National Geographic News


See the Stunning Waterfalls Created by Historic Floods

National Geographic News

Seen from overhead, this large body of water with cascading waterfalls might appear to be a remote lake. By July 13, the river had reached a historic high of 16.5 feet. Lakes often form when water fills natural basins created by receding glaciers, tectonic activity, volcanic eruptions, or dammed rivers. Echo Lake Dam just north of Burlington was opened several inches to relieve pressure on the affected areas, and water will likely stop gushing into the quarry soon, allowing it to drain.


We Knew Ravens Are Smart. But Not This Smart

National Geographic News

New research shows ravens are as skilled as humans as planning and bartering. "Monkeys have not been able to solve tasks like this," Osvath says, noting the birds are actually more skilled than human children. The researchers also set up an experiment to test the birds' bartering skills. "It is really surprising to see ravens were better at solving two planning tasks than great apes and children presented with similar problems," says Alex Taylor, an animal cognition expert University of Auckland in New Zealand who was not involved in the new study.


manta-rays-swimming-hawaii-video-spd

National Geographic News

Even though these huge fish are 12 feet across, the social behavior of the reef manta ray has generally remained secretive--until now. In rare drone footage captured off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii by Mark Merkley, the unique and graceful feeding behavior of the reef manta ray is captured in great detail. Manta ray individuals "stack" behind one another while feeding. The social groupings of manta rays are intriguing in part because they aren't necessarily family groups.


Giant 'Mirror' Planets Found in First-of-Its-Kind Experiment

National Geographic News

Plus, several planets--including a transiting hot Jupiter in the Kepler field--do indeed reflect their star's light. So, using thousands of synthetic data sets, as well as observations from those known planets, Millholland and Laughlin trained an algorithm to sift through the massive Kepler data set and search for shiny planets. Millholland ran the program on 142,630 Kepler stars, looking for large, non-transiting worlds that orbit their stars in less than one Earth-week. One way to answer that question is to look for hot Jupiters using Millholland's method in systems where smaller worlds have been detected orbiting rather far from their stars.


Quiz: Can You Tell If This Monkey Wants to Bite?

National Geographic News

A new study from the University of Lincoln found that when humans try to guess the facial expressions of Barbary macaques, they often get them wrong--really wrong. Laëtitia Maréchal, one of the study's authors, attributes this misunderstanding to the human tendency to anthropomorphize animals, or attribute them with human characteristics. Of the mistakes made in correctly guessing what a macaque was attempting to communicate, experts made just under seven percent of the mistakes, participants exposed to 2D images made 20 percent of the mistakes, and novices accounted for 40 percent of the mistakes made. Fuentes noted that in addition to facial expressions, macaques communicate using their body language and how closely they stand next to another individual.


Watch a Problem-Solving Raven Outsmart a Trash Can

National Geographic News

Video taken in Haines, Alaska, shows one clever raven unlocking a weighted trash bin. In addition to their dumpster-diving antics, she has observed them pestering bald eagles and stealing food from the back of open pick-up trucks. He believes this suggests the birds were acting intentionally and logically. A 2016 study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offered further insight into how corvids perform functions similar to apes and chimps using only their little walnut-sized brains.


Where Dating Apps Save Lives

National Geographic News

There is a perception that Thailand is kind of like this queer paradise. People have a sense that there is this longstanding culture around trans femininity. The reality is that, much like everywhere in the world, there's still a lot of transphobia there and there's still a lot of homophobia. I think it's hard to overestimate homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia all across the world.


What Inspires Creativity? 6 Tips That Might Spark Yours

National Geographic News

Being in nature can boost creative thinking skills: One study in 2012 found that hikers performed as much as 50 percent better at creative problem-solving after spending four days out in the woods, disconnected from technology. One study found that people who spend a few days in the wilderness boosted their creative problem-solving skills. Author Eric Weiner also found this in writing about the geography of genius, noting, "We think of the ancient Athenians as inventing democracy, art, and philosophy. "No one pays attention to [bubbles], but they're important," says physicist Helen Czerski, because a bubble, which is made up of a liquid and a gas, can do things that the liquid and gas, each individually, can't do."


New Birdlike Dinosaur Had Modern Feathers

National Geographic News

Early ancestors of birds evolved feathers before they were capable of flight, and even the presence of feathers associated with flight--for example, the asymmetrical feathers found on this new species--doesn't mean that an animal could actually fly. "It is extremely challenging to accurately reconstruct aerodynamic capabilities in early fossil birds and bird-like dinosaurs, because there is a lot of missing data to deal with," says Michael Pittman, a paleontologist at the University of Hong Kong and an author of this study, in an e-mail. The new species' skull and legs are more similar to later species of troodontids, but its arms and pelvis are more similar to early species--a discovery that suggests some features evolved faster than others. "Knowing that the closest common ancestor of birds had asymmetrical feathers is extremely exciting," says Pittman.


How Creativity Drives Human Evolution

National Geographic News

To grow the kind of baby that we do, with this giant brain, who can't do anything for the first 3-5 years of life, you need a lot of input. As much as 1.5-1.7 million years ago, we start to see a shift in the fossils, which suggests that more than one or two individuals became closely involved in taking care of the young. Fast forward to the last couple hundred thousand years, and it is absolutely clear that the human success story is part and parcel of our incredible ability to "take a whole village" to raise a child, as the old saying goes. The nuclear family--Mom, Dad, a couple kids, and a dog--is not only very recent but is not even typical of the way most people live in the world.