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Get Ready to Get Drunk With Some Owls

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Now that cat cafes are so passé, animal lovers are looking for the next animal and drink combination. Trendy London citizens need look no further than Soho for their next fix—soon, a new pop-up bar featuring owls will be opening!

Annie the Owl and friends will be taking over a Soho bar from March 19 to 25, 8:30 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Customers can enjoy two hours and two cocktails nestled amongst the nocturnal birds. There's just one catch—you have to be very lucky to get a spot. Right now, the tickets are being sold for £20, but you have to enter a lottery to earn some face-time with the owls. Winning the raffle only gives you one ticket, so you'll have to fly solo if your friends don't win as well.

Right now, owl cafes are all the rage in Japan, but (perhaps predictably) London kicked it up a notch by adding booze to the equation. On top of feathery friends and drinks, the bar also offers music, comedy, and an "electric atmosphere." The drinks will be mixed by some of London's top mixologists, and the birds will all be accompanied by professional falconers, so you know you'll be in good hands.

The website lists all the owls that will be joining the guests with full bios. Some of the personalities include: Winston (the wise one), Ruby (the exotic one), and the mysterious Hootie, whose face has not been disclosed because she's a finalist in the World Owl Beauty Pageant (fancy!).

Those concerned about the little critters' well being—don't worry! A statement has been released to ease any fears:

“The organisers of Annie the Owl would like to assure that during the operating hours of the sit-down event, all possible measures are being taken to safeguard the welfare of owls. The organisers have also made sure the noise and background music will be kept to minimal and an owl will only have around 10-12 members of public around him/her at a given time. After consulting with professional falconers, the organisers have made sure the environment at the venue is suitable for the birds, with a suitable diet/water available. The organisers have also made sure that people attending the event wouldn’t be allowed to touch the animals, if not felt appropriate by the professional falconers who accompany them.”

The organizers, Locappy, will be donating the profits to Barn Owl, an organization that protects owls in the United Kingdom.

You can enter the raffle here, or follow them on Facebook here. 

[h/t: HelloGiggles.com]

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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Extinct Penguin Species Was the Size of an Adult Human
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A penguin that waddled across the ice 60 million years ago would have dwarfed the king and emperor penguins of today, according to the Associated Press. As indicated by fossils recently uncovered in New Zealand, the extinct species measured 5 feet 10 inches while swimming, surpassing the height of an average adult man.

The discovery, which the authors say is the most complete skeleton of a penguin this size to date, is laid out in a study recently published in Nature Communications. When standing on land, the penguin would have measured 5 feet 3 inches, still a foot taller than today’s largest penguins at their maximum height. Researchers estimated its weight to have been about 223 pounds.

Kumimanu biceae, a name that comes from Maori words for “monster" and "bird” and the name of one researcher's mother, last walked the Earth between 56 million and 60 million years ago. That puts it among the earliest ancient penguins, which began appearing shortly after large aquatic reptiles—along with the dinosaurs—went extinct, leaving room for flightless carnivorous birds to enter the sea.

The prehistoric penguin was a giant, even compared to other penguin species of the age, but it may not have been the biggest penguin to ever live. A few years ago, paleontologists discovered 40-million-year-old fossils they claimed belonged to a penguin that was 6 feet 5 inches long from beak to tail. But that estimate was based on just a couple bones, so its actual size may have varied.

[h/t AP]

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