Tardigrade Sex Does Not Disappoint

Tardigrade: Bob Goldstein and Vicky Madden, UNC Chapel Hill // Public Domain / Hearts: Public Domain
Tardigrade: Bob Goldstein and Vicky Madden, UNC Chapel Hill // Public Domain / Hearts: Public Domain

Tardigrades—a.k.a. moss piglets or water bears—are the scientific gift that just keeps on giving. Everything about these microscopic animals is extreme. They’ve been on Earth since long before the dinosaurs. They can withstand blistering cold, intense heat, years without food or water, and hanging out in the vacuum of space. They’re practically unkillable. So it makes sense that their sex lives would also be interesting.

That's why scientists have produced a video of two moss piglets having sex. The researchers/cinematographers responsible for the tape described the tender-yet-disgusting process in an article in the Zoological Journal.

The sex you’re about to watch is not representative of all tardigrades, just one species, Isohypsibius dastychi. There are more than 1000 different tardigrade species out there, and not all of them reproduce sexually. But I. dastychi certainly does.

For those of us unaccustomed to watching tardigrade sex (we're going to assume that's mostly everyone), here’s what’s happening. The female (L) has molted and laid eggs inside her discarded old skin. The male (R, perpendicular) has curled himself around her and is stroking her as he ejaculates onto the eggs.*

The researchers write that the action was “much more complex than expected,” and note that this “mutual stimulation” went on for at least an hour.

Not bad, little tardigrades. Not bad.

*We did warn you that this would be disgusting.

A Stranger Things Fan Is Selling Epic Demogorgon Dog Costumes on Etsy

Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things.
Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things.
Netflix

Stranger Things is great at placing the truly terrifying alongside the absolutely adorable. One minute we are gushing over Eleven and Mike’s teen romance, and the next we’re jumping off the couch at the sight of those possessed by the Mind Flayer.

No matter how seamless the Duffer Brothers' Netflix series is in weaving together these moments, it seems like it would be impossible to make the Demogorgon cute. But somehow, one crafty fan has done just that.

Etsy shop ThatCraftyFriendShop has created Demogorgon headpieces that fit perfectly on your dog’s head.

People reports that the headpieces range in size from extra small (for 5- to 10-pound dogs) all the way to extra large (for dogs over 75 pounds). Prices range from $25 to $75, depending on the size of your four-legged friend.

These wool and felt doggy costumes are perfect for Halloween, or even a Stranger Things watch party while you continue to binge and re-binge the third seasonwith a decked-out doggy by your side.

[h/t People]

Georgia Beachgoers Saved a Pod of Pilot Whales That Washed Ashore

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A day at the shore quickly turned into a rescue situation for beachgoers on St. Simons Island, Georgia this week when a pod of pilot whales washed ashore. Beaching can be disastrous for whales, but thanks to a group of first responders and volunteers, most of the stranded marine mammals were returned to safety, USA Today reports.

Spotting whales off the coast of Georgia isn't unusual, but what occurred at St. Simons Island the afternoon of Tuesday, July 16 was out of the ordinary. The pilot whales had swum so close to the shore that they had become stuck on the sand—and there were dozens of them. The animals could have died from dehydration at low tide or possibly drowned if the tide covered their blowholes.

Fortunately, the beachgoers watching the situation unfold acted fast. They waded into the sea and manually pushed the small whales back into deeper waters where they could swim freely. First responders from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also aided in the rescue effort.

The heroic volunteers weren't able to save every whale. Two of the mammals became incapacitated and had to be euthanized. But according to the Glynn County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, the majority of the whales swam away unharmed. "This has been an unusual occurrence, but events like these can really show the level of care and support from our community," the agency wrote on its Facebook page. "Thank you to everyone that helped those that couldn’t help themselves today."

Beaching is a rare event that still isn't fully understood by scientists. In the case of these pilot whales, which travel in pods, one sick whale may have swum too close to land and led the rest of the whales to danger. The DNR plans to conduct autopsies on the two whales who perished.

[h/t USA Today]

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