Emily Sullivan

The mottled spots giraffes are known for aren't random, according to a new study that suggests that the patterns are inherited maternally — and that they may impact the chances of a calf surviving its first few months of life.

The roundness and smoothness of a giraffe's spots are inherited through its mother, wildlife biology researchers reported in the academic journal PeerJ last week.

A Missouri judge ruled on Tuesday that state election officials can no longer tell voters they must show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The ruling blocks part of Missouri's voter identification law.

Cole County's Judge Richard Callahan said the state cannot advertise that a photo identification is required to cast a ballot. "No compelling state interest is served by misleading local election authorities and voters into believing a photo ID card is a requirement for voting," he wrote in his ruling.

Updated at 5:30 a.m. ET Thursday

Tropical Storm Michael is weakening as it churns across south-central Georgia.

On Wednesday, Michael was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. in more than a quarter-century, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Wednesday

Hurricane Michael has grown into a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds reaching 130 mph, as it barrels toward northwestern Florida, making it a much stronger storm than Hurricane Florence was when it made landfall as a Category 1 storm drenching the Carolinas last month, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The FBI has arrested a man in Utah who authorities believe mailed letters to the Pentagon containing castor seeds — a key ingredient in the highly toxic substance ricin.

William Clyde Allen III of Logan, Utah, was arrested by agents with the Salt Lake City Division of the FBI.

Two envelopes mailed to the Pentagon earlier this week tested positive in a screening center for a hazardous substance. After conducting further tests, the FBI determined the envelopes contained castor seeds.

Capitol Police have arrested a man accused of publishing to the Internet restricted personal information about South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET

Chocolate cupcake, creme, mango, tutti frutti, "blue" — sugary-sounding flavors familiar to teenage e-cigarette users are facing more crackdowns from the Food and Drug Administration.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Ford-Kavanaugh hearings have sparked conversations throughout the country and brought little-discussed topics to light, including among men. Many men are wary, and some are wondering what's next. NPR's Emily Sullivan reports.

Updated 11:40 a.m. ET Sunday

Florence weakened to a tropical depression Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, but flooding continued to be a major danger throughout the Carolinas.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the storm is more dangerous now than when it made landfall. "Flood waters are still raging across parts of our state, and the risk to life is rising with the angry waters," Cooper said in a news conference on Sunday.

"The threat of flooded roads keeps spreading," Cooper continued.

The carcasses of 87 elephants have been discovered near a Botswana protected sanctuary, killed and stripped for their tusks.

The elephants were discovered by Elephants Without Borders, a conservation nonprofit. The organization said they "discovered the alarming rate while flying the Botswana government aerial [elephant] census."

Pages