Iceland’s government temporarily halted fin whale hunting after the country’s veterinary authority released a gruesome whale hunt video. Public opposition has increased in recent years, and experts say the ban could become permanent.
Scientists recorded wild orangutans producing both voiced and voiceless vocal patterns—a feat previously attributed mostly to songbirds and human beatboxers. Orangutans use two sounds at the same time before combat and as a warning to others of potential threats.
Archaeologists examined sediment in 2,700-year-old toilets in Jerusalem and found the oldest known traces of Giardia duodenalis, a pathogen that can cause the intestinal malady dysentery. Ancient texts hint at its existence, but these feces predate most other evidence by hundreds of years.
People have been preparing for El Niño’s floods for centuries. New research found millennia-old flood sediments in northern Peru that suggest ancient communities were aware of the intermittent weather pattern’s dangers and built walls to protect farmland.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai’s volcanic blast last year was the most powerful such event ever recorded in the modern era. Now scientists have released data showing that the subsequent ash plume also broke another record: the most extreme lightning storm known, with 192,000 flashes over 11 hours.
In urban landscapes, pollinating moths may be as important as bees. Researchers found that these insects carry more diverse pollen than bees do and visit just as many plants during parts of the summer—but scientists worry they may be even more vulnerable to urbanization.
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This article was originally published with the title “Quick Hits” in Scientific American 329, 2, 18 (September 2023)