NPR has been taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of 2013. These 13 reflect the highs and lows of the year, from deadly wildfires and the war in Syria, to football stadiums and same-sex marriage.
They look like fettuccine come to life — little flatworms that glide along riverbeds and perform miracles. Chop off their tails, they grow them back. Split them in half, they grow whole again. But chop off their heads, and not only do they grow new heads, but those new heads contain old memories! Whoa!
Now is a good time to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California, but scientists have been seeing an unusually high number of other whales. "The fact that we're getting a chance to see at this time of year fin whales, blue whales, is really a mystery," says a marine biologist.
Global warming is pushing species like the polar bear to the brink of extinction. It's not a typical conservation problem, so one government biologist discovered the best way he could help save the great white bears was to quit his job.
Mountain lions are slowly making a comeback, but they live at constant risk of getting hit by cars or shot. In Santa Cruz, Calif., one project tracks how the lions live — and it's already helping to protect the big cats nationwide.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take the gray wolf off the endangered species list. The wolf had been extirpated from the West and had dwindled most other places in the U.S. The great canine has rebounded since it was reintroduced to the northern Rockies in the 1990s and is continuing to spread into the Pacific Northwest. But biologists warn that if these wolves loses federal protection, they will not be able to return to some places, such as Colorado, where the ecosystem sorely needs them.
This year, 15 bills in 11 states attempted to make undercover videos on farms illegal. Not a single one passed. Activists say a broad-based coalition that tapped the grass-roots concern for animal welfare helped defeat the measures.
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