Christopher JoyceChristopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.
The remains of a tree are seen in front of a boulder in the Dome Wilderness area of New Mexico in August 2012. The Las Conchas Fire torched the land in 2011, burning through more than 150,000 acres of forest.
An out-of-control natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico continued to burn Wednesday after it blew out and caught fire. Beams supporting some of the "Hercules 265 jack-up rig" have collapsed.
U.S. Coast Guard via AP
Dead trees mark the path of the 2003 Winslow fire. Conservationists have considered the fire beneficial for the steppe habitat of the Centennial Valley. Smaller, contained fires like this one have been a crucial part of this ecosystem for thousands of years.
John W. Poole/NPR
Mind The Teeth: Fossils indicate that Tyrannosaurus rex was an active hunter, in addition to being a scavenger. And in Jurassic Park, it also had a sweet tooth for lawyers.
Universal Pictures/Getty Images
A geothermal energy plant near the Salton Sea in California taps deep underground heat from the southern San Andreas Fault rift zone. A new study ties the amount of water pulled from the ground by the geothermal plant here to the frequency of earthquakes.
David McNew/Getty Images
The wide-open prairie of the Centennial Valley in southwestern Montana. Sage grouse living here could be placed on the endangered species list if its numbers and prairie habitat continue to decline.
John W. Poole/NPR
Nom Nom Nom: From left, a cast of teeth from a chimpanzee, Australopithecus afarensis and a modern human. We switched from an ape-like diet of fruits and leaves about 3.5 million years ago, according to fresh research. There's evidence that meat-eating came about a million years or so later.
William Kimbel/Institute of Human Origins
The four cuts at the top of this skull "are clear chops to the forehead," says Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley. Based on forensic evidence, researchers think the blows were made after the person died.
Donald E. Hurlbert/Smithsonian