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Michael Schmid via Wikipedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

In Australia, 'The World’s Deadliest Bird' Commits String of Break-Ins 

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Michael Schmid via Wikipedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

If you don’t see the connection between dinosaurs and modern birds, take one look at the cassowary. The crested avians can grow as large as 125 pounds and have razor-sharp toe claws capable of slashing open human bellies. They may not know how to open doors, but that hasn’t stopped the "world’s deadliest bird" from attempting to break into houses in Queensland, Australia, Motherboard reports.

The state’s latest cassowary incident occurred when a young bird, known to locals as “Ruthie,” threatened a man and tried to enter his Innisfail home. Officials believe that residents had inadvertently conditioned the animal to treat humans as a food source by feeding her, which would explain her aggressive behavior.

Ruthie makes the second cassowary this month that’s been relocated from Queensland by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP). The week before, a male cassowary was removed after attacking a man in Tully.

The victim survived the altercation with only cuts and bruises, which is more than some can say after encountering a cassowary. In 1926, a 16-year-old Queensland boy died of blood loss after being pinned down by the bird and gashed in the neck. That's the only recorded human death the creature’s been responsible for, but as long as people continue to feed cassowaries they’ll be at risk of attack.

The issue has become so desperate that the EHP released a statement on August 19 reminding residents not to treat the birds like pets. They wrote:

“The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is reminding people not to feed cassowaries as it can lead to them becoming habituated and aggressive. Young birds may seem harmless but if they become accustomed to human interaction it can lead to aggressive behavior which is far more dangerous as the bird matures.”

Giving food to cassowaries can be just as disastrous for the birds as it is for people. Only 20 to 25 percent of their original habitat remains, and encouraging them to look to residential areas for food increases their chances of becoming road kill.

[h/t Motherboard]

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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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RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

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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