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January 2014

Smithsonian January 2014


Ready For Her Close-Up

Take an exclusive backstage tour of the National Zoo and meet Bao Bao, the newest star giant panda, a species that has evolved to beguile fans worldwide.

By Susan Orlean

Time Travelers: Walking the Ancestors Trail

On a wild hike inspired by famed evolutionist Richard Dawkins, every step promises a strange encounter with the origins of species.

By Jerry Adler

Secrets of Yellowstone

The first national park isn't all geysers and hot springs. Check out Mother Nature's cunning adaptations to one of the largest volcanoes in the U.S.

By Elizabeth Quill

Tales from the Pit

The exquisitely preserved fossils in Germanys Messel Pit reveal how our warmblooded ancestors came into their own after the death of the dinosaurs.

By Andrew Curry

The Venus Fixers

As Allied Forces fought the Nazis for control of Europe, an unlikely unit of American and British art experts waged a shadow campaign to save Italys cultural treasures.

By Ilaria Dagnini Brey

Barbarians at the Gates

When jihadists seized northern Mali, a secret network of activists risked their lives to rescue thousands of irreplaceable manuscripts.

By Joshua Hammer


Opening Announcements, Cover and Contents, Contributions, From the Editor, Discussion, From the Castle



This month our theme is endings--of meals, life's stages, Earth, the universe, hungry insects and sentences.

Hot for Tamales

Our intrepid reporter heads back to the Mississippi Delta in search of his favorite food, and the title of tamale-eating champ.

By W. Hodding Carter

Christmas Requiem

A card that was never mailed is a memento of a tragic season.

By James L. Swanson

Smithsonian, Books, Fast Forward

What's new around the Mall