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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.

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Getting to Know Pterosaurs

Everyone loves dinosaurs. Perhaps less well-known are their cousins, the pterosaurs. Pterosaurs could fly, and were closely related ...
Mount Agung volcano

Can a Single Volcano Cool the Earth?

Even one volcano can have impacts that affect the planet. There have been eruptions that affected the temperature over the entire hemisphere.
traffic jam

The Science of Traffic

Traffic congestion has been a problem in the United States ever since the 1930s, and since that time, scientists have been studying on the problem.
Yeti

It’s a Yeti! It’s an Abominable Snowman! It’s a… Bear?

A group of scientists from Buffalo tried to definitively prove whether or not the Yeti exists, examining DNA from a variety of hair and tooth samples.
Toxoplasma gondii

Humans and Their Parasites

Parasitic diseases can be effectively eliminated, but they can persist even in developed countries with effective healthcare systems.
Chimpanzee

The Complexity of Animal Communication

Alarm calls truly display the complexity of animal communication. Chimps tailor their warning communications based on the knowledge level of the recipient.
flat earther

A Natural History of Flat Earthers

How is it that in 2017 there are still Flat Earthers? Perhaps first we need to look back at the myth of Christopher Columbus.
pluripotent stem cell

Rethinking Bioengineered Skin

A boy with a rare condition was losing his skin, until a medical team was able to produce artificial skin. Healing damaged skin has long been a challenge.
Vaquita

Why Scientists Couldn’t Save the Vaquita, the “Panda of the Sea”

It might be the end of the line for the vaquita, the world’s rarest marine mammal. A dramatic last-ditch attempt to capture one has failed.
Common thresher shark

Why It’s So Difficult to Save Sharks

Will a ban on shark fins help shark populations? Since sharks are slow-growing and long-lived, once shark stocks are depleted, they take a while to rebound.
Juvenile American Eel

The Final Migration of the American Eel

Every year, thousands of American eels make an amazing migration from their freshwater homes into the Atlantic Ocean, where they spawn and die.
Gapstow bridge Central Park, New York City

Where Do City Birds Go for the Winter?

Cities can host surprisingly diverse bird species, apart from the ubiquitous pigeons and sparrows. Where do they go in the winter?
elegant woman dressed in black hiding with umbrella

When a Heart Literally Breaks

Grief and heartbreak can be devastating. But can a broken heart actually kill you? Yes, and it's called Broken Heart Syndrome.
Dinosaur fossil

The Popular, Lucrative, and Legally Questionable Fossil Trade

Middlemen sell fossils to the highest bidder, whether it’s a museum or a wealthy collector who wants their own stegosaurus.
Dracula in a 1931 movie poster

The Real Vampires of Europe

In general, a vampire is a malicious spirit or soul of the deceased who is not confined to the grave. Where did the idea come from?
Japanese tsunami debris

Marine Debris and Its Dangerous Hitchhikers

Larger pieces of floating debris, like that caused by the Japanese tsunami, may carry hitchhikers in the form of organisms native to their place of origin.
Ducks in algae bloom

The Problem With Algae Bloom

Climate change is a wild card that seems to be exacerbating conditions that can lead to Harmful Algae Blooms.
Antikythera Ephebe

The Antikythera Shipwreck Keeps Revealing Wonders

In the first century B.C.E., a Roman ship sank near the Greek Island of Antikythera. In 1900 some off-course sponge divers discovered the wreckage.
Neutron star collision

A Primer on Neutron Stars

In the far off constellation of Hydra; two neutron stars collided, producing vast clouds of gold and other heavy elements. What's a neutron star anyway?
Black Noddy Terns Nesting in Pisonia Trees at Lady Musgrave Island Queensland Australia

The Bird-Catching Pisonia Trees

Found mainly on Caribbean islands, Pisonia trees resemble any typical large, tropical tree. Typical, that is, until you notice the bones.
Electric eel

5 Shocking Facts about Electric Eels

First things first: eels are fish.
Mummified cats

How Ancient Peoples Fed the Dead

4,000 years ago in what is now Jerusalem, someone was buried with a jar of headless toads. In fact, many ancient graves included food for the afterlife.
French bulldog puppy sleeping on the carpet

Why Do We Sleep?

A growing consensus among those who hold this view is that sleep is needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, not necessarily a brain.
Tuna fish

What Makes Fish Swim Fast

How do fish swim? Having fins and tails help, But it takes more than that to be fast and avoid danger. Diving into fish physics.
Cat playing Peek a Boo in a box

The Ig Nobels: The Lighter Side of Scientific Research

What exactly are the Ig Nobels? And what can we learn from the Journal of Irreproducible Results and the Annals of Improbable Results?