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Pyura chilensis: The "Living Rock"

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Sergio Majiluf via 

Pet rocks went out of vogue in the '80s, but an organism found off the coast of Chile and Peru might make you rethink the trend: These sea creatures masquerading as rocks are totally alive.

Crack open a Pyura chilensis and the sea creature—an immobile, invertebrate filter feeder that gets filed under the Ascidiacea class of "sea squirts"—practically bleeds vanadium, an elusive mineral found in crude oil. P. chilensis is commonly found in clusters of thousands, but reproduces solo: The organism is born male, but becomes hermaphroditic at puberty.

Two Chilean biologists, Patricio H. Manriquez and Juan Carlos Castilla, published their findings on the organism's asexual habits in 2005. To repopulate, P. chilensis releases clouds of eggs and sperm and waits for the two to collide.

Locals fish commercially for P. chilensis, and the rocky sea creature is something of a delicacy in Peru and Chile. It gets cooked into stews, prepared with salad and rice, or eaten raw. But non-locals aren't so wild about eating living rocks with living guts: the taste has been called everything from "soapy" to having "a weird iodine flavor." Bon appetit!

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Animals
Australia Zoo Is Taking Name Suggestions for Its Newborn White Koala
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A koala with striking white fur was recently born at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, and she already has an adoring fan base. Now all she needs is a name. As Mashable reports, the zoo is calling on the public for suggestions on what to call the exceptional joey.

The baby, who is one of several newborn koalas living at the zoo, climbed out of her mother’s pouch for the first time not too long ago. When she made her public debut, she revealed a coat of white fur rarely seen in her species. According to the zoo, the koala isn’t albino. Rather, she got her pale shade from a recessive gene inherited from her mother known as a “silvering gene.” Though the light coloration is currently the koala’s defining feature, there’s a good chance she’ll eventually grow out of it and take on the gray-and-white look that’s typical for her species.

For now, the Australia Zoo is celebrating the birth of its first-ever white koala joey by getting the public involved in the naming process. On the post announcing the zoo’s new arrival, commenters have so far suggested Pearl, Snowy, Luna, and Kao (from the Thai word for “white”) as names to match the baby’s immaculate appearance. There are also a few pop culture-related proposals, including Olaf after the character in Frozen and Daenerys in honor of Game of Thrones.

Instead of deciding the koala’s name by popular vote, the zoo will select the winner from their favorite submissions. And with nearly 5000 comments on the original Facebook post to choose from, the joey will hopefully have better luck than the animals named by the public before her. (The Koalay McKoala Face does have a certain ring to it.)

[h/t Mashable]

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Animals
Why Blue Dogs Have Been Roaming Mumbai
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Press TV News Videos, YouTube

Residents of Mumbai began noticing a peculiar sight on August 11: roving stray dogs tinted a light shade of blue. No one knew what to make of these canines, which were spotted in the streets seemingly unharmed but otherwise bucking nature.

Concerned observers now have an answer, but it’s not a very reassuring one. According to The Guardian, the 11 Smurf-colored animals were the result of pollution run-off in the nearby Kasadi River. Industrial waste, including dyes, has been identified as coming from a nearby manufacturing plant. Although dogs are known to swim in the river, the blue dye was also found in the air. After complaints, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board investigated and found the factory, Ducol Organics Pvt Ltd., was not adhering to regulatory guidelines for waste disposal. They shut off water to the facility and issued a notice of closure last Friday.

“There are a set of norms that every industry needs to follow,” MPCB regional officer Anil Mohekar told The Hindustan Times. “After our sub-regional officers confirmed media reports that dogs were indeed turning blue due to air and water pollution, we conducted a detailed survey at the plant … We will ensure that the plant does not function from Monday and the decision sets an example for other polluting industries, which may not be following pollution abatement measures.”

Animal services workers who retrieved five of the dogs were able to wash off the dye. They reported that no other health issues were detected.

[h/t The Guardian]

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