Meet the Sea Pig, a Creature That Feasts on Sunken Corpses

Down in the dark depths of the sea lives a creature with a translucent body, tube feet that resemble antennae on its head, and an appetite for decomposing things. Scotoplanes globosa, also known as sea pigs, are a type of sea cucumber that feed by way of their face tentacles as they stroll along the ocean floor. According to this video by WIRED, the sea pigs are like "living vacuum cleaners," and their meal of choice is often whatever is dead and available.

Swedish zoologist Johan Hjalmar Théel first discovered sea pigs over a century ago, as one of around 65 new species he described in writings about a four-year research cruise around the world aboard the HMS Challenger from 1872 to 1876. Since then, researchers have learned that the creatures congregate around dead whales and other sunken corpses and dine on the decomposing flesh. They also know that sea pigs cannot fight back against predators, as WIRED reports. Instead, they have toxic chemicals in their skin that deter predators from wanting to take a bite.

Still, there are other factors about the sea pigs that remain a mystery for now. Because the creatures have fragile, water-filled bodies that often turn into a liquid-like material, they are difficult to study. Scientists don't know how long sea pigs live or how they mate, but they do know how they help other sea creatures.

Marine biologist David Pawson of the Museum of Natural History said that when the sea pigs eat mud from the ocean floor, they take the nutrients from it and poop out the rest.

"They’re like earthworms," he said. "They sort of process the deep-sea mud and make it livable for other animals because they’ve increased the amount of available oxygen in it."

Learn more about the scavengers in the video above.

[h/t WIRED]

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.


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