 22 marks the 46th annual celebration of Earth Day. (Photo credit: Digital Vision/Getty Images)

April 22 marks the 49th annual Earth Day celebration. Earth Day was originally established by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the national agenda. Until then, there were little to no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment.

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