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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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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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