A new technology aspires to harness the powerful human sense of smell to enhance our daily lives. Someday this approach might even be used to benefit our health. How is this possible? Step one: Just inhale.

Don’t be misled by the cringing creatures seen in The Lion King. From their biology to their social structure, spotted hyenas are complex creatures like none other on earth, explains author and conservationist Lucy Cooke.

Chickens, like many other animals, are resplendently different from one another. They can be therapy birds, worried mothers, helpful friends, impressive memorizers, and more, says anthropologist and writer Barbara J. King.

By doing something as small as adjusting your mealtimes, you can re-set your body clock and improve your health, says chronobiologist Emily Manoogian.

These weird-looking, isolated aquatic creatures probably won’t star in a Pixar film anytime soon, but by studying them, we can learn about our planet’s past and its future, says evolutionary biologist and ichthyologist Prosanta Chakrabarty.

Synthetic biologist Tal Danino manipulates microorganisms in his lab to create eye-catching, colorful patterns. Here’s a look at the process he uses to turn “Oh, yuck” into “Oh, wow.”

A selection of uplifting reads — all suggested by TED speakers — for your end-of-year break.