Scientists around the world are celebrating the 200th birthday of British naturalist Charles Darwin, who was born on Feb. 12, 1809. Darwin’s groundbreaking 1859 book, “The Origin of Species,” proposed the theory that species evolve over time through the process of natural selection. Check out seven signs of evolution in action.
For 30 million years African swallowtail butterflies have dazzled their mates with glowing splashes of color on their wings. And the process they use to control the flow of light in their wings is strikingly similar to a technology that humans only recently developed, physicists report.
From the lasers used to read information on CDs and DVDs to the data carried across oceans along optical fibers, the control of light is essential to modern living.
Today conservationists named nine new “biodiversity hotspots”—areas of mind-boggling species richness that are under constant assault from human activity. The label highlights the regions as priorities for the world’s conservation efforts.
One hotspot is a crucial stopover for migrating monarch butterflies. Another has the highest tree richness of any temperate region on the planet. And yet another is a mountain refuge for vultures, tigers, and wild water buffalo. All the newly named hotspots have lost at least 70 percent of their original natural habitat.
For every fourth or fifth generation of monarch butterflies that summer in the U.S. east of the Continental Divide, the pull of high-altitude Oyamel fir forests in central Mexico is irresistible.
By the millions each fall they point south and flutter up to 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) to reach the forests on a few small mountain peaks in an approximately 60-square-mile (155-square-kilometer) area in the volcanic highlands that serve as the butterflies’ winter retreat.