Natural History News

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Researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Instititute have used genetic testing to determine that the frigatebirds in the Galapagos Islands have been genetically different from frigatebirds found elsewhere for more than half a million years. This has prompted calls for increased protection and a new conservation status for the approximately 2,000 frigatebirds that nesting the Galapagos.

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Notes on the back of a 400-year-old letter have revealed a previously unknown language once spoken by indigenous peoples of northern Peru, an archaeologist says.

Penned by an unknown Spanish author and lost for four centuries, the battered piece of paper was pulled from the ruins of an ancient Spanish colonial church in 2008.

But a team of scientists and linguists has only recently revealed the importance of the words written on the flip side of the letter.

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For the past year, International Expeditions has partnered with the Alabama Wildlife Center to release several birds into the NWF-certified wildlife habitat around the office, and to rebuild and restore nearby nests. So it was a treat for IE staffers to join the wildlife center's Director of Education to release two rehabilitated broad-winged hawks!

See photos of the hawk release.

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As an update to an earlier blog post on the ambitious efforts to save sea turtles along the Gulf coast, we are happy to share that baby sea turtle will now be allowed to hatch freely from coastal beach nests.

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The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee inscribed 21 new sites, including 15 cultural, 5 natural and 1 mixed properties. Three countries, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tajikistan, had sites added for the first time. One existing natural site was also recognized for its cultural values and thus becomes a mixed site.

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For all of the study that's been done in the "Lost City" of Machu Picchu — not to mention all of the travelers who have waked the ruins of the ancient citadel — archaeologists are still finding clues about the lives of the Inca who lived here.

A group of Peruvian archaeologists from the National Institute of Culture discovered ceremonial offerings buried under Machu Picchu, including three ceramics or miniature aryballos with globular body and covered with stone slabs forming a circle, known as "apachetas."

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Paleontologists digging near the coast of Peru have uncovered the 12-million-year-old skull of a now-extinct species of sperm whale.

The skull, which measures nearly 10 feet across, belonged to a genus and species of sperm whale that may have been up to 57 feet long and includes the longest documented sperm whale teeth, measuring more than 14 fearsome inches.

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During the last century, Africa's black rhino population plummeted by more than 90 percent, reaching an alarming low of just 2,300, but five were recently returned to the Serengeti National Park as part of an ambitious initiative to boost the viability of Tanzania's rhino population.

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For weeks we’ve been following the oil spill’s impact on wildlife along the Gulf coast, but there is also an endangered species known to feed in the murky depths right where oil is leaking: sperm whales. Audubonmagazine.org reports that an estimated 1,665 sperm whales in the northern Gulf of Mexico that may be at risk as oil continues to spew from Deepwater Horizon.

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Just 1.5 million years before humans began taking leisurely dips in the ocean, the waters were home to an immense shark "Megalodon" (formally known as Carcharocles megalodon). Despite coming in at more than 60 feet long, young C. megalodons would still have been vulnerable to other predators of their time, much like young great whites are today. According to a new study published in PLoS One the "mega-toothed shark" may have protected its young by delivering them in nurseries.

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