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@ScientificAmerican

Kid Scientists Make Real Fossil Finds at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Kids searching for fossils using SharkFinder kits at Scientific American's booth at the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

Kids searching for fossils using SharkFinder kits at Scientific American’s booth at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Credit: Jason Osborne Jason Osborne was trying to grab a quick lunch away from the crowds when his wife called his cellphone. “Jason, you’ve got to come see this boy at the booth. He’s amazing!” When Osborne, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Hong Kong Imported 10 Million Kilograms of Shark Fins Last Year

The appearance of a shark fin piercing the ocean surface is often seen as a sign of danger to humans. Even more dangerous to sharks is the sight of a shark fin floating in a bowl of soup. Around the world, sharks are in crisis. Many species have suffered population declines of 90 to 99 [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Manta Rays Endangered by Sudden Demand from Chinese Medicine

Manta ray fishery

Demand for the gills of manta and mobula rays has risen dramatically in the past 10 years for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), even though they were not historically used for this purpose, a team of researchers from the conservation organizations Shark Savers and WildAid has discovered. “We first came across manta and mobula [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Could Farming Sustainable Tilapia Help Cut the Demand for Shark Fin Soup?

The unsustainable demand for the Chinese delicacy known as shark fin soup is directly responsible for the slaughter of more than 70 million sharks every year. In a process known as finning, the sharks are caught, pulled onto boats, stripped of their valuable fins and dumped back into the ocean where they slowly and painfully [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Is the great white shark slowly slipping into extinction?

great white shark

It’s not exactly easy to study the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in the wild, but new evidence suggests that while we’ve been worrying about tigers, gorillas and other obviously rare species, the great white has been quietly disappearing from the oceans. We already knew that shark species around the world have experienced dramatic declines [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Artificial uterus could save grey nurse shark from extinction

Plenty of species have been observed eating their own young. Still other species see their young competing for resources, so only the strongest survive. But the grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) takes it a step further: its young have a tendency to eat each other, in utero. You read that right. As grisly as it [...]

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Symbiartic

The Hypnotic Whorl of Teeth That Keeps Researchers Guessing

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How many facelifts can one extinct animal undergo? The answer is probably equal to the number of interested researchers and paleoartists out there, and then some. In the case of the mysterious whorled tooth rows left behind by the fossil fish known as Helicoprion, artist Ray Troll has documented close to two dozen, many of [...]

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Symbiartic

Road Kill So Perty You Can Bring It Home To Ma

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Most people swerve around road kill in hopes of avoiding the gore, or worse, the dreaded thwump that indicates you added your treadmarks to the list of said road kill’s insults. But a few crazy people will screech to a halt to see what got hit. Two of these folks just happen to be researchers, [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Cooler Than #SharkWeek: Sharks Make Friends, Too

Blacktip Reef Shark

Shark Week is upon us, and rather than be fooled by sharky fakery or outright lies, how about some real, true, scientifically-accurate shark science? Here’s a piece I originally wrote in January, 2012. Many of us think of sharks as lone hunters. We imagine them spending most of their lives swimming alone, briefly seeking out [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Cooler Than #SharkWeek: What Can We Learn From the Brains of the Largest Sharks?

A whale shark feeds vertically

Shark Week is upon us, and rather than be fooled by sharky fakery or outright lies, how about some real, true, scientifically-accurate shark science? Here’s a piece I originally wrote in August, 2012. The largest fish in the ocean is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). This massive, migratory fish can grow up to twelve meters [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

What Does A Whale Shark’s Brain Look Like? (And Why Should We Care?)

A whale shark feeds vertically

The largest fish in the ocean is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). This massive, migratory fish can grow up to twelve meters in length, but its enormous mouth is designed to eat the smallest of critters: plankton. While the biggest, the whale shark isn’t the only gigantic filter-feeding shark out there: the basking shark and [...]

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