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Henry the Tortoise Is Looking for a Part-Time Walker

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If you live in New York City, love reptiles, and are looking for a slow-paced side gig, a local pet owner is hiring a weekday walker to take her African spurred tortoise on leisurely nature walks.

Harlem resident (and former Mental Floss contributor) Amanda Green adopted Henry three years ago. She works during the day, but her pet gets restless at home—so in March 2016, Green posted a Craigslist ad looking for someone to take Henry for strolls in nearby Central Park.

“Henry's very active when the weather's nice and paces around the apartment,” Green tells Mental Floss. “A bored tortoise can be a destructive tortoise."

News of the ad went viral, and Green received “hundreds and hundreds” of job applications from around the world. She ended up hiring Amalia McCallister, an animal-loving neighbor who worked at a local pet store. Now, McCallister is moving away to Chicago, and Green needs to find a replacement walker.

The tortoise-walking gig pays $11 an hour, according to a new Craigslist ad posted by Green. Since Henry weighs around 20 pounds, Green provides walkers with a pet stroller to transport the massive critter to and from Central Park. Once Henry arrives, “he starts his park trips by mowing the lawn, especially dandelions,” Green says. “After a while, he'll stroll the trails or along any fence line he can find. (The guy loves a perimeter.) Then he'll snack more and sun after a while. Sometimes he digs a little, too.”

The job has its challenges: For one, Henry roams freely in the grass without a leash, so the chosen candidate will need to keep a very close eye on him. “Henry is surprisingly energetic and fearless,” Green writes in her Craigslist ad. “The biggest thing to watch out for is him eating trash or kids trying to feed him.”

Also, being a tortoise walker is “more physical than people expect,” Green says. “Henry's essentially a kettlebell with four legs. He needs help in and out of the stroller, and I live in a third-floor walkup apartment. The job can also require being stern with people. A few times per year, some mansplainer will tell me I should allow Henry to swim (he'd die) or live in the park all year long (he'd die), and I have to explain tortoises to him. I've also had people try to feed Henry donuts and other forbidden foods, which is annoying. For the most part, though, people are great.”

Finally, you’ll have to pick up Henry’s poop. (For the record, Green notes that it's “quite dry and looks like the grass he eats all day.")

One perk of the job? If you're single, Henry might help you score a date. “I've told my single guy friends that Henry's the ultimate wingman,” Green says. “Women love him."

Green’s ad has already received close to 100 responses, so if you want to toss your hat into the ring, you should reply sooner rather than later. And even if you don’t end up getting hired, you can still follow Henry's adventures on Instagram.

[h/t Gothamist]

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These Deep-Sea Worms Could Live More Than a Thousand Years

Plunge below the sparkling surface of the Gulf of Mexico, head down into the depths, and there you'll find the ancient ones, growing in clusters of drab tubes like piles of construction equipment. Scientists writing in the journal The Science of Nature report that some of these worms could be more than 1000 years old.

When it comes to marine organisms, the deeper you go, the slower and older life gets. Biologists have found an octopus that guarded her eggs for four and a half years. They've seen clams born during the Ming dynasty and sharks older than the United States. They've seen communities of coral that have been around for millennia.

Previous studies have shown that some species of tube worm can live to be 250 years old. To find out if the same was true for other species—in this case, the Gulf of Mexico's Escarpia laminata—researchers spent years watching them grow. They used a long-lasting dye called Acid Blue to mark six clusters of worms, then let them to go about their wormy business. A year later, they collected all 356 blue-stained tubes and brought them back to the lab to measure their growth.

By calculating the speed of the worms' growth and comparing it to the size of the largest individuals, the scientists could devise a pretty good estimate of the oldest worms' age.

And boy, are they old. The researchers' worm-growth simulation suggested that the most ancient individuals could be more than 9000 years old. This seems incredible, even for tough old tube worms, so the scientists calculated a more conservative maximum age: a mere 1000 years.

A millennium-long lifespan is an extreme and not the average, the paper authors note. "There may indeed be large E. laminata over 1000 years old in nature, but given our research, we are more confident reporting a life span of at least 250 to 300 years," lead author Alanna Durkin of Temple University told New Scientist.

Still, Durkin says, "E. laminata is pushing the bounds of what we thought was possible for longevity."

She's excited by the prospect of finding older creatures yet.

"It's possible that new record-breaking life spans will be discovered in the deep sea,” she says, “since we are finding new species and new habitats almost every time we send down a submersible.”

 

[h/t New Scientist]

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Animals
Watch as Hummingbirds Fly, Drink, and Flap Their Tiny Wings in Slow Motion
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Hummingbirds have more feathers per inch than nearly any other bird, but it’s hard to fully appreciate their luminescent colors when they beat their wings between 70 to 200 times per second.

For the enjoyment of birders everywhere, National Geographic photographer Anand Varma teamed up with bird biologists and used a high-speed, high-resolution camera to capture the tiny creatures in slow motion as they flew through wind tunnels, drank artificial nectar from a glass vessel, and shook water from their magnificent plumage.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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