Biology Oceanography Zoology 

Search for the Unicorn—Slightly Off-Center

In medieval times, the narwhal tusk was bought and sold as a “unicorn horn.” It is actually a very long tooth, but it is still very cool. By Mark Lasbury, PhD Zootopia opened in movie theaters on March 4, 2016. Among all the animals featured in this feature, you probably recall a few sporting horns. But did you happen to spot any unicorns? Mythical Unicorns The earliest writings that describe unicorns were those of the Greek writer Ctesias, in the late fifth century BCE. He described the Indian ass, an…

Artist's impression of sabertooth cats hunting mammoths (Mauricio Anton). Environment Paleontology Zoology 

Large Hunters Dominated the Pleistocene

For years, evolutionary biologists have wondered about the ecosystems of the Pleistocene epoch. How did so many species of huge, hungry herbivores, such as mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths, not wipe out the plant life? Observations of modern elephants suggest that large concentrations of those animals could have essentially destroyed the environment, but they didn’t. Now, life scientists believe that the ecosystem was kept in balance by predatory carnivores that kept the population of large herbivores in check. Scientists have found fossil evidence of intense, violent attacks by packs…

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