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Christopher Intagliata

Updated July 27, 2021 at 4:10 PM ET

When you think of Australia, it's hard to not immediately think of its eclectic animals. You know the ones: jacked kangaroos, tarantulas, the inland taipan. But one bird that deserves more attention is the cockatoo.

"They're quite raucous...They're flamboyant. There's nothing quiet about them," Richard Major, a bird ecologist, says. "They're really in your face and they're just full of life and mischief."

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Jaimi Butler is a lifelong Utahan. She grew up near the Great Salt Lake.

JAIMI BUTLER: Great Salt Lake is a weird place. And it's smelly, and it is one of the buggiest places on the face of the earth.

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Beneath the pine and birch forest of northern Germany lies Unicorn Cave, named for the bones found by medieval treasure hunters.

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Dinosaurs are often depicted as large beasts roaming through tropical forests or across hot deserts — and the humid jungle of Jurassic Park may have gone a long way to solidify those images.

But a study out today in the journal Current Biology contradicts those ideas. It suggests that these creatures also lived year-round in what's now northern Alaska, where they endured freezing winters, snow, and months of darkness.

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Beer.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEER POURING)

SHAPIRO: That sound can mean summer, picnics, barbecues, concerts, and now researchers have found that the sound a beer makes as you open it and pour it can influence our perception of its quality.

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Simone Biles, already the most decorated gymnast in history, has surpassed expectations again. On Saturday, she performed a move considered so dangerous that no other woman has ever attempted it in competition.

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This story is part of an NPR series, We Hold These Truths, on American democracy.

Last summer, DonnaLee Norrington had a dream about owning a home. Not the figurative kind, but a literal dream, as she slept in the rental studio apartment in South Los Angeles that she was sharing with a friend.

At around 2 a.m., Norrington remembers, "God said to me, 'Why don't you get a mortgage that doesn't move?' And in my head I knew that meant a fixed mortgage."

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A recent study of mummified parrots found in a high-altitude desert region in South America suggests to researchers that, as far back as some 900 years ago, people went to arduous lengths to transport the prized birds across vast and complex trade routes.

The remains of more than two dozen scarlet macaws and Amazon parrots were found at five different sites in northern Chile's arid Atacama Desert — far from their home in the Amazon rainforest.

So how did they get there?

Scientists are inching one step closer toward redefining the length of a second.

To do that, they're using atomic clocks.

Atomic clocks, which look like a jumble of lasers and wires, work by tapping into the natural oscillation of atoms, with each atom "ticking" at a different speed.

Modern conveniences including cellphones, the Internet and GPS are all made possible through the ticking of atomic clocks.

Penguins are known for huddling on Antarctic ice, or marching across windswept expanses of the frozen continent. But there are at least 18 species of penguins populating the Southern Hemisphere — and many don't fit that frigid stereotype.

There are actually only two species of penguin that really love ice, says Grant Ballard, chief science officer of Point Blue Conservation Science in Petaluma, Calif. Other species, like the Galapagos penguin, perch on dark volcanic rock, and can endure blasting hot air temperatures of 100 degrees.

Everyone Needs A Buddy. Even Sharks

Aug 13, 2020

Sharks are often maligned as Hollywood monsters, the lone wolves lurking in the deep, hunting for prey. (Cue Jaws theme song).

But that caricature of sharks is increasingly out of step with what scientists are learning about the animals. Instead, they say, some species of sharks are social creatures who return day after day to a group of the same fellow sharks.

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Oil spills are often sopped up with synthetic, spongy materials, but researchers are looking to nature for more sustainable alternatives. NPR's Christopher Intagliata has more.