Kittens play in an Easter basket

This is the perfect use for that post-Easter Easter basket. Read the rest

Videos of Patrick Stewart being licked by his new rescue dog

Sir Patrick Stewart OBE is a legendary actor, activist and baldy. Ginger is his family's new dog, a pit bull terrier adopted through ASPCA and Wags And Walks.

The X-Men actor may have outdone himself this week, though, when he posted the above tweet, welcoming his new foster dog Ginger into his home. We don’t want to belabor the point too much, but this is an internet video that combines a cute fostered pitbull and Patrick Stewart speaking in his most gentle, delighted voice, and thus represents the internet’s current stockpile of peak cute.

Here Ginger polishes the pate:

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Kittens photographed mid-pounce

As promised by the headline, nothing more, nothing less, just kittens photographed mid-pounce. The raw adorable feed: Seth Casteel. Read the rest

This little girl has the cutest “mad face”

Don’t mess with Emani. Read the rest

360-degree kitten-cam

Complete with the sort of music that accompanies peaceful villages in Japanese adventure games, newStory's 360° footage of four adorable kittens is here to brighten your day. Drag and click inside the video to look around! [via Metafilter] Read the rest

Lily McDonnell's adorable plush toys

Monsters, ferrets, aliens, foxes and more are all on display at freelance illustrator and designer Lily McDonnell's website, MyBeautifulMonsters.com.

Check out her etsy shop. Read the rest

Snail eats lunch

There's something really unnerving about this little snail eating lunch. It's too gross to be adorable, but too adorable to be gross. Are his little antennae an emotional reaction? Read the rest

Baby nautilus proves you don't need vertebrae to be adorable

This baby nautilus emerged this week from an egg laid last November at San Diego's Birch Aquarium. For this tiny cephalopod, the process of being born took not hours, or even days, but weeks. The ZooBorns site has a series of photos that show how the nautilus slooooooowly emerged from the egg. Read the rest

Watch a three-year-old get Spider-Man for Christmas

Santa Claus grants a superhero wish for three-year-old Kieran!

Red-nosed reindeer are real

It's true! Science proves it!

And it's more than just an effect of infrared imaging. If you duck over to Joseph Stromberg's post at the Surprising Science blog, you'll see a photo of a real, live reindeer with an adorably red nose (and upper lip).

Turns out, it's the result of an evolutionary adaptation. Some (but not all) reindeer have noses full of densely packed blood vessels — a difference that makes those reindeer better at regulating their own body temperatures.

To come to the findings, the scientists examined the noses of two reindeer and five human volunteers with a hand-held video microscope that allowed them to see individual blood vessels and the flow of blood in real time. They discovered that the reindeer had a 25% higher concentration of blood vessels in their noses, on average.

They also put the reindeer on a treadmill and used infrared imaging to measure what parts of their bodies shed the most heat after exercise. The nose, along with the hind legs, reached temperatures as high as 75°F—relatively hot for a reindeer—indicating that one of the main functions of all this blood flow is to help regulate temperature, bringing large volumes of blood close to the surface when the animals are overheated, so its heat can radiate out into the air.

Also: red-nosed reindeer on treadmills, you guys. This is clearly the most adorable science of the holiday season.

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Via Bart King

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Tardigrade is plump, loveable

Who's a chubby little water bear? Yes you are. Ooh, yes you are.

This moment of straight-up cuteness is brought to you by Bob Goldstein, who researches tardigrades at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Tardigrades are, of course, microscopic animals that live in moss and the muddy sand on beaches. They can survive high temperatures, freezing, and crushing pressures by drying themselves up into a little hard ball, called a tun. Stick a tun in water and — no matter what horrible conditions it's dealt with — it will rehydrate and regenerate back into a tardigrade. Beyond that, though, we know shockingly little about these animals. Even their place on the evolutionary tree of life is up for debate. Among other work, Goldstein and his team are in the process of sequencing the tardigrade genome. It may well be the most adorable genome on Earth.

Dr. Goldstein's quick introduction to the tardigrade.

Thanks to Xeni for finding this in the BoingBoing Flickr pool!

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Seals: Graceful underwater, adorably useless on land

Beautiful footage of Weddell seals in Antarctica — on the ice and under the water.

Two very good dogs teach you chemistry

Paige and Dexter are so smart, they can even explain chemical bonds.

Baby echidnas are called puggles and they are ADORABLE

So cute, you'll ERMAHGERD all over the place.

Peacock spider shakes it for the ladies

Male peacock spiders are fuzzy, strangely adorable, and boast a brilliantly colored abdomen that they flip up and use as a prop for an elaborate (for a spider) mating dance.

In this video, the mating dance of the peacock spider has been helpfully set to music, so you can really see why his abdomen makes female spiders wanna shoop.

This particular specimen is apparently a representative of an as-yet-unnamed species of peacock spider. You can read more about this species, and what makes it different from its cousins, in this paper by Jürgen C. Otto and David E. Hill, who also made the video.

Via Bug Girl Read the rest

London Zoo animal audit: World's most adorable bookkeeping

Why is this owl on a scale? Because of science.

Tracking the growth of captive animals isn't just about making sure the captive animals are well taken care of. It's also an important part of understanding animal life cycles and how life in captivity differs from life in the wild. Data on millions of animals is stored in the Zoological Information Management System—a database used by zookeepers, aquarium officials, and researchers. In order to have that database, though, zoos and aquariums must do annual inventories of their charges—measuring height and weight, and recording data on details like egg-laying patterns. And this is where the cute comes in.

The Guardian has a slideshow of images taken last week during the London Zoo's animal inventory. If you've ever wanted to see somebody stretch a tape measure around a penguin's chubby belly, or coo over meerkats climbing around a scale, this is your chance.

See the rest of the photos Read the rest

Grooming a baby sea otter

It's not just adorable! Grooming is actually an incredibly important part of keeping this baby sea otter healthy. Joanne Manaster visited the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and came back with a whole post for the PsiVid blog about the science of cute baby animals.

When an otter is raised by humans, there are many skills they need to learn, including how to feed themselves, groom themselves, and to sleep in the water. Unfortunately, once they are habituated to humans, they will not gain the skills needed to hunt, so cannot be released into the wild. On the other hand, the otter raised by the surrogate will gain all necessary skills and may be released to the wild in the future.

That's why Toola—the world's most influential otter—was so important. Those habits, including grooming, are a big deal in the wild.

From Shedd’s website: “Keeping the pup’s thick fur clean, dry and fluffed is essential to her survival. Sea otters are the only marine mammals that aren’t wrapped in an insulating blanket of blubber. Instead, they have about 1 million hairs per square inch of skin, divided into an outer layer of thick guard hairs and an inner layer of dense, wooly underfur honeycombed with millions of tiny air pockets. The layers work together to keep water out and body heat in. If the fur becomes matted or fouled with pollutants such as oil, cold sea water penetrates to the otter’s skin and the animal can quickly succumb to hypothermia.

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