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The Q? Blog

Smithsonian Science How?

The red paper lantern jellyfish, a strikingly beautiful animal in the web of midwater ocean life. Photo by Karen Osborn, Smithsonian Institution.
by Devin Reese -- Mar 16, 2015

When we think about the ocean, we may visualize sea turtles swimming around coral reefs, sea urchins anchored in tidepools, dolphins breaching the...

Scientists finding a meteorite in Antarctica. Photo by Katherine Joy, University of Manchester, Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program.
by Devin Reese -- May 31, 2016

Who would think that a rock found in remote, freezing Antarctica, could be useful for studying Mars? In fact, teams of geologists congregate in...

Front view of a trap-jaw spider head (family Mecysmaucheniidae) showing pinching mouthparts that snap shut to capture prey the same size or even larger than itself. Photo by Hannah Wood, Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- Dec 8, 2016

What sort of spider can capture its prey without a web? We think of spiders as web-makers, but about half of all known spider species do not make...

Can you see any differences between these millimeter-long male and female ostracodes (tiny ocean animals)? Microscope photos of fossil ostracodes by Gene Hunt, Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- Jan 23, 2017

In the animal kingdom, sexual reproduction is the rule, even for tiny ocean animals such as ...

A broken, fossil tyrannosaurid dinosaur tooth found on the ground in the Judith River Formation in Montana. Smithsonian photo by Michelle Pinsdorf.
by Devin Reese -- Feb 14, 2017

A fossil, if you think about it, has not shown its best face in a long time, maybe never. It has spent millions of years embedded in rock, ice,...

A robber fly, Microstylum morosu, with the facial bristles, or mytax (“moustache” in Greek), visible.  Photo by Eric Isley via iNaturalist, CC-BY-NC.
by Devin Reese -- Mar 16, 2017

What animal has been witnessed snatching a bee from mid-air, stabbing it with a sharp tool, and sucking out its insides? An assassin fly is the...

Keeled Ramshorn snail (Planorbis carinatus) that lives in rivers and lakes in Europe. Photo by Gerhard Falkner.
by Devin Reese -- Apr 26, 2017

Both kayakers and river snails are animals who rely on freshwater. While for a kayaker, it’s for recreation, for a snail it’s about livelihood....

Alberto Javier Reyes García, biologist at the National Herbarium in Mexico (MEXU), collecting plants in the Zapotec community of La Ventosa, Oaxaca, Mexico as part of Smithsonian-led research. Photo by Gibrán Morales Carranza.
by Devin Reese -- May 10, 2017

Every sentence we speak reveals something about...

Ghost-like octopod of an unknown species discovered on the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean more than 4,000 meters down during a research cruise. Photo from NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016.
by Devin Reese -- May 31, 2017

Most familiar “octopods” (general term for octopuses and their close relatives)...

Pickled parasites in the vast collections of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which are now managed by the Smithsonian.
by Devin Reese -- May 3, 2016

Who would keep a collection of parasites? Believe it or not, the United States government has been collecting parasites for a hundred years. The...