Topic: Animals

15660075755 84125d29d5 h

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.

Read More
11330864553 250afbfb8b k

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.

Read More
3901798602 7630cb0775 b

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.

Read More
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.

Read More
15970844787 8ad84b4d43 h

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.

Read More
5. pangolin borneo

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.

Read More
2.horse

Current Event August 27, 2015

Horse Versus Human

Life Science Animals

Are animals faster than humans? Common sense says horses are faster, but scientists say humans have the edge in marathon distances. Ancient man used to chase his dinner; thus, people have adapted to run long distances. This adaptation is put to the test every year in England when humans race horses on a 22-mile course through Wales. It’s an annual competition that started in 1980. Listen to find out who won the race this year and who has evolved to be faster.

Read More
Chimpanzee.square

Current Event June 18, 2015

Chimps Can Cook

Psychology Animals Elementary Evolution

Scientists have long debated when early humans learned that they could use fire to cook their food. Some believe this occurred soon after humans learned to control fire, others argue there isn’t enough evidence. A scientific study in a chimpanzee sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has shed new light on these persistent questions. The experiment gave chimps a machine to “cook” their food and tracked their preference for cooked food and how it changed their eating behaviors. Listen to learn more about this experiment and how it plays into the debate about when early humans began to cook.

Read More
Fish to land

Science Middle School

Fish Fossil Gives Clues to Evolution

Life Science Animals Evolution Human body

Animal species evolve and adapt over time. This ability to change lays the groundwork for human evolution. Over 375 million years ago an important transition in this lineage occurred - animals living in the sea, began living on land. This complex process happened gradually over generations and an unusual fish fossil found in the Canadian Arctic may help enhance our understanding of this progression.

Read More
Plague threatens ecosystem

Science High School

Plague in Wildlife Threatens Ecosystem

Life Science Health Animals Ecosystems

Infectious diseases like plague don’t just impact humans, they can spread and decimate animal populations as well. One scientist saw the impact of plague in prairie dog colonies and among black footed ferrets. He questioned whether the scientific understanding of plague cycles and transmission was accurate. Listen to learn what scientists discovered about plague and its larger impact on ecosystems.

Read More
Animal emotions in literature

ELA Middle School

Low

Animals Display Emotions

Literature Psychology Animals Nonfiction

From "Shiloh" to "Lassie" and "Old Yeller," young adult literature is full of stories about friendship between people and dogs. People love animals but what do animals feel? There is a debate in the scientific community and in popular culture about what emotions animals are capable of and how they display these emotions. Does recognizing that animals can feel take away from human emotion? Or does it help us recognize where these traits came from? This story discusses recent research on the emotions of animals. Listen to learn more about what researchers discovered, and the controversy surrounding the emotional lives of animals.

Read More
Humans impact on climate change

Science High School

Human Impact on Climate Change

Life Science Earth and Space Science Climate Change Animals Weather and Climate Physical Science Human Impacts

A United Nations report in 2014 shows that human activities are changing the planet. The scientists are more confident in their conclusions that humans are causing global warming. There are rising sea levels, higher temperatures and impacts on wildlife. This conversation with a public radio reporter looks at the long term trend in global temperatures and what humans can do to reverse the trend.

Read More
Toys for elephants

Science Middle School

Animal Behavior in Captivity: Toys for Elephants

Life Science Animals Elementary Evolution

Toys play an important role in children's development. They are also important to animals, even elephants. This public radio story is about how artists designed and built toys of elephants that were based on animal behavior and their environment. You’ll be inside the zoo with the elephants, hearing their joy when playing with the new toys.

Read More
Right whales

Science Middle School

Biologists Find it's Hard to Study Right Whales

Life Science Animals Oceans

Biologists studying right whales face the challenge of exploring rare and large organisms that spend the majority of their time underwater. These unpredictable animals are examined by researchers to try to understand the method of communication between male and female whales. Listen to learn why it's so hard to study these animals.

Read More
Spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins

Science Middle School

Tuna Fishing and the Dolphin Morgue

Life Science Animals Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans

When people started using large nets to capture tuna in the 1960s, many spotted dolphins were killed because they were found living with tuna. Scientists responded by sending “observers” on tuna boats to keep track of the number of dolphins killed. Listen to hear from a scientist who is studying the spotted and spinner dolphins to try to learn how to preserve dolphin populations.

Read More
Using dna to catch poachers

Science Middle School

Using DNA to Catch Poachers

Life Science Animals Engineering Genetics DNA

Game wardens in California are now using DNA fingerprinting analysis to help protect illegal poaching of wildlife. There are many species, from large game to shellfish, which are being illegally caught or killed for food. Since there are so few game wardens to patrol the state, they are relying on forensic evidence to help track poachers. Listen to learn about the latest in DNA fingerprinting technology.

Read More
Mice morphing at warp speed

Science Middle School

Mice Evolving at Warp Speed

Life Science Animals Genetics Evolution

Changes to a neighborhood park in Illinois have affected the Northern White-Footed mice who live in the forest nearby. Scientists who study living mice today compare them to museum samples of dead mice to understand how they've changed and why. What they are finding is that the mice are growing much faster than their ancestors. Listen to learn why the mice are changing and why no one picked up on it sooner.

Read More
Giant squid eyes

Science Middle School

Giant Squid Eyes

Life Science Animals Ecosystems Oceans

Scientists have wondered why giant squid and colossal squid have such enormous eyes. Their eyes are the size of basketballs. Their thinking about this question has been hampered by the rarity of these animals and the difficulty of preserving eye specimens. Using some clever techniques and luck, researchers have been able to measure the size of giant squid eyes. This has led to an interesting hypothesis about why their eyes are so enormous.

Read More