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David V. Raju via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This Frog’s Slime Fights the Flu

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David V. Raju via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

We’re not going to tell you to start kissing frogs (please don’t), but you might want to shake their hands: Scientists have found that the slime from one species can kill certain strains of the flu virus. The researchers published their findings in the journal Immunity.

The skin of amphibians like frogs and salamanders secretes a gooey mucus that has previously been shown to have antibacterial properties. Scientists were curious to see if the slime could also fight off viruses. They collected goo samples from an Indian fungoid frog (Hydrophylax bahuvistara), then extracted 32 peptides that looked promising. Next, they pitted those 32 peptides against the H1 flu virus, just to see what would happen. Expectations were low.

The results were astonishing: four out of 32 peptides clobbered the virus. “I was almost knocked off my chair,” senior author Joshy Jacob of Emory University said in a statement.

"In the beginning, I thought that when you do drug discovery, you have to go through thousands of drug candidates, even a million, before you get one or two hits. And here we did 32 peptides, and we had four hits."

Jacob and his colleagues named the most successful peptide urumin, after the Indian whip-sword known as the urumi. They brewed up a urumin compound and gave it to unvaccinated mice, then exposed those mice to the flu. Not only did the mice not get H1—they also didn’t get any side effects. The urumin only killed the virus, not anything else.

The scientists’ next steps will include trying to create a stable version of urumin that can be tested in people, and to look through other frog slime.

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Animals
Watch a Panda Caretaker Cuddle With Baby Pandas While Dressed Up Like a Panda
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Some people wear suits to work—but at one Chinese nature reserve, a handful of lucky employees get to wear panda suits.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the People's Daily released a video in July of animal caretakers cuddling with baby pandas at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan Province. The keepers dress in fuzzy black-and-white costumes—a sartorial choice that's equal parts adorable and imperative to the pandas' future success in the wild.

Researchers raise the pandas in captivity with the goal of eventually releasing them into their natural habitat. But according to The Atlantic, human attachment can hamper the pandas' survival chances, plus it can be stressful for the bears to interact with people. To keep the animals calm while acclimating them to forest life, the caretakers disguise their humanness with costumes, and even mask their smell by smearing the suits with panda urine and feces. Meanwhile, other keepers sometimes conceal themselves by dressing up as trees.

Below, you can watch the camouflaged panda caretakers as they cuddle baby pandas:

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Animals
Watch a 40-Ton Whale Jump Completely Out of the Water
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If you’ve ever watched a humpback whale swim, you may have seen it launch most of its body out of the water and splash back into the ocean on its side or back. This behavior is called breaching, and scientists don't know exactly why the whales do it. Researchers have theorized that breaching might signal competition between males, serve as a warning to perceived threats, or stun the whale's prey for easier eating. A recent study suggested that the dramatic displays could be a method of long-distance communication.

Rarely are nature lovers lucky enough to glimpse a whale breaching completely out of the water. But in the video below—spotted by Bored Panda and filmed by scuba diver Craig Capehart off the coast of Mbotyi in southeastern South Africa—you can watch an adult humpback whale soar through the air, with its entire body and tail completely exposed.

[h/t Bored Panda]

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