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Inosipmax via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

7 Unattractive Facts About Blobfish

Inosipmax via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

From hairy frogs to horse-faced bats, the world is full of unique-looking creatures. And then there’s the blobfish. When drawn up from its underwater habitat, Psychrolutes marcidus resembles of pile of disgruntled phlegm. Here are seven facts about the fish with a face only a mother could love.

1. ONE FISH MADE THEM FAMOUS.

Since 2003, one fish has served as the (unfortunate-looking) face of the animal: Mr. Blobby. The specimen was trawled up from its home more than 3300 feet deep by the crew of the NORFANZ expedition off the coast of New Zealand. Smitten scientists gave the blobfish his endearing nickname and snapped his now iconic picture, perfected by a mucousy parasite (a copepod) dangling from the corner of his mouth. Today Mr. Blobby is kept in a 70 percent ethyl alcohol solution at the Australian Museum. According to the institution, the preservation process has shrunk his nose, so he no longer looks as “cute” as he used to.

2. THEY DON’T LOOK HALF BAD 4000 FEET DEEP.

Rachel Caauwe via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Most people familiar with the blobfish have only seen images of the sad, flaccid monstrosity out of water. But at the bottom of the ocean—where the fish is actually meant to be—it’s much easier on the eyes. Blobfish are typically found 2000 to 4000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. At those depths, inhabitants experience up to 120 times the pressure they would on dry land. Blobfish don’t have much bone or muscle, instead allowing the extreme pressure of the deep sea to provide their bodies structural support.

3. THEY DON’T HAVE A SWIM BLADDER.

To stay buoyant, most fish have something called a swim bladder. These internal air sacs allow fish to maneuver through the water without sinking. Such an organ would burst under the pressures of the deep ocean, so instead blobfish rely on their gelatinous flesh to keep them barely floating above the seafloor. This means that when blobfish are taken out of the ocean, they don’t need to worry about rapidly expanding swim bladders pushing their guts out through their mouths. What it does mean is that the same skin that provides them with natural buoyancy underwater relaxes into a flabby mess without pressure.

4. THEY’RE NOT VERY ACTIVE.

There isn’t much food to come by at the bottom of the ocean, so the blobfish has evolved to conserve its energy. It spends most of its time chilling above the seafloor, only moving to open its mouth when something edible approaches. This is an effective hunting method for a creature with barely any muscle. Some of the food it catches includes crabs, mollusks, and sea urchins.

5. THEY WERE VOTED THE “WORLD’S UGLIEST ANIMAL.”

When the Ugly Animal Preservation Society was in need of a new mascot, they decided to let the people select one for them. In September 2013, over 3000 online votes were cast for the “World’s Ugliest Animal,” with the blobfish racking up 795 of them. It bested the proboscis monkey, the aquatic scrotum frog, and pubic lice for the top honor. According to the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, the blobfish gives a voice to the “mingers who always get forgotten.”

6. THEY’RE A POP CULTURE SENSATION.

Rather than recoiling from this animal in disgust, the world (or at least the internet) has come to embrace the blobfish. It’s inspired songs, poems, plush dolls, and t-shirts. There’s even a blobfish cafe set to open in London in summer 2017. According to the cafe's website, the space will feature a pressurized tank containing three live blobfish named Barry, Lorcan, and Lady Swift.

7. THEY STILL REMAIN A MYSTERY.

Because blobfish live thousands of feet below sea level, there’s still a lot we’ve yet to learn about these JELLO-like members of the animal kingdom. Scientists still don’t know how long blobfish live or how they reproduce. On that last point, the Australian Museum’s fish manager Mark McGrouther told Smithsonian last year, “I’d guess they lock in a clinging, rather conjugal embrace.”

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The Simple Way to Protect Your Dog From Dangerous Rock Salt
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Winter can be a tough time for dogs. The cold weather usually means there are fewer opportunities for walks and more embarrassing accessories for them to wear. But the biggest threat to canines this time of year is one pet owners may not notice: the dangerous rock salt coating the streets and sidewalks. If you live someplace where this is a problem, here are the steps you need to take to keep your pooch safe until the weather warms up, according to Life Hacker.

Rock salt poses two major hazards to pets: damage to their feet and poisoning from ingestion. The first is the one most pet owners are aware of. Not only do large grains of salt hurt when they get stuck in a dog’s paws, but they can also lead to frostbite and chemical burns due to the de-icing process at work. The easiest way to prevent this is by covering your dog’s paws before taking them outside. Dog booties get the job done, as do protective balms and waxes that can be applied directly to their pads.

The second danger is a little harder to anticipate. The only way you can stop your dog from eating rock salt from the ground is to keep a close eye on them. Does your dog seem a little too interested in a puddle or a mound of snow? Encourage them to move on before they have a chance to take a lick.

If, for some reason, you forget to follow the steps above and your pet has a bad encounter with some winter salt, don’t panic. For salty feet, soak your dog's paws in warm water once you get inside to wash away any remaining grit. If your dog exhibits symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation and you suspect they’ve ingested rock salt, contact your vet right away.

Even with the proper protection, winter can still create an unsafe environment for dogs. Check out this handy chart to determine when it’s too cold to take them for a walk.

[h/t Life Hacker]

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Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Hires Puppy to Sniff Out Art-Munching Bugs
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Some dogs are qualified to work at hospitals, fire departments, and airports, but one place you don’t normally see a pooch is in the halls of a fine art museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is changing that: As The Boston Globe reports, a young Weimaraner named Riley is the institution’s newest volunteer.

Even without a background in art restoration, Riley will be essential in maintaining the quality of the museum's masterpieces. His job is to sniff out the wood- and canvas-munching pests lurking in the museum’s collection. During the next few months, Riley will be trained to identify the scents of bugs that pose the biggest threat to the museum’s paintings and other artifacts. (Moths, termites, and beetles are some of the worst offenders.)

Some infestations can be spotted with the naked eye, but when that's impossible, the museum staff will rely on Riley to draw attention to the problem after inspecting an object. From there, staff members can examine the piece more closely and pinpoint the source before it spreads.

Riley is just one additional resource for the MFA’s existing pest control program. As far as the museum knows, it's rare for institutions facing similar problems to hire canine help. If the experiment is successful, bug-sniffing dogs may become a common sight in art museums around the world.

[h/t The Boston Globe]

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