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Betta Fish Fight Like Gentlemen

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If you've ever put a male betta fish, also known as a Siamese fighting fish, near the tank of another of its kind (or even worse, in the same tank), then you know that these aggressive beauties love the thrill of the fight. What you might not know, though, is that these fierce foes actually display some rather sportsmanlike behavior when they fight.

Bettas are native to the rice paddies of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia, where water is relatively low in oxygen. As a result, the fish adapted, evolving an organ that allows them to breathe when they break the surface of the water. Unfortunately, this also means they have smaller gills than most fish, so when they engage in high energy activities, they must periodically take a break and hit the surface.

While you might think this breather would provide a particularly aggressive fish a perfect opportunity to strike at his opponent while his defenses are down, the fish actually come up for air at the same time. The behavior is purely tactical, according to researcher Dr. Steven Portugal of London's Royal Veterinary College. "If your foe needs to breathe first, you might be forgiven for thinking this is the best time to strike," he says. "However, if your attack at this point is not successful, your opponent comes back to carry on fighting you with plenty of oxygen. Therefore, by both surface-breathing at the same time, neither of you are risking being attacked by the other during the ascent and descent from the surface."

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Animals
Why Male Hyenas Have It Worse Than Females
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A life of hunting zebras and raising young on the savanna isn’t half bad for a female hyena. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their male counterparts. As MinuteEarth explains, things take a downturn for the males of the species once they hit adolescence. No female in their pack will mate with them, a behavior scientists believe evolved to avoid inbreeding, so they head off in search of a different group to join. After dealing with vicious hazing from their new clan, they file in at the bottom of the rank and wait for other males above them to die so that they can slowly gain status.

Even after rising through the hierarchy, the most a male hyena can aspire to is being second place to the lowest-ranking female. Thanks to their bulky build and aggressive behavior, female hyenas enjoy a dominant position that’s rare in the animal kingdom.

After watching the video below, head over here for more facts about hyenas.

[h/t MinuteEarth]

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Art
A Beached Whale Sculpture Popped Up on the Banks of Paris's Seine River
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In Paris, dozens of fish varieties live in the Seine River. Now, the Associated Press reports that the famous waterway is home to a beached whale.

Rest assured, eco-warriors: The sperm whale is actually a lifelike sculpture, installed on an embankment next to Notre Dame Cathedral by Belgian artists’ collective Captain Boomer. It’s meant to raise environmental awareness, and evoke "the child in everyone who still is puzzled about what is real and what is not,” collective member Bart Van Peel told the Associated Press.

The 65-foot sculpture has reportedly startled and confused many Parisians, thanks in part to a team of fake scientists deployed to “survey” the whale. One collective member even posted a video on social media, warning Parisians that there “may be others in the water” if they opt to take a dip in the river, The Local reported.

The whale sculpture is only temporary—but as for Captain Boomer, this isn’t their first whale-related stunt. Last summer, the collective installed a similar riverside artwork in Rennes, France, and they also once strapped a large-scale whale sculpture to the back of a truck and drove it around France.

[h/t Associated Press]

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