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Popular culture has painted male African elephants as aggressive, anti-social loners. But are they really the solitary beasts we've imagined, or are they just misunderstood? Raised from birth in a female-dominated world of mothers and maternal helpers, males leave their birth families as teenagers. But what happens next? Where do…
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It began with a few small strange patches of slime, clinging to the rocks of the Heber River in Canada. Within a year, the patches had become thick, blooming mats. Within a few years the mats had grown into a giant brownish-yellow snot. And within a few decades this snot…
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Giving birth can be a wonderful, literally life-affirming event. But one extraordinary monkey has taken it to a new level; by acting as a midwife to another monkey in the act of having a baby. The incident is so rare it has never been recorded before in detail, or filmed…
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Bizarre diminutive dinosaurs might help explain why no large dinosaurs survive today. Imagine a dinosaur; a sauropod such as a Brachiosaurus, or Diplodocus, one of the largest animals ever to roam the land. A plant-gobbling true giant of a beast, with a graceful long neck and tail. Now imagine that…
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It pierced and gripped the flesh of its prey with long, dagger-like teeth, could rip through 230kg (500lbs) of meat in one bite, and, despite its enormous size, is thought to have been not much slower than 100m world recorder holder Usain Bolt over the same distance. In short, it…
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For decades now, dolphins and dogs have vied for the title of most intelligent animal. But which is actually cleverer, and can the two even be compared? A lone bottlenose dolphin swam into the harbour at Tory Island off the north coast of Ireland in April 2006. Her playfulness quickly…
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For me, it all started with a small black harlequin frog, a creature no bigger than my thumb. Named after the local word for sadness, the frog was special, because it appeared to no longer exist. It was an emblem of all the frogs that had disappeared from bubbling streams…
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On a cloudy day a few years ago, Heikki Hirvonen sat on the banks of the River Varisjoki. As he watched its high, fast water sluicing through Finland’s remote northern spruce forest, his mind drifted back to the year before, when the river was almost dry. He thought of the…
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Last year, marine biologist Peter Mumby took a dive into the Rangiroa lagoon, in French Polynesia. What he saw shocked him so much he thought he might be lost. He’d expected to be surrounded by death, by a reef of dying coral whose skeletons were slowly crumbling into the sea.…
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Octopuses make for unusual lovers. To mate successfully, a male octopus must approach a female, and gently probe her with a single arm. He may grab her, but carefully, before inserting his arm up into her body, injecting packets of sperm. After sex, a male octopus is probably not expecting…