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Falcons Get Their Own Passports in the United Arab Emirates

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In the United Arab Emirates, even birds need documentation to fly. The country’s falcons are issued special passports of their own to combat smuggling. The birds can sell for as much as $1 million each, making their trade especially attractive to smugglers.  

A falcon passport, issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water, is valid for three years and costs about $130. An ID number on the passport corresponds to one on the leg ring the falcons are required to wear. Border control officials are required to validate the falcon’s international movements just like they would any other passenger, verifying and stamping the passports. 

You can see one in the first few seconds of the video below:

Between when the passport program started in 2002 and 2013, the government issued more than 28,000 falcon passports. The falcons typically fly first class on commercial airlines; Lufthansa even has a custom-designed “falcon tray” for the purpose. 

Falconry has a long history in the Middle East, with the first documented evidence of hunting with birds of prey in Iran dating back to 8000 BCE. According to the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey, up to 50 percent of the world’s falconers today are located in the Middle East, and many travel across borders for hunting and competitions.

[h/t: Atlas Obscura]

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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