London's Natural History Museum Has a New Star Attraction: An Amazing Blue Whale Skeleton

Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum

In January 2017, London’s Natural History Museum said goodbye to Dippy, the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton cast that had presided over the institution’s grand entrance hall since 1979. Dippy is scheduled to tour the UK from early 2018 to late 2020—and taking his place in Hintze Hall, The Guardian reports, is a majestic 82-foot blue whale skeleton named Hope.

Hope was officially unveiled to the public on July 14. The massive skeleton hangs suspended from the hall’s ceiling, providing visitors with a 360-degree view of the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth.

Technically, Hope isn’t a new addition to the Natural History Museum, which was first established in 1881. The skeleton is from a whale that beached itself at the mouth of Ireland's Wexford Harbor in 1891 after being injured by a whaler. A town merchant sold the skeleton to the museum for just a couple of hundred pounds, and in 1934, the bones were displayed in the Mammal Hall, where they hung over a life-size blue whale model.

The whale skeleton remained in the Mammal Hall until 2015, when museum workers began preparing the skeleton for its grand debut in Hintze Hall. "Whilst working on the 221 bones we uncovered past conservation treatments, such as the use of newspaper in the 1930s to fill the gaps between the vertebrae," Lorraine Cornish, the museum's head of conservation, said in a statement. "And we were able to use new methods for the first time, including 3D printing a small number of bones missing from the right flipper."

Once restoration was complete, Hope was suspended above Hintze Hall in a diving position. There she hangs as one of the museum’s new major attractions—and as a reminder of humanity’s power to conserve endangered species.

"The Blue Whale as a centerpiece tells a hopeful story about our ability to create a sustainable future for ourselves and other species," according to a museum press release. "Humans were responsible for both pushing the Blue Whale to the brink of extinction but also responsible for its protection and recovery. We hope that this remarkable story about the Blue Whale will be told by parents and grandparents to their children for many years to come, inspiring people to think differently about the natural world."

Check out some pictures of Hope below.

 “Hope,” a blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of Hintze Hall in London’s Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum

“Hope,” a blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of Hintze Hall in London’s Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum

“Hope,” a blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of Hintze Hall in London’s Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum

“Hope,” a blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of Hintze Hall in London’s Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum

[h/t Design Boom]

How to Tell If Your Dog's Panting is Abnormal

iStock/Nevena1987
iStock/Nevena1987

​It's not abnormal for dogs to pant. Whether it's because it's a hot day or they're nervous about something like thunder, there are various and totally normal reasons why our furry friends might breathe a little heavier on occasion. Which makes it difficult to tell when it's normal and when it's something to be concerned about. Here are some reasons why dogs pant and ways to know if the panting is serious, according to ​WebMD.

EXERCISE

If your dog is partaking in some heavy exercise, such as playing with you or another pet, it's normal for them to pant a bit. Dogs normally take between 10 and 30 breaths per minute (depending on the breed), so it's important to take notice just how hard they're really panting. If the panting goes on for longer than you'd expect, and often, it's a smart idea to get them checked out by your vet.

HEAT

If it's particularly hot outside and your dog is panting, it's best to get them water and bring them inside. Dogs do not sweat like humans, and obviously cannot communicate to us with words. Panting is their way of telling you: Let's go back inside. When heat levels are extremely high, it's best to err on the safe side and keep them indoors entirely. And never, ever leave your dog in a hot car—even if it's "just for a minute."

ANXIETY

Your pup's panting could also be the result of nervousness or stress. If you notice your dog excessively panting in the car, for example, it's nothing to get too worked up about. (It could very well be that simply being in the car makes them nervous.) Just make sure the area they're experiencing stress in is kept at a cool temperature, and that they have water nearby. If you know what situations can trigger anxiety in your dog—fireworks, for example—do your best to keep them away from these situations when at all possible.

ILLNESS

Though there are all sorts of normal reasons why your dog might be panting, it can sometimes be indicative of a bigger issue. If you notice your pet excessively panting for no apparent reason, they might be sick. The list of possibilities of what could be wrong is is long and ranges from anywhere to allergies and respiratory disorders to heart failure or ​Cushing's syndrome.

If at any time your dog's panting cannot be explained, or somehow seems "off" to you, definitely take them to the vet ASAP. You know your dog's behaviors best, so if something doesn't seem right, it's best to consult with an expert.

Florida Is Home to 'Skull-Collecting' Ants, Because Florida

Florida’s Formica archboldi ants are not to be messed with. As Newsweek reports, a North Carolina-based researcher recently discovered that the species applies a waxy coat to its body to chemically mimic its intended prey, a kind of trap-jaw ant in the genus Odontomachus. Then, the predator sprays its unsuspecting prey with acid to immobilize it and drags it back to its underground lair, where it dismembers the body and presumably eats everything but the hollowed-out heads.

The Florida ant’s habit of letting the heads pile up in its nest has earned it a pretty grisly nickname: the “skull-collecting ant.” This behavior has been observed since the 1950s. However, scientists have only recently learned how the Florida ant manages to kill trap-jaw ants, which are formidable predators in their own right (they can snap their jaws shut at speeds of over 100 miles an hour).

Researcher Adrian Smith, head of the Evolutionary Biology & Behavior Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, observed the F. archboldi ants mimicking trap-jaw ants at the chemical level by coating their bodies in the same waxy substance that covers their prey. Smith says they’re probably disguising themselves, but the extent to which they do so isn’t yet known.

The ants were also seen shooting formic acid from their abdomens to render the trap-jaw ants motionless. The new findings were published in the journal Insectes Sociaux, and Smith even captured the gruesome action on camera, which you can check out in the video below.

Smith says he’s been fascinated with the ants—which are also found in parts of Alabama and Georgia—since he was an undergrad student at Florida State.

“They’re one of the most badass ants I know of. That’s why I wanted to study them—they decorate their nests with skulls,” Smith told The Verge. “A lot of other ants do cool things, but these are special to me because they’re from Florida, and I’m from Florida."

[h/t Newsweek]

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