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2021 Year in Review: Amazing Animal Stories

To recap 2021, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year.
Today we’re looking at some amazing stories from the world of animals.

A Few “Genius” Dogs Can Learn Words Quickly

Whisky among his toys
Scientists in Hungary have learned that though most dogs have trouble learning new words, some talented dogs can learn new words without really being taught. They just have to hear the word four times.

Scientists May Have Found World’s Tiniest Reptile

Male Nano-Chameleon (Brookesia nana) perched on a fingertip, nail showing.
Scientists have discovered a tiny chameleon from Madagascar that may be the world’s smallest reptile. The chameleon is small enough to easily sit on a fingertip. Only two have ever been spotted – one male and one female.

Elizabeth Ann – an Endangered Ferret Is Cloned

Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret and first-ever cloned U.S. endangered species, at 50-days old.
Scientists have created a healthy clone of a black-footed ferret by using DNA from a ferret that died over 30 years ago. They hope the cloned animal will improve the chances of survival for these endangered ferrets.

World’s Oldest Wild Bird Hatches Chick at 70

Wisdom with her chick in February 2021. February 5.
The world’s oldest known wild bird is a 70-year-old albatross named Wisdom, who is still surprising scientists. Since last fall, she and her mate have been sitting on an egg. Last month, their chick hatched.

Eastern US Expecting Billions of Cicadas

17-year periodical cicada in Louisville, Kentucky in May, 2021.
Something unusual is happening in the eastern United States: insects that have been underground for 17 years are coming out in great numbers, mating, and making lots of noise. In a few weeks, they’ll disappear for another 17 years.

NOT Extinct: Fernandina Tortoise, Giant River Otter

Wild giant river otter discovered in Argentina in May, 2021 after having been thought extinct in the country since the 1980s.
Recently, scientists have found examples of two kinds of animals that were thought to be extinct. One is a kind of tortoise last seen in 1906, the other is a river otter that scientists thought no longer existed in Argentina.

Whale News: Smaller, Lost, and Found

A photo illustration compares the body lengths of North Atlantic right whales, including two stunted whales born in 2006 and 2011. The dotted lines show the expected length of right whales of the same age if they had been born in 1981 with no history of entanglements, or entanglements of their mothers. Scarring from an entanglement is visible near the tail in D, an 11-year-old right whale. The whales were photographed from crewed aircraft in earlier years and, later, by drone.
Today NFK looks at three recent stories about whales. Endangered Atlantic right whales are shrinking in size; an endangered Pacific gray whale makes a record-setting trip; and scientists use bomb detectors to find an unknown group of pygmy blue whales.

Elephant Trunks – Amazing and Surprising Tools

Elephant picking up a tortilla chip with it's trunk.
A group of scientists at Georgia Tech University recently studied the ways that elephants use sucking power when eating. Along the way, the scientists learned a number of other surprising things elephants can do with their trunks.

Kunming Meeting Tackles Biodiversity Problems

Biodiversity Pyramid with the 3 pillars - Ecosystem Biodiversity, Species Biodiversity, and Genetic Biodiversity - interwoven.
People representing over 100 countries met in Kunming, China last week to discuss how to protect all the different kinds of living things on our planet – Earth’s “biodiversity”. Many scientists say biodiversity loss is as big a problem as the climate crisis.

30 White Rhinos Moved From South Africa to Rwanda

Tranquilized rhino gently guided to crates, Phinda.
Last Saturday, 30 white rhinos were loaded into an airplane in South Africa and flown to their new home in Rwanda. The organizers of the move hope the rhinos will be able to settle in the new area, and that their numbers will grow.



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