Jesslyn Shields

Jesslyn Shields is a freelance science writer working out of Athens, Georgia. She writes about brand new research for HowStuffWorks. Since 2010, Jesslyn's written science news and content for educational videos, because she loves to always have something new to yammer on about at parties. You can find her online at

Recent Contributions

Why Are Air-dried Towels So Stiff?

A research team has found that water acts strangely on an air-drying towel, which contributes to its signature stiffness.

Entropy: The Invisible Force That Brings Disorder to the Universe

Entropy is the disorder of a system, but that means a lot more than making a mess of a room.

How Anosmia, or 'Smell Blindness,' Can Help Pinpoint COVID-19

Anosmia, or the loss of the ability to detect one or more smells, is a common symptom of upper respiratory viral infections. It might also be a way to tell if you have novel coronavirus.

What's the Difference Between a Tortoise and a Turtle?

They both have prehistoric looking shells and squatty legs, but how are they different?

Fruit Flies: The Science Superstars You Want Gone From Your Kitchen

Fruit flies are annoying, but we also owe them a huge debt of scientific gratitude.

Meet Inspector Clouseau, Australia's Neon Pink Manta Ray

A bright pink manta ray named Inspector Clouseau is causing a splash on the runway of the Great Barrier Reef.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

It's a super-fun science experiment, not a recipe for elephant dental hygiene.

Inside a Locust Plague: Desert Grasshoppers Gone Wild

Locusts are just mild-mannered grasshoppers until they swarm up and become monstrous. In parts of the world, locust plagues are becoming a way of life.

Artificial Intelligence Discovers Antibiotic in Record Time

Machine learning, or artificial intelligence, might just save us from bacterial infections in the future.

What Is an Ice Volcano?

Ice volcanoes form when it's freezing cold outside and choppy water is forced to erupt through a hole in the ice around a body of water, cascading down into the classic shape of a volcano.

Giant VW-sized Turtles Once Prowled South American Waters

Back in the day, the soupy pre-Amazonian waters were filled with beasts like Stupendemys geographicus, a giant turtle the size of a sensible sedan.

Getting to the Bottom of the Bidet

The bathroom appliance that Europeans embrace and Americans pooh-pooh could be beneficial to our health and to the health of the planet.

Dragonflies: Ancient and Aggressive Insect Aviators

Dragonflies are fast, powerful and unbelievably aggressive, using a rudimentary form of 'trigonometry' to calculate distance and move in for the kill.

17th-century Plague Doctors Were the Stuff of Nightmares

Contaminated water, poor hygiene and the lack of sanitation caused most epidemics prior to the 20th century, but the plague doctors believed that germs were spread through the skin and nose and they costumed themselves accordingly.

The Dark History of Indigo, Slavery's Other Cash Crop

Slavery followed indigo, a cash crop from which blue dye was made, around the world, until it was replaced by synthetic substitutes in the early 20th century.

Mongoose vs. Cobra: Who'd Win in a Grudge Match? 

The grudge match that was popularized in Rudyard Kipling's short story "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" is a mystifying one, but a few specialized traits allow mongooses to add venomous snakes to their list of entrées.

What Is a Coywolf?

They have been called both “coywolf” and “coydog,” but the majority of the scientific community recognizes this hybrid animal simply as the “eastern coyote.”

The 'SnotBot' Drone Is Making Scientific Research Easier on Whales

A drone with some petri dishes attached is making research much less stressful for whales and scientists alike.

The Smiley Quokka Is an Australian Super Survivor

The smallest of the wallaby species is known to pose for selfies with tourists and be cuter than cute. But the feisty quokka has had to fight for its very survival.

Cheetahs: The Big Cats That Can Totally Pass You on the Interstate

With lightning speed and incredible vision, the cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth and the best hunter on the savanna.