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Wake Up to a Chorus of Bird Songs With This Mobile Alarm App

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No matter where you live, you can wake up to the sweet warbles of songbirds. The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Studio has released an alarm clock app to wake you up with the birdsong of your choice, as Hyperallergic reports.

Dawn Chorus came out of an effort to create a museum app that would be useful to people every day, not just on days they visit. What the developers came up with was an alarm clock that draws on the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The audio featured on the app comes from birds that are native to western Pennsylvania, all sourced from the Macaulay Library, a Cornell-based archive of multimedia recordings of wildlife species (especially birds).

There are 20 bird species to choose from in the app, and in addition to hearing their dulcet tones as you wake up in the morning, there are photos and descriptions of each species, including any environmental threats that face those birds and information on what the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is doing to preserve them.

When you set your alarm, you choose a time and the bird species you’d like to hear in your “Dawn Chorus”—the name for the songs that birds sing at the beginning of each day. You can choose up to five bird songs to add to your chorus, or just listen to one, choosing from species like the black-and-white warbler, the pine siskin, and the ovenbird.

It’s a lot more pleasant than waking up to a fire alarm or generic beeping, and a bit like going bird-watching while you’re half asleep.

Get it for iOS or Android.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

All images courtesy Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, photos by Steve Gosser

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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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