Cool Science Stories of 2008


Under intense magnification, a long-fin squid’s suckers–each no wider than a human hair–resemble the leafy star of Little Shop of Horrors.



This one’s for Deanna:

Able to shoot cyanide, this millipede is tough enough to wear pink.  First documented in 2007, the shocking pink dragon millipede–yes, that’s its real name–is among more than a thousand new species found in the Greater Mekong region in the last ten years, WWF announced on December 15, 2008.


The bioluminescent species Taningia danae [squid] use their beaks and sharp claws to slice two-inch-deep (five-centimeter-deep) wounds into their partners. Sperm packets, or spermatophores, are then inserted into the female’s cuts using a penis-like appendage, according to Hoving.

Meanwhile, males of the species Moroteuthis ingens were found to have sperm packets that, once deposited onto a female, burrow into the body.

FEBRUARY: A massive prehistoric sea reptile that was longer than a humpback whale and had teeth the size of cucumbers has been found by fossil hunters on a remote Arctic island. (See pictures of the “sea monster.”) Measuring some 50 feet (15 meters) in length, the bone-crunching predator represents one of the largest marine reptiles ever known

NOVEMBER:  A mile and a half (two and a half kilometers) underwater, a remote control submersible’s camera has captured an eerie surprise: an alien-like, long-armed, and—strangest of all—”elbowed” Magnapinna squid


Homosexual behavior has been seen in many animals, including insects, penguins, and primates.  From an evolutionary perspective, why homosexuality exists at all is a mystery. In theory, males should focus their energies on reproducing with females. “We noticed that these male beetles spent quite a lot of time in this seemingly counterproductive behavior and wondered what was going on, so we set up some experiments to find out,”

MAY: “uncontacted” Amazon tribe fire arrows at an airplane above the rain forest



Captured in National Geographic News’s most viewed individual photo of 2008, Chile’s Chaiten volcano erupts on May 3 after 9,000 years of silence.