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When is an animal more than an animal?

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It's pretty widely accepted than animals and humans are different, having evolved separately. But apparently some aren't sold on this whole Darwin thing and they're taking it to the courts. And this isn't just Scopes Monkey Trial 2.0. No, a group in Austria is legitimately trying to get an ape recognized as a person.

Last month, a judge in Austria tossed out the case, where the Association Against Animal Factories was trying get a chimp granted the rights of a person (but not a human). The group was lobbying for 26-year-old Matthew Hiasl Pan (see, he's already got a full human name) to be declared a person so that a guardian could take care of him. They're concerned that the shelter currently caring for him will close and that he'll be abandoned unless a legal guardian is appointed, an action reserved only for humans. With all the potential problems with this case (such as Pan not actually being a person), it's unexpected that the case could be thrown out because of a technicality. But it was; the judge said the AAAF didn't have the legal status to represent Pan. They've promised to appeal the case in the Austrian Supreme Court.

Neighboring Germany has been more accepting of animal rights. In 2002, Germany became the first country in the European union to legally recognize animal rights when the legislature voted to add "and animals" to their constitution. With the move, Germany promised to protect the dignity of animals. Switzerland (not an EU member) has a similar provision in their constitution, which recognizes animals as "beings," not themes. If only the AAAF had moved Pan abroad.

Still, others have tried to humanize animals outside of the legal system. Take George Willard and his wife Pixel. What's so special about Pixel? Well, for one thing, she's a horse. George and Pixel have been hitched for 14 years. They found fame when they were featured on an episode of the Jerry Springer Show entitled "I Married a Horse." You may not remember the episode because some local stations opted not to air it. That's right, the episode, which also featured two others' relationships with dogs, was even too racy for some normal Jerry Springer viewers. There are other examples of human-animal marriages chicken boo.gifout there, including a man in Nepal who married a dog for good luck.

But in terms of animals passing as humans, nothing trumps the classic Animaniacs character Chicken Boo. This six-foot tall chicken who looked suspiciously like Foghorn Leghorn, was able to make it as anything from a dancer to a Confederate general, without anyone realizing he was a chicken. Who knows, maybe some animals have already bypassed the legal requirements and are walking among us.

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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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