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Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

7 Animals With Grand Mythological Names

Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Identifying a new genus or species is a pretty big deal. Like proud parents, scientists often give their discoveries the biggest, most impressive names they can think of.

1. SEA MOUSE (APHRODITA ACULEATA)

This furry sea worm was named for the Greek goddess of beauty and love by none other than Carl Linnaeus himself. Was the name a joke? Sort of—but not the one you’d think. By invoking Aphrodite, Linnaeus was actually commenting on the fact that a sea mouse at rest bears some resemblance to a lady’s genitals. Historians have noted that during Linnaeus’s time, “mouse” was also slang for “vagina.” 

2.  ARMADILLO LIZARD (OUROBOROS CATAPHRACTUS)

The mighty serpent Ouroboros is a classical symbol of infinity: holding its tail in its mouth, it forms a perfect circle with no beginning and no end. The armadillo lizard is somewhat less dignified. The little South African reptiles are covered in plates of spiny armor, and when threatened they bite their own tails and curl up, leaving potential predators with a ball of spikes. It’s an effective strategy. It’s also really, really cute.


3. MILLIPEDE (TASMANIOSOMA ANUBIS)

In early 2015, researchers reported that they had named a newly discovered species of millipede after the Egyptian god Anubis. The millipede, they said, was shaped like the jackal god’s head. Well, part of the millipede, anyway: From certain angles, you can just make out a jackal’s head in the shape of the male millipede’s gonopod telopodite, or sex organ.

4. THOR’S HERO SHREW (SCUTISOREX THORI)

It’s less than a foot long, but the Thor’s hero shrew is tough. Its power comes from its super-strong, interlocking spine, which lets the animal plunge into crevices of rock in search of worms. The gray-brown rodent is indeed a hero in its native Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Mangbetu people evoke its invincibility by wearing portions of the animal as a talisman against weapons. The name “Thor” is actually a two-fer; the shrew was named for both the mighty Norse god and Thorvald “Thor” Holmes, Jr., a collections manager at the Humboldt State University Vertebrate Museum.

5. DEVIL FROG (BEEZELBUFO AMPINGA)

The devil frog is no longer with us, and that may be a good thing. This enormous prehistoric frog—possibly the largest frog that has ever lived—had a taste for meat, a predilection for ambushing its prey, and a big, big mouth. The scientists who discovered fossil evidence of the frog named it Beezelbufo ampinga, or “armored frog from hell.”

6. PARASITIC NEMATODE (GENUS CLOACINA)

There is a deity for everything. Cloacina was the Roman goddess of the sewers, particularly the Cloaca Maxima, or "Great Drain." She is rarely invoked these days, but her memory survives deep inside a kangaroo. There is an entire genus of nematodes that lives exclusively in the stomachs of kangaroos and wallabies, and each one bears the goddess’s name.

7. SACISAURUS 

It’s extremely rare to find an intact dinosaur skeleton—most fossils that we have today were discovered in bits and pieces. Such is the case of the sacisaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur found in southern Brazil. The fossil was missing one leg, and so the research team named it for Saci, a one-legged prankster from Brazilian folklore. By all accounts, Saci is quite a nuisance; he steals children’s toys, sours milk, annoys dogs, and keeps popcorn from popping. There’s been no word yet as to whether the dinosaur did the same thing.

 

 

 

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The Simple Way to Protect Your Dog From Dangerous Rock Salt
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iStock

Winter can be a tough time for dogs. The cold weather usually means there are fewer opportunities for walks and more embarrassing accessories for them to wear. But the biggest threat to canines this time of year is one pet owners may not notice: the dangerous rock salt coating the streets and sidewalks. If you live someplace where this is a problem, here are the steps you need to take to keep your pooch safe until the weather warms up, according to Life Hacker.

Rock salt poses two major hazards to pets: damage to their feet and poisoning from ingestion. The first is the one most pet owners are aware of. Not only do large grains of salt hurt when they get stuck in a dog’s paws, but they can also lead to frostbite and chemical burns due to the de-icing process at work. The easiest way to prevent this is by covering your dog’s paws before taking them outside. Dog booties get the job done, as do protective balms and waxes that can be applied directly to their pads.

The second danger is a little harder to anticipate. The only way you can stop your dog from eating rock salt from the ground is to keep a close eye on them. Does your dog seem a little too interested in a puddle or a mound of snow? Encourage them to move on before they have a chance to take a lick.

If, for some reason, you forget to follow the steps above and your pet has a bad encounter with some winter salt, don’t panic. For salty feet, soak your dog's paws in warm water once you get inside to wash away any remaining grit. If your dog exhibits symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation and you suspect they’ve ingested rock salt, contact your vet right away.

Even with the proper protection, winter can still create an unsafe environment for dogs. Check out this handy chart to determine when it’s too cold to take them for a walk.

[h/t Life Hacker]

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© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Hires Puppy to Sniff Out Art-Munching Bugs
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Some dogs are qualified to work at hospitals, fire departments, and airports, but one place you don’t normally see a pooch is in the halls of a fine art museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is changing that: As The Boston Globe reports, a young Weimaraner named Riley is the institution’s newest volunteer.

Even without a background in art restoration, Riley will be essential in maintaining the quality of the museum's masterpieces. His job is to sniff out the wood- and canvas-munching pests lurking in the museum’s collection. During the next few months, Riley will be trained to identify the scents of bugs that pose the biggest threat to the museum’s paintings and other artifacts. (Moths, termites, and beetles are some of the worst offenders.)

Some infestations can be spotted with the naked eye, but when that's impossible, the museum staff will rely on Riley to draw attention to the problem after inspecting an object. From there, staff members can examine the piece more closely and pinpoint the source before it spreads.

Riley is just one additional resource for the MFA’s existing pest control program. As far as the museum knows, it's rare for institutions facing similar problems to hire canine help. If the experiment is successful, bug-sniffing dogs may become a common sight in art museums around the world.

[h/t The Boston Globe]

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