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

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

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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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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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