Enter the maze

A wild way to escape diseases

A chipmunk holding a biohazard sign

Protecting wildlife might save humans as well as animals. In 2008 zoologists found that conserving animal habitats rather than building on them could prevent people from catching diseases. Lots of the most dangerous human diseases began by infecting animals, so figuring out what factors help viruses jump species could help prevent epidemics in the future.

Kate Jones from the Institute of Zoology in London and a team of researchers used computer modelling to help do just that. They found that places where people have muscled in on a diverse animal habitat are also the most likely for diseases to make the big leap into humans. That means that programs designed to conserve wild habitats might have a great side benefit for humans too - by staying away it means that we'll catch fewer exotic animal lurgies.