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Some Things You Should Know About Polar Bears

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Devotees of online "cuteness overload" sites are probably familiar with Knut, the polar bear born in 2006 at the Berlin Zoological Garden. Little Knut was rejected by his mother and was subsequently hand-raised by zookeeper Thomas Dörflein, who slept on a mattress next to Knut's crate at night in order to provide 24-hour care. Both Knut and his caretaker became reluctant celebrities and regularly greeted visitors at the zoo at set times each day.

As fluffy and adorable as baby Knut was, he was destined to grow up into a full-fledged adult polar bear, considered by biologists to be the most dangerous species of the bear kingdom. Adult Knut was just recently introduced to a three-year-old female on loan from the Munich Zoo. The humans involved hope that the pair will eventually have amour on their minds, and they're encouraged by Gianna's initial reaction: she smacked Knut on his snoot, a not uncommon practice among female polar bears and potential suitors. Just in case you're unfamiliar with polar bear behavior in general, here are a few quick facts:

Polar bears know no boundaries when it comes to hunting for food. They travel from Alaska to Russia to Canada to Greenland, and even parts of Norway. They're not really land animals, but they travel from place to place across the ice when the ocean freezes. Seal meat is the favorite food of polar bears, and they prefer to stay out at sea on giant ice floes where seals are plentiful. "Still hunting" is a polar bear's preferred method of catching its favorite dinner, a ringed or bearded seal. The bear finds an air hole in the ice, lies next to it, and keeps very still. When a seal pops his head up for a breath of air, the bear grabs it and flips it onto the ice.
Polar bears possess one of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. Researchers believe that polar bears can smell a seal from up to 20 miles away, or even a seal den that's been buried under three feet of snow. When they stand on their hind legs, they're usually sniffing the air around them, trying to hone in on the closest food source.
Underneath its fur, a polar bear's skin is just as black as its nose. Scientists used to believe that the black skin of the polar bear helped it to absorb heat, but recent studies have shown that its fur actually absorbs most of the UV rays and transmits very little energy to the flesh. Polar bears actually have two layers of fur, which insulates the creatures so well that they tend to get overheated when running a long distance.
Their fur is oily and water repellent. When polar bears climb out of the water after a swim, one or two good shakes dries them off almost completely.
The wild polar bear population has diminished in recent years due to global warming and their overall loss of habitat, so breeding in captivity has been encouraged in order to perpetuate the species. As a result, scientists have learned a great deal about the mating patterns of polar bears. They've noted, for example, that polar bears don't seem to mind "courting" in full view of visitors, but mama bears won't carry a cub to term unless she has her own private, secluded den. Adult female polar bears usually give birth once every three years, and the cubs stay with their mothers until they are about two and a half years old. The mother bear nurses them for up to 30 months, even though the youngsters start sprouting very sharp teeth at only two months of age. The cubs look bald at birth, but they actually have a very fine layer of fur. They are, however, unable to see or hear when they're first born.




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Live Smarter
Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique
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Whether you’re dealing with co-worker chaos or pressure to perform on a project, it’s difficult to excel at work when you're extremely stressed. Can’t escape the office? Take a cue from real-life soldiers and try a technique called tactical breathing—also known as combat breathing, four-count breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing—to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breath.

“It’s one you can use when things are blowing up around you”—both literally and figuratively—“and you need to be able to stay calm,” explains clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, who demonstrates a version of tactical breathing in Tech Insider’s video below.

Vranich is the author of 2016’s Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. Watch, learn, and—of course—inhale and exhale along with her until you feel zen enough to salvage the remainder of your workday.

[h/t Business Insider]

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10 Creepy Candles to Get You in the Halloween Mood
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Candles are always a handy household accessory, but they're especially useful around Halloween, when they can be used to light jack-o'-lanterns, summon spirits, or simply brighten a long, dark night. These spooky lights are more suited for tabletops than pumpkins, or soirees than seances, but they'll still make your upcoming costume shindig extra festive (and fragrant, to boot).


PyroPet’s cat-shaped Kisa candle looks like an ordinary wax feline. But as it melts, a hidden surprise reveals itself: a macabre metallic skeleton with charred bones and bared fangs.

The Kisa candle costs $34 and comes in three colors: pink, gray, and an ultra-spooky black. Not into cats? Additional PyroPet offerings include birds, bunnies, reindeer, owls, and dragons, all with the same silver framework.


Brain candle by Creepy Candles
Creepy Candles

This specimen-inspired candle by Etsy seller Creepy Candles would look equally at place in a mad scientist’s laboratory as it would at a Halloween soiree. A wax brain is suspended in green-tinted gel that resembles formaldehyde, but the candle itself thankfully smells like grapefruit. The Brain Candle costs $25 and is handmade to order.


Beeswax human spine candles, set of three, by Grave Digger Candles
Grave Digger Candles

Grow a spine this Halloween—or at least buy one. These notched beeswax pillar candles are inspired by the Victorian Era, a period in which physicians created detailed wax models of flayed corpses to teach medical students the literal ins and outs of anatomy. Etsy seller Grave Digger Candles sells them in sets of three for $76.


LED battery-operated Ouija board candle by Twisted Nightmares
Twisted Nightmares

This Ouija board-inspired, LED battery-operated candle probably won’t summon spirits, but it’s still spine-tinglingly spooky. Sold by Etsy user Twisted Nightmares, it costs $20 and requires three AAA batteries, which aren’t included with purchase.


Bleeding Heart Candle by Cozy Custom Candles
Cozy Custom Candles

Love guts, blood, and Gothic romance? Your heart might bleed for this candle, which turns into a gushing heart when lit. Sold by Etsy seller Cozy Custom Candles, the heart-shaped light source has a white outer shell made from a high-melt point paraffin wax, while its core is made of a red-colored wax blend with a low melting point. The candle hemorrhages vital fluids as it burns, making it the perfect accessory for a bloody good time.

The Bleeding Heart Candle costs $17 and comes in multiple autumnal scents, including caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and sweet cinnamon-pumpkin.


Pick Your Poison candle by Mr. Toad's House of Wax
Mr. Toad's House of Wax

The “Pick Your Poison” candles by Etsy seller Mr. Toad’s House of Wax appear to have been snatched from the shelf of a Victorian apothecarist. But while labeled “Poison Hemlock Oil” and “Tincture of Wolfsbane Poison,” they smell like fresh fallen leaves, pumpkin spice, and other autumnal scents when lit. Both candles cost $21, and are embellished with a sparkly jewel and black velvet ribbon.


Woods & Earth candle by Geeky Girl Scents
Geeky Girl Scents

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of trees and fresh graveyard dirt on a fall night. With hints of wood and earth, this candle by Etsy seller Geek Girl Scents will make your living room smell like a haunted cemetery. An eight-ounce jar costs $15, and a 16-ounce version is also available.


Witch Farts Scented Soy Wax Candle by The Candle Crate
The Candle Crate

If you’ve ever wondered what witch gas smells like (who hasn’t?), you can find out by purchasing The Candle Crate’s flaming ode to supernatural flatulence. The Etsy seller’s “Witch Farts” candle is more Glinda the Good Witch than Elphaba, with top notes of peach, apricot, and blackberries and middle notes of mandarin, cinnamon, and rose.

The soy wax candle costs $12, and is sold alongside other witchy, Harry Potter-inspired products like “Number 12 Grimmauld Place” and “The Leaky Cauldron.”


Ghost Repellent candle by Nola And Neighbors
Nola And Neighbors

Even if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, you can still keep them at bay with this “Ghost Repellent” candle by Etsy sellers Nola And Neighbors. It smells like lavender and sage, and comes with an instruction label informing owners to light it “at dusk or dawn” for best results—although the ghost’s removal is “not guaranteed.” At $17, it’s still way cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.


Zombie Golden Girls prayer candle set by The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame

Golden Girls devotees who’d follow the Fab Four to the grave and beyond can light up their lanais with these zombie prayer candles by Etsy shop The Eternal Flame. They come in sets of four (one for each Girl, naturally) and cost $40. Color choices include white, orange, and purple.


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