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James MacDonald

James MacDonald received a BS in Environmental Biology from Columbia and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University, spending 4 years in Central America collecting data on fish in mangrove forests. His research has been published in scholarly journals such as Estuaries and Coasts and Biological Invasions. He currently works in fisheries management and outreach in New York.

Two Sumatran tigers

Mating at the Zoo Can Be Dangerous

A Sumatran tiger killed the female he was meant to mate with. Mating endangered species in captivity has long been a problem, if not always to such dramatic effect.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Argonauta_argo_Merculiano.jpg

Paper Nautilus, Octopus of the Open Sea

Why the argonaut, or paper nautilus, may be your new favorite cephalopod.
Replica of a Denisovan molar, originally found in Denisova Cave in 2000

Denisovans and Neanderthals Interbred in a Giant Cave

New findings shed light on how humans' ancestors interbred, but the Denisovans remain quite mysterious.
A tarsier

Can Wildlife Adapt to Heat Waves?

Heatwaves have led to widespread deaths of animals like big-eyed tarsiers and flying foxes. Is there hope for species like this as temperatures rise?
Two wolves

The Totally Unromantic Origin of Monogamy

Evolutionary biology offers theories as to why some mammals engage in monogamy. And no, it's not because they're in love. (Sorry.)
Wild coffee

Protecting Food’s Wild Relatives

The wild ancestors of coffee and other vital crops are at risk, leaving much of the world's food supply vulnerable to catastrophe.
A seismic survey vessel

How Offshore Oil Exploration Affects Marine Life

Offshore oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean will involve seismic blasts, which may be harmful to whales and marine mammals.
An Eastern Lowland Gorilla infant

When Endangered Wildlife Gets Inbred

The endangered eastern lowland gorilla populations are now so small that the species is facing a new threat: loss of genetic diversity.
An artist's rendering of space travel

The “Real” Warp Drive

Sure, it sounds like science fiction. But some researchers suggest that warp drives might actually be a possibility.
Xipe Totec Impersonator from AD 600-900

The Festival of the Flayed God

The terrifying and gruesome rituals of the Flayed God had a symbolic subtext that was somewhat gentler than one might imagine.
A birds-eye view of a farm.

Does Organic Agriculture Contribute to Climate Change?

Organic agriculture seems like it would be better for the environment than conventional. But a new study suggests it produces more carbon dioxide.
Physarum polycephalum

Amoebas Are Smarter Than They Appear

Why slime molds can solve math problems that you can't.
A flood in St Mark's Square in Venice

Our Sinking Cities

From Venice to Tehran to Shanghai, many cities are steadily sinking into the earth. There might not be any way to stop it.
An ancient supernova

Can a Supernova Cause Mass Extinction?

Since the 1950s, scientists have been proposing supernovae as catalysts for mass extinctions. But can it be proven?
A rack of shoes from different eras

Our Long Relationship with Leather

A recently-discovered skeleton wearing leather boots inspires a walk through our history of wearing animal hides.
Voyager 2 near Neptune and Triton

Voyager 2 Heads into the Unknown

Forty-one years after its launch, Voyager 2 has officially crossed out of the solar system and into interstellar space. What has it discovered along the way?

The Mixed Environmental Legacy of Missionaries

The recent murder of Christian missionary John Chau has drawn attention to the effects outsiders have on native tribes and ecology.
Restoration of Burgess Shale fossil arthropod Waptia fieldensis

Meeting Earth’s First Animals at the Burgess Shale

The Burgess Shale is a huge deposit of unique fossils that reveals records of the middle Cambrian, a vital period in evolutionary history.
The InSight lander operating on the surface of Mars.

What’s Inside Mars?

Everything scientists think they know about the interior of Mars is based on indirect observations. NASA's new InSight Lander aims to change that.
A cigarette butt in the sand.

The Environmental Cost of Cigarettes

Cigarette butts account for a huge amount of human-generated plastic pollution.
A trail near Tampere, Finland.

How Forest Fires Work in Finland

Finland's forest fires aren't as destructive as California's. That has more to do with climate and population than with forest management.
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest

Indigenous Reserves and the Future of the Amazon

Swathes of the Amazon rainforest are set aside for Indigenous peoples to manage. While they aren't conservation areas, they are important to the ecosystem.
Cat Mummy

Why Ancient Egyptians Loved Cats So Much

Ancient Egyptians' love of cats developed from an appreciation of their rodent-catching skills to revering them as sacred creatures.
Members of the Cascades Butterfly Citizen Science Team

A Scientific Look at Citizen Science

Citizen science involves using large numbers of volunteers to collect data for scientific research. But does it result in usable data?