Researchers Identify a New Species of Beaked Whale

Scientists are constantly discovering new species of sea life, but rarely do they come across something the size of a whale. According to National Oceanic And Atmospheric Association (NOAA), a team of researchers has identified a new species of beaked whale native to the Pacific Ocean.

The scientists detailed their discovery in a recent paper in Marine Mammal Science [PDF]. After analyzing DNA from 178 beaked whale specimens around the Pacific Rim, they found eight that matched the new species. The whale has yet to be seen alive by experts: The specimens researchers used to identify it included a skeleton on a display at an Alaska high school (below), meat from a Japanese fish market, and a rotting carcass that washed up on an Alaskan island.

In the past, most remains recovered from the mysterious species had been attributed to the Baird’s beaked whale. Like the Baird’s whale, the new species has a dolphin-like snout and can reach great depths while diving. The most dramatic difference is size. Baird’s whales can grow up to 42 feet, while the new species appears to top out at 25 feet. Baird’s whales are also lighter in color. The unnamed whale species’s black hue earned it the nickname karasu or “raven” among Japanese whalers.

Baird's beaked whale. Image credit: Junko Kimura / Getty

Of all the whales that inhabit the ocean, beaked whales are some of the most mysterious. Choosing a name for this new species will be the easy part for scientists. After that, the focus will be on conservation. As study co-author Erich Hoyt told NOAA, “Discovering a new species of whale in 2016 is exciting but it also reveals how little we know and how much more work we have to do to truly understand these species.”

[h/t NOAA]

Header/banner images: Don Graves/NOAA via Twitter

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Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
How a Hairdresser Found a Way to Fight Oil Spills With Hair Clippings
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker made global news in 1989 when it dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Alaska's coast. As experts were figuring out the best ways to handle the ecological disaster, a hairdresser from Alabama named Phil McCroy was tinkering with ideas of his own. His solution, a stocking stuffed with hair clippings, was an early version of a clean-up method that's used at real oil spill sites today, according to Vox.

Hair booms are sock-like tubes stuffed with recycled hair, fur, and wool clippings. Hair naturally soaks up oil; most of the time it's sebum, an oil secreted from our sebaceous glands, but it will attract crude oil as well. When hair booms are dragged through waters slicked with oil, they sop up all of that pollution in a way that's gentle on the environment.

The same properties that make hair a great clean-up tool at spills are also what make animals vulnerable. Marine life that depends on clean fur to stay warm can die if their coats are stained with oil that's hard to wash off. Footage of an otter covered in oil was actually what inspired Phil McCroy to come up with his hair-based invention.

Check out the full story from Vox in the video below.

[h/t Vox]

A New Chew Toy Will Help Your Dog Brush Its Own Teeth

Few pet owners are willing to sit down and brush their pet's teeth on a regular basis. (Most of us can barely convince ourselves to floss our own teeth, after all.) Even fewer pets are willing to sit calmly and let it happen. But pet dental care matters: I’ve personally spent more than $1000 in the last few years dealing with the fact that my cat’s teeth are rotting out of her head.

For dog owners struggling to brush poor Fido’s teeth, there’s a slightly better option. Bristly, a product currently being funded on Kickstarter, is a chew toy that acts as a toothbrush. The rubber stick, which can be slathered with doggie toothpaste, is outfitted with bristles that brush your dog’s teeth as it plays.

A French bulldog chews on a Bristly toy.

Designed so your dog can use it without you lifting a finger, it’s shaped like a little pogo stick, with a flattened base that allows dogs to stabilize it with their paws as they hack at the bristled stick with their teeth. The bristles are coated in a meat flavoring to encourage dogs to chew.

An estimated 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some kind of dental disease, so the chances that your dog could use some extra dental attention is very high. In addition to staving off expensive vet bills, brushing your dog's teeth can improve their smelly breath.

Bristly comes in three sizes as well as in a heavy-duty version made for dogs who are prone to ripping through anything they can get their jaws around. A Bristly stick costs $29 and is scheduled to start shipping in October. Get it here.


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