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North Carolina Man Charged with Stealing 1000-Pound Chicken Statue

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Some lawn ornament thieves target pink flamingos, but a man in rural North Carolina set his sights on a much bigger bird. He’s been accused of using a tractor to steal a 1000-pound concrete chicken statue, the Statesville Record & Landmark reports.

Alexander County police believe that Andrew Emilious Justice of Taylorsville, North Carolina, stole the lawn ornament, which is more than 3 feet tall, from a poultry farm last weekend. On February 16, authorities apprehended Justice and charged him with felony larceny and misdemeanor injury to real property.

Nobody quite knows what may have motivated Justice to commit such a cocky crime. But we do know that in addition to being massive, the statue was also expensive: It cost $1100 and was a birthday gift from the poultry farm’s owner to his wife, NPR reports.

The chicken statue stood on the farm until it mysteriously disappeared overnight, between February 11 and February 12. Police found the base several miles away, but the statue was still missing; they later discovered broken pieces of the statue scattered along the road. Authorities also located a tractor believed to belong to Justice that had white paint on its forks (presumably from the rooster statue).

Justice is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. In addition to larceny and property damage, he also faces a charge of reckless driving: When arriving to meet police, the accused thief reportedly sped off the state highway and into the driveway, proving that there's more than one way to run a-fowl of the law. 

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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