Your favorite science stories: 10 top blog posts from 2016

camera-trap photo of African leopard, Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania

African leopard, a near threatened species, caught on film by a camera trap in Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains. Photo courtesy of Museo delle Scienze (Trento Museum of Science).

Covering topics from mangrove ecology to the world’s largest fish, many of Human Nature’s most popular blog posts of the year revealed our readers’ fascination with cutting-edge science.

  1. 6 things you need to know about mangroves (but never thought to ask)

Find out how your coconut shrimp appetizer may be contributing to the loss of coastal mangrove forests — and why these ecosystems are so critical to protect.

  1. Off Hawai‘i’s coast, an unexplored undersea mountain reveals its secrets

Fresh off a submersible dive into one of Hawai‘i’s unexplored seamounts (underwater mountains), two of Conservation International’s (CI) lead scientists discuss — and share video — of their discoveries.

  1. What on Earth is ‘natural capital’?

In Human Nature’s new explainer series “What on Earth?” we look to make sense of environmental jargon. In this installment, we break down “natural capital,” a concept that could revolutionize the way nature is protected.

  1. 5 things you might not know about the sky

Did you know if you could drive your car straight up at highway speed, you’d leave the Earth’s atmosphere and enter space in just over an hour? Discover other facts about the protective bubble that surrounds our planet.

  1. DNA test confirms presence of cave giants in Europe

In the flooded caves of the Balkan Peninsula, aquatic giants can survive in near-darkness for up to a century — if they’re not taken out by one of their own kind.

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  1. 4 things we’ve learned from tracking the world’s largest fish

Last year we started a ground-breaking new whale shark satellite tagging program in eastern Indonesia’s Cendrawasih Bay. Here are some of our early findings from tracking the daily lives of “Sharky McSharkface” and other whale sharks — research that is challenging what we thought we knew about these mysterious animals.

  1. Wildlife loss in tropical forests is bad news — and not just for animals

CI’s Dr. Jorge Ahumada takes on a question he gets often in his work aggregating camera-trap data from around the world: “Why does it matter if tapirs in Ecuador or chimps in Uganda are declining? Why should I care?”

  1. Recent findings illuminate dark world of ‘demon whale-biters’

Researchers in South Africa are turning to the distinctive wounds inflicted by the cookie-cutter shark as a new tool to understand the habits of the deep-sea shark, as well as its prey.

  1. Fishing ban in remote Pacific waters is working, report finds

A year after Kiribati’s Phoenix Islands Protected Area was declared off-limits to all commercial fishing, the ban appears to be effective at keeping fishing boats out of the park. How do we know? The proof is in the pictures.

  1. 5 rainforest species that could save your life

From disease-curing sloths to plastic-eating fungi, the world’s rainforests are full of species providing valuable insights into medical and other problems plaguing humans — and who knows what else they could be hiding?

Since CI was founded nearly 30 years ago, science has been at the core of our work. In 2017, we will continue to uphold our standards for scientific rigor and expand research on critical issues concerning the health of the planet on which we all depend. We look forward to sharing the results with you.

Molly Bergen is the senior managing editor of Human Nature. 

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