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.


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.

Shaking the Dino Family Tree

For decades, dinosaurs have been grouped into two broad categories: long-necked sauropods and meat-eating theropods (along with birds) in one group, and the remaining plant-eaters, such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Iguanodon, in the other. In March, a group led by Matthew G. Baron from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom challenged that view. They published their findings in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.

Australia’s Ancient Tracks

​For thousands of years, indigenous (native) people of Western Australia knew about giant ancient footprints along the shore of the Indian Ocean. But only recently have scientists learned about, and been able to study, the tracks, which were made by dinosaurs some 100 million years ago.

Revealing the Neandertal Diet

Hard gunk stuck in the teeth of fossil Neandertal jaws shows that the prehistoric human beings had a widely varied diet and a sophisticated knowledge of medicinal plants.

South Australia’s Ancient Warratyi

A brief call of nature recently led an Aboriginal man to discover a site preserving some of the oldest known evidence of human settlement in Australia. Clifford Coulthard, an Adnyamathanha elder, stumbled across a rock shelter during a brief bathroom break while surveying in the northern Flinders Range with archaeologist Giles Hamm of La Trobe University in Melbourne.

A Dinosaur in Its Own Image

When you see models or illustrations of dinosaurs, have you ever wondered how accurate they are? Bones, skin impressions, and tracks can tell scientists and artists a great deal about the shape, size, and movements of these animals, but how do people know what color patterns the beasts adopted?

Monster Monday: Gigantopithecus

Standing at a whopping 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighing more than 900 pounds (400 kilograms), Gigantopithecus was about twice the size of a large male gorilla, making it the largest ape that ever lived.Gigantopithecus walked on its hands and fists, like today’s great apes, and roamed the tropical forests of what are now southern China, northern Vietnam, and northern India.

Monkey Stone Age

​Monkeys in the Amazon rain forest likely entered their own Stone Agemore than 700 years ago, according to scientists investigating a fascinating site at Serra da Capivara National Park in northeastern Brazil.

Ancient Wings in Amber

​Late last month, paleontologists (scientists who study fossils) announced an amazing discovery. Researchers led by Lida Xing at the ChinaUniversity of Geosciences in Beijing had discovered two bird wings preserved in amber. They published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Monster Monday: Armadillos of Unusual Size

Learn about the humble armadillo's prehistoric cousin—the glyptodont. While modern armadillos range in length from about 6 inches to 5 feet (15 centimeters to 1.5 meters), some species of glyptodont grew to over 10 feet (3 meters) long, the size of a small car.