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Elephantnose Fish, Gnathonemus petersii, Congo ullstein bild hide caption

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ullstein bild

The "shocking" tactic electric fish use to collectively sense the world

Neuroscientist Nathan Sawtell has spent a lot of time studying the electric elephantnose fish. These fish send and decipher weak electric signals, which Sawtell hopes will eventually help neuroscientists better understand how the brain filters sensory information about the outside world. As Sawtell has studied these electric critters, he's had a lingering question: why do they always seem to organize themselves in a particular orientation. At first, he couldn't figure out why, but a new study released this week in Nature may have an answer: the fish are creating an electrical network larger than any field a single fish can muster alone, and providing collective knowledge about potential dangers in the surrounding water.

The "shocking" tactic electric fish use to collectively sense the world

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Nearly 80 "leaplings" of all ages celebrated their leap day birthday on a Caribbean cruise in 2020. Organizers expect a similar turnout this year. Jason Bohn hide caption

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Jason Bohn

Leap for joy! The creative ways NPR listeners are marking Feb. 29

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A clock showing February 29, also known as leap day. They only happen about once every four years. Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images hide caption

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Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images

Why do we leap day? We remind you (so you can forget for another 4 years)

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A 3D model of a short section of the stone wall. The scale at the bottom of the image measures 50 cm. Photos by Philipp Hoy, University of Rostock; model created using Agisoft Metashape by J. Auer, LAKD M-V hide caption

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Photos by Philipp Hoy, University of Rostock; model created using Agisoft Metashape by J. Auer, LAKD M-V

Scientists scanning the seafloor discover a long-lost Stone Age 'megastructure'

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Julius Csotonyi

One woolly mammoth's journey at the end of the Ice Age

Lately, paleoecologist Audrey Rowe has been a bit preoccupied with a girl named Elma. That's because Elma is ... a woolly mammoth. And 14,000 years ago, when Elma was alive, her habitat in interior Alaska was rapidly changing. The Ice Age was coming to a close and human hunters were starting early settlements. Which leads to an intriguing question: Who, or what, killed her? In the search for answers, Audrey traces Elma's life and journey through — get this — a single tusk. Today, she shares her insights on what the mammoth extinction from thousands of years ago can teach us about megafauna extinctions today with guest host Nate Rott.

One woolly mammoth's journey at the end of the Ice Age

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Manny and Cayenne wrestle and kiss. LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

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LA Johnson/NPR

Manny loves Cayenne. Plus, 5 facts about queer animals for Valentine's Day

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These people are all answers. You're welcome. Amy Sussman, Eric Thayer, Amanda Edwards/Getty Images/Getty Images hide caption

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Amy Sussman, Eric Thayer, Amanda Edwards/Getty Images/Getty Images

It took Richard Plaud years, not to mention more than 700,000 matchsticks, to build his replica of the Eiffel Tower. The structure stands 7.19 meters, or a little taller than 23.5 feet. AGT/via Richard Plaud and @toureiffelallumettes/Screenshot by NPR hide caption

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AGT/via Richard Plaud and @toureiffelallumettes/Screenshot by NPR

Have a seat on my couch: When the beloved children's character Elmo asked people how they were doing, the responses came from far beyond Sesame Street. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Headspace hide caption

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Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Headspace

An invasion of big-headed ants has changed the landscape at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya. Elephants wander a landscape that has fewer trees and more open grasslands. Brandon Hays hide caption

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Brandon Hays

When tiny, invasive ants go marching in ... and alter an ecosystem

At the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a wildlife preserve in central Kenya, lions and cheetahs mingle with zebras and elephants across many miles of savannah – grasslands with "whistling thorn" acacia trees dotting the landscape here and there. Twenty years ago, the savanna was littered with them. Then came invasive big-headed ants that killed native ants — and left the acacia trees vulnerable. Over time, elephants have knocked down many of the trees. That has altered the landscape — and the diets of other animals in the local food web.

When tiny, invasive ants go marching in ... and alter an ecosystem

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Foul-mouthed parrots at an animal park in England have become an attraction in their own right — but staff still do their best to shield young visitors from the birds' profanities. Lincolnshire Wildlife Park hide caption

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Lincolnshire Wildlife Park

Hint: These are answer-adjacent. Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images; Jamie Squire/Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images hide caption

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Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images; Jamie Squire/Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Kelsey Hatcher, 32, delivered twins, Roxi and Rebel, on Dec. 19 and 20, in what's known as a dicavitary pregnancy delivery. Andrea Mabry/University of Alabama at Birmingham hide caption

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Andrea Mabry/University of Alabama at Birmingham

A vase purchased for $3.99 sold for more than $100,000 at auction

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