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Stories by Alex Ruppenthal

Studio Gang’s $9M Bridgeport Boathouse Wins River Org’s Top Award

(Tom Harris Photography / Studio Gang)

A recently completed boathouse along the South Branch of the Chicago River got top honors this week from the nonprofit group Friends of the Chicago River.

99-Million-Year-Old Beetle Discovered by Field Museum Researcher

(Courtesy The Field Museum)

A tiny black speck contained within fossilized resin turned out to be the remains of an insect so ancient that it lived among dinosaurs.

UChicago Study: Earth Might Have Supported Life Earlier Than Thought

(Basil Greber / University of Chicago)

A study of rock minerals from northern Canada provides evidence that the Earth might have supported life hundreds of millions of years earlier than thought, according to research led by UChicago scientists.  

Machine Built in Chicago to Probe Mysterious New Particles

Detectors inside the Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment tank (Fermilab / U.S. Department of Energy)

A machine developed at the Illinois Institute of Technology will help scientists search for elusive new particles that could reshape physicists’ understanding of how the universe operates. 

Brookfield Zoo Staff Examine New Way to Measure Animal Welfare

(Courtesy Chicago Zoological Society)

A set of proteins long used to evaluate the well-being of humans can also serve as a marker for the welfare of animals in zoos and aquariums, according to a new study. 

Brookfield Zoo Welcomes Newborn Western Lowland Gorilla

(Courtesy Chicago Zoological Society)

The latest member of Brookfield Zoo’s four-generation family of western lowland gorillas was born June 1, the third offspring of Koola, the newborn’s 23-year-old mother. 

Illinois Sues EPA Over Regulation of Harmful Landfill Emissions

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (Chicago Tonight file photo)

The EPA has failed to implement a 2016 regulation aimed at reducing landfill emissions of methane and other pollutants, according to a lawsuit filed this week by Illinois and seven other states. 

Illinois Bill Would Help Agencies Donate Leftover Food

A staff member stocks the shelves of the food pantry at the Airman Family Readiness Center at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. (U.S. Air Force photo By Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie)

Lawmakers recently approved a bill that would help state agencies donate leftover food in an effort to reduce waste and feed hungry residents.

Illinois Lawmakers Approve Ban on Sale of Ivory

Ivory seized Feb. 2 from poachers convicted of killing 11 elephants in and around Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. (Z. Labuschagne / Wildlife Conservation Society)

A growing number of states are taking up bans on the sale of ivory in an effort to curb elephant and rhinoceros poaching and undermine the $20 billion-per-year enterprise of wildlife trafficking. Illinois could be next.

New Brookfield Zoo Exhibit Highlights ‘Amazing Arachnids’

An African burrowing scorpion is among the highlights of Brookfield Zoo’s new “Amazing Arachnids” exhibit. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Get a close-up look at 100 live eight-legged critters – aka arachnids – including spiders, scorpions, tarantulas and more at Brookfield Zoo.

Bill to Boost Urban Agriculture in Illinois Heads to Rauner’s Desk

(Linda from Chicago / Creative Commons)

Legislation that could help break up food deserts in Chicago and other cities across the state passed the Illinois Senate last week and now awaits the signature of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Wiped Out Forests, Too, Study Finds

(Illustration by Phillip M. Krzeminski)

A research team with a Chicago connection has uncovered new evidence about the devastating impact of the dinosaur-killing asteroid that struck Earth about 66 million years ago.

Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp Clears Illinois Legislature

(kat_geb / Flickr)

The state is one step closer to legalizing the production of industrial hemp after a 106-3 vote in the Illinois House this week. 

Chicago Places 8th in New Ranking of Urban Park Systems

(Colin J Bird / Wikimedia Commons)

This is Chicago’s first year cracking the top 10 of the ParkScore Index, an annual ranking of park systems in the nation’s 100 biggest cities.

Lincoln Park Zoo Welcomes New 2-Year-Old Giraffe, Finely

(Chris Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo)

A new zoo resident born in downstate Peoria stands about 9 feet tall. Guests can see the 2-year-old giraffe Finely at the zoo’s Regenstein African Journey exhibit.

Field Museum Archaeologist Solves Clues to 12th Century Shipwreck

Model of the Java Sea shipwreck, built by Nicholas Burningham (John Weinstein / The Field Museum)

After taking a fresh look at a treasure trove of cargo recovered from the dark sea floor in the 1980s, researchers make new discoveries about a centuries-old shipwreck.

Special Exhibit Showcases 150 Years of Lincoln Park Zoo

(Courtesy Chicago Park District and Chicago History Museum)

“From Swans to Science: 150 Years of Lincoln Park Zoo” takes visitors on a journey through the zoo’s 150-year history, which started with a gift of four swans in 1868.

Brookfield Zoo Rhino Has Life-Saving Surgery, 2nd CT Scan

Michelle Soszynski, a senior veterinary technician at Brookfield Zoo, monitors Layla, a 7.5-year-old eastern black rhinoceros, as she receives a CT scan inside Brookfield Zoo’s Pachyderm House. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Following a historic diagnostic procedure last month, Layla, a 2,300-pound eastern black rhinoceros, underwent life-saving surgery last week to relieve an infection.

Field Museum Researcher Identifies New Shrew Species in Philippines

An illustration of the newly identified Palawan moss shrew. (Velizar Simeonovski / The Field Museum)

A mole-like mammal known as the Palawan moss shrew was recently discovered in the Philippines by a team of researchers – including one from Chicago.

Shedd’s New Penguin Chick Hatches Just In Time For Mother’s Day

A Magellanic penguin chick hatched May 12 at Shedd Aquarium. (Courtesy Shedd Aquarium)

A new Magellanic penguin chick hatched Saturday at Shedd Aquarium, just hours before Mother's Day. 

‘You Have to Protect Us’: Residents Speak Out About Manganese Pollution

(Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

About 100 Southeast Side residents attended the first public meeting addressing exposure to neurotoxic manganese since the city became aware of it in 2016. “How are you going to keep us healthy?” one resident asked.

Máximo the Titanosaur to Debut June 1 at Field Museum

(Courtesy The Field Museum)

The enormous dinosaur cast replacing Sue the T. rex at the Field Museum will be here in just a few weeks. And the new resident now has a name.

PETA Awards CPD After Officer Saves Chicken Stuck Inside Plastic Bag

A “chicken in distress” call last month led to an unusual rescue effort in Lincoln Park – and an award for the Chicago Police Department.

EPA to Test Soil for Manganese on Southeast Side

A week ago, test results from soil samples collected at two dozen Southeast Side homes revealed high levels of manganese. Now, the EPA will conduct further testing in the area.

Shedd Vet in Madagascar to Treat 10,000 Confiscated Tortoises

(Dr. Matt O’Connor / ©Shedd Aquarium)

A Chicago-based animal care expert is playing a key role in an unprecedented effort to save thousands of critically endangered tortoises that were found in squalid conditions in an abandoned home off the southeast coast of Africa.