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This Lithuanian Goat Pageant Is the Most Joyous Thing We’ve Seen Today

The world is kind of a mess at the moment, and it’s almost impossible to go online these days without being inundated with upsetting news. So if you need a break from streaming stress, have we got a gift for you: this brief but ridiculously wonderful footage of the seventh annual Top Goat contest in Ramygala, Lithuania. 

The contest is exactly what it sounds like, but it’s so much more than that, too. There are the townsfolk and goats dressed in traditional folk costumes. There’s the brass band of men in polo shirts. There’s the panel of judges: one politician, one school official, and one cucumber farmer. And then there are the prizes, which include cake, jars of honey, and a voucher for a free haircut.

It’s a dreamy, magical scene, one that is as charming to Ramygala citizens as it is to us. “It’s as if we were in a fairy tale,” one attendee said.

This year’s crown—and yes, there is a literal goat crown—went to a winsome young white lady goat named Demyte, or “little spot.” The show marks Demyte’s pageant debut, but her owner, retired veterinarian Ferdinandas Petkevicius, has been trying for years. Like any stage mom, Petkevicius kept fussing over details long after his girl had been crowned. "The only thing we didn't do to prepare the goat for the pageant is we didn't polish its nails—because we thought of it too late,” Petkevicius told Reuters. Demyte had no comment. It's kind of hard to tell with goats, but she seemed content.

Header image from YouTube // News Update

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Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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iStock

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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