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New Scientist The Collection

New Scientist The Collection Wild Planet

New Scientist covers discoveries and ideas in science and technology that will change your life and the way you understand the world. New Scientist employs and commissions the best writers in their fields to provide in-depth but accessible coverage of the developments that matter. New Scientist: The Collection is a themed compilation of recent articles and special reports from our back catalogue, providing a book-length examination of some of the deepest questions known to humanity.

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United Kingdom
New Scientist Ltd
Back issues only

in this issue

2 min.
wild things

Life on Earth, Charles Darwin wrote in On the Origin of Species, is full of “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful”. Anyone who has visited a rainforest, a coral reef or even an English meadow knows what he was talking about. Life is dazzling, fecund, diverse and yet fragile. Earth is the only planet we know where it exists, and we are right to exult in it. This issue of New Scientist: The Collection is dedicated to Earth’s stunning, fascinating and most fragile wildlife. From the tropics to the poles, the depths of the oceans to the peaks of the Himalayas, life is everywhere. In these pages you’ll encounter the most interesting organisms the planet has to offer complemented with stunning wildlife photography. We begin, in Chapter 1, with our own…

1 min.
tough nut to crack

CRACKING this nut will take strength, skill and a grasp of physics – and the capuchin is equal to the task. The monkeys choose nuts that are easiest to split. An individual finds a groove in a log where one fits snugly, placing the flattest surface of the nut face down so that it’s stable. Then it chooses a heavy stone, raises it above its head and hammers the nut with force. The behaviour is considered one of the most complex forms of tool use by non-human species, putting the capuchin on a par with chimpanzees. This alpha male, weighing 4.2 kilograms, is using a 3.5 kilogram stone to break into a piassava nut in Fazenda Boa Vista, Brazil. He was photographed by Luca Antonio Marino, a biology student at Roma Tre University in…

9 min.
wolves at the door (and bears, and lynx)

NOBODY will ever know why Slavc abandoned his family. But in the winter of 2011, the young male wolf left his home territory and began an epic trek. He had spent the first years of his life meandering through the forests of southern Slovenia, occasionally straying into Croatia. Then, as Christmas approached, he struck out towards the north, alone. Slavc was one of an estimated 4000 wolves living on the Balkan peninsula of southeastern Europe, a continent not usually known for its big, fierce predators. Twenty years ago that was quite right, but no longer. Europe – the most urbanised, industrialised and farmed continent on Earth – is now home to some 12,000 wolves, 17,000 brown bears and 9000 Eurasian lynx. To put that in perspective, there are as few as…

1 min.
know your wild beasts

EURASIAN LYNX (Lynx lynx) A medium-sized cat distributed patchily across Eurasia from the western Alps to Siberia. Adult males are about the size of a golden retriever. Not to be confused with the critically endangered Iberian lynx, which is confined to southern Spain. Danger to humans? No. Best place to see: A zoo. In the wild the best you can realistically hope for is to see tracks in the snow. EURASIAN BROWN BEAR (Ursus arctos arctos) Europe’s largest native carnivore, though it eats fruit, nuts, vegetables and honey as well as meat. An adult male can weigh up to 320 kilograms. Danger to humans? Yes. Attacks are rare but do happen, mostly in Romania. Best place to see: Eastern Finland, close to the Russian border, where close-up views are possible in special bear hides. EURASIAN WOLF (Canis lupus…

5 min.
the rarest of them all

“A male appeared in the treetops, then a female with a baby: a new social group” IN TINY villages, home to Li and Miao communities, the tattooed old folk still tell stories about gibbons. Stories about the pair of orphans driven out by an evil stepmother, who hid in the trees and turned into apes; or the bet between the gibbon and the earthworm over who could climb the best. But very few of the storytellers have ever seen a gibbon. The tales are told on Hainan, China’s southernmost province, an island the size of Belgium in the South China Sea. Once a sleepy backwater, it is now a top tourist destination, known for its white sand beaches and golf courses. It is also the last stand of the Hainan gibbon. Forget…

10 min.
pachyderm politics

”Matriarchs carry a treasure trove of crucial information and have a unique influence over their group” ELEANOR was nearly 50 when she collapsed and died. While African elephants can live up to 70 years, female life expectancy is just 22 in her group in Samburu, Kenya, and Eleanor was the oldest member of her family – the matriarch. This made her passing particularly significant. For almost a week after her death her carcass was visited not just by members of her immediate family, but by a succession of animals from four unrelated families. Elephants are mysteriously curious about death, a response perhaps heightened when a leader dies. It has long been clear that elephant groups rely on their elder stateswomen, but just how important these females are is only gradually becoming apparent.…