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11 Octopuses Caught in the Act of Being Awesome

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Check out these videos and photos of octopuses winning at life.

1. Octopus Pulls Off Slick Boat Escape.

For a boneless contortionist, the possibilities are endless. Our eight-armed friends can squeeze through some ludicrously tiny holes, as this big Alaskan fellow did after being pulled onto a boat in 2011.

2. Octopus Hates Paparazzi, Steals Camera.

Filmmaker and scuba diver Victor Huang wound up getting some far better footage than he bargained for when a Pacific Giant Octopus latched onto and swam away with his (still-recording) video camera.

3. Octopus Owns the Art of Camouflage.

Talk about a magic act! In less than three seconds, this common octopus completely revamps the pattern, texture, brightness, and color of its skin. Your move, Penn and Teller…

4. Octopus Masters Legos.

You don’t even need opposable thumbs to enjoy building blocks. The Ocean Explorium in Bedford, Massachusetts lets visitors assemble Lego toys for one of their captive octopuses to play with.

5. Crustacean-Touting Octopus Boldly Crawls Out Onto Dry Land.

“This dude came out … to gift us a crab,” writes the video’s uploader. “What a friendly dude!”

6. Octopus Devours Seagull.

While sightseeing with her family on the British Columbian coastline, Ginger Morneau spotted an octopus drowning a hapless seagull. After subduing its winged prey, the muscular invertebrate “wrapped it up and sank to the bottom of the ocean.” According to Morneau, who took four snapshots of this carnage, “The entire process, from start to finish, [lasted] 53 seconds.” 

7. Octopus Plays With Rubber Ducky.

Here’s an adorable clip for those who’d like a G-rated version of the last entry on our list.

8. Octopus Squirts Grabby Guy.

Firing jets of water like a super-soaker is a talent many cephalopods share… including Otto, a mischievous octopus which formerly resided at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany. One night, he made international headlines after deliberately shorting out a light above his tank by crawling up to the rim and dousing it.

9. Octopus Makes Off with Biologist’s Bait.

In order to steal a canister of food that had been left to attract passing marine life, this mid-sized octopus had to unravel three cable ties … and hold back a pesky shark.

10. Octopus Opens Bottles.

Apparently, the specimen shown above has also propped open the lid of her own enclosure, though she’s never tried running away afterwards.

11. Octopus Paints.

You’ve seen chimps painting. You’ve seen elephants painting. It’s high time for an invertebrate artist video, courtesy of the Port Defiance Zoo & Aquarium of Tacoma, Washington.

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Owning a Dog May Add Years to Your Life, Study Shows
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We've said that having a furry friend can reduce depression, promote better sleep, and encourage more exercise. Now, research has indicated that caring for a canine might actually extend your lifespan.

Previous studies have shown that dog owners have an innate sense of comfort and increased well-being. A new paper published in Scientific Reports and conducted by Uppsala University in Sweden looked at the health records of 3.4 million of the country's residents. These records typically include personal data like marital status and whether the individual owns a pet. Researchers got additional insight from a national dog registry providing ownership information. According to the study, those with a dog for a housemate were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause during the study's 12-year duration.

The study included adults 40 to 80 years old, with a mean age of 57. Researchers found that dogs were a positive predictor in health, particularly among singles. Those who had one were 33 percent less likely to die early than those who did not. Authors didn't conclude the exact reason behind the correlation: It could be active people are more likely to own dogs, that dogs promoted more activity, or that psychological factors like lowered incidences of depression might bolster overall well-being. Either way, having a pooch in your life could mean living a longer one.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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