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.
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.
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.
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.
Scientists, never satisfied with the current number of known frogs in the world, have added two new species of toads to the ever-growing list. These new toads, native to Indonesia, have DNA so different from other toads that scientists went a step further and gave them their own genus, Sigalegalephrynus. When classifying living things, a genus (a group of related animals or plants) ranks below a family or subfamily and above a species.
Australia’s rare ruby seadragon has recently been seen alive for the first time. Because of rough sea conditions, a team of researchers had just one day to find the elusive “monster” off the coast of southern Australia. The ruby seadragon lives in waters too deep for human divers, so the team used a remote-controlled submersible (undersea vessel) to scour the murky sea bottom.
Flash! Flash! Flash! No, it’s not photographers following around Hollywood stars. It’s a new species of frog that flashes in a different kind of way, with a showy display to ward off attackers.
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.
Halloween trick-or-treaters in the forested Pine Barrens region of New Jersey should be watchful tonight. A beast known as the Jersey Devil is said to roam the area. This monster is commonly described as a creature somewhat resembling a small horse or goat with clawed hooves, batlike wings, fangs, red glowing eyes, and a forked tail.
It haunts caves, crevices, and tunnels by day, emerging only at night to look for victims. You probably would not hear it flying above your head, but you might catch a glimpse of its whitish fur flashing in the moonlight… It is the ghastly ghost bat of Australia.
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?
The aptly named megamouth shark looks every bit the monstrous man-eater. This enigmatic shark typically grows over 20 feet (4 meters) long and has 50 rows of teeth lining massive, all-swallowing jaws.
Photo: Crazy antCredit: © Brberrys, Shutterstock Everyone knows how annoying ants can be, particularly when they invade our homes or picnics. Imagine, however, relentless swarms of ants so...
Vampire Squid. Photo Credit: © Steve Downer, ardea.com/Pantheon According to legend, vampires have the ability to transform into bats. Could it be that some of them actually turn into spooky, glowing...