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Native Asian Moth Spotted in Washington State

by Justin Medina Ruiz, age 13

On July 7, 2022, a giant moth with a ten-inch wingspread was discovered in a garage of a home in the state of Washington. Thankfully, the moth species does not pose a public health threat. The Atlas moth originates from the tropical forests of Asia and has not been seen before in the U.S.

It is not clear how this moth found a way to get to Washington. However, scientists found on eBay, an e-commerce company, an account selling Atlas moth cocoons for $60 each. This account was later taken down because the Atlas moth is a quarantine pest, meaning it is illegal to obtain, sell, or harbor, no matter if they are adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae.

In spite of that, the individual sighting does not mean that there is a population of the Atlas in the U.S. The state’s agriculture department asks the public to take photographs and collect Atlas moths if they find one. This would help determine whether there is a population or not. If there were an infestation, it would be harmful to the region’s fruit-growing industry because like other moths and caterpillars, they enjoy feasting on the leaves of cherry and apple trees. [Read More]

The Mammal that Helped Take Over the Globe

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

Researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammal with a two to five years life cycle that they call the Manbearpig. The mammal’s short lifespan is likely due to their months-long pregnancy, a trait scientists believe helped mammals dominate the world after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The name Manbearpig came from the features it contained: a face like a bear; a body similar to a pig; and five fingered hands. These mammals are also known by their scientific name, Pantolamba bathmodon, and were plant eaters. The Manbearpig lived about 62 million years ago. The Manbearpig was one of the largest mammals of its time and seemed to appear after the dinosaur extinction, which allowed mammals to grow to larger sizes than ever before. It was a member of the placental group of mammals, animals who do their prenatal development in the womb of their mother.

Researchers were able to discover how fast they would grow throughout their life from the enamel of their teeth, which looked different during different life stages. These mammals' lives were short and they died at a younger age than typical animals, between two and five years of life. The Manbearpig had a really short life cycle because it stayed in the womb for about seven months, a pregnancy much longer than is observed in modern marsupials, but similar to extreme modern placentals like giraffes and wildebeests. The most extreme modern placentals are usually walking within hours of birth, and usually only give birth to one baby per litter. This species nursed for one or two months after they were born. In a year, they would reach adulthood. The longest a Manbearpig was found to have lived was 11 years. [Read More]

2.5-Yard Elephant Tusk Fossil Discovered in Israel

Researchers in Israel recently found a 2.5-yard-long fossil that belonged to a long-extinct straight-tusked elephant. It is believed to be the largest fossil ever found at a prehistoric site in the country.

This amazing fossil was discovered near a piece of land called a kibbutz on the central plain running parallel to the Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The discovery was made by researchers from Israel Antiquites Authority (IAA) in a joint excavation from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University. Avi Levy, lead researcher of the find, called this fossil, “The largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.” This site is at least 500,000 years old based on the stone tools recovered from the area, the antiquites authorities said.

“Very puzzling, very enigmatic,” said Omry Barzilai, an IAA archaeologist also in the discovery, because it was not known whether ancient people hunted the behemoth on the spot or they brought the animal’s tusk to this spot. [Read More]

You Can Find the Beautiful Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Your Own Backyard

by Sofia Zapata, age 12

Have you seen any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying in your neighborhood recently? They are commonly seen in Wisconsin, but usually only during the warmer months. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. In the bright sun, these beautiful, tiny, precision-flying birds sparkle like gems, then dart away to their next food source.

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird has fascinating attributes that make its tiny physical futures unique. Their wings flap up to 55 times a second at a relaxed pace. However, when a hummingbird increases their speed while moving forward, they flap 75 times a second. The wings of this hummingbird aren’t the only things that go at a fast pace. The tiny hearts of these birds beat 225 times per minute and can increase to 1,250 beats per minute. Compared to hummingbirds, the human heart averages from 60-100 bpm. This is to put the physical abilities of the ruby-throated hummingbirds into perspective.

Hummingbirds are the only birds that are able to fly backward. This species is one of the biggest aerial migrators. During their migration season, they travel across the Gulf of Mexico, and it takes them around 18 hours to fully cross. Once they arrive at a safe place, they create a nest that is the same size as a small walnut. A fun fact about the male hummingbird is that it weighs the same as a penny. Male hummingbirds begin to mate during spring by flying and chasing their mate. Afterward, when the nest is made in a tree, the females will begin to lay around two eggs. [Read More]

Will the Tasmanian Tiger Roam the Earth Once More?

by Sandy Flores-Ruíz, age 16

For the past years —scientists have thought about reviving extinct species. Scientists in Australia and the U.S. have recently started a multi-million dollar project to bring back the Tasmanian tiger from extinction.

The stripes on the back of the Thylacine gave its nickname of “Tasmanian Tiger,” despite the animal being a marsupial, a type of Australian mammal that raises its young in a pouch, like a kangaroo, instead of a tiger.

The Tasmanian tiger went extinct in 1936 when the last known tiger, Thylacine, died in the Hobart Zoo. Years before humans arrived in Australia, these tigers roamed free. However, once humans started to populate Australia, the population of these tigers decreased. The last known tigers to roam free on the island of Tasmania were then hunted to extinction. [Read More]

The Bald Eagle: An Iconic Species on the Verge of Extinction

by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 11

The bald eagle is one of the most recognized and powerful birds on Earth.

Bald eagles hunt in lakes and rivers. The measurement of a male body is around 90 centimeters whereas a female body averages 108 centimeters. The weight of a bald eagle is 14 pounds while a harpy eagle is 11 pounds.

Bald eagles are interesting in terms of their companionship; when they pair together, the connection lasts a lifetime. When they have eaglets, the male goes to look for food while the female stays to take care of the babies. [Read More]

Crocodiles and Alligators-Dinosaur Relatives Still Alive Today

by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Crocodiles are some of the few living creatures today that were alive at the time of the dinosaurs. Their lifestyle and anatomy have helped crocodiles survive for millions of years.

Crocodiles are known to be large reptiles. Some of them can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) In length. The biggest alligator ever found was 19 feet long and most alligators only grow to about 9.75 feet. Crocodiles take up to 8 to 10 years to fully develop. They live in lakes and rivers, spending most of their lives in the water.

When crocodiles are trapping their prey, they drag them to water and keep them under the surface until they drown. Some crocodiles have small legs that don't allow them to walk on land, so they don't always need to come out of the water. When necessary, they stick their eyes and nose out to be able to breathe. They also do this when they are hunting. [Read More]

Barn Owl Sightings Increase in Wisconsin, but the Future Remains in Doubt

by Juanes Palma, age 9

In 2018, a unique species of barn owls were reported for the first time in over two decades in Wisconsin by The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The owls were spotted in September of 2018 as a pair of these birds were found in the cavity of a dead tree. Recently, there has been an increase in barn owl sightings in Wisconsin and other near states.

These creatures usually live in the dark and are known for their white heart-shaped faces. There are about 46 different known species of barn owls around the world. Scientists have studied these barn owls through the small pellets that are coughed up after they eat their prey. These pellets contain indigestible parts of the owl’s foods such as skulls, bones, and fur. Using owl pellets, researchers have learned a lot about their diets and the ecosystems they belong to.

The chests of male and female barn owls are a distinguishing feature. Female owls have a faint red patch on their chest. The patches might reflect the female's quality of health. Females with darker red patches tend to catch fewer catch parasitic flies and have a more resistant immune system. [read more]

Learn About the Beautiful and Endangered Green Sea Turtle

by Joseph Zheng, age 7

Green sea turtles are notable for being one of the largest sea turtle subgroups in the oceanic world. The name of this species is quite simple as it is named after the color of their skin and shell, the color green! Ironically, a green sea turtle's most distinguishable physical feature is its relatively hard shells.

According to many marine biologists, green sea turtles can be categorized into two subspecies. There are technically two types of green turtles, the Eastern Pacific green turtle, and the Atlantic green turtle. However, both these species of green sea turtles are usually referred to as being one group.

The Atlantic green turtle, one of the most distinguishable green turtles, can be found on the coastlines of Europe and the east coast of the U.S. The Eastern Pacific green turtles trickle up and down the coastal regions of Alaska and Chile. These turtle species can survive underwater for five hours before reaching low oxygen levels. [Read More]

The Brontosaurus: Not a Real Dinosaur... Until Now!

by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13

Sauropods, some of the largest animals to ever roam the earth, were long-necked and long-tailed dinosaurs often portrayed in movies eating from the top of the trees. The Brontosaurus, also known as the “thunder lizard,” is part of the sauropod family, but until recently many thought it didn’t exist.

Othniel Charles Marsh was the paleontologist who named the Brontosaurus genus in 1879 describing it as a separate species of a sauropod. In 1903 another paleontologist, Elmer Riggs, believed that the Brontosaurus was part of the same genus as the Apatosaurus which had been identified in 1877. Since the Apatosaurus study was published first, the name Brontosaurus was removed as a type of dinosaur species.

But that is not the end of the story, a recent study looked at the differences between the Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus fossils. Emanuel Tschopp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal, concluded that the neck is where differences between the Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus are most noticeable. The Apatosaurus has a wider, shorter neck compared to the Brontosaurus, suggesting they were from different species. [Read More]

Wolves in Wisconsin: A Conservation
Success Story with an Uncertain Future

by Dyami Rodriguez, age 16

The Federal Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 in order to protect wildlife and plants throughout the country in danger of extinction. In Wisconsin, the gray wolf benefited from the act since it kept these animals from becoming extinct.

In the 1980s, the Wisconsin gray wolf population was estimated to be below 80 individuals. In 1999, the plan was for the wolf population to be higher than 250 outside Indian reservations in order for the species to be delisted from the endangered list. Management goals were to overall maintain a population greater than 350 outside reservations. As of April 2020, the wolf population was estimated by the DNR at more than 1,100 individuals living in multiple packs throughout the state. Recent estimates suggest it is now growing by 15-16% a year. This success primarily comes from this act and has removed gray wolves from the endangered list in 2004.

The increase in the wolf population is not without controversy however. Some communities view the rise in population as a threat to personal safety and would prefer less wolves on their lands. On the other hand, conservationists believe that the increase has benefited the natural landscape by keeping the deer population under control. [Read More]

Scientists Study Sleep-Deprived Mosquitoes to Prevent the Spread of Deadly Diseases

by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Humans and mosquitoes are more alike than you may want to believe; new research suggests mosquitoes prefer sleep over food when sleep-deprived.

As we all know, mosquitoes can be deadly, carrying diseases like Zika, Dengue, and Malaria. These diseases can cause death upon adults and even young children. Since most mosquitoes are active at night, people place nets over their beds for protection. Researchers are interested in mosquito sleep cycles, as awareness of sleep cycles can help predict diseases.

The presence of food can rouse a relaxing mosquito. It can be difficult sometimes to tell when they are asleep because they look similar to when they are simply relaxed. [Read More]

The Differences Between African and Asiatic Lions

by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

When talking about lions, people are usually thinking of African lions. However, there are also lions roaming in Asia known as the Asiastic lions.

There are just a few differences between African and Asisatic lions. One difference is that Asiatic lions, which weigh between 300 and 500 pounds, are smaller than African lions. Another key difference between the two breeds is that Asiatic lions have less of a mane which allows people to easily spot their ears. Lastly, a unique difference between both types of lions is that Asiatic male lions do not usually sleep with the females of their pride, unless they are mating.

The Asiatic lions’ habitat once included vast areas in the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, and India. Now the only place they live in the wild is in the Gir forest located in Gujarat in North Western India. The reason for their decline can be attributed to poaching, hunting for sport and the deterioration of their environment. There are only around 600 Asiatic lions left in the wild. [Read More]

Leopards Are Large and Powerful "Supercats"

by Ian Kosharek , age 10

Leopards are a type of cat that live mainly in Africa, but they can also be found in China, Malaysia, and even Korea. There are more leopards in the wild than any other wild cat—that is why they are called supercats!

Leopards prefer to hunt at night, sitting in tree branches and waiting for their prey to come close. They are patient and let their prey get near in order to successfully attack. Leopards are pretty strong and can even lift prey as big as themselves.

Leopards enjoy eating animals of all sizes, from dung beetles, frogs, and birds, to monkeys and antelopes. Hyenas compete for similar foods, but leopards are selfish and do not like to lose their food to competitors. In order to keep their food safe they hide it in trees, which is known as caching. Some leopards are known as panthers. This name is only given to leopards that are born with black fur instead of their normal brown fur. Although leopards are the most common wild cat, they are quick and quiet so you may never know if one is following you! [Read More]

Gigantic Lace Lizards Find Home in Australian Cities

by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

Which reptile can climb on trees or, sometimes mistakenly, on people and also horses? Which reptile has a heavy tail but can swim and stay underwater for an hour? It is the gigantic lace lizard!

This gigantic lizard lives in the deserts of central Australia and is the largest lizard on the continent. The lace lizard tastes the air, using its tongue like a nose to find the smell of delicious small animals, using special cells on the top of its mouth. It eats small mammals, lizards, snakes, birds, rabbits, and eggs. However, the European rabbit is its favorite food.

The gigantic lace lizard weighs about 26 pounds and can grow up to be eight feet. This lizard's weapons include its serrated blade-like teeth, sharp hooked claws that help with climbing, and a heavy strong tail, strong enough to cause significant damage, especially if the lizard finds itself threatened. Its life span is roughly 30 years. [Read More]

Learn About the Vampire Squid

by Abigail Gezae, age 10

Vampire squids don’t actually share many resemblances to Dracula, and they aren’t after your blood. Instead, they are creatures that live deep in the ocean, around 2,000 to 3,000 ft.

Since the vampire squids live so deep in the water, scientists have to use drones to study them. They have very large eyes which are located on the side of their head, and are usually red or blue, depending on the light they reflect. Although they have the characteristics of other squids, they have 8 legs like an octopus and other cephalopods. One notable difference: vampire squids can not change color or use ink to protect themselves, which means they have to use different methods to stay safe.

Vampire squids can flip inside out, which is one way they ward off predators. The part of the ocean they live in is extremely dark, which makes it easier to go unnoticed by hungry predators as well. When the vampire squids flip inside out, they put their tentacles over their neck and head while cloaking themselves. The only visible thing on them is the spikes under their tentacles, which isn’t an appealing dinner. [Read More]

Invertebrates: The Boneless Group of Animals

by Aarosh Subedi age 10

Invertebrates are animals that do not have any backbones; they also have features unique to the specific species.

The species of invertebrates include jellyfish, lobsters, crabs, clams, sea stars, sea urchins, sponges, insects, spiders, worms, centipedes, and millipedes. Invertebrates and vertebrates share features like hemoglobin which makes your blood cells red, poison defense moves, strong eye vision, and gills. However, one feature that vertebrates don’t have but invertebrates do is called radial symmetry.

Other types of invertebrates are coral, which has cells that can sting you, and the sea anemone, which uses its tentacles to sting. The invertebrates that have armored shells and spines are called echinoderms. Other types of invertebrates are called arthropods and can be distinguished by a hard covering over their bodies called an exoskeleton. Bugs that are arthropods are spiders, insects, centipedes, millipedes, and the crustaceans like lobsters and crabs. More than 90 percent of animals in the world are invertebrates. [Read More]

The Iconic Australian Shingleback Skink

by Daniel Garduno Martinez, age 11

Think of an animal with armored scales, a blue tongue, and a mighty bite. This might sound like a crocodile or alligator that ate one too many ring-pops, but it is the shingleback skink; a small lizard that lives in the dry ecosystems of southern Australia.

The shingleback skink’s lifespan can be up to 40 years; its diet consists of berries, fruit, insects, and snails. Usually, skinks give birth to about 25 young at a time, however, the shingleback only gives birth to two or three baby lizards. These lizards, like humans, are nourished inside the womb developing larger and faster.

Although the shingleback skink is a toughly armored lizard, it prefers hiding in abandoned burrows, logs, and other objects. A backyard is a perfect home for the shingleback skink. Some nicknames for the shingleback skink are sleepy lizard, stumpy-tailed lizard, bog-eyed (bogie for short), and pine-cone lizard. [Read More]

The Grizzly Is North America’s Giant

by Moore Vang, age 14

The grizzly bear or the brown bear is one of the most dangerous bears in North America. It is gigantic, extremely powerful, and wildly unpredictable. Its fur is light brown with white-tipped hairs and it has a distinct shoulder hump. Interestingly, it can run as fast as a horse but only for short durations.

The scientific name of the grizzly bear is Ursus arctos and it can reach up to a weight of 1,000 pounds. Its subspecies, the Alaskan brown bear, also known as the Kodiak bear, can weigh twice as much as a grizzly bear.

The grizzly bear has long front claws that grow up to four inches. These bear are omnivorous, eating small mammals, fish, and insects—as well as different types of vegetation, including roots, leaves, fungi, and fruit. Shockingly, they can also catch massive prey, such as deer or moose. [Read More]

The Perilous Life of Baby Penguins

by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Life for baby penguins can be challenging. These egg-shaped birds often have difficult childhoods as they face the cold tundras of Antarctica.

Female penguins typically lay one or two eggs. If two are laid, it is likely that one will not survive unless there is enough food to feed them both. By the time the second chick hatches, the first chick is already strong and the parents tend to the first baby more. This leaves the second chick unattended, which often results in death.

In the beginning stages of their life, they do not resemble their parents. Since baby penguins are still underdeveloped, they need extra warmth. Their feathers are not thick enough to keep them warm and so their parents must wrap around their chicks skin to skin to keep them warm. If not well taken care of, the chicks will die. [Read More]

Is That a Leaf or a Gecko?

by Aloniab Gezae, age 8

The leaf-tailed gecko is a fascinating reptile. It can only be found in the rainforests of Madagascar and can grow up to eight inches long. Since leaf-tailed geckos are extremely rare, their lifespan is still unknown to scientists.

The gecko’s body is small and flat which makes it easier for it to fit in tight spaces for protection. It also has a long and sticky tongue that helps it catch prey, such as insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. Since they do not have eyelids, these creatures also use their long tongue to help clean their eyes.

Each toe of the leaf tailed gecko has millions of tiny bristles that help it get a good grip on both big and small surfaces. Similarly, its strong and flat tail also has bristles, which these geckos often use as an extra foot to help with balance. [Read More]

Red Panda? More like Red Raccoon!

by Dalya Alquraishi age 10

The red panda is a cute and fuzzy animal that lives in China and the eastern Himalayas. It is commonly believed that these mammals are related to pandas, however red pandas are instead more closely related to raccoons.

Red pandas are known for their incredible climbing abilities; because of this, they developed a “fake” thumb. This thumb is an extended wrist that improves their climbing and handling of food. Red pandas are mainly recognized for their eye-catching fur color and cuteness. These pandas lick themselves clean and are similar in size to a house cat. Red pandas wrap their tails to keep warm when they are asleep. Besides the mating season, red pandas tend to live solitary lifestyles. Their lifespan in the wild can be up to 15 years and in captivity they can live up to 20 years. They eat small animals, insects, and bamboo.

Red pandas are an endangered species due to the deforestation of bamboo, and illegal hunting. Humans will poach them for their red fur which can be profitable. Red pandas are the main target for illegal pet trade due to the animal’s incredible cuteness. [Read More]

Learn About the World's Smallest Elephants

by Ashley Mercado, age 13

The Bornean elephant is the largest mammal on the huge island of Borneo. These elephants are also known as Borneo pygmy elephants because of their size.

Compared to other elephants, Bornean elephants have larger ears, straighter tusks, and are smaller in size. In fact, Borneo elephant tails sometimes touch the ground because they are so short. Bornean elephants are remnants of a domesticated herd from the 17th century. They were isolated about 300,000 years ago from other elephants in Asia and Sumatra; this caused them to evolve separately on the island of Borneo.

Bornean elephants are facing extinction due to deforestation and environmental destruction. Logging, agriculture, and palm oil plantations are to blame for this deforestation. Elephants are struggling to find enough food on the island of Borneo because only 40 percent of their habitat remains. Due to their size, these elephants require bigger areas to find food. The World Wildlife Fund has listed these elephants as endangered. Without addressing the deforestation problem, we are at risk of losing them forever. [Read More]

Can You Run Faster than an Ostrich?

by Joseph Zheng, age 8

The largest bird in the world cannot fly, but it can kill with just its feet. The ostrich can grow up to nearly 8 feet. Male ostriches make a big booming sound to warn other ostriches when danger is near. These large, flightless birds tend to live in dry, open areas as well as woodlands in the country of Africa.

Ostriches are really quick, their max running speed being 44 miles per hour. Ostriches have two toes; one toe is larger and very strong which they can use to kick animals for defense. This kick is strong enough that it can kill a lion!

A single ostrich egg is so big that it can fit 24 chicken eggs. They are family birds that like to share nests and they usually like to live in flocks. The nest of the ostrich is round and in a hole that they dig in the dirt. Ostriches eat grass, seeds, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots. [Read More]

Learn All About The Ouranosaurus

by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

The Ouranosaurus is a magnificent dinosaur that lived in parts of Western Africa. It is known for its back sail which resembles a boat sail.

The name Ouranosaurus is used to define a brave lizard in the Arabic language. This dinosaur mesaured 23 feet long and it weighed up to 4,900 to 8,800 pounds.

During the early Cretaceous period, which was 260 million years ago, this dinosaur lived in what is now Niger, Africa. The Ouranosaurus was an average type of dinosaur, it was a medium-sized Cretaceous ornithopod. [Read More]

The Scoop Behind Slow Moving Triceratops

by Joseph Zheng, age 8

What has three horns and looks like a rhinoceros? A triceratops!

Triceratops lived about 65 to 70 million years ago in North America, and were the last dinosaurs on Earth. Scientists believe that these dinosaurs lived in groups to survive; triceratops formed a circle around the young to protect them.

Did you know that a triceratops was more than six feet long? Triceratops weighed up to five tons and could reach up to 30 feet. They had a short, thick tail, and used their horns to protect themselves from predators like the T.Rex or other carnivores. They also used their horns to knock down trees in order to eat the leaves. [Read More]

Cómo las abejas hacen crecer las plantas

por Maya Maclin, 10 años

Polinizadores son muy importantes en nuestra Tierra. Te sorprendería lo mucho que ayudan las abejas y los polinizadores. ¿Sabías que necesitamos tanto a los polinizadores que las flores dependen en un 80 por ciento de la polinización?

¿Te preguntas de dónde vienen las flores? Mientras que el agua y los nutrientes del suelo los ayudan a crecer, ¡los polinizadores también ayudan! Es posible que no notes estos pequeños insectos, pero vienen y juegan un papel importante en la polinización. Si no hubiera polinizadores, la raza humana no estaría viva y la Tierra no tendría tantas flores hermosas como las que ves hoy.

¡Los polinizadores no solo polinizan las flores! También polinizan plantas y vegetales. Estas plantas incluyen arándanos, fresas, frambuesas y más. ¿Te gusta el té con miel? Bueno, ¡los polinizadores como las abejas son responsables de la producción de miel! [Read More]

What Brought About the Extinction of the Megalodons?

by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

Megalodons, an extinct species of mackerel shark, were the ocean’s biggest predator for millions of years. The appearance of great white sharks brought competition to the megalodons. It is a popular theory that great whites were the reason for the megalodon's extinction.

To know what megalodons ate, researchers looked for zinc in the sharks’ teeth. There are two types of zinc, or isotopes, zinc-66 and zinc-64. The isotopes on the teeth are used to understand what kind of food these creatures ate. Animals that have a diet of plants have more zinc-66 than carnivores, who have more zinc-64. Both these shark species evolved to have higher levels of zinc-64. The great white shark and the megalodon had the same diet, consisting of marine mammals, such as seals and whales.

The megalodon was the largest carnivore to ever exist and it grew to be 46 feet long. The megalodon probably went extinct from the changing ocean and a large drop in marine mammal population. The reason why and when they went extinct has not been fully answered. The species is believed to have gone extinct either about 2.6 million years ago or 3.5 million years ago, at the time great white sharks appeared. Competition with the great whites was suddenly fatal, but possibly not the only reason why megalodons disappeared. Continued research is being done to better understand the history of the megalodon and its eventual extinction. [Read More]

Rodent, not Rat

By Dilma Attidekou age 8

About more than half of the mammals on the earth are rodents. Rodents are small mammals that live all over the world, and there are many different kinds of them. All rodents have the same kind of jaw. Their teeth are used for grinding and gnawing food. If a rodent does not gnaw or grind its teeth, they will grow until the rodent isn’t able to eat anymore.

One small mouse-like rodent is a shrew. Shrews are very sensitive and shy. Their hearts beat about 1,200 times per minute—for comparison a human heart only beats around 80 times per minute. They are so sensitive that they can die of the shock by hard touch or loudness. Another type of rodent is the hedgehog. Hedgehogs rest during the day, and find food at night, eating food such as insects and frogs.

A different kind of rodent is a tenrec. Tenrecs are typically big-headed rodents, with pointy faces. They are found in The Comoros Islands and Madagascar. They have big wide mouths. Finally, there are moles. A mole mostly spends life in the darkness. They make tunnels and burrows to live in. They find food in their homes, such as earthworms and other invertebrates. [Read More]

Why You Should Stay Away From Nile Crocodiles

by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Nile crocodile? It is a big and dangerous creature, and hundreds of people are killed by it annually.

The Nile crocodile is an apex predator, which is defined as the top predator of any given region or ecosystem. These predators generally do not fear other predators; they are also particular about their prey, which primarily consists of birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles alike. When hunting for prey, the Nile crocodile always awaits the perfect opportunity to strike, which can take hours, days, and sometimes weeks at a time.

The Nile crocodile waits in freshwater bodies, such as lakes and rivers, for potential prey. In the water, the reptilian creature remains still, waiting for their target to come near. Luckily, they are able to successfully hold their breath for up to two hours. [Read More]

From Water to Land Back to Water Again: the Evolution of the Qikitania

by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

There are many speculations regarding evolution and how it took place. Many think of evolution as a linear timeline; but this is not always the case and such can be seen in creatures like the Qikitania and Tiktaalik.

The Qikitania Waeki was a fish resembling a giant eel. This eel-like fish roamed Earth around 375 million years ago. Its evolution allowed it to develop elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles in order to walk through mud flats. After analyzing their anatomy, scientists discovered that Qikitania Waeki did not continue walking on land. Instead, they began making their way back to the water.

Dr. Neil Shubin, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago, was one of the first to uncover fossils from the Tiktaalik, a related species known to be one of the first tetrapods or a four footed animal. As time went on, researchers found up to ten specimens of the Tiktaalik with a variety of ages. These specimens allowed scientists to determine the creature’s features along with the fact that they could grow up to nine feet long. The Tiktaalikk hunted fish using their long teeth shaped as fangs and they swallowed their prey whole. [Read More]

This Madagascar Chameleon May Be the World's Smallest

by Dani Garduno, age 10

There has been a modern-day discovery of a tiny chameleon species. This chameleon is named Brookesia nana. This interesting reptile species was discovered in 2012. Surprisingly, this nano-chameleon species is about the size of a human fingertip!

It was discovered by scientists in northern Madagascar. Unfortunately, this cute creature is an endangered species. The chameleon species is the size of sunflower seed and its small vertebrae have scientists questioning the limits of their body size. [read more]

Aprenda sobre los elefantes más pequeños del mundo

Por Ashley Mercado, 13 años

El elefante de Borneo es el mamífero más grande de la enorme isla de Borneo. Estos elefantes también son conocidos como elefantes pigmeos de Borneo debido a su tamaño.

En comparación con otros elefantes, los elefantes de Borneo tienen orejas más grandes, colmillos más rectos y son de menor tamaño. De hecho, las colas de los elefantes de Borneo a veces tocan el suelo porque son muy cortas. Los elefantes de Borneo son restos de una manada domesticada del siglo XVII. Fueron aislados hace unos 300.000 años de otros elefantes en Asia y Sumatra; esto hizo que evolucionaran por separado en la isla de Borneo.

Los elefantes de Borneo se enfrentan a la extinción debido a la de forestación y la destrucción del medio ambiente. La tala, la agricultura y las plantaciones de aceite de palma son las culpables de esta de forestación. Los elefantes luchan por encontrar suficiente comida en la isla de Borneo porque solo queda el 40 por ciento de su hábitat. Debido a su tamaño, estos elefantes requieren áreas más grandes para encontrar comida. El Fondo Mundial para la Naturaleza ha catalogado a estos elefantes como en peligro de extinción. Si no abordamos el problema de la de forestación, corremos el riesgo de perderlos para siempre. [Read More]

The Ocean's Largest Omnivore

by Jonah Smith, age 13

Just off the Australian coast, in the Indian Ocean, tropical fish biologist Mark Meekan is looking for an animal that could be the world’s largest living omnivore. Meekan is from the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Perth, Australia, and he specializes in the study of whale sharks. After he spots one, he dives into the water with a hand spear and takes small samples of the shark's skin, which he uses to study characteristics like their diet. Although it sounds like these scientists are stabbing sharks with spears, they don’t hurt the sharks at all. In fact, they seem to like the attention.

Whale sharks (Rhincodon Typus) are the largest living fish species known to man, averaging about 12 meters in length. Not much is known about them because they reside deep in the ocean, but Meekan and scientists in his field are learning more.

Studying the skin tissues can reveal a lot about the animals’ biology and their behavior. Analyzing these samples, scientists found something unexpected: whale sharks are able to eat and digest algae. Whale sharks were long thought to be strict carnivores, but this new research suggests that they can also eat and digest plants. If these studies are true, this would make whale sharks the world’s largest living omnivores, putting the Kodiak brown bear in second place. [Read More]

World’s Smallest Sea Turtles Found Alive in Gulf of Mexico

by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

The world's smallest sea turtle, known as Kemp's ridley, lives in the Gulf of Mexico. In the past 75 years, the population has diminished to the point that they are now the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Recently, the sea turtle population has increased off the coast of Louisiana.

For the first time in 75 years, hatchlings were spotted in the Chandeleur Islands. When the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority found the turtles, they found 53 sea turtle crawls and spotted two live hatchlings headed towards the ocean. Scientists found this discovery exciting. The hatchlings usually hatch two months after the turtles lay their eggs. The Kemp's ridley sea turtle has been endangered in the United States since 1970 and today it finds itself on the critically endangered list, meaning there is a high risk that they will not survive in the wild.

Another sea turtle known as Loggerhead is also an endangered species and the sea turtle was first found nesting on Louisiana's Grand Isle in 2015. Scientists have found these loggerhead sea turtles nesting the islands that the Kemp's ridley sea turtles are also nesting on. Most of all the nesting of these endangered sea turtles happened in the Gulf of Mexico. [Read More]

How a Rare Asian Bird Found a Home in Nevada

by Camila Cruz, age 14

The Himalayan range in Asia is home to the largest and highest peaked mountains, including Mount Everest, where a rare bird species called the snowcock is found. Additionally, snowcock birds can be found in the Ruby Mountain range in the state of Nevada. Now, how did this rare bird species arrive from Asia to the United States?

It is quite interesting how these birds established a home for themselves on the mountains of Nevada. The Himalayan birds were considered to be good game for humans to hunt. As a result, the Nevada Fish and Game Commission brought a couple of birds from Pakistan and later took them to a farm in Nevada, where they thrived because the two places have similar climates. Over the course of 15 years, the birds were released into the wild, where they reproduced, found a stable home, and continued to grow their species.

The snowcock is a gray bird that weighs four to seven pounds and is about 22 to 30 inches in length. This species of birds create their nests on the ground close to rocks and grass in order to be protected from windy weather. Normally, they lay around four to six eggs. Shortly after hatching, hatchlings leave the nest to find their own food, looking for berries, grass, shoots, seeds and water. [Read More]

How Dinosaur Eggs Reveal Differences in Species

by Camila Cruz, age 15

Modern birds have many similarities to dinosaurs, from their feathers and feet to hollow bones and laying eggs. Recently, paleontologists found another feature dinosaurs shared that is their unique way of hatching, called tucking.

Paleontologists also recently discovered a 66-million-year-old fossil egg that shows how similar a theropod dinosaur embryo and a modern bird embryo would appear before hatching, in a curled position. The main difference between both eggs is that the dinosaurs did not have wings, they had little arms and claws.

Oviraptorosaurs walked the Earth about 126 million years ago and had many similarities to modern birds. The Oviraptorosaurs had hollow bones, three-toed limbs, beaks and feathers on their arms, but they could not fly. They used their feathers to warm up their eggs. [Read More]

Fun Facts About Beluga Whales

by Max Moreno, age 10

The beluga whale is one of the most intelligent whales. This whale is mostly known for its ability to smile and make faces. It can also perform tricks like making a bubble ring with its mouth, propelling backwards, and swimming up to 13 miles per hour.

The beluga whale can be found in the cold, shallow waters of the arctic seas. It can live up to 40 years and feeds on fish, crabs and other types of seafood. The beluga whale uses echolocation to find food underwater. Echolocation is a technique where animals make sounds that travels through the environment and bounce off objects to allow for detection of nearby surroundings. Belugas make clicking sounds under water as their form of echolocation.

When a beluga whale is born it is brown, but when it becomes an adult it turns white. This whale breathes air from a blowhole located on its head and can hold its breath for 15 minutes. The whale can grow up to around nine feet and can weigh about 1.5 tons. [Read More]

Bottlenose Dolphins; Friends of the Sea

by Joseph Zheng, age 8

Dolphins roam through warm ocean waters across the world. One species in particular is unique: the bottlenose dolphin.

Bottlenose dolphins are mammals and are a part of more than 30 different species of dolphins worldwide. The bottlenose communicates with other dolphins using clicks, squeals, and whistles. This is special because not all animals communicate like this. Bottlenose dolphins have a big seafood diet, such as fish, salmon, squid, and shrimp. They also hunt with other dolphins.

Bottlenoses are blue-gray and paler than Indian Ocean dolphins, which are significantly darker than bottlenoses. They weigh between 330.7 to 606.3 pounds and are between 1.9 to 3.9 meters long. Bottlenose dolphins live for many years, some as long as 30 years old! They only have one calf per mating season. [Read More]

The Secret Life of Pollinators

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

A plant has a lot of needs in order for it to be healthy. These needs include water, sun, and soil. Insects like the yucca moths, bumblebees, and honeybees take the pollen and nectar from plants.

In order for insects to get nectar and pollen, they need to feed on the nectar inside a plant. The pollination, yucca plants, and pollen grains are some seeds from different plants that insects take. Female yucca moth impersonators take the yucca pollen from the yucca plant and bring it to their home. However, not all moths do this.

The inside of a flower can be pretty fascinating as it has a stigma, anthers, nectar, and pollen. That's how insects are able to feed on the nectar and pollen. When a bumblebee gets nectar, the flower closes and the bee has to push open the flower. Afterwards, the bee is able to get the nectar as the pollen comes up. [Read More]

El águila calva: una especie icónica al borde de la extinción — por Santiago Rosero Perea, 11 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

El águila calva es una de las aves más conocidas y poderosas en nuestro mundo. Las águilas calvas cazan en lagos y ríos. La medida del cuerpo de un hombre es de alrededor de 90 centímetros, mientras que el cuerpo de una mujer tiene un promedio de 108 centímetros. El peso de un águila calva es de 14 libras, mientras un águila arpía pesa 11 libras. [Read More]

Wisconsin's Year-Round Birds — by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

Have you heard of some of Wisconsin’s year-round birds? Today, I’m going to talk about the American Robin, Mourning Dove, and Song Sparrow. [Read More]

Learn the Difference Between a Cheetah and a Leopard — by Max Moreno, age 9

People may easily mistake a cheetah for a leopard. However, there are many differences to look for that can help you tell these two species apart. [Read More]

Why Do So Few Cubs Turn Into Big Cats? — by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Wild cat babies, known as cubs or kittens, are easy targets to male lions. Mother cats guard their cubs until they are of age. [Read More]

Cardinals in Wisconsin: These Beautiful Birds are Moving North — by Allison Torres, age 13

Northern cardinals are highly valued and favored songbirds in North America. These birds typically nest in Northern Wisconsin, along with parts of Minnesota and even Canada. [Read More]

Not Really a Big Cat, the Caracal Is a Hunter that Lives in Asia and Africa — by Sol-Saray, age 10

A desert lynx, also known as caracal, is a wild cat native from Africa, Asia, and parts of India. They can be found in woodlands, grasslands, savannahs, and forest. [Read More]

Tiger Wandering: Scientists Have Important Questions About Unusual Spider — by Dani Garduno, age 10

Researchers have taken a big interest in learning about a species of spider called the Tiger Wandering. This spider’s features include very unusual legs. [Read More]

Why Do Butterflies Migrate? — by Abigail Gezae, age 9

Have you seen a big group of butterflies flying around? Do you know why? It might be because they are migrating. [Read More]

How Wisconsin Manages its Black Bear Population — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

It is getting easier to see black bears in Wisconsin. It’s becoming more common to see black bears because their numbers in Wisconsin are growing. So, if you decide to go camping in our state, it's possible you could see a black bear roaming around. [Read More]

The Kaluga Sturgeon Is the World's Largest Freshwater Fish — by Dani Garduno, age 10

Imagine many different species of fish all scattered around Eurasia and suddenly, all the fish swim away – and then the Kaluga Sturgeon appears. There is a lot to learn about this fish, such as its size, length, body, and whether or not it's a threat to human beings. [Read More]

Deadly Piranhas Stalk the Amazon River in Large Groups — by Max Moreno Lopez, age 9

Did you know that a piranha's sharp and pointy teeth help them bite off chunks of flesh from their prey? The powerful jaw of the piranha helps it catch and grab onto its prey. These creatures travel in groups called schools, making the piranha strong attackers and defenders. [Read More]

Disgusting Animals Play an Important Part in the Ecosystem — by Sol-Saray, age 9

All animals are built differently, some are cute or scary-looking, and others are just ugly and disgusting. Some of these ugly creatures may have skinny crooked legs or are covered in little bumps. Most fish and flies have huge eyes that do not blink or move. Ugly animals have similarities and differences, however, to humans many are smelly, scary, or disgusting. [Read More]

The Ballad of the Humpback Whale — by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 12

Humpback whales have songs they use to communicate with each other just like humans, but with complex sounds instead of words. [Read More]

Aprenda sobre el largato sungazer puntiagudo — Aloniab Gezae, edad 8

¿Te gustan las lagartijas? Si lo hace, le gustará el lagarto sungazer porque este lagarto tiene púas de la cabeza a la cola [Read More]

The Last Living Dinosaurs — by Amelia Mieko Pearson, age 12

You may not know this but birds are dinosaurs! As much as they do not look like dinosaurs, the connection between these two species does exist. In the Jurassic age, 150 years ago, the first bird was hatched from a small and feathery raptor-like dinosaur and became another branch of the dinosaur family tree. [Read More]

How Does a Boa Constrictor Hunt? — by Aloniab Gezae, age 7

Do you like snakes? Hopefully you do because today you will be learning about a snake called the boa constrictor! Boa constrictors are big and dangerous. They eat mice, rats, lizards, and birds. The lifespan of a boa constrictor in captivity can be up to 40 years! That’s a long time! Boa constrictors can swim and like living near rivers and lakes, specifically inside rainforests in South and Central America. [Read More]

We Bet You Don't Know About this Hyena!

by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

You might think there is only one type of hyena, but no, there's more! There are two different types of hyenas: brown hyenas and Aardwolf hyenas. These hyenas look like dogs, but they are cat-like carnivores. A carnivore is an animal that only eats meat. Brown hyenas can easily digest skin and bones with their sharp teeth. They scavenge for lions that have previously been killed by other carnivores or hunt for their own prey. [read more]

No es realmente un gato grande, el caracal es un cazador que vive en Asia y África — Por Sol-Saray, 10 años

Un lince del desierto, también conocido como caracal, es un gato salvaje originario de África, Asia y partes de la India. Se pueden encontrar en bosques, pastizales, sabanas y bosques. [Read More]

Unique Leopard Species Struggles to Survive — by Lah'Nylah Bivens, age 15

Arabian leopards are the smallest leopard species. Scientists consider this species to be closely related to the African leopard. [read more]

King Cobra vs. Mongoose: Who Wins? — by Jonah Smith, age 13

The debate about the king cobra vs. the mongoose is a long-lasting argument about which animal would win in a fight. Some people think that the king cobra would win while others firmly believe that a mongoose would be victorious. [read more]