This Crazy Deep-Sea Fish Has a Completely Transparent Head

The barreleye fish looks like a model in a high school science classroom with a see-through portion to allow for an examination of the inner workings. But this is how the astonishingly bizarre fish naturally occurs—transparent head and all.

Though it was first discovered in 1939, little was known about Macropinna microstoma for the next 70 years. The only information about the fish, which lives 2000 to 2600 feet below the surface, came from damaged specimens caught in fishing nets, meaning scientists never saw an intact barreleye fish until recently. Depictions from the 20th century show the large, tubular eyes necessary to make use of limited sunlight, but they failed to show the fluid-filled dome that covers those unusual peepers.

In 2009, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) was finally able to film the barreleye fish in its natural habitat using a remotely operated camera and captured a short-lived specimen for research purposes. This first-ever footage of the curious creature, seen below, revealed the transparent dome that covers and protects its eyes.

The two dark spots that look like eyes are actually part of the barreleye fish's olfactory system, and are akin to nostrils. Meanwhile, its eyes are the bright green orbs inside its head. In the video, they're pointing upward, scanning the water above for potential prey. Scientists had long wondered how the fish would actually feed if it is always looking perpendicular to where its mouth is, but MBARI researchers determined that the eyes can swivel within the clear dome to face forward if need be. The scientists speculate the barreleye fish hunts by stealing captured prey from massive jellies like siphonophores. The transparent head acts as a shield to protect the fish's eyes from the jelly's stinging tentacles as it snatches a snack with its small, precise mouth

Mystery Solved: Scientists Have Figured Out Why Some Squirrels Are Black

Rena-Marie/iStock via Getty Images
Rena-Marie/iStock via Getty Images

It can be something of a surprise to see an animal sporting a fresh coat of paint. Blue lobsters occasionally surface after being caught in traps. A pink dolphin was spotted in Louisiana in 2007 (and several times since). In the Chinese province of Shaanxi, a cute brown and white panda greets zoo visitors.

Another anomalous animal has joined their ranks. Black squirrels have been spotted in both the United States and the UK, and now scientists believe they know why.

Like many animals with unusual color schemes, black squirrels are the result of a genetic detour. Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge University, and the Virginia Museum of Natural History collaborated on a project that tested squirrel DNA. Their findings, which were published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, demonstrated that the black squirrel is the product of interspecies breeding between the common gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. The black squirrel is actually a gray squirrel with a faulty pigment gene carried over from the fox squirrel that turns their fur a darker shade. (Some fox squirrels, which are usually reddish-brown, are also black.)

A black squirrel is pictured
sanches12/iStock via Getty Images

Scientists theorize a black fox squirrel may have joined in on a mating chase involving gray squirrels and got busy with a female. The black fur may offer benefits in colder regions, with squirrels able to absorb and retain more heat, giving them a slight evolutionary edge.

In North America, black squirrels are uncommon, with one estimate putting them at a rate of one in every 10,000 squirrels. In 1961, students at Kent State University in Ohio released 10 black squirrels that had been captured by Canadian wildlife authorities. The squirrels now populate the campus and have become the school’s unofficial mascot. Their coloring might help them hide from predators, which might come in handy at Kent State: The campus is also home to hawks.

[h/t The Guardian]

You (And Your Beagle) Can Spend the Night in This Beagle-Shaped House

Whether you're staying in a treehouse in Atlanta or a seashell-shaped house in Mexico, Airbnb offers some of the world's most unique rental properties. But how about booking a place that's adorable, too?

In 2003, artists Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin opened the Dog Bark Park Inn B&B (a.k.a. Sweet Willy), a beagle-shaped home in Cottonwood, Idaho (pop. 900), which is located four hours from Boise. The house became a popular stop for sightseers, so a few years ago they started renting it out via Airbnb.

"Stay in a giant dog," the Airbnb listing reads. "That's right, it’s a beagle-shaped one-unit inn where being in this doghouse is a good thing and comfortable to boot!" But it’s not just any "giant dog"—it’s the world’s biggest beagle. In the late 1990s, the couple built a 12-foot beagle named Toby on the property. Then they decided to build a bigger beagle—a 30-foot tall one—and use it as a guest house.

“Toby got some attention, but Sweet Willy put us into the stratosphere,” Conklin told Roadside America. “People just are fascinated when you build a big dog and invite the world to stay in it.”

The five-star-reviewed home looks just like a beagle, right down to the brown and white coloring, realistic eyes, and dog collar. The couple even built a replica of a fire hydrant near Toby and Sweet Willy. To access the house, guests must climb up to the second-story deck. The home fits four guests and has two bedrooms—one in the dog’s belly’s and a loft in the dog’s head—and one bathroom, conveniently located in the dog’s rear. You’re allowed to bring your own dog as long as it’s “responsible” and its humans are “well-behaved,” and the dog must get along with a golden retriever who lives on the property.

Next door, Sullivan and Conklin operate a visitor’s center, their artist studio, and a gift shop, where they sell their chainsaw-cut wooden dogs. (Those same dogs appear on one of the headboards inside the house.) The couple doesn't live in the house—they live up the hill, in a house that looks nothing like a pooch. Since Sweet Willy doesn’t have a kitchen, Sullivan and Conklin provide all their guests with light breakfast foods, like homemade muffins.

There aren't many other houses in the area, so you could eat muffins, gaze out into the prairie and distant mountains, and read the provided in-house dog books in total privacy. But for those guests who do want to leave the house, you can go jet boating on the Salmon River, visit Hells Canyon, or learn about indigenous history in Nezperce, Idaho, a mere 20 minutes away.

The current rental price is $132 per night, but the house is booked through April 17, 2020, and Airbnb stats say the home has been viewed more than 500 times in the past week (so you'd better book soon). But, as Insider points out: If you're determined to find some sort of offbeat lodging in Idaho, you could always crash at Boise's Big Idaho Potato Hotel, which—you guessed it—is shaped like a giant potato.

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