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February 2002 Archive

People have long fled to the mountains in search of fresh air and tranquility. But a "health check-up" of the world's mountains by the United Nations has found that many mountain ranges themselves are in dire need of relief from modern activities that are causing lasting environmental damage.

Archaeologist Charles Stanish is working in the remote highlands of Peru searching for lost temples of the Pukara, an ancient people that preceded the Inca by more than 2,500 years. National Geographic Today and Alex Chadwick of National Public Radio followed the expedition and shared the joy of discovery.

Over the last two decades, lucrative marketing, corporate, and TV contracts have put the Olympics on a sound financial footing but turned the event into a costly extravaganza. Now, many people say it's time to scale back and restore the original spirit of the games.

In Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote there was experimental proof that species-rich communities are more productive than ecosystems dominated by few species. Now, two biologists have identified a 19th-century garden in southeast England where they say the experiment was carried out.

In Bolivia, water seeping from abandoned mines in the Andes is polluting the main water supply of La Paz, the capital city. But a team of researchers is developing a low-cost way to neutralize the acidic, metal-laden water through a highly unusual filter: llama droppings.

Hawaii's state bird, a goose called the nene, is now endangered. Scientists working to learn more about it made a surprising discovery: The Hawaiian goose and its extinct cousins are descendents of Canada geese that moved to a more tropical environment thousands of years ago.

Japan kills hundreds of whales every year claiming that it's necessary for scientific study—a move that outrages many people around the world. Now, Australian scientists have developed a research method that will further contest the long-disputed practice.

More than two centuries after the famous expeditions of Captain James Cook and his companions aboard the Endeavor, a group of scholars is putting the travel diaries and related records of exploration online to make them widely accessible.

In response to their surroundings, moths and many other insects adopt wing patterns that enable them to evade predators. An experiment involving live blue jays and virtual moths shows how this method of camouflage evolves.

After several decades of inattention, malaria is once again raising alarm in medical circles around the world as cases reach epidemic proportions and growing drug resistance hampers treatment. What is being done to tackle the problem?

Given the present turmoil in the world, the founder and sponsor of the Kyoto Prizes—which recognize significant world achievements not covered by the Nobel Prize—said this week he may expand the awards program to encourage greater moral and spiritual advancement. Full story and photo gallery: 

In a process much like shuffling decks of cards, scientists at a biotechnology company have developed a way to produce bacteria that can crank out much higher levels of antibiotics considerably faster than through conventional methods.

Black Canyon gorge towering above the Gunnison River in Colorado was made a U.S. national park in 1999 because of its unique geology. The Park Service wants to remove upstream dams that have altered the river's historic flow, but residents of nearby communities fear it would lead to shortages of water for local uses.

In a lab study of a dozen cloned mice, Japanese scientists found that the animals appear to have had a shortened life span as a result of a deficiency in the immune system.

In Honor Killings, the creator of National Geographic's World Diary series Mick Davie takes viewers to Pakistan to examine the feudalistic practice of killing women who are deemed to have shamed their families. National Geographic News talks to the 27-year-old filmmaker/correspondent about his life and work on the world's frontlines.

British scientists have discovered the world's oldest fossilized vomit, believed to have come from a large Jurassic marine reptile related to land-dwelling dinosaurs 160 million years ago.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of women are murdered by their male relatives each year in the name of family "honor." A medieval custom still practiced in more than a dozen countries, honor killings are increasingly coming under the world spotlight as one of the vilest violations of human rights. National Geographic investigates.

British scientists have discovered the worlds oldest fossilized vomit, believed to have come from a large Jurassic marine reptile related to land-dwelling dinosaurs160 million years ago.

It's obvious that animals have developed certain physical advantages at the expense of others. A cheetah, for example, has traded off endurance for speed; a hyena is slow but can run far. Now scientists have found that humans may have evolved similarly. Athletes highly talented in one event usually fare poorer than average in others, while those who do relatively well in many events cannot excel in any one.

Courting snails fire "love darts" at one another in a mating procedure that may even have inspired the legend of Cupid, according to Canadian scientists. The exchange of darts between snails may be painful, however, and there is evidence that snails jostle to hit but not be hit.

Celebrate the glory of the Olympics, ancient and modern, in this gallery of images of the original field of dreams. Join correspondent Ford Cochran on a virtual tour of ancient Olympia, site of the first games, and on to Athens where the Olympics will return after more than a hundred years.

Forget Valentine's Day. Love is a battlefield. And in the bug world the battle of the sexes has led to an evolutionary arms race—and the weapons to fend off unwanted suitors are getting nasty.

National Geographic Today correspondent Peter Standring travels to Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, to spend time with primatologist Jane Goodall. Gombe has been "home" to Goodall for 40 years and it is the place where her lifelong work and relationship with chimpanzees began.

Scientists in Texas have successfully cloned a cat, opening the way to replicating pets and other valued animals once the technique is perfected.

An international consortium of research institutes, relief and development organizations, universities, and aid agencies have joined to focus a multimillion dollar effort to rebuild Afghanistan's agricultural industry. With Photo gallery.

Robert Young Pelton has traveled around the world visiting war zones and meeting rebel leaders. He returned from Afghanistan in December after spending a month traveling with the U.S. Special Forces, and General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former commander in the Northern Alliance and deputy defense minister in the interim government. He discusses his experiences with National Geographic News.

The horrors unleashed by the recent eruption of Congo's Mount Nyiragongo have demonstrated once again our uneasy relationship with the fires that rage below Earth's surface. Now a husband-and-wife team are investigating a long-held theory that the moon may be a key in predicting volcanic activity.

One after another, the new dinosaur discoveries that Paul Sereno and his colleagues have made over the past decade are remarkable. But thrilling as they are individually, the fossils also excite Sereno because they are helping to fill in the big picture of dinosaur evolution.

The selection of the snowshoe hare, the coyote, and the black bear as this Winter Olympics' mascots has provided wildlife conservationists with an opportunity to raise public awareness of the killing of tens of thousands of these animals each year in predator-control programs.

Forget Starship Troopers and steely-eyed astronauts—the right stuff for spaceship travel to faraway solar systems is more likely to be a family affair conducted by mom, dad, the kids, kinfolk, and generations to come, says a University of Florida anthropologist.

Circumcising young girls is a practice that dates back beyond anyone's memory in Kenya. Even though the Kenyan government recently banned the practice, parents are still risking jail terms and heavy fines to put their daughters through this rite of passage.

When John Glenn launched his historic journey into space 40 years ago aboard Friendship 7, National Geographic photographers, writers, and editors were on the scene. Now, on the anniversary of the flight, a time line based on records from the Society's archives re-creates the event.

A team of bird experts just spent 30 days combing an area of southeast Louisiana in the hope of finding the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was thought to be extinct until it apparently was sighted three years ago. The signs were encouraging, offering hope that the bird still exists.

Any trip that humans might make into deep space in the foreseeable future would be very slow going—several hundred years for a round trip. This multi-generational aspect raises some interesting questions about crew selection, according to an anthropologist who has been thinking about the issue.

Imagine driving down a highway at 85 mph, then opening the door and sticking your head out so it nearly skims the asphalt. That's how one "slider" describes skeleton, a sport that last appeared in the Olympics more than 50 years ago—and has now returned as the Games' ultimate thrill ride.

For rower Jill Fredston, rowing in Arctic and sub-Arctic waterways for several months every summer isn't an adventure but "a way of life." Describing her experience in a new book, she reflects on wild places and what they mean to people.

The new east span of San Francisco's Bay Bridge is a study in superlatives. Building it will take 100,000 tons of steel and 67,000 workers, making it the largest ongoing bridge project in the Western Hemisphere. Most important to motorists, it has many advanced features designed to minimize damage from a major earthquake.

Dinosaurs may not have been killed off by asteroid impact dust blocking out sunlight, a geologist says. Instead, the mass extinction associated with an asteroid impact 65 million years ago might have been caused by soot from global wildfires or sulfuric acid clouds that were a consequence of the collision. The difference is important in forecasting the effects of future impacts.

Dinosaurs are associated with images of steamy swamps and hot, humid conditions. But a growing body of knowledge of a group of dinosaurs that thrived in the Earth's polar regions, which even 65 million years ago may have been significantly cooler than lower latitudes, offers clues to how the reptiles may have adapted to the cold.

Consumer demand for fish is soaring as well-established fisheries are becoming exhausted. So fishing fleets are venturing into farther reaches of the ocean, aided by an armament of high-tech gear that includes technologies developed for the Cold War. With no place to hide and breed, deep-water fish have declined precipitously, scientists warn.

The use of cold war military technologies—sonar, satellite data and the Global Positioning System (GPS)—for fishing has led to an unprecedented decline in fish stocks worldwide, according to a study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.

The well-imagined nightmare in which a bloodthirsty Tyrannosaurus rex is chasing the family car through the desert as the children scream and the gas gauge hovers on empty is just that: a bad dream. According to calculations by two experts in biomechanics, T. rex was a slowpoke.

Europe will launch the world's biggest and most expensive environmental monitoring satellite from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana next week. Scientists say that the bus-size Envisat will give the planet a real health check, to diagnose its state of health and give a prognosis for the future.

The dodo, poster bird for species extinction, has a pitiful reputation as a stupendously overweight idiot of a bird that couldn't even fly. But scientific evidence is slowly correcting that impression. Its new rep: an evolutionary success, perfectly adapted to its living conditions, thin and relatively fast, but still an early victim to the spread of man.

As Black History month comes to an end, the movie Hart's War is raking open a deep wound inflicted by the United States on its black soldiers during the Second World War, when American heroes who risked everything for their country had fewer rights than Nazi prisoners of war.

A lively new book recounts the story of William Sheppard, a U.S. missionary at the end of the 19th century who was known as the "Black Livingstone" for his adventures in the Congo. His reports helped expose atrocities against native Congolese by the colonial regime. logo