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10 Things That Have "Rained" From the Sky

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We’re all familiar with the phrase “raining cats and dogs,” but what about fish and frogs? Since biblical times, there have been reports of strange things falling from the sky. Some incidents have occurred more than once and are the result of natural causes. Others were more random and are less likely to repeat themselves.

1. Raw Meat

A few pieces of poultry fell from the sky in Virginia last year, one landing on the head of a teen in the middle of a horseback riding lesson. Experts guess that a seagull was the culprit. But it was buzzards, thought to be responsible for regurgitating venison or mutton, that caused the event now known as the Kentucky Meat Shower. There have been other incidents over the years as well.

2. Fish

Typically, fish are scooped up by water spouts and dropped in bunches—and that's just what happened in the remote Australian town of Lajamanu in 2010.

3. Blood

At least, that’s what it looks like. This most recently happened last year in India. In an Examiner article that analyzed the different “red rain” cases that have been reported over the past two decades, the publication quoted two scientists who concluded that “the mysterious red color in the rain is caused by [an] unidentified life form that does not have DNA.” Other scientific theories today about how the rain turns red revolve around meteor dust and micro-organisms.

4. Frogs

Like fish, frogs are easy targets for updrafts and can be carried and dropped miles and miles away. In one 2009 incident, tadpoles rained down on a town in central Japan.

5. Sharks

In 2012, a shark fell on the 12th tee of a Southern California golf course. A course marshal found it and transported it back to the ocean, where it was successfully released. Witnesses say the shark had puncture wounds and concluded that it had been scooped up by a bird and carried over land before it was able to shake free.

6. Worms

Water spouts were thought to be the cause of 120 worms falling in tangled bunches onto a group of students during gym class.

7. Golf Balls

We all joke about golf-ball sized hail, but what about real golf balls? Popular Mechanics cited a St. Petersburg Times story that reported “dozens and dozens and dozens” of golf balls falling on the town of Punta Gorda on the gulf coast of Florida in 1969. Water spouts and an abundance of golf courses were thought to have been behind the strange and dangerous occurrence.

8. Money

A German woman was able to collect “a substantial amount of money” that fell from the sky as she was driving. In what is a really impressive combination of honesty and foolishness, she later turned it in to police!

9. Spiders

Spiders can’t fly, but they can build a parachute with the best of them. In 2007, a group of them “rained” down upon some hikers in Argentina.

10. Mud

J.W. Moore of Easton, Pennsylvania, wrote to the editors of Science Magazine to recount a "mud shower" caused by a dust storm and subsequent rain that occurred on April 12, 1902. It happened again later that year, this time in New Zealand: According to a telegram from November 14, "The south train yesterday afternoon encountered a shower of red mud the whole way from Henley to Waihola."

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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Animals
Scientists Discover 'Octlantis,' a Bustling Octopus City
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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Octopuses are insanely talented: They’ve been observed building forts, playing games, and even walking on dry land. But one area where the cephalopods come up short is in the social department. At least that’s what marine biologists used to believe. Now a newly discovered underwater community, dubbed Octlantis, is prompting scientists to call their characterization of octopuses as loners into question.

As Quartz reports, the so-called octopus city is located in Jervis Bay off Australia’s east coast. The patch of seafloor is populated by as many as 15 gloomy octopuses, a.k.a. common Sydney octopuses (octopus tetricus). Previous observations of the creatures led scientists to think they were strictly solitary, not counting their yearly mating rituals. But in Octlantis, octopuses communicate by changing colors, evict each other from dens, and live side by side. In addition to interacting with their neighbors, the gloomy octopuses have helped build the infrastructure of the city itself. On top of the rock formation they call home, they’ve stored mounds of clam and scallop shells and shaped them into shelters.

There is one other known gloomy octopus community similar to this one, and it may help scientists understand how and why they form. The original site, called Octopolis, was discovered in the same bay in 2009. Unlike Octlantis, Octopolis was centered around a manmade object that had sunk to the seabed and provided dens for up to 16 octopuses at a time. The researchers studying it had assumed it was a freak occurrence. But this new city, built around a natural habitat, shows that gloomy octopuses in the area may be evolving to be more social.

If that's the case, it's unclear why such octo-cities are so uncommon. "Relative to the more typical solitary life, the costs and benefits of living in aggregations and investing in interactions remain to be documented," the researchers who discovered the group wrote in a paper published in Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology [PDF].

It’s also possible that for the first time in history humans have the resources to see octopus villages that perhaps have always been bustling beneath the sea surface.

[h/t Quartz]

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