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A Brief History of Animals Beating Up Drones

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A recent study found that when they encounter drones, free-roaming American black bears experience elevated heart rates. Some of the bears studied went from a resting heart rate of 41 bpm all the way up to 160 bpm. Mark Ditmer, a wildlife ecologist, told Live Science that “Until we know which species are tolerant of UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles], at what distance animals react to the presence of UAVs, and whether or not individuals can habituate to their presence, we need to exercise caution when using them around wildlife, especially at close distances.”

While drones have shown us beautiful cities from above, taken us through the abandoned ruins of Chernobyl, and journeyed right into the middle of a Fourth of July fireworks display, it's fair to say that we're still weighing the pros and cons of the technology. But it seems our friends in the animal kingdom have already declared war. Who will win in this battle royale between beast and radio-controlled machine?

Round One: Drone Versus Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Location: Australia.
Result: Eagle by K.O.

The drone never stood a chance. The video, which went viral this month, shows what looks to be a serene flight above the trees. It takes an exciting turn, however, when a Wedge-Tailed Eagle zeros in on the intruder and takes it out with a swift kick to the lens. (The eagle was unhurt after the encounter.)

Round Two: Drone Versus Chimpanzee

Location: Royal Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands
Result: Disqualification. Illegal use of a weapon by the primate.

The other animals in this video—filmed in April in a Netherlands zoo—may not have been fans of the drone, but they lacked the height and dexterity needed to do anything about it. The chimp, however, was armed with a stick and knew exactly how to use it.

Round Three: Drone versus kangaroo

Location: Hunter Valley, Australia
Result: Kangaroo by T.K.O.

The drone put up a good fight, bobbing and weaving for two-thirds of the round. But in the end, it got way too close to Kanga and Little Roo and paid the price. The sound of the drone struggling to stay alive at the end of the video is so satisfying.

Round Four: Drone and man versus ram in a Handicap match

Location: New Zealand
Result: Double KO

Angry Ram became a minor celebrity after this video went viral in September 2014. The ram has its own Facebook page with 16k followers, all for being such a badass. Not only does he head-butt the FPV Quadcopter out of the air, but he waits for the owner to come and claim it and takes him out too. Don’t mess with angry ram.

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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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