Behind the Headlines
Explore our world, one headline at a time.
World Book Editors break down the news in our Behind the Headlines feature allowing for a deeper understanding of the complex events that shape our world today. Behind the Headlines articles are carefully crafted presenting the latest national and world news, science discoveries, current events and other top stories and are simplified for young readers.

Mauritius 50

Yesterday, on March 12, people in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius celebrated National Day on the country’s “Golden Jubilee”—its 50th anniversary of independence. March 12 also marks the day Mauritius became a republic in 1992 (it was previously a constitutional monarchy).

Removing Bird Protections

In 1918, 100 years ago, the Congress of the United States passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to help protect wild birds in North America from extinction. Bird populations, ravaged by habitat loss, overhunting, and pollution, had dropped sharply in the years leading up to the act. The MBTA helped preserve those populations and allowed them to recover and thrive.

Language Monday: Esperanto

Most people grow up speaking the language spoken by their parents. This is often the language spoken most frequently in the local community, as well. However, there are so many languages in the world that it can be difficult for people of different language backgrounds to communicate with one another.

Language Monday: Computers

For many people, interacting with computers is an important part of daily life. Each time you send a text message, play a video game, or search for cat pictures online—even as you read these words—you are interacting with a computer.

Italy’s Battle of the Oranges

​Today, February 13, people in Ivrea, Italy, wrapped up the Battaglia delle Arance (Battle of the Oranges), the traditional end of the city’s Carnival celebrations and the nation’s largest fruit fight. Ivrea is a town near Turin in the Piemonte (Piedmont) region of northwestern Italy.

Language Monday: Finnish

Finnish is the language spoken by about 90 percent of the people living in the northern European nation of Finland. Finnish is also an official language in neighboring Sweden, where about five percent of the people speak the unusual tongue.

Language Monday: Bengali (Bangla)

Just over a century ago, in 1913, the winner of the 13th Nobel Prize in literature was Rabindranath Tagore, a writer from the historic region of Bengal in northeastern India. Tagore wrote mainly in Bengali, his native language, and his poems, songs, plays, stories, and essays were part of a long legacy of influential literature in the language.

Australian Firehawks

Bird watchers in Australia were recently surprised as several species of predatory birds appeared to be spreading bushfires as a novel hunting technique. For many years, wildlife biologists have documented raptors that fly around the edges of wildfires, practicing what the scientists call “fire-foraging.”

The Vikings of Up Helly Aa

Yesterday, January 30, people in Lerwick, Scotland, celebrated an annual Viking festival known as Up Helly Aa. Up Helly Aa is a variant of the Scottish Gaelic word Uphaliday, meaning end of holiday. Traditionally, the festival marks the end of the Yuletide (Christmas season), and its origins go back to the days of Viking rule in the Shetland Islands, the northernmost part of the United Kingdom.

Tet Offensive 50

Fifty years ago today, on Jan. 30, 1968, a massive battle known as the Tet Offensive began during the Vietnam War (1957-1975). In the offensive, Communist-led South Vietnamese guerrillas called Viet Cong, backed by forces from Communist North Vietnam, launched attacks against military bases and major cities in South Vietnam.

India’s Republic Day

​Tomorrow, January 26, is Republic Day, a national holiday in India. Republic Day marks the occasion when the Constitution of India became the nation’s governing document on Jan. 26, 1950.

London’s Shiny New U.S. Embassy

Yesterday, January 16, a new United States Embassy opened in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth, a borough of central London, England. The flashy, chunky, ice cube of a building is an architectural wonder, and a security-first but environmentally friendly construction.

Language Monday: Chinese

​Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, followed by English and Spanish. More than 800 million people speak Chinese as their native language. Most Chinese speakers live in mainland China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The Vanishing Axolotl

​The axolotl, an unusual Mexican salamander, is one of the most studied animals in the world. It is also one of the most endangered animal species, and the axolotl may soon be extinct in the wild.

Language Monday: Arabic

Arabic is one of the world’s most widely used languages. It is the official language of many Arab nations in the Middle East and northern Africa. Nearly 300 million people use Arabic on a daily basis, and it is a major language in international business and politics.

Australia’s Mungo Man

Late last year, the oldest known human skeleton from Australia, known as Mungo Man, came home. The remains of Mungo Man, who lived more than 40,000 years ago, were transported in a special hearse that had been ritually cleansed with eucalyptus smoke back to his ancestral homeland in the Willandra region of New South Wales.

Recovering Australia’s AE1

​Last month, the wreckage of HMAS AE1, a Royal Australian Navysubmarine lost early in World War I (1914-1918), was found north of Australia off the coast of Papua New Guinea. HMAS stands for His or Her Majesty’s Australian Ship.

Opening the Lincoln Tunnel

​On Dec. 22, 1937, 80 years ago today, the center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel opened to motor traffic, connecting midtown New York City with Weehawken, New Jersey. Funded by the the Public Works Administration (PWA), the tunnel was built beneath the Hudson River by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, putting thousands of people to work during the Great Depression.

Valley Forge 240

​Two hundred and forty years ago today, on Dec. 19, 1777, American troops of the Continental Army set up camp at Valley Forge,Pennsylvania. The camp spanned an area between Valley Forge Creek and the Schuylkill River, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia.

Mythic Monday: The Original Titans

​The Titans were the earliest gods in Greek mythology. The Greeks generally believed the Titans were giant in size and immensely strong. The word titanic, meaning huge and enormously powerful, comes from their name.

Sumatra’s New Orangutans

​On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, already home to the Sumatran orangutan, a new species of the great orange ape has recently been named: the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis). Orangutans are shy and reclusive, and they live in remote jungle areas.

Remembering Auschwitz

On December 1, in Madrid, Spain, an exhibition opened featuring artifacts and personal belongings of people imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp run by Nazi Germany during World War II (1939-1945).

Boys Town 100

Today, December 12, marks 100 years since the 1917 opening of Boys Town, a private institution for homeless, abused, neglected, and disabled children. The institution is near Omaha, Nebraska. The town includes housing, recreational facilities, a grade school, a high school, and a career center.

Mythic Monday: Theseus of Athens

​In Greek mythology, Theseus was a young adventurer who became king of Athens. In the most well-known story about Theseus, he slew the fearful Minotaur—a beast with the body of a man and the head of a bull.

Everglades National Park 70

Seventy years ago today, on Dec. 6, 1947, United States President Harry S. Truman officially opened southwestern Florida’s Everglades National Park. The park was established to conserve parts of the Everglades wetlands and the Big Cypress Swamp, as well as many coastal islands along the Gulf of Mexico.

NHL 100 Years

​The National Hockey League (NHL) was formed 100 years ago on Nov. 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec. The four original teams (reorganized from the National Hockey Association) were the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Arenas (later the Maple Leafs).

Auguste Rodin 100

​Today, November 17, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of prolific French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Earlier this year, the Grand Palais in Paris, France, celebrated the anniversary with “Rodin: The Centennial Exhibition” from March through July.

The Hockey Hall of Fame

​Yesterday, November 13, Finnish right wing Teemu Selanne headlined the high-scoring class inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario. Selanne, in his first year of eligibility, was joined by left wingers Dave Andreychuk and Paul Kariya and right wing Mark Recchi.

Mythic Monday: Thunderous Thor

​Thor, the powerful god of thunder in Norse mythology, was the mighty defender of gods and goddesses, who were constantly under siege by the forces of chaos. Thor was the most popular god in the Norse pantheon, and his many exploits are recalled in many myths and tales—far more than any other Norse god or goddess.

Mount Holyoke 180

Today, November 8, is the 180th anniversary of the opening of Mount Holyoke College, the oldest institution for the higher education of women in the United States. Educator Mary Lyon founded the school in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1837, at a time when women had few opportunities to obtain a college education.

Marie Curie 150

Polish-born French physicist Marie Curie was born 150 years ago today on Nov. 7, 1867. Curie, famous for her research on radioactivity, was the first woman awarded a Nobel Prize.

381 New Amazon Species

​A recent report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Brazilian Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development details 381 new animal and plant species discovered in the Amazon rain forest over a 24-month period. The report, titled “New Species of Vertebrates and Plants in the Amazon 2014-2015,” lists 216 new plants, 93 new fish, 32 new amphibians, 20 new mammals, 19 new reptiles, and 1 new bird in the vast Amazon region that spans several South American countries.

Library of Congress

One hundred and twenty years ago today, on Nov. 1, 1897, the new Library of Congress opened its doors to the public for the first time. Previously, the library had been in the Congressional Reading Room of the United States Capitol.

Colliding Neutron Stars

On August 17, a faint chirp from instruments at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States set off a mad scramble in observatories around the world to catch a glimpse of something never before observed: the cosmic collision of two neutron stars (an event called a kilonova).

Recovering Consciousness

​In late September, a team of European neuroscientists (people who study the nervous system) reported that a patient who had been in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for 15 years showed signs of consciousness after receiving a new nerve-stimulation therapy. The patient, a 35-year-old man who suffered severe brain injuries in a car accident, regained a level of consciousness once thought impossible.

The Fight for Marawi City

​Yesterday, October 23, the Philippine military announced the end of a bloody five-month campaign to oust Abu Sayyaf and Maute Islamic rebels from Marawi City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Filipino soldiers had been clearing the last rebels from the battered city since President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from terrorist influence” on October 17.

Mythic Monday: Potent Poseidon

​Poseidon was the powerful god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses in ancient Greek mythology. The Romans identified him with their god Neptune. Poseidon was the son of Rhea and Cronus, members of an old race of gods called the Titans.

Ophelia Harries Ireland

On Monday, October 16, tropical storm Ophelia roared through the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, killing three people in Ireland and causing damage in parts of the United Kingdom. Ophelia, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in that part of the Atlantic, was an unusual occurrence.

The Fall of Raqqa

As Islamic State terrorist forces lost ground in Iraq in 2017, the terror group was also losing ground in neighboring Syria, a country torn apart by civil war since 2011. At times, the Islamic State has controlled large parts of Syria, but its grip has recently shrunk to areas along the Euphrates River in the nation’s sparsely populated east.

Recovering Puerto Rico

On the heels of Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia, Hurricane Maria churned through the Caribbean Sea in mid-September 2017. The storm hit the islands of the Lesser Antilles hard, but Maria saved its worst for Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States.

Basketball Kings Without a Throne

The National Basketball Association (NBA) season begins tonight, October 17, as the Houston Rockets visit the defending champion Golden State Warriors in Oakland, California. Both teams are stocked with superstars, and the Warriors are odds-on favorites to win their third title in the last four years.

Mythic Monday: Pay the Piper

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a legendary character in German folklore. According to a folk story, in 1284 the German town of Hamelin (Hameln in German) was suffering from a plague of rats. One day, a mysterious stranger dressed in a pied (many-colored) suit walked into Hamelin and offered to rid the town of the pests for a sum of money.

TC4: Earth’s Close Shave

Yesterday, on Thursday, October 12, a house-sized asteroid buzzed Earth, passing within the orbit of the moon and uncomfortably close to hundreds of orbiting communications and weather satellites. Officials at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) insisted there was never any danger of a collision.

Toronto’s Long Hockey Wait

Last week, on October 4, the puck dropped on the National Hockey League (NHL) season as the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins began their title defense with a 5-4 overtime loss to the visiting St. Louis Blues. The Penguins have won five Stanley Cups since joining the NHL for the 1967-1968 season.

California Wildfires

On Monday, October 9, multiple wildfires swept across northern California, destroying some 2,000 homes and other buildings, killing 17 people and displacing tens of thousands of others. California Governor Jerry Brown declared states of emergency in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma, and Yuba counties, where the destruction is worst.

Mythic Monday: Fiery Phoenix

​A fire rises… But the streaks of red and gold are not flames, they are feathers, and the blaze is a great bird taking flight. The fiery phoenix, the fabled bird of Greek mythology, appeared in many stories and inspired the name of Arizona’s capital and largest city.

The Moon Festival

Today, October 4, people in Asia and other places celebrate a holiday known as the Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. The holiday is one of three major festivals on the Chinese calendar.

New Purple Pig-Nosed Frogs

The region of the Western Ghats mountain range in India has turned up another new species of frog in 2017, and this one is quite bizarre. Bhupathy’s purple frog was named in honor of noted herpetologist Subramaniam Bhupathy, who died from a fall during an expedition in the Western Ghats in 2014.

America’s Legal Epidemic

An opioid drug crisis has swept parts of the United States in 2017 as unprecedented numbers of people became addicted—and many died. An opioid is any synthetic or semi-synthetic drug that resembles an opiate (drug that contains opium) in its effects.

Plight of the Rohingya

In recent weeks, violence and panic have gripped parts of the Southeast Asia nation of Myanmar (also called Burma). In late August, dozens of people were killed in clashes between Rohingya militants and government forces in western Myanmar.

Little Rock Nine: 60 Years

Yesterday, September 25, marked the 60th anniversary of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. On Sept. 25, 1957, nine African American students—remembered as the Little Rock Nine—were escorted into the previously all-white school by United States Army troops.

Mythic Monday: Winged Pegasus

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superhorse! If you have ever stargazed in the Northern Hemisphere, you might have noticed Pegasus, a constellation resembling part of a horse.

The September Equinox

Today, at 4:02 p.m. Eastern Time, the autumnal equinox marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the event is called the vernal equinox and marks the start of spring.

Central Mexico Shakes

Two days ago, on September 19, a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico, collapsing buildings and killing more than 240 people in Mexico City, the capital, and in the states of Guerrero, México, Morelos, Oaxaca, and Puebla.

Cassini’s Grand Finale

Cassini is gone. For more than 13 years, the space probe revealed the secrets of Saturn. It ended its mission in a blaze of glory on Friday, September 15, crashing into the planet it had studied for so long.

Mythic Monday: the Quadrupedal Centaur

The word horseman is simple enough: in common speech, it means a person who is skilled in riding or taking care of horses. The term may conjure strikingly different images, however, for readers of religious texts, popular fiction of yesteryear, or ancient myths.

Hispanic Heritage: Juan Felipe Herrera

Today, September 15, marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Mes de la Herencia Hispana) in the United States. To celebrate the month, World Book begins by highlighting the life and achievements of writer Juan Felipe Herrera.

Irma’s Heavy Impact

Last week, on September 6, the massive storm known as Hurricane Irma began ravaging the Leeward Islands of the eastern Caribbean Sea. The storm then roared over Puerto Rico and Cuba before reaching southern Florida on September 10.

Mexico’s Terrifying Temblor

​Just before midnight on Thursday, September 7, a powerful earthquake caused death and destruction in southern Mexico. The 8.1-magnitude quake, the strongest in the region in decades, centered just off the Pacific coast states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Mythic Monday: Osiris of the Underworld

T​he ancient Egyptians told countless stories about their gods and goddesses, but one, called the Osiris myth, was the most popular of them all. In this story, the Earth god Geb retired to heaven and appointed his son Osiris, god of agriculture and fertility, as the new king of Egypt.

Protecting Pangolins

​The pangolin, a reclusive, unusual insect-eating animal, is the world’s most trafficked (illegally traded) mammal. These armored but endangered animals live in tree hollows or dense thickets in remote forests and scrublands of Africa and Southeast Asia.

The Case of the Buffalo and the Frog

Kermit the Frog’s saying, “With good friends, you can’t lose,” appears to apply—rather unusually—to the marsh frog and the Anatolian water buffalo of northern Turkey. A Polish ecologist was bird watching in the Kızılırmak Delta along the Black Sea coast, one of the largest wetlands in the Middle East, when he accidentally happened upon water buffaloes covered with hitchhiking frogs.

Mythic Monday: Odysseus the Cunning

​Odysseus was a famous king of Ithaca and a brave and cunning hero in Greek mythology. His name is Odysseus in Greek and Ulysses in Latin. Odysseus was especially noted for his cleverness. In early Greek writings, he also was generous and noble.

Mudslide Disaster in Sierra Leone

​Last week, in the early hours of August 14, heavy rains and flooding caused a massive mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, the capital city of the small west African nation of Sierra Leone. The mudslide buried parts of Regent, a settlement perched on the slopes of Mount Sugar Loaf overlooking Freetown.

Moon, Sun, Eclipse

Yesterday, on August 21, huge crowds gathered across the United Statesto watch the solar eclipse within the path of totality, the 70-mile (113-kilometer) wide swath of land from Oregon to South Carolina where the moon completely covered the sun.

Mythic Monday: Odin the Allfather

​Odin, the one-eyed Norse god of war and the battlefield was revered by Berserkers, frenzied Viking warriors who fought ferociously without armor and felt no wounds. But Odin was a complex character who also had domain over wisdom and poetry.

Coming Attraction: A Total Eclipse

Get ready! On Monday, August 21, if you live in the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, you will be able to experience one of nature’s most impressive sights–a total eclipse of the sun. Across the United States, large crowds are expected in towns, cities, and campsites along the path of totality for the spectacular celestial show.

Percy Fawcett & the Lost City of Z

Tomorrow, August 18, marks the 150th birthday of British explorer Percy Fawcett. Fawcett gained fame in the early 1900’s for exploring parts of the Amazon rain forest of South America. Fawcett’s fame was reignited earlier this year with the release of The Lost City of Z, a film about Fawcett’s intriguing adventures.

Ekka Time in Australia

This week in Brisbane, a city in Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland, many thousands of people are crowding into the Queensland Ekka, an event officially known as the Royal Queensland Show.

Mythic Monday: the Alluring Nymphs

Nymphs, in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, were minor goddesses or semidivine beings represented as lovely maidens. The word nymphcomes from Greek and Latin words describing a young girl of marriageable age, or a young bride.

Undersea Light Deception

​In order to survive, many animals have undergone some incredibly unique adaptations. The ability to change colors is fairly common in the animal world, as is the development of dazzling or dull colors for camouflage. But a rare few critters use light itself to deceive or even not to be seen at all. In the dark depths of the oceans, the smallest traces of light can illuminate a hungry fish’s potential dinner. For the hunted, then, it is better not to reflect light at all, and become nearly invisible, or to create or bend light so as to appear as something else.

Questioning Herbicide Safety

​In June 2017, the state of California classified glyphosate, the most widely used herbicidal chemical in the world, as a known carcinogen(cancer-causing substance). In the early 1970’s, organic chemist John E. Franz discovered the plant-killing chemical compound while working for the Monsanto Company, a leading chemical maker in the United States.

Australia’s Ancient Origins

New excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia, have provided evidence that humans first arrived there around 65,000 years ago. That date, based on sophisticated modern dating methods, pushes back the earliest physical evidence for human occupation in Australia by at least 15,000 years. The discovery is forcing scientists to reevaluate some common theories about the ancestors of today’s Aboriginal people of Australia.

Mythic Monday: the Minotaur of Crete

​The star of this week’s Mythic Monday is the Minotaur, a fearsome monster from Greek mythology that was half man and half bull. The Minotaur was the oversized offspring of a bull and a woman named Pasiphae.

BCI: Mind over Movement

Today, a new interface looms on the horizon: brain-computer interface(BCI) (sometimes called brain-machine interface, or BMI). BCI technology creates a pathway from the user’s brain to a computer or other device, allowing direct thought communication.

Gerda Taro 80: Killed on Assignment

​Eighty years ago today, German photographer Gerda Taro was killed covering the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Taro, a close friend and colleague of famed photographer Robert Capa, was the first woman war correspondent killed on assignment. She died during the Battle of Brunete on July 26, 1937, just a few days before her 27th birthday.

Mythic Monday: Marduk of Babylon

This week’s Mythic Monday stars the great god Marduk, a major figure in ancient Babylonian mythology. He was the son of the god Ea, the Babylonian name for Enki, the Sumerian god of wisdom.

London’s Grenfell Tragedy

​Last month, on June 14, a fire destroyed much of Grenfell Tower, a 24-story apartment building in London, England. The fire, which took place in the city’s Kensington district, killed at least 80 people—the deadliest fire in London since World War II (1939-1945).

Iraq’s Battle of Mosul

​On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory for government forces in their bloody battle with Islamic State militants for possession of the northern city of Mosul.

Coltrane 50: The Last Giant Steps

​Yesterday, July 17, marked the 50th anniversary of the death of jazz legend John Coltrane. Known for his searing saxophone solos and sometimes shocking originality, Coltrane is regarded as one of the finest artists in the history of jazz.

Baseball’s Midsummer Classic

On Tuesday night, July 11, the American League (AL) edged the National League (NL) 2-1 to win the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. I

Ice Memory: A Glacier Archive

​Last month, in June, an international team of researchers and scientists braved heavy snows, freezing winds, and thin air to extract ice core samples from the Illimani glacier high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. The samples were the latest collected by teams from Ice Memory, a project aiming to gather ice samples from endangered glaciers around the world.

Hot Dog, It’s July!

Did you know that Americans eat an estimated 150 million hot dogs over the 4th of July holiday? In the United States, July is National Hot Dog Month.

Djibouti at 40

​On June 27, 1977, forty years ago today, in a hot, dusty corner of northeastern Africa, the French Territory of the Afars and Issas became the independent nation of Djibouti. The Afars and the Issas—two traditionally nomadic ethnic groups—make up most of Djibouti’s population of nearly 1 million people. Djibouti gained independence in 1977 from France, which had controlled the Djibouti area since the 1880’s.

Mythic Monday: Vigilant Juno

​Juno was the most powerful goddess of ancient Roman mythology. She was married to Jupiter, the king of the gods, and she was the queen. The Romans considered Juno a protector who would warn them of danger to their empire.

Canada’s Oldest: Banff National Park

One hundred and thirty years ago today, on June 23, 1887, the Canadian government established Rocky Mountains Park as Canada’s first official national park. Known now as Banff National Park, the park’s spectacular scenery has long made it one of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions.

Astana Expo 2017

On June 10, the Expo 2017 international exhibition opened in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, a country in west-central Asia. Expo 2017—like so many exhibitions and fairs before it—is a celebration of international commerce, industry, and science. The theme for Expo 2017 is “Future Energy,” concentrating on clean energy innovations as well as creative ideas for the future.


Yesterday, June 19, was Juneteenth, a festival held in many African American and other communities to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The name of the festival refers to the date, June 19—the day the last slaves were freed in the southern state of Texas in 1865.

National Caribbean American Heritage Month

​June is the sixth month of the year, a month that welcomes summer, weddings, and LGBT Pride. June is known for barbecues, baseball, and blossoming flowers. The month includes Independence Day in the Philippines, Father’s Day, Juneteenth, and Midsummer’s Day. In the United States, June is also National Caribbean American Heritage Month. The month recognizes the contributions of Caribbean Americans and celebrates their diverse heritage, languages, and cultures.

Naledi of the Rising Star

​Recent studies show that Homo naledi, an intriguing species of prehistoric humans, may have lived far more recently than previously believed. Paleoanthropologists (scientists who study human evolution) say that H. naledi, a primitive hominin (human ancestor) known from a collection of fossils discovered at the Rising Star cave system in South Africa, may have lived at the same time and in the same region as more advanced prehistoric humans.

JFK 100

​On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, events across the United States marked the 100th birthday of former President John F. Kennedy (widely known by his initials, JFK). Kennedy served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his death in 1963. Many Americans saw JFK’s election and brief time in office—often idealized as “Camelot”—as an inspiring national renewal.

A New Champ in Indianapolis

​On Sunday, May 28, 40-year-old Takuma Sato became the first Japaneserace car driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Sato, a Tokyo-born veteran Formula One driver, took the checkered flag just 0.2011 seconds—faster than the blink of an eye—ahead of three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Hélio Castroneves, who made repeated attempts to pass Sato in the race’s closing laps.

Golden Gate Bridge at 80

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 27, is the 80th anniversary of the opening of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge connecting San Francisco with Marin County, California. One of the largest and most spectacular suspension bridges in the world, it spans the Golden Gate Strait at the entrance of San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1937, and thousands of people took in the spectacular views as they crossed the bridge on that first day.

Star Wars Turns 40

Forty years ago today, on May 25, 1977, an exhilarating sci-fi space Western called Star Wars was released for the first time in 43 locations across the United States. Star Wars, made for a modest $11 million, dazzled audiences, and the film soon gained wide release as the story that took place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” captured the country’s—and the world’s—collective imagination.

The Last Greatest Show on Earth

​On Sunday, May 21, the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave its final performance at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The grand finale of the traveling circus, long billed as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” came after years of evolving cultural tastes, declining revenues, and increasing costs.

Mythic Monday: Ghastly Gorgons

​This week’s mythological figures are monstrous creatures called Gorgons. The Gorgons were so ugly that anyone who looked at them would turn to stone. Medusa and her two sisters made up the Gorgons of Greek mythology

A New Twist on the Naked Mole-Rat

Naked mole-rats may not rank highly on the cute scale, but they are certainly one of the world’s most bizarre and uniquely adapted animals. The naked mole-rat is a mammal, and the vast majority of mammals are warm-blooded. However, naked mole-rats belong to a special group of cold-blooded mammals (along with the platypus and other rare oddities).

Glacier Park Losing its Glaciers

​Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana may soon be without any of its trademark glaciers. Many of the park’s largest glaciers have lost much of their former size in the last 50 years, according to surveys published by the United States Geological Service (USGS) and Portland State University in Oregon.