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11 Lesser-Known Names for Baby Animals

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We know that infant chickens are called chicks and baby ducks are called ducklings. But how do we appropriately refer to the newborn offspring of animals that don’t often get cooed over in their early developmental stages? Here are 11 of some of the more offbeat and uncommon names for baby animals.

1. BABY ALPACA OR LLAMA // CRIA

baby llama
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Despite the subtle distinctions between llamas and alpacas with regards to size, strength, and quality/quantity of wool fiber produced from their respective fleeces, both animals can interbreed and successfully produce offspring. Both genetically pure llamas/alpacas and their mixed progeny are called cria in the singular, crias in the plural.

2. BABY CLAM // LARVA 

That steaming helping of seafood stew will look much less appetizing with the word “larva” stuck in your head. I’m sorry.

3. BABY HARE // LEVERET

baby rabbit in the grass
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A curious fact about hares: Rather than sheltering their newborn young from potential dangers in their environment, a mother hare will leave her offspring behind for long periods of time within an hour of their birth in order to avoid attracting predators to them, returning to provide food at night. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton, hoping to curb instances of well-intentioned but ill-informed citizens spontaneously adopting baby hares found in fields, promotes a catchy slogan: "If you see a baby hare, leave it right there!" They may know the correct term is leveret, but it's much harder to rhyme with it.

4. BABY FISH // FRY, FINGERLING

The names for baby fish are memorable for their irony: fry, a common method of preparing the edible varieties for consumption, and fingerling, a type of potato that pairs well as a side. Not suitable for vegetarians.

5. BABY FOX // KIT

baby fox
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Born blind, deaf, and toothless, fox kits mature quickly. Around 4-5 weeks, their blue eyes darken to amber; within the first month, they develop their trademark white face patches; and they reach adult proportions in as little as six months. 

6. BABY HAWK // EYAS

In general, a fledgling hawk taken from its nest within its first year of life, specifically for the purposes of falconry, is called an eyas. In particular, the two baby hawks born in Washington Square Park under the watchful eye of the New York Times HawkCam in 2012 are called Boo and Scout.

7. BABY PIG // SHOAT, FARROW

In addition to the more obvious "boarlet" and "piglet," baby hogs and boars may also correctly be referred to as shoats (newly weaned pigs) or a farrow (a collective term for a group of young pigs). For the purposes of a nursery rhyme, however, "this little piggy" is an appropriate substitute.

8. BABY JELLYFISH // EPHYRA

Jellyfish swim at the Ocearium
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And the term for a group of jellyfish traveling together: a “smack.”

9. BABY BEAVER // PUP, KIT, KITTEN

With names borrowed from both cats and dogs but none truly of their own, it's not hard to imagine a baby beaver might have some identity struggles growing up.

10. BABY PLATYPUS // PUGGLE

Although there’s some controversy over its unofficial status as a legitimate term for baby platypuses, “puggle” is a term borrowed from baby echidnas and applied to its fellow egg-laying mammale. There is no officially recognized label for platypus babies, but in recent years “platypup” has emerged as a more logical but less memorable alternative. And yes, I used “platypuses” as a plural for platypus, and I’m sticking to my guns here.

11. BABY SWAN // CYGNET, FLAPPER

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The “ugly duckling” may have outgrown his awkward phase and blossomed into a beautiful swan, but I speak from experience: those things are mean.

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Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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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]

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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.

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