A rare snow shower falls on Rome's Colosseum, built 2,000 years ago to host gladiator duels, battle reenactments, and other public spectacles. Today the 50,000-seat amphitheater serves Rome in another capacity: as a major tourist attraction

Around the world in 10 incredible images: The greatest travel photography of the year

National Geographic pick the 10 most spectacular travel images from 2013

US father and son plead guilty to shooting neighbour's dog because it was 'annoying'

The father then harassed the dog's owner in the street after it was killed 

DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred

The toe holds the clues to the truth about interbreeding between Neanderthals and other human sub-species

A the combination of the zebra's broad and narrow stripes creating a confusing optical illusion

Zebra stripes explained

A zebra's stripes protects it from a range of predators, both big and small

Kenya Wildlife Service rangers live on the edge of Ramuruti forest in Laikipia, Kenya where they patrol as a way to deter poachers

The human cost of the demand for ivory

Poachers have killed 1,000 rangers in a decade

The frequent killings of top predators, such as wolves, bears and coyotes, benefit 'a small proportion of the nation's private agriculture' and other interests

Wildlife Services: Critics target America's ‘rogue’ assassins who kill 3 million animals a year

A US government  programme to control wildlife is under fire for being inhumane

The music video for Ylvis's

'The Fox' goes viral again, this time as a Christmas light show

Jay Perkins's festive rendition of the YouTube hit has attracted over 250,000 views in just two days

Scientists ‘incredibly concerned’ for fate of banana as plagues and fungus infections spread across world’s supplies

Warning comes as Costa Rica declares 'national emergency' over state of crop

Porn star tells university to stop skinning rodents' penises for sex experiments

Ron Jeremy - nicknamed "the hedgehog" - said despite it taking a lot to shock him, as "an expert on sex", he was "appalled" by the sexual behaviour experiments carried out by US universities on rodents

Unlikely threat: oil in the reserves

Drilling in a Ugandan national park is having a negative effect on its elephants

UK weather: Forecasters warn of 80mph wind and rain to batter Britain before arrival of ‘Storm Emily’

Met Office predicts ‘significant winter storm’ to hit Britain later this week

Winging it: The shrill carder bee is thriving in Kent

What’s the buzz? The bumblebee is back!

Conservationists stunned by the insects’ rapid recovery

Here’s looking at yew: the Borrowdale trees

Tales from the Trees: Borrowdale Yews, Cumbria - Wordsworth's ancient yews live on in England's lakeland

The continuous ridge of russet, stone-strewn lakeland mountain encircles a valley floor as flat as a paddy field. Lights of farms are beginning to spark and the cries of tawny owls reverberate around the bowl of darkening fells. In the distance, sunset pinks the snow-dusted peak of Glaramara. It is a suitable stage to approach the most notable trees of northern England.

East meets west: the Bosphorus connects Istanbul’s two sides

My Life in Travel: Rachel Khoo

'I loved the contrast in Istanbul – the call to prayer mixed with the European cafés'

Rowing on a crisp winter morning: Why do they do it to themselves?

An ode to the dedicated souls pounding away out on the river before the sun's even up

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Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
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Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
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J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
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Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
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Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
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Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré deliver an anti-fracking letter to No 10 last week
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick