MNN : earth-matters (37)

Butterflies lose their luster if their 'paintbrush genes' aren't on

Two genes are largely responsible for the colors and patterns of butterflies' wings, and if they don't work, butterflies look very different.

Mysterious pink tube 'creature' baffles divers

A bizarre gelatinous mass, measuring 9 feet long, was discovered off the coast of Australia.

These octopuses like to hang out together in an underwater city called Octlantis

Once believed to be loners, gloomy octopuses like to hang out in groups in 'cities' made of piles of sand and shells. The latest find is called Octlantis.

Flooding from Hurricane Harvey actually warped Earth's crust

Harvey's 275 trillion pounds of water was a heavy weight to carry.

Why do leaves have such different shapes?

Plants grow just the right kind of leaf for the environment they're in.

The odd, adorable mystery of hairy spider feet

Hairy spider paws are kind of cute, but arachnids use their furry feet for serious pursuits like climbing, hearing and even smelling.

How do you clean up the world's coasts? One volunteer at a time

Each year during the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, thousands of people remove trash from local waterways.

This pitch-black planet eats light for breakfast

The exoplanet, located 1,400 light-years away from Earth, absorbs nearly all light falling into its atmosphere, NASA says.

African wild dogs 'vote' by sneezing

The endangered species has a nose for democracy, according to a new study.

Snow leopards no longer endangered, but not everyone is celebrating

The snow leopard has been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable, but some conservation groups aren't happy with the status change.

SpaceX's explosive 'blooper reel' shows how success comes from failure

Elon Musk posted a SpaceX blooper reel, showing some of the failures his company made on the way to realizing the goal of reusing its Falcon 9 boosters.

9 famous albino animals

Did you know that albino dolphins are pink or that Onya-Birri is the only albino koala known to science? Meet 9 amazing famous albino animals.

Camera trap spots Arizona jaguar — again!

The Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona released new footage featuring a jaguar and other wildlife in the Chiricahua Mountains.

8 shocking facts about electric eels

These infamous fish are much more cunning about their electric hunting habits than you might suspect.

8 things you didn't know about the autumnal equinox

If you've ever wondered what hamsters and the French Revolution have to do with the first day of fall, we've got the answers.

Cassini bids 'spectacular' farewell from Saturn

The spacecraft spent 13 years helping us understand Saturn, but now its mission has come to an end.

Cooper's hawk flies free after riding out Hurricane Harvey with cab driver

Hurricane Harvey resulted in an unlikely friendship between a human cab driver and a Cooper's hawk seeking shelter from the storm.

Lonely guests at this hotel in Belgium can enjoy the company of ... a fish?

For around $4, a Belgian hotel is offering a nightly fish rental.

Strange, see-through squid captured on camera

The cockatoo squid is a deep-water resident, and one floated right past the cameras of Exploration Vessel Nautilus.

The benefit of dirt roads

In Arkansas, attention to thousands of miles of unpaved roads has helped clean up streams, ease the threat to endangered species and benefited everyone.

Relaxing bear ruins man's scenic bike ride

A biker unexpectedly encountered a bear in Anchorage and posted the video of the encounter on Reddit.

These newly discovered peacock spiders will change your mind about arachnids

Many people don't see arachnids as 'cute,' but maybe they've never laid eyes on a peacock jumping spider.

10 incredible images of Saturn

NASA's Cassini orbiter reveals stunning pictures of the planet and its rings.

These fox squirrels use 'chunking' to sort and organize their nuts

When fox squirrels collect nuts, they organize them using 'chunking' like kids sort their Halloween candy.

Why do oak trees produce more acorns some years but not others?

A range of factors influence acorn production, even within a 100-mile area.

10 charismatic animals with political ambitions

From failed canine presidential campaigns to beer-drinking mayoral goats, here's a look at some political animals.

'Dark matter' microbes discovered, adding 20 new branches to the tree of life

The mysterious realm of our planet's microbes just got a little less dark, thanks to a breakthrough technique called metagenomics.

Everyone wants to help rebuild Columbia River Gorge

While wildfires burn Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, volunteers are eager to help rebuild it.

Antarctica's ice caves may harbor new species

Cave systems under the glaciers are heated by geothermal forces and may play host to unique types of plants and animals.

Richard Branson's luxury island 'uninhabitable' after Hurricane Irma

Branson collected hundreds of animals on Necker Island; some of them are endangered.

It's time for Cassini's 'spectacular' farewell

The spacecraft has spent 13 years helping us explore Saturn's orbit, but now just one mission remains.

'Best Weatherman Ever' Alan Sealls shines in Reddit AMA

Alabama meteorologist embraced by the internet during Hurricane Irma expands on his mission to educate and entertain.

These beautiful photos speak loud and clear for wildlife

The Natural History Museum, London, announced the finalists for its 53rd Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

These beautiful photos speak loud and clear for nature

The Natural History Museum, London, announced the finalists for its 53rd Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

When will the lights come back on? Millions of Floridians want to know

Florida Light and Power's $3 billion smart grid was no match for the fury of Hurricane Irma.

Thanks for your brave hurricane reporting — now please go inside

Extreme weather journalists are not the calm we need during a hurricane or storm.

Monkey wins selfie lawsuit

The 'monkey selfie' lawsuit — filed on behalf of a wild macaque who took a selfie in 2011 — ends in a settlement.