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Hairy frogfish in the water. Steve Childs via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Hairy frogfish in the water. Steve Childs via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

New Zealand Family on Vacation Finds Black Fish with 'Legs'

Hairy frogfish in the water. Steve Childs via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Hairy frogfish in the water. Steve Childs via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

The ocean is home to some of the most beautiful creatures in the world—and also some of the weirdest. A New Zealand family on vacation in the Bay of Islands found that out firsthand when they encountered a squat black fish that seemed to have legs.

The family decided to bring their find to an aquarium in Auckland. Unfortunately, the fish died in its saltwater tank before that could happen. Not wanting to let the fish go to waste, the family sent its frozen body to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The museum was only too happy to receive it.

Fish with 'legs', sent in for ID by Claudia Howse, Glenys Howse and James Beuvink.This weird creature is likely to be...

Posted by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa on Sunday, January 10, 2016

After inspecting the fish and analyzing a tissue sample, museum scientists were sure they were looking at an Antennarius striatus—a common bottom-dweller also known as the striated frogfish or hairy frogfish.

Having its last bath.(Edit: the frogfish is being defrosted in this photo. It was not killed intentionally or...

Posted by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hairy frogfish are found all over the world, in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They’re typically orange, yellow, or brown, but black variations aren’t unheard of.

Frogfish use their leg-like pectoral fins to amble along the ocean floor. And while they may look silly, they’re actually quite deadly. When prey approaches, Antennarius striatus wiggles its namesake antenna-like appendage, luring the other animal closer. As soon as it's in range, the hairy frogfish pops its mouth open. Its jaws open so quickly that the other animal is actually sucked in along with the surrounding water.

Though the museum appreciated this find, it's not wise to bring live animals home unless you have a permit to collect them. What looks to a layperson like a rare species may turn out to be nothing more than a common critter, and being taken from the water certainly didn’t do this frogfish any good.

[ht: IFL Science

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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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