Hip, hip, hooray: today is World Turtle Day. I kid you not. And that got me thinking about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the relationship between people and animals. This is the time of year that Canadians usually emerge from their domestic hibernation and venture back into nature. Not so much this year. Social isolation for humans has resulted in animals reclaiming some real estate. You’ve maybe seen the lovely pictures of deer under the cherry trees in a park in Osaka, Japan that is usually full of tourists. The New York Times reported on Toronto’s obsession with a family of foxes that was living under a boardwalk on the city’s waterfront. (Not sure if the Times will provide an update on a not-so-happy development of that story.) As for turtles, I’m sure they’re not missing anyone who would normally be invading lakes and wetlands at this time of year. We’ve published some great stories from turtle researchers, including an amazing piece on the illegal turtle trade and another on why size matters when it comes to turtles and sex. So to celebrate World Turtle Day, I’ve assembled a collection of some of the most popular articles from The Conversation global network about animals, insects and other fauna.

Have a great weekend and we’ll be back in your Inbox on Monday.

Scott White

CEO | Editor-in-Chief

Your Weekend Reads: Turtles, hornets, bats and vampire fish

I spy on real turtles having sex with 3D-printed turtle sex dolls

Grégory Bulté, Carleton University

New technologies are revealing more about the secret lives of underwater turtles. Using underwater cameras and 3D printing, researchers are learning more than ever before.

The illegal turtle trade: Why I keep secrets

Jacqueline Litzgus, Laurentian University

Poachers are bringing some turtle populations to the edge of extinction.

The secret to turtle hibernation: Butt-breathing

Jacqueline Litzgus, Laurentian University

Crisp temperatures, ice-capped ponds and frozen landscapes send animals scurrying for cover. But just what do turtles do when winter takes hold?

How did the turtle get its shell? Fossil discovery gives us a clue

Gareth Dyke, University of Southampton

A lack of fossils has made it impossibe to trace the origin and early evolution of turtles - until now.

What are Asian giant hornets, and are they really dangerous? 5 questions answered

Akito Y Kawahara, University of Florida

Are 'murder hornets' from Asia invading North America? A Japanese entomologist who's been stung by one and lived to tell the tale explains what's true about these predatory insects.

Our fear of giant hornets is oversized — and threatens native insects

Spencer K. Monckton, York University, Canada

Asian giant hornets have received plenty of media attention recently. The only tangible threat they pose is to honey bees, which has nothing to do with the hornets — and everything to do with us.

‘Vampire fish’ gorged on Great Lakes trout until the invasive species was subdued

Oana Birceanu, McMaster University

When sea lampreys gained a foothold in the Great Lakes in the 1950s, these trout-sucking predators upended the ecosystem.

Why bats don’t get sick from the viruses they carry, but humans can

Livia O. Loureiro, University of Toronto

Bats get a lot of negative press, but they also make positive contributions to the environment and to our lives.

How an underwater photo led to the discovery of a tiny new seahorse species

Maarten De Brauwer, University of Leeds; David Harasti, Southern Cross University; Graham Short, Australian Museum; Louw Claassens, Rhodes University

South Africa is home to four other seahorse species, but this was the first time a pygmy seahorse had been observed in South Africa, let alone Africa.

Marine heatwaves spell trouble for tropical reef fish — even before corals die

Jennifer M.T. Magel, University of Victoria; Julia K. Baum, University of Victoria

Reef fish vanish during marine heatwaves, but may bounce back quickly on reefs that have few other environmental stressors.