Topic: Animals

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Current Event October 20, 2016

Dogs Can Process Words and Meaning

Life Science Animals Elementary

When dog owners talk to their pets, they usually use praising words and speak in an approving, cheerful tone. Neuroscientists studied the brains of dogs to learn more about how they interpret praise. By looking at certain pathways in the brain scans, the research team discovered some interesting results that suggest dogs may process the meaning of the words they hear in addition to the tone of voice. Listen to hear the details of the study about what dogs understand when we speak to them.

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Current Event September 22, 2016

200 Year Old Sharks

Life Science Animals Elementary Evolution

Sharks can live to be over two hundred years old, and recently a Greenland shark was found who may have lived up to 512 years. These sharks are the longest living vertebrates known to exist. They can be found swimming in the Arctic seas, where researchers are spending time studying the old creatures. Listen to the story to hear more about this fascinating species.

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Current Event September 15, 2016

A Birthday for Sheep Clones

Life Science Animals Engineering Genetics

Dolly the sheep became famous two decades ago for being the first mammal to be successfully cloned. Today, four sheep that came from the same cells as Dolly have reached their ninth birthday. This is significant to scientists because it shows that it is possible for cloned mammals to live healthy lives into old age. Listen to hear more about this encouraging milestone for cloned animals.

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Why mammoths got wholly

Science Middle School

Why Woolly Mammoths Have Thick Furry Coats

Animals Genetics DNA

Woolly mammoths were large, elephant-like creatures that lived tens of thousands of years ago, during the last great ice age. The thick, furry coat is one of several traits that gave woolly mammoths an advantage in a very cold environment. Today, the closest biological relative is the Asian elephant, which prefers warmer climates. Scientists were curious about the genetic variations between the woolly mammoth and the Asian elephant, and what might account for the differences between the two species. In this audio story, we hear from a scientist who studied the DNA from the extinct mammoth and compared it to its contemporary descendant. Listen to learn more about what researchers discovered.

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Current Event June 18, 2016

How Wind Affects Wildlife

Environment Animals Energy

The Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to find out how bears will react to a new wind project. It will be the first commercial wind project on U.S. Forest Service land and will include 15 turbines.They started tracking bears by using radio collars to see how they move around before the turbines are in place. The collars had many problems, so they started using cameras to track the bears. Now they have data to study bears and wildlife both before and after the wind project begins. Share this story with your students so they can learn more about this wind project in Vermont and its impact on wildlife.

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Current Event June 2, 2016

Rules Broken in National Parks

Animals Human Impacts

Two recent incidents at Yellowstone National Park highlight a problem. In one incident, visitors walked off the boardwalk at a hotspring, and in another, visitors put a bison calf in their trunk to keep it warm. There are record numbers of visitors to National Parks and educating them all about wildlife and safety is a huge task. Regardless of visitor’s intentions, park officials are hoping to reduce the numbers of incidents. Listen to hear more about managing visitors’ behavior at National Parks.

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Current Event May 12, 2016

What a Wolf's Howl Says

Animals Sound

Packs of wolves in Yellowstone National Park give researchers a chance to study their behavior. When a wolf howls, a howling chorus responds. In the spring, the wolves grow quieter as they raise pups and the howls change with the seasons. Now researchers are working to understand what the howls actually mean. Listen to hear more about the way a wolf howls.

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Current Event April 27, 2016

Cats After Rats

Animals Elementary

Residents of one Chicago neighborhood are anticipating a big rat problem in the near future. That’s because the city is tearing down an old hospital, and the construction will likely disturb the many rodents living underground. While developers and city officials are anticipating the onslaught by setting out poison baits and traps, residents are turning to a different solution: cats. Listen to the story to find out more about how these cats can help keep rats away.

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Current Event March 30, 2016

Setting The Whales Free

Animals Elementary entertainment

SeaWorld was known for its shows that feature killer whales doing tricks for an audience, but they’ve been phasing out these shows because of complaints from animal welfare groups. The critics have also wanted SeaWorld to end captive breeding of orcas, or killer whales. Recently the SeaWorld CEO announced it will end captive breeding of killer whales. It will expand other attractions, and increase rescue operations of marine mammals. Since orcas have a long life, they will introduce new, natural encounters with their orcas. Listen to hear more about the changes at SeaWorld.

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Current Event February 25, 2016

Dogs Have Nose for IEDs

Life Science Animals Violence

Dogs have a powerful sense of smell. For a long time we’ve counted on their noses to help us find bombs. However, dogs have had some trouble detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Navy is currently funding research to improve their detection skills in this area. By exposing dogs to thousands of different scents, scientists are training dogs to recognize potentially explosive ingredients and mixtures. Listen to the story to hear more about this life-saving research.

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Current Event January 5, 2016

Dinosaur Footprints

Life Science Animals Elementary

On the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland, dinosaur footprints were recently found. They look like potholes the size of trash can lids and were made by dinosaurs about 170 million years ago. The site is along the northern coast, near what used to be a lagoon. Dinosaurs are normally found on land and not so near the water. Listen to this story to learn more about this discovery and how it changes our understanding of dinosaurs.

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Current Event December 30, 2015

Whale Sounds

Life Science Animals Elementary Sound

Humpback whales sing and continually change their songs. In the 1960’s Navy engineers used underwater microphones to record sounds in the ocean to locate enemy ships. They happened to also record whale sounds. Scientists studied these sounds and discovered that only male humpback whales sing and they gradually modify their songs. The humpback’s songs have patterns and rhythms and are not just random sounds. Listen to hear more about how sound is used to learn about the life of whales.

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Current Event December 28, 2015

Ocean Noise Pollution

Life Science Animals Elementary Oceans Sound

The field of bioacoustics, studying the sound of animals, extends far below the surface of oceans. Whale vocalizations can be used as data to track migration and populations. Researchers have found ways to identify which whales are making which sounds. But in oceans, human-made sounds are often louder than other noises, making it hard for marine animals to hear the sounds in their own world. Listen to this story about what can be learned by tracking whale sounds, and how new guidelines are helping whales communicate with each other.

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Current Event December 24, 2015

Sounding The Alarm

Animals Elementary Sound

Ornithologists listening to various bird calls were surprised to discover that different animal species shared the same warning call. For instance, squirrels closely mimic a bird’s warning call. These scientists record sounds in the wilderness all over the world to learn about animal communication. In this story they share different ways they provoke the birds into making bird calls so that they can be studied. Listen to hear about the discoveries of scientists who listen closely.

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Current Event December 23, 2015

Sound You Can't Hear

Animals Elementary Sound

Elephants roar and stomp and make loud sounds. They also make other sounds too low for humans to hear. Researchers are studying the secret signals of elephants by living among them in Africa. The audible calls are just a fraction of the elephants’ conversation. They have a longer ear canal, bigger eardrums and can hear much lower frequencies than people can. Researchers have matched the rumbling sounds with specific behaviors, such as looking for a baby elephant or greeting each other. Listen to hear more about the hidden language of elephants.

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Current Event December 3, 2015

Butterfly Habitat Under Threat

Climate Change Animals Elementary Ecosystems

The population of monarch butterflies has declined dramatically in recent years. The milkweed population has also declined, and less milkweed equals fewer monarch butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed and it’s the only thing the larvae will eat. Some reasons for the decline in milkweed include loss of forestland in Mexico where monarchs winter and an increased use of herbicide. Regardless of the reasons, these are big changes. Listen to hear more about what is being done to restore the monarch butterfly population and how that also helps other insects.

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Cat eyes

Current Event November 5, 2015

Animal Eye Shapes

Animals Evolution biology

If you have looked closely at the eyes of different animals, you will notice their pupils come in various shapes: round, vertical or horizontal ovals or crescents. Scientists now think they know the reason behind the shape of some animals’ pupils. There is diversity in shape because it depends on how big the animal is and whether it’s a predator or prey. It also relates to their view of the horizon. Listen to hear more about the new discovery and what it can tell us about animals and evolution.

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Current Event October 27, 2015

Pandas and Politics

Civics/Government Animals Elementary Communism

Pandas from China have served as fluffy diplomats between the Communist China and the Democratic United States. In 1972, the Smithsonian National Zoo first received their first pair of pandas from China as “gesture of goodwill” following President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. Panda diplomacy continues today as a newborn panda's name was unveiled at the National Zoo. Listen to the story and learn more about the newest link between the world’s two largest economies.

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Current Event August 28, 2015

Endangered Pangolins

Life Science Animals Elementary

The animal that tops the illegal wildlife trade is surprising. It’s not an elephant or tiger, but an exotic anteater called a Pangolin. This animal is a mammal with scales, has a tongue the size of its body, and an unfortunate self-defense mechanism. They are on their way to becoming extinct because their scales are used in Asian medicine and their meat is considered delicious in some countries. Some organizations are petitioning to list the Pangolin as endangered in the U.S. Listen to hear more about the efforts to save the Pangolin.

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