One variety of bacteria has only ever been isolated from the wreck of the RMS Titanic; another type of bacteria has only ever been found inside clean rooms used to assemble spacecraft.
A billion years ago or longer, a photosynthesising bacterium found its way into a proto-plant cell. The bacteria and the cell became symbiotic, each helping the other to survive and thrive. All land plants today are descended from that chance meeting.
The 1958 horror film The Blob was inspired by a real event in 1950: a close encounter between four police officers and a star jelly.
Leonardo da Vinci observed that tree branches together are always as thick as the trunk beneath them. This is true, and there are some good ideas why.
Within the extraordinary biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest lie circles of a single tree species – the devil’s gardens. And these pockets of uniformity are created by ants.
Socotra, the alien island wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, is home to the dragon blood tree: a source of dye, paint, medicine, varnish, and magic.
Orangutans, like all great apes, build nests. Sometimes these include pillows, blankets, and bunk beds.
The Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa, California, was built in 1873 out of a single giant redwood tree.
Turnips, black mustard, and cabbage together form a triangle of multi-chromosome hybrids: it’s where we get Indian mustard, Ethiopian mustard, and canola.
Some gardens grow only the plants mentioned in either the Bible or the works of Shakespeare.
The oldest living rose bush has been growing on the side of Hildesheim Cathedral for several hundred years.
India prevented people patenting their foods, traditional medicines, and yoga poses by recording them all in an online database: 34 million pages’ worth.
A mutated gene that improves reproductive success spreads widely – this is one of the principles of evolution. But sometimes other genes come along for the ride.
The 1952 Miller-Urey experiment synthesised amino acids essential to life from inorganic materials. The experiment’s vials were then sealed, and when scientists re-examined them 55 years later they were surprised at what was inside.
What do bullet ants and guarana have in common? The Sateré-Mawé people of Brazil.
Fukuoka, Japan, is home to an iconic ziggurat-like building topped by a dozen roof garden steps.