Moth looks like a dead leaf

Why Evolution Is True introduced me to a profoundly awesome example of mimicry in nature: Uropyia meticulodina, a moth from eastern Asia that looks like a dead leaf.

Real Monstrosities: "It’s not just brown like a dead leaf, it’s brown like a curled up, dead leaf. And it’s not just brown like a curled up, dead leaf, it depicts a leaf catching the light, with shadows in all the right places and you can even see the veins casting tiny shadows along the curled underside. It’s like one of those optical illusions that still work even when you know it’s a trick."

Here's what it looks like "normally", or at least when pinned to a board. (Hsu Hong Lin, CC)

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Why is the octopus so smart?

Cephalopod intelligence is widely known, but scientists struggle to understand why it evolved. The New York Times' Carl Zimmer reports on one of zoology's most fascinating questions.

About 275 million years ago, the ancestor of today’s cephalopods lost the external shell. It’s not clear why, but it must have been liberating. Now the animals could start exploring places that had been off-limits to their shelled ancestors. Octopuses could slip into rocky crevices, for example, to hunt for prey. On the other hand, losing their shells left cephalopods quite vulnerable to hungry predators. This threat may have driven cephalopods to become masters of disguise and escape. They did so by evolving big brains, the ability to solve new problems, and perhaps look into the future — knowing that coconut or clam shells may come in handy, for example.

Yet intelligence is not the perfect solution for cephalopods, Mr. Amodio suggested. Sooner or later, they get eaten. Natural selection has turned them into a paradox: a short-lived, intelligent animal.

They also like MDMA. Read the rest

Large steer towers over puny wagyu cattle

Say hello to Knickers, a 6'4" 3000-pound steer too big for the slaughterhouse to slaughter. Knickers will get to live out its natural life.

The AP reports:

The black-and-white Holstein Friesian won social media fame and many proclamations of “Holy Cow!” after photos surfaced of the 194-centimeter (6-foot-4-inch) steer standing head and shoulders above a herd of brown cattle in Western Australia state. ... Instead of becoming steaks and burgers, 7-year-old Knickers will get to live out his life in Pearson’s fields in Lake Preston, southwest of Perth.

The Washington Post provides some context:

Knickers is big. But also that his bigness is relative to what he is being compared....For starters, she said, it’s important to note that Knickers is not a cow but a steer ... Male Holsteins tend to top out at just under 6 feet in height, while other breeds, like the wagyu cattle that surround Knickers in the now-famous photos of him, usually come in under 4.5 feet.

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Elephant vs. Goose

A suprisingly evenly-matched battle at the Hogle Zoo in Utah. At least one more confrontation is posted to YouTube featuring a young elephant there, named Zuri, who evidently has a geese problem.

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New York City man alarmed by presence of unusual cat (NSFW)

SPOILERS: Yes, it's obviously the back yard of a standard post-war British house. It's actor Michael Rapaport doing a voice-over on this video of Wilfred, a divinely-inbred Chinchilla Persian from England. Read the rest

Video: cuttlefish, owls, and tarsiers all have remarkable night vision

What animals have night vision and how the hell can they see in the dark anyway? (Nat Geo WILD via The Kid Should See This)

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Porch thief caught on camera

You'd think that so-called "porch pirates" would have realized by now that everyone has installed cameras to catch them in the act. But this brazen thief couldn't care less.

Bill Garner writes: "My phone alerted me that my doorbell had detected a visitor. When I pulled up the clip, I saw this pair of thieves! They obviously had it planned..." Read the rest

Reptile dances to Haddaway's "What is Love?"

His name is Tad Cooper, apparently, filmed here by Joseph Pannullo. I made a perfectly-looping GIF of the funky reptile for you:

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Dog lip-syncs to System of a Down

I suspect this video was edited before publication. Read the rest

Taylor Swift escapes her enclosure at Sacramento Zoo

Taylor Swift somehow managed to get out of her enclosure at Sacramento Zoo Sunday and led officials on a brief pursuit. Read the rest

Venus flytrap devours wasps

Lothar Lenz videotaped Dionaea muscipula making short work of Vespula germanica. Read the rest

Deer performs classic drum fill from Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight"

It meant to do that. The Wikipedia article for In The Air Tonight is good.

The Solid State Logic 4000 mixing board had a "reverse talk-back" circuit (labeled on the board as "Listen Mic"). Normal "talkback" is a button that the mixing engineer has to press in order to talk to the recording musicians (the recording and the mixing parts of a studio are, otherwise, completely sonically isolated). Reverse talkback is a circuit (also button-activated) for the engineer to listen to musicians in the studio. In order to compensate for sound level differences—people can be close to the reverse talkback microphone or far off—this circuit has a compressor on it, which minimizes the differences between loud and soft sounds. While recording "Intruder" for his ex-bandmate Peter Gabriel's third solo album, at some point Collins started playing the drums while the reverse talkback was activated. Engineer Hugh Padgham was amazed at the sound achieved. Overnight, they rewired the board so that the reverse talkback could be recorded in a more formal manner. Later models of the SSL 4000 allowed the listen mic to be recorded with the touch of a button.[9]

When recording engineer Padgham was brought in to help develop Collins' demos that would become Face Value they recreated the "Intruder" sound using the reverse talkback microphone as well as heavily compressed and gated ambient mics. Padgham continued working with Genesis for Abacab later in 1981 and the same technique (generally referred to as gated reverb) was used, and the powerful drum sound has become synonymous with later Genesis projects and Collins' solo career ever since.

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Woman frightened by VR experience snuggles wrong end of dog for comfort

"It's horrible!" declares mum, who nonetheless sticks with the virtual reality game, comforted by the warmth and affection of her animal companion.

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Seal slaps kayaker in his face with an octopus

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新しい @gopro #Hero7Black で衝撃映像撮れた🤣🤣 4K60fpsの安定化オンで撮ったからここまで驚いて全部撮れてた!こんな楽しいカヤックはじめて!!音声も海とかのガチャガチャ音ないし最高! @barekiwi getting octopus smashed into his face by a seal⁉️ I’ve never had such an amazing kayak everrrrr!! I am super stoked that the new @goproanz #Hero7Black captured without missing a thing although we shook so much, #hypersmooth the stabilisation managed it so well!! I made a little montage to show how good the audio came out!! No noises super clean!! Thanks to @kaikourakayaks @purenewzealand @kaikouranz @goprojp @howtodadnz @snapair for such an epic trip!! #gopro #ゴープロ #ゴープロのある生活

A post shared by 🌴TAIYO MASUDA🌴 (@taiyomasuda) on Sep 23, 2018 at 12:34am PDT

As posted by Taiyo Masuda to Instagram. The headline, being accurate and complete, requires no further elaboration. (via Nicole Cliffe) Read the rest

7 hurt in Shriner camel rampage

The spooked camel was brought under control in seconds, report witnesses at a Pittsburgh Shriner Circus, but sent six children and one adult to hospital Sunday afternoon. The worst injury was a broken arm.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that two children and an adult were riding the camel during an intermission Sunday at the Shrine Circus at PPG Paints Arena when it became startled. The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. as people were buying rides on tethered camels, ponies or elephants led by handlers. Public safety and circus officials did not immediately know what startled the camel.

KDKA posted footage and got some more eyewitness reports: “They were giving camel rides and camels were walking around calmly. And then a kid threw a shovel at the camel’s feet, which startled the camel and it started to buck,” Ruthie Kester, of Latrobe, said.

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Goats friendlier for happy human faces

If you're worried about menacing gangs of goats roaming the moor, here's how to sweeten the savage beasts: smile. Scientists found that "goats are drawn to humans with happy facial expressions."

The team showed goats pairs of photos of the same person, one of them featuring an angry expression, and the other a happy demeanour. The goats in the study made a beeline for the happy faces, the researchers report in the journal Open Science. The result implies that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of working as human companions, such as dogs and horses.

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Minimum viable howl

Sleepy wolf Alawa is "hands down the laziest howler we've ever known," writes the Wolf Conservation Center on its YouTube Channel. Read the rest

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