Writers and photographers are available for interviews Feb. 15-March 14 (see specifics below).
- Writer Evan Ratliff and photographer Vincent J. Musi document arguably one of the most extraordinary breeding experiments ever conducted — one that could unlock domestication’s molecular mysteries — in TAMING THE WILD. Ratliff and Musi are available for interviews.
- A turning point in the planet’s 4.5 billion-year geologic record may be underway. Elizabeth Kolbert, available for interviews, reports on the epoch in ENTER THE AGE OF MAN.
- Photographer Laurent Ballesta captures a rare photographic account of the coelacanth, a bizarre fish thought to have thought to have died out at the end of the Cretaceous period, in ANCIENT SWIMMERS. Ballesta has limited availability for interviews.
- Writer Peter Gwin and photographer Fritz Hoffmann China’s document how kung fu disciples are confronting the changing world of martial arts, one that may value commercialism over enlightenment, in KUNG FU KINGDOM. Gwin and Hoffmann are available for interviews.
- Photographer Mark W. Moffett and writer Jennifer Holland enter the world of gold dusters, the more than 200,000 individual animal species that pollinate the earth, in GOLD DUSTERS. Moffett and Holland are available for interviews.
- Andrew Skurka’s 4,679-mile circumnavigation of Alaska by foot, raft and ski truly tested this superman of trekkers. Photographer Michael Christopher Brown and writer Dan Koeppel, both available for interviews, chronicle the journey that brought tears and humility in THE ULTIMATE ALASKA TREK.
TAMING THE WILD (cover story), by Evan Ratliff, photographed by Vincent J. Musi (Page 34) On a farm outside the city of Novosibirsk in southern Siberia, a small population of domesticated silver foxes mirror the behavior of dogs — wagging their tails, rolling on their backs and panting eagerly in anticipation of human attention. The behavior is a product of arguably the most extraordinary breeding experiment ever conducted, one that could unlock domestication’s molecular mysteries. Writer Evan Ratliff examines the tricky science behind domestication, from locating the genes responsible for tameness and aggressive behavior to analyzing what the discoveries mean for our own species. Photographer Vincent J. Musi showcases the domesticated animals that continue to provide answers — and companionship — to the scientists who study them.
ENTER THE AGE OF MAN, by Elizabeth Kolbert (Page 60), Epochs are the turning points in the planet’s 4.5 billion-year geologic record, and many stratigraphers who study them believe that such an event is happening now. Coined the “Anthropocene,” the new epoch is defined by humans’ massive impact on the planet. Elizabeth Kolbert reports on how the building of cities, transformations due to agriculture and deforestation and the change in the composition of the atmosphere caused by humans have risen to the level of geologic significance. This is the second article in National Geographic magazine’s “Seven Billion” special series.
ANCIENT SWIMMERS, by Carolyn Butler, photographed by Laurent Ballesta (Page 86) Dwelling deep in the ocean, the coelacanth, thought to have died out at the end of the Cretaceous period, went undisturbed and undetected until 1938 when a South African museum curator spied the bizarre fish. Found in several pockets of the Indian Ocean and believed to number between 1,000 and 10,000, the prehistoric-looking creature sports thick scales, unusual fins and an extra lobe on its tail. Photographer Laurent Ballesta and a specially trained expedition team made 21 deep dives over four weeks, spotting the elusive coelacanths only six times. Their encounters are chronicled in a rare photographic account.
KUNG FU KINGDOM, by Peter Gwin, photographed by Fritz Hoffmann (Page 94) China’s legendary Shaolin Temple has been a center of kung fu for centuries. For most of its history the temple was essentially a wealthy estate with a well-trained private army. The more the monks fought, the more proficient they became and the more their fame grew. The temple suffered a devastating blow in 1928 when a warlord burned it down, destroying centuries of scrolls detailing kung fu theory and training, and treatises on Chinese medicine and Buddhist scriptures. National Geographic staff writer Peter Gwin reports that instead of rebuilding the Shaolin legacy, temple officials have built an international business empire — including touring kung fu troupes, film and TV projects, an online store and franchised Shaolin temples abroad. Photographer Fritz Hoffmann documents how kung fu disciples are confronting the changing world of martial arts, one that may value commercialism over enlightenment.
GOLD DUSTERS, by Jennifer S. Holland, photographed by Mark W. Moffett (Page 114) Photographer Mark W. Moffett showcases the gold dusters of the world — the more than 200,000 animal species that transfer pollen between the male and female parts of a flowering plant. The plants have evolved in step with their pollinators — from flies, bees, beetles and ants to snails, hummingbirds and even geckos and rain forest monkeys — using sweet scents and bright colors to lure them with the promise of a meal. Jennifer S. Holland reports on the industrial-scale farming and possible chemicals threatening one of the most vital pollinators: the honeybee. A world without pollinators would also be one without such everyday commodities as apples, peaches, milk (cows feed on bee-pollinated alfalfa and clover), coffee and chocolate. What we eat and, to a degree, what we wear (pollinators give us some of our cotton and flax) would be limited to crops whose pollen travels by other means. “In a sense,” says a conservationist biologist, “our lives would be dictated by the wind.”
THE ULTIMATE ALASKA TREK, by Dan Koeppel, photographed by Michael Christopher Brown (Page 132) By age 29, adventurer Andrew Skurka had logged more than 25,000 miles on foot, elevating him to one of the best traveled and fastest hikers on the planet. But it was his 4,679-mile circumnavigation of Alaska by foot, raft and ski that truly tested this superman of trekkers. Writer Dan Koeppel and photographer Michael Christopher Brown document Skurka’s journey as he plunged into knee-deep snow and bushwhacked through dense willow and alder brush, a trek that humbled him and brought him to tears at times.
March’s Department section looks at ways of gauging the vast size of seven billion; the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a sun-powered ship; the Peace Corps 50 years later; a detailed lunar surface map; and the safe transport of pink river dolphins. Details can be found at blogs.ngm.com.
PLUS: Special Poster: “The World (and the Most Typical Face) of Earth’s Seven Billion.
National Geographic magazine has a long tradition of combining on-the-ground reporting with award-winning photography to inform people about life on our planet. It has won 11 National Magazine Awards in the past four years: for General Excellence, Photojournalism and Essays and two inaugural Digital Media Awards for Best Photography and Best Community in 2010; for Photojournalism in 2009; for General Excellence, Photojournalism and Reporting in 2008; and for General Excellence and Photography in 2007.
The magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit educational and scientific organizations. Published in English and 33 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership in the Society.