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What's the Difference Between Antlers and Horns?

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Antlers are found on the heads of male members of the deer family (with the exception of the reindeer, where the females also sport the pointy headgear). They're made of bone and sprout from the pedicle, a bony platform-type of growth located just above the animal’s skull.

Antlers begin growing in late April, and usually reach full size by August. While they’re growing, the antlers are covered with “velvet,” a fuzzy layer of flesh that supplies blood to the bony growths. Once the antlers are fully grown, the velvet dries up, and the deer strips it off by rubbing against a tree.

During mating season, males use their racks to fight other males; the bigger a male's antlers, the more likely he is to find a mate. When the season ends, usually in late December, the entire pedicle breaks loose from the deer’s head and his antlers are shed as a complete set. And while shed antlers make trendy coat hooks, you’re upsetting the balance of nature if you bring them home: Mice, squirrels, porcupines and other small animals all eat the discarded antlers in order to get much-needed calcium.

Horns, on the other hand, grow constantly throughout the life of the animal (goats, sheep, oxen, and bison) and are never shed.  Horns consist of tubular filaments of keratin, the same substance found in human hair and nails. Unlike antlers, horns only have one point (save for the pronghorn sheep), and if a point tip is broken off, it never reforms and remains blunted. 

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Animals
Watch a Panda Caretaker Cuddle With Baby Pandas While Dressed Up Like a Panda
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Some people wear suits to work—but at one Chinese nature reserve, a handful of lucky employees get to wear panda suits.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the People's Daily released a video in July of animal caretakers cuddling with baby pandas at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan Province. The keepers dress in fuzzy black-and-white costumes—a sartorial choice that's equal parts adorable and imperative to the pandas' future success in the wild.

Researchers raise the pandas in captivity with the goal of eventually releasing them into their natural habitat. But according to The Atlantic, human attachment can hamper the pandas' survival chances, plus it can be stressful for the bears to interact with people. To keep the animals calm while acclimating them to forest life, the caretakers disguise their humanness with costumes, and even mask their smell by smearing the suits with panda urine and feces. Meanwhile, other keepers sometimes conceal themselves by dressing up as trees.

Below, you can watch the camouflaged panda caretakers as they cuddle baby pandas:

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Animals
Watch a 40-Ton Whale Jump Completely Out of the Water
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If you’ve ever watched a humpback whale swim, you may have seen it launch most of its body out of the water and splash back into the ocean on its side or back. This behavior is called breaching, and scientists don't know exactly why the whales do it. Researchers have theorized that breaching might signal competition between males, serve as a warning to perceived threats, or stun the whale's prey for easier eating. A recent study suggested that the dramatic displays could be a method of long-distance communication.

Rarely are nature lovers lucky enough to glimpse a whale breaching completely out of the water. But in the video below—spotted by Bored Panda and filmed by scuba diver Craig Capehart off the coast of Mbotyi in southeastern South Africa—you can watch an adult humpback whale soar through the air, with its entire body and tail completely exposed.

[h/t Bored Panda]

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