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10 More Lesser-Known Names for Baby Animals

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Flickr: gamppart

We’ve already gathered up barely-heard-of names for newborn animals, but there are even more lesser-known monikers. "Look at that little squeaker" may not be the most perfect thing to coo at a baby pigeon, but it's accurate. Here are 10 more of the offbeat and uncommon references for baby animals.

1. Baby skunk: kit

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Kits bear physical signs of what their fur patterns will look like when they're full-grown adults. They have markings on their naked skin that will later be replaced by fur. It's like a peek into the future. And yes, baby skunks have the ability to spray from birth, but their chemical defense mechanism isn't as strong.

2. Baby turkey: Poult

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After hatching, baby turkeys take shelter under their mom's wings. If they get separated, they let out a panic call. Multiple poults actually travel in a single-file line.

3. Baby guanaco: chulengo

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Chulengos come from another barely-known animal: the guanaco, a South American-native animal from the camelid family. Even though they're related to camels, they don't have humps on their backs.

4. Baby rat: Pinkie

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Technically, a "pinkie" is a baby rat that is going to be used as food, but it's a cute name. The name is frequently used by snake owners.

5. Baby Peafowl (more commonly known in the male form as a peacock): Peachick

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Raised in captivity for more than 2000 years, the U.S. has mostly blue (or Indian) peafowls. Peafowl is the all-encompasing term for what is generally called a peacock. A peacock refers to a male peafowl and a peahen refers to a female. A peafowl is only a peachick when it is younger than one year old.

6. Baby oyster: spat

Courtesy of Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources

Way before it's possible to grow a pearl, a spat must grow into an oyster. Usually in the spring or the fall, adult pearl oysters will spawn into rich, nutrient loaded waters, and the oyster's sperm will fertilize the eggs. It takes about one or two months for a spat to grow to a size visible to the naked eye.

7. Baby mosquito: nymph, wriggler, tumbler

Courtesy of iamtonyang

A baby mosquito's name isn't related to Tumblr, the popular blogging website. Little tumblers (sometimes called wrigglers or nymphs) have occupied Earth for more than 210 million years, but their life expectancies are extremely low. Male mosquitoes live for less than a week and females can live up to a few months under ideal conditions.

8. Baby frog: Polliwog, tadpole, froglet

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There are three names for baby frogs, depending on which segment of the life cycle they're in. After 21 days of being an embryo, a baby frog is called a tadpole (but really is called a polliwog) and at this point, has a long tail and lives in the water. It actually becomes a tadpole when it sprouts legs. As a froglet, the tadpole has almost matured into a full-grown adult that breathes with lungs, but still has a bit of a tail.

9. Baby eel: Elver

Courtesy of TakakoUno

The value of elvers has skyrocketed in recent years as the demand for them has spiked in Asia. In fact, in February 2013, out of 5000 applicants in Maine's elver lottery, only four fishermen were given licenses to use hand-dip nets in the state's elver fishery. 

10. Baby pigeon: Squab, squeaker

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Parent pigeons typically hide their young for a month after hatching, ensuring that they will be able to survive. As a result, it's very rare to see a squab (or squeaker) because they're almost fully grown by the time parents let them spread their wings.

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Animals
Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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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