CLOSE
Original image
Dallas Zoo

Look at the Dallas Zoo’s New Baby Elephant

Original image
Dallas Zoo

There’s no smoking allowed at the Dallas Zoo, but if there were, it would be time to pass out cigars: Mlilo the African elephant gave birth to a healthy, if small, male calf earlier this month. 

Mlilo (pronounced “ma-LEE-lo”) is herself quite new to the zoo. The 14-year-old elephant was brought to Dallas this spring as part of a rescue effort from drought- and poaching-stricken Swaziland. At the time of her transport, zoo officials believed she might be pregnant, but it seemed unlikely, since the bull elephants in her home territory had all undergone vasectomies. Moving any animal can cause it stress, but the risks are increased when that animal is pregnant. Ultimately, the zoo decided to bring her to Texas, where they could ensure that she at least had enough food and water. 

Once Mlilo arrived, zoo staff treated her and the other new arrivals from Swaziland with extra-special care, ensuring that they had everything they needed to be healthy. The TLC paid off; all five newcomers are doing well. And at 10:15 p.m. on May 14, Mlilo brought her calf into the world. 

At 175 pounds, the new baby—who has yet to be named—is on the small end of the healthy birth weight range (of 150 to 300 pounds), but he seems to be doing fine. “He is doing well; playing hard and nursing often,” Lynn Kramer, the zoo’s vice president of Animal Operations and Welfare, said in a press statement. “And Mlilo is proving to be a very attentive and patient mother.” 

Image Credit: Dallas Zoo

For now, the baby will enjoy private time to bond with his mother and the rest of the herd, out of public view.

Original image
Focus Features
arrow
Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
Original image
Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

Original image
iStock
arrow
technology
This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
Original image
iStock

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]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios