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Nashville Zoo

Rare Baby Civet Born at Nashville Zoo

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Nashville Zoo

When an animal’s species is being threatened with extinction, a new birth is always exciting. Last month, the Nashville Zoo welcomed a baby banded palm civet (Hemigalus derbyanus). The zoo’s breeding program is the only one of its kind. For now, the civets aren’t on display; the zoo is just trying to boost their population. 

Despite their slightly feline appearance, banded palm civets are more closely related to weasels and skunks than they are to cats. They live in the forests of Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Malaysia, and can reach up to about six and a half pounds. They’re good climbers and prefer to hunt their insect prey at night. The species is listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources's Red List.

Image Credit: Nashville Zoo

Not much is known about H. derbyanus. The little carnivores are hard to find, even in areas where they are known to live. The greatest threat to this species is habitat destruction. Scientists believe that H. derbyanus can only live in the forest, but the forests are disappearing fast. Aside from preserving the environment, captive breeding programs like the Nashville Zoo’s may be the best way to help keep these critters around. 

The civet kitten is being raised by his parents behind the scenes. Including the baby, the zoo now has four male and four female civets. 

[h/t Zooborns]

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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