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Goodbye Fido, Hello Finn: The Most Popular Dog Names of 2017

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What’s in a name? If you’re a dog, a clue into your pet parents’ favorite movies, television shows, and musicians, apparently. Rover.com, the country’s largest online network of dog walkers and pet sitters, has just revealed the most popular dog names of the year. While the majority of those names follow (human) baby-naming trends—11 of the top 20 names are also among the top 100 baby names—pop culture also plays a big part in the moniker pet parents bestow upon their four-legged furballs. How else would one explain the increasing popularity of names like Barb and Eleven, or Khaleesi, Arya, and Sansa?

There was an uptick in ‘90s nostalgia this year, too; Nirvana saw a 171 percent increase in popularity while Daria grew by 104 percent. Star Wars-inspired names have been a thing for 40 years now, but saw a 70 percent increase in 2017, with Finn being the most popular name from a galaxy far, far away.

So just how unique is your dog’s handle? Well, if his or her name is Max or Bella, not very. Read on to find out more, or visit Rover.com to discover the 100 most popular pooch names of 2017.

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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paleontology
Extinct Penguin Species Was the Size of an Adult Human
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A penguin that waddled across the ice 60 million years ago would have dwarfed the king and emperor penguins of today, according to the Associated Press. As indicated by fossils recently uncovered in New Zealand, the extinct species measured 5 feet 10 inches while swimming, surpassing the height of an average adult man.

The discovery, which the authors say is the most complete skeleton of a penguin this size to date, is laid out in a study recently published in Nature Communications. When standing on land, the penguin would have measured 5 feet 3 inches, still a foot taller than today’s largest penguins at their maximum height. Researchers estimated its weight to have been about 223 pounds.

Kumimanu biceae, a name that comes from Maori words for “monster" and "bird” and the name of one researcher's mother, last walked the Earth between 56 million and 60 million years ago. That puts it among the earliest ancient penguins, which began appearing shortly after large aquatic reptiles—along with the dinosaurs—went extinct, leaving room for flightless carnivorous birds to enter the sea.

The prehistoric penguin was a giant, even compared to other penguin species of the age, but it may not have been the biggest penguin to ever live. A few years ago, paleontologists discovered 40-million-year-old fossils they claimed belonged to a penguin that was 6 feet 5 inches long from beak to tail. But that estimate was based on just a couple bones, so its actual size may have varied.

[h/t AP]

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