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Too weird to die

The Zoological Society of London just announced a plan that would add the world's 100 most evolutionarily distinct species to international endangered lists. Many of them are so strange that they're often overlooked by more traditional approaches to conservation; these represent one-of-a-kind species that have few taxonomic relatives on earth. Jonathan Baille, the program's lead scientist, said "They represent entire lineages. If you were to think about Edge species in terms of the art world, it would be like losing a Mona Lisa - they are totally irreplaceable and unique." Some of these "Mona Lisas" include:

The slender loris, one of the world's smallest (and weirdest-looking) primates, whose habitat in Western Thailand and Burma are threatened by deforestation.

The hirola, also known as the "four-eyed antelope" thanks to their huge preorbital glands. Prolonged droughts have disturbed their dwindling population, which live on the arid plains between Kenya and Somalia.

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The bumblebee bat, also curiously known as Kitti's Hog-Nosed Bat, the smallest mammal in the world at approximately 30mm in length and weighing less than a dime. Considered one of 12 most endangered species on the planet, the Thai government only found 160 of them living in caves despite extensive surveys in 1982.

shrew.jpgThe politely-named Golden-rumped elephant shrew (no relation to The Golden Ass of Greek lore), which is endemic to just one forest in Kenya, where is it hunted for food by locals. (The golden hindquarters, by the way, act as a distraction for potential predators; its booty is thick and protected, it's head is not.)

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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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