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.
Last month, in February, scientists published the DNA sequence of an invasive species of crustacean known as the marbled crayfish. The animal’s DNA sequence is unique, and the all-female crayfish species can reproduce without mating. The marbled crayfish, Procambarus virginalis, started as an aquarium species.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Human exploration of Mars is one of the primary long-term goals of such space agencies as the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). But before people get there, scientists must solve a host of problems. First among them will be how to feed astronauts during an extended stay in the harsh environment of the Red Planet.
In Canada’s Yukon territory, increased melting of the vast Kaskawulsh Glacier has caused the nearby Slims River to run dry. The Slims, once a gushing channel of glacial melt water, is now a waterless expanse of mud and dust.
After five years of exploration and study in the mountainous Western Ghats region of India, scientists have announced the discovery of seven new species (kinds) of frogs. Four of these new species are among the tiniest known frogs in the world, small enough to gather more than one on a 5-rupee coin (the rupee is the chief monetary unit of India).
Off the coast of Brazil, where the Amazon River spills into the Atlantic Ocean, scientists are taking the first up-close and personal look at the recently discovered Amazon Reef. Existence of the large coral reef was not confirmed until an oceanographic survey of the area in 2012. The survey’s findings were published in 2016, and in late January 2017, scientists began exploring the reef two-by-two in a small submarine, the exploration craft of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza.In the late 1950’s, a ship collected sponges—animals that often inhabit coral reefs—from the floor of the Amazon Delta.
For the first time in the continental United States, a wild bee has been designated as an endangered species In the past 20 years, the insect’s population has dropped 87 percent because of habitat loss, disease, pesticides, and climate change.
The Asian giant hornet is so large, it is sometimes mistaken for a small bird in flight. This big predator is equipped with piercing jaws, a quarter-inch-long (half-centimeter-long) stinger loaded with deadly venom(poison), and an aggressive disposition. It keeps beekeepers up at night and is responsible for the deaths of dozens of people each year.
Yesterday, November 7, officials from around the world gathered in Marrakech, Morocco, for the 2016 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, or COP22. COP22 is an acronym for the 22nd annual session of the Conference of the Parties. The meetings come on the heels of the Friday, November 4, entry into force of COP21’s Paris Climate Agreement. One hundred countries—including the two considered to be the greatest polluters, China and the United States—have ratified the agreement for nations to report their greenhouse gas emissions.
Under water, the box jellyfish is practically invisible. It is one of the most venomous animals on Earth. It kills more people each year than sharks do. At most, however, it weighs only about 4½ pounds (2 kilograms). This Monster Monday critter packs a lot of pain into a small package.
How do you eliminate pests or an invasive species (introduced species that spreads quickly and harms native wildlife)? These kinds of organisms can wreak havoc on native ecosystems—so much so, that they can cause native species to become endangered or even extinct in their own homeland. This is exactly what’s happening in New Zealand.
In the Serranía de la Macarena mountain range of south-centralColombia, a river sparkles and dazzles with such vivid colors that it is known alternatively as the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow”—even “the river that ran away from paradise.”
A sea spider is a terrifying beast. It has frighteningly long legs connected to a tiny body. It possesses no teeth or gaping jaws. Instead, it has a long tube called a proboscis, which it uses to suck the fluids out of its prey.
Once teetering on the brink of extinction, the rare island fox of California’s Channel Islands has made the quickest recovery yet for a North American mammal in the history of the Endangered Species Act.
On August 24, scientists from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that they had discovered an extrasolar (beyond our solar system) planet, or exoplanet, that may harbor conditions favorable to life.
Today, August 25, is the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior. It manages the approximately 400 areas of the National Park System.
Along the south coast of Western Australia two naturally pink lakes challenge that color representation. The pink lakes lie on the rugged coast near Esperance and on nearby Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago.
Last week, on July 26, the solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, completing the first-ever zero-fuel flight around Earth. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard flew the final leg from Cairo, Egypt, to Abu Dhabi’s Al-Bateen Executive Airport, a grueling 48½-hour journey buffeted by hot desert air-driven turbulence.
About the photo: When the North Pole has its greatest slant toward the sun, left, summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere and winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere. Credit: WORLD BOOK map Have...