CLOSE
Original image
OTOTO

Add Some Elegance to Your Cooking With This Swan-Shaped Ladle

Original image
OTOTO

Last year, fans of kitschy kitchen gadgets fell in love with the Nessie soup ladle—a handy spoon that created the illusion that the mythical Scottish creature was actually hiding in your stew this whole time. This year, the hot new animal-themed ladle is a graceful swan that floats on top of your pot. Swanky, made by the same creators that brought us Nessie, is a self-balancing ladle that can float in whatever liquid you've got heating up in your saucepan. The curved swan head works nicely as a handle that can be hooked on the wall for storage. It's made with food-safe plastic that's safe in the dishwasher.

You can pick one up in black, white, or pink on Amazon or Animi Causa. And if you're in the United Kingdom, keep your purchase under wraps, or the Queen might try to claim it.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Animals
The Mules That Help Fight California's Wildfires
Original image
iStock

Forget dalmatians—in remote parts of Northern California, mules are the fire department's four-legged helpers of choice.

When a blaze roars to life in a residential area, firefighters can use trucks to transport the tools needed to battle it. But in the California wilderness, where vehicles—and sometimes thanks to environmental restrictions, helicopters—can’t venture, mules bear the burden. According to Business Insider, the donkey-horse hybrids can carry 120 pounds of supplies apiece while walking 4 mph up rugged terrain. Llamas are also capable of making the trek, but mules are preferred for their resilience and intelligence.

You can see them at work in the video below.

These animals do extraordinary work for the country, but they’re not the only mules assisting the U.S. government. The Havasupai village of Supai is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and the mail is delivered there each day by parcel-toting mules.

[h/t Business Insider]

Original image
Tom Houslay, Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-NC 2.0
arrow
Animals
Scientists Catch Tiny Jumping Spiders Eating Frogs and Lizards
Original image
Tom Houslay, Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-NC 2.0

Small, but mighty: Some jumping spiders can overpower and devour their larger, cold-blooded, would-be predators, according to scientists writing in the Journal of Arachnology.

Biologist Martin Nyffeler at the University of Basel in Switzerland spends his days studying arachnid and insect eating habits. Over the last few years, he and his colleagues have made some astounding discoveries. For one, not only do spiders consume millions of tons of bugs each year, but they also eat fish, and bats, and plants. With a palate this broad, a hunger this big, and a ferocity to match, why wouldn't little spiders occasionally order off the reptile and amphibian menu? The researchers decided to search the scientific literature for reports of spider-on-frog-or-lizard action.

They found plenty. Their search unearthed one sighting in Costa Rica and eight separate instances in seven different Florida counties, all initiated by a single species. The regal jumping spider may weigh less than one-tenth of an ounce, but that apparently doesn't stop it from going after frogs and small lizards called anoles.

One report came from local nature blogger Loret Setters, who watched a Cuban tree frog disappear into a regal jumping spider's mouth.

"He was staring me down, like, 'You're next!'" Setters told National Geographic. "I was completely shocked."

A small jumping spider eats a dead frog.
A female regal jumping spider goes to town on a Cuban frog.

This remarkable reversal of the predator-prey relationship is made possible by jumping spiders' specialized hunting skills. Unlike most spiders, which spin webs and then lie in wait, jumping spiders stalk their prey like tigers. They have incredibly good vision and decent hearing, and they're all venomous.

Behavioral ecologist Thomas C. Jones of East Tennessee State University was not involved with the study but says spiders likely only go after frogs and lizards when easier meals are scarce.

"They do tend to get bolder as they get hungrier," he said.

[h/t National Geographic News]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios