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Why Are Eggs Egg-Shaped?

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There’s only one thing in this world shaped like an egg. Not exactly spherical, not exactly an oval, it’s kind of hard to describe what an egg looks like. “Asymmetric tapered oval”? Sure, why not.

But why are eggs shaped this way? Evolution, my dear Watson. Evolution.

If eggs were perfectly spherical, they would be more likely to roll out of a nest and break. Instead, because they have a tapered end, they make a circular path when they roll. This path keeps them within the safe confines of their nests. Amazingly enough, birds that nest on cliffs have more oval-like eggs that roll in tighter circles. These eggs are even less likely to roll out of a nest and off of the cliff. Conversely, birds that nest on the ground lay eggs that are less oval-shaped.

The tapered shape of eggs also allows them to fit more snugly inside the nest and keep each other warm.

Additionally, eggs are tapered because an asymmetric tapered oval is the ideal shape for an egg to be pushed out of a hen. Eggs travel through the cloaca and emerge from a part of the anatomy called the vent located just under the tail, and because the tapered end of an egg has more surface area than the blunt end, the chicken’s muscles have an easier time squeezing it out. (Fun fact: A chicken's intestine is also connected to the vent, so hens relieve themselves and push out eggs via the same opening.)

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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