When the ancestors of Darwin’s finches arrived on the Galápagos two million years ago, they gained access to a world of new morsels, untapped by other animals. In a relatively short period, 14 species of finches evolved, specializing in different diets through different beak shapes: short for crushing seeds, sharp for catching insects, long for probing cactus flowers and so on.
Researchers, academic officials and science policy makers are expressing alarm at President Trump’s order barring entry to the United States to people from certain predominantly Muslim countries, saying it could hinder research, affect recruitment of top scientists and dampen the free exchange of scientific ideas.
Humans are sometimes said to occupy a “pecking order,” but of course the term actually refers to chickens and other poultry. Mild pecking is normal behavior in the flock, employed by dominant birds (or “despots”) as a way to remind subordinates of their lower social position.
About 540 million years ago, our ancestors were insignificant creatures no more than a millimeter in size. They wriggled around in the sediments of shallow seas, gulped prey into their minuscule, baglike bodies and expelled the water through cone-shaped spouts around their mouths.
Large lumps scatter across a beach at the mouth of the Tokachi River on Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. They shine like diamonds beneath evening moon beams and glow like amber under a setting sun.
DANAKIL DEPRESSION, Ethiopia — In oppressively dry heat and a miasma of sulfur and chlorine, the rocky landscape sprouts patches of neon green and yellow that resemble oozing scrambled eggs. Near-boiling pools of acidic water bubble between odd formations of rocks and minerals: white beehive-shaped mounds of salt, yolk-colored lattices of sulfuric crust, purplish-red crumbles.
Over the decades, taste has drained out of supermarket tomatoes. Harry J. Klee, a professor of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida, thinks he can put it back in within a couple of years.
Bulldozers push around refuse. Machinery rumbles and beeps. Trucks barrel past. All the while, birds call out like flocks of screaming children. Welcome to the Brevard County Central Disposal Facility in Cocoa, Fla.