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Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

First Blue Whale Heart Preserved Is the Size of a Golf Cart

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

Contrary to legend, the aorta of a blue whale may not actually be big enough to fit a human inside. Experts at the Royal Ontario Museum have dissected a blue whale and preserved its heart for the first time, finally giving us an intact specimen to measure the myths of the whale’s immensity against. 

The largest animal in the world, the blue whale has a heart about the size of a small golf cart, according to Big Blue Live, a new television series that visited the dissection lab. The Canadian museum was able to secure the body of a 76.5-foot blue whale that became trapped in ice and died, washing up on the shores of Newfoundland. The museum’s technicians extracted the entire heart from the mammal intact; it took four people to push it out of the chest cavity. 

The heart, the first of its kind to be preserved, weighs 400 pounds and measures 5 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet. It’s not quite car-sized, as previously thought, but it’s at least bumper-car sized. The aorta isn’t quite large enough to crawl through, but you might be able to squeeze your head in. The heart could pump 58 gallons of blood per second, and required 1000 gallons of formaldehyde to preserve. Both the heart and the whale’s skeleton will eventually go on display at the museum. 

[h/t: BBC]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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