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How Do Dogs Drink Water?

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Dogs are audacious optimists. They do every little thing with enthusiasm and verve—manners be damned. Drinking water is no exception, and anyone who has ever seen a dog lap from its water bowl on a hot summer day knows they are willing to loudly splash their way to hydration. But how does the water get from bowl to mouth?

In 2014, a team of researchers led by Virginia Tech’s Sunny Jung used high-speed cameras to film dogs as they drank water from a bowl. They examined the slow-motion footage and were able to study the mechanics behind a thirsty dog’s tongue.

As Discover magazine reported, “dogs curve their tongues backwards in a ladle-shape … When they rip their tongues out of the water, they cause a significant amount of acceleration—about five times that of gravity.”

Because dogs don’t have cheeks, they can’t create suction. To compensate, their tongues slap the water and pull it toward their maw in the form of a liquid column. As this water is suspended in mid-air, they chomp down on it and swallow, repeating the process until they’re satisfied.

This tactic is very much like the one performed by cats. Unsurprisingly, felines are slightly more graceful and fastidious in their drinking habits. A cat gently dips its tongue into a beverage and neatly pulls a thin column of liquid into its mouth. The result is silent and splash-free:

Silent and splash free? The world's benevolent union of thirsty dogs kindly inquires: Where's the fun in that?

[h/t: Discover Magazine]

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
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Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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