2019's 20 most incredible stories about our planet 

From feral hogs to sustainable diets, these stories are unmissable.

water world

In 2019, Inverse covered a cornucopia of incredible studies and discoveries that change the way we see the world. We also kept up on the weirder aspects of the planet we call home (20-pound invasive rodents, anyone?). From why dog eyebrows make you weak at the knees to how Cold War satellites can help shine a light on climate change, these are the 20 biggest Earth stories from 2019.

Did we miss anything? Email us your favorite stories about our incredible planet from 2019.

KH9 spy satellite

20. Cold War-era spies are being recruited to help climate scientists

The United States was very motivated to “study” this hard-to-access region back in the ‘70s…

Nutria

19. Americans are losing their minds over a 20-pound rodent

Nutria are chomping up parts of California and Louisiana — humans have some bizarre ways of dealing with them.

sustainable diet

18. Way too many people can’t afford a sustainable diet

The top sustainable diet is unaffordable for one-fifth of the population — food systems need to change.

abstract geometric illustration of a seedling on green background

17. Melting ice puts “Doomsday” seed vault under threat

Arctic warming is making permafrost way less permanent, with dire consequences for seed banks.

arctic sea ice

16. Long-lost landscapes, frozen for 40,000 years, exposed by melting Arctic ice

Parts of Baffin Island haven’t seen the light of day for millennia — but that’s rapidly changing.

great white shark

15. Great white sharks are most afraid of this liver-eating marine predator

Great whites just can’t dine on elephant seals in peace.

plastic water bottles

14. Shocking amounts of plastic smother this uninhabited island in the Atlantic

Inaccessible Island is full of garbage, and the problem is getting worse every year.

bee brains can do math

13. Study reveals bees’ brains are much more powerful than we thought

If a tiny bug’s brain can do math, so can you.

greater adria continent stylized

12. Scientists discovered a lost continent shoved underneath Europe

It may be lost, but you can still see evidence of Greater Adria today.

bonobo matchmaking

11. Science confirms: Moms meddle in their children’s love lives

Bonobo males are better off if their mom wants them to get it on — chimps aren’t so lucky.

chimp thinking a good idea

10. Scientists may have answered a decades-old question about ape intelligence

Great apes show evidence of “theory of mind,” the ability to infer their own and others’ internal states.

fire hand

9. Taking these three steps can help protect the Amazon rainforest

Inverse looks back on the 2019 fires and how you can make a difference.

household chemicals

8. Long-lasting household chemicals could age the body from the inside out

A notorious class of chemicals could have invisible effects that take a toll over time.

Jacqueline Prawira

7. When Earth runs on smarter plastics, we’ll have teenagers to thank

In 2019, Inverse met a young “upcycling” enthusiast who created a more eco-friendly plastic.

Ireland

5. An Irish folk medicine can stop antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Modern medicine is taking a lesson from the past.

feral pig rifle

4. Scientists: No, you cannot kill 30 to 50 feral hogs with an automatic rifle

There is a lesson to be learned from this 2019 meme.

puppy dog eyes

3. Dogs have us on a tight leash, thanks to one adorable trait

“Puppy dog eyes” aren’t just sweet — they evolved to manipulate us.

Nazca lines

2. Giant birds may help scientists finally solve the mystery of the Nazca lines

The newest approach: ornithological identification.

humans going home

1. In 2019, scientists claimed to find humanity’s ancestral hometown

The controversial study zooms in on at least one place our species called home.

Media via CSA Images / Getty Images, National Reconnaissance Office, Flickr / michele_hayslett, Getty , O'IAHI / Shutterstock, Eric Rogehr/US Fish and Wildlife Service, 80's Child / Shutterstock, Peter G. Ryan / PNAS, CSA Images / mustafahacalaki / Getty Images, CSA Images / golero / Getty Images, CSA Images / saemilee / Getty Images, Mr. Tana Tri-aroon, Getty Images, Shutterstock, Jacqueline Prawira, George Karbus Photography / Getty Images, nicoolay, GeorgePeters / Getty Images, Pixabay