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Incredibly Rare Split-Colored Lobster Caught in New England

This two-toned lobster, caught earlier this week off the New England coast, looks like he's dressed for Halloween. But the split coloration isn't a costume at all—it's an incredibly rare natural occurrence. How rare? Try one in 50 million.

But those numbers only earn the orange-brown split-colored specimen second place on the list of outlandish lobster styles, of which there are several others. In each, a genetic mutation silences one or more of the red, yellow, and blue pigments that together make up the typical lobster's brownish hue. Check them out below, in order from least to most rare.

1. Blue Lobster

The blue lobster, one of which was caught by a teenager last August in Maine, is comparatively common, appearing at a frequency of about one in 2 million.

2. Yellow-Orange

Last summer, the New England Aquarium acquired a yellow-orange lobster, which might not be as immediately striking as the blue variety, but actually appears even less frequently, closer to one in 30 million. In the video above, the aquarium introduces the new addition to their other uniquely-hued residents—including a two-toned specimen of their own.

3. Two-toned

Like the other rarities above, the split-coloration is the result of a genetic mutation relating to pigment activation. But the near-perfect division of color is believed to be caused by a complete cellular split when the lobster egg is first fertilized. Because of this dual development, split-colored lobsters are often hermaphrodites as well.

4. White

The rarest of them all, the white or albino lobster, appears once in every 100 million. In fact, seeing even one is so unlikely that when two turned up within a week of each other last summer, experts expressed some skepticism that they were true albinos.

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Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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iStock

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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