CLOSE

How To: Get Detained By Airport Security

Dangerous Item: Comedians
Don't Bring "˜Em To: Myanmar
The citizens of this country just want to avoid trouble—the kind that starts with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "C" and that stands for "comedy." Once known as Burma, Myanmar has a long tradition of stand-up comedy, usually in conjunction with traditional dance and theatre. But, since the rise of the military government nearly 20 years ago, comedy and comedians are increasingly unwelcome because of their propensity to make jokes at the junta's expense. Jokesters have even spent time in jail. Two members of an act known as the Moustache Brothers were imprisoned, with hard labor, for five years after they cracked some anti-regime jokes at a 1996 rally. A letter campaign by American comedians eventually got the two freed in 2001, but they're now banned from performing their act in Burmese.

Dangerous Item: Camera Phones
Don't Bring "˜Em To: Saudi Arabia
These trendy little devices were banned in 2002 amid concerns that the tiny cameras were being used to secretly photograph women in family or all-female environments where they might not be dressed as modestly as they would in public. In fact, according to news reports, accusations of camera phone use had led to fights at weddings and pat-down searches of students at girls' schools. But, after the ban incited a massive black-market business, the phones were re-legalized in 2004.

Dangerous Item: Vegemite
Don't Bring It To: The United States
In 2006, rumors (fueled by breathless reports by the Australian and New Zealand press) began circulating that the United States had banned the yeast-based, salty spread Vegemite from its shores. Popular (for some strange reason) with folks from down under, the spread contains large quantities of folate, a chemical whose artificial form, folic acid, is tightly regulated by the FDA. Natural folate doesn't fall under the laws, so Vegemite isn't actually in danger of bannination, but the FDA does limit the types and amount of products that can contain folic acid. Why? Because while small amounts of folate are important (particularly for fetuses and pregnant women) nobody knows what side effects it could produce if you were to start eating it in larger doses.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
iStock
iStock

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
arrow
Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios