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Even better than a Labradoodle

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Ever since I saw these pictures on Cute Overload last week, I've been trying to convince my landlord that it would be acceptable for me to have a pet alpaca. Our building doesn't allow cats and dogs, much less large South American ungulates, but on the other hand, according to Wikipedia, alpacas are well suited to domestic life:

1. They're already house-trained! "To help alpacas control their internal parasites they have a communal dung pile, which they do not graze. Generally, males have much tidier dung piles than females who tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female will approach the dung pile and begin to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd will often follow."

2. They make adorable noises! "Sheep baa, cows moo and alpacas hum. ... Humming can take on many inflections and meanings, from a high-pitched, almost desperate, squealing, 'MMMM!' or frantic question, 'mmMMM!' when a mother is separated from her offspring (called a 'cria,') to a questioning 'Mmm?' when they are curious. .... Some breeds are known to make a sound similar to a 'wark' noise when excited, and they stand proud with their tails sticking out and their ears in a very alert position. ... A male in the act of mating, or hoping for a chance to mate, will 'orgle.'"

3. They don't bite! On the other hand, they spit. And kick. And projectile-vomit. "Some alpacas kick, some don't, but due to the soft pads on their feet, their kicks are not as dangerous as hoofed animals. Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable. 'Spit' is somewhat euphemistic. While occasionally the contents of the projectile are only air and a little saliva, the alpaca will often bring up and project regurgitated stomach contents. ... The smell is so foul that many people who work with alpacas would much rather come into contact with alpaca feces than with alpaca spit."

Perhaps I will keep that last little tidbit from the landlord.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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