TIME animals

Scientists Discover the First Fully Warm-Blooded Fish

The opah lives hundreds of feet deep below the surface

Scientists have discovered another apparent first, according to new research published in Science: a fully warm-blooded fish.

The opah, which researchers say dwells in the cold, dark depths of the ocean, is able to produce heat by constantly flapping its fins like wings as it moves about, keeping its blood warm as it circulates throughout its body. The opah’s warm-bloodedness is advantageous for the fish, as it’s able to keep itself at least 5 degrees Celsius warmer than its surrounding water and move about quickly to prey on other fish.

The researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said the fish is the first known one to be identified as fully warm-blooded, a characteristic typical to mammals and birds; tuna and shark are only partially endothermic, meaning warm blood pumps to only select organs.

Researchers told the Washington Post on Thursday they were curious about the fish given its large size, big eyes, and agility in cold water.

TIME psychology

How Dogs Are Giving Veterans a Reason to Live

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A dog's love can cure anything — including PTSD

Phil Ruddock had trouble adjusting when he returned home to rural Louisiana, disabled by a traumatic brain injury he received during an Air Force tour of duty during Desert Storm. He had all the classic symptoms of PTSD: “I drank all the time, I couldn’t get along with anyone, I kept checking every room in the house to make sure it was clear every time I came home, I got up and checked the locks on the doors and windows too many times to count, I was always depressed and pissed at the world, and I never slept. I drove my family so crazy that they wanted to leave,” he says with a country twang. “I still do some of those things,” he adds, “but it’s getting better.”

Sit. Stay. Lie down. They’re the words that helped him through his recovery.

Ruddock’s now assisting other veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan the same way he survived his night terrors and flashbacks — with service dogs. His nonprofit Brothers and Sisters in Arms is a boot camp of sorts based out of central Louisiana, where he’s teaching veterans to train their own service dogs, all adopted from shelters. The repetitive learning of commands works like physical therapy for disabled vets and gives them something to work towards. Once they’ve completed the program, they gain a loyal companion and a sense of accomplishment, “a pride that you can’t imagine,” Ruddock says.

“When a soldier is deployed or on base, they feel secure because they have all the other soldiers there watching their back. But when they are out of the military, when their spouse goes to work, their kids go to school and they’re left alone, they have nobody watching their back,” Ruddock says. “It makes them very anxious, paranoid. A dog turns out to be their battle buddy and watches their back. It never leaves them, it never judges them, it never asks questions that they don’t want to answer. It gives them unconditional love,” Ruddock explains.

A program connecting veterans and rescue dogs may sound cutesy, almost saccharine, but for Ruddock, it’s serious — vital even. He asks the veterans to list Brothers and Sisters in Arms as the primary contact associated with the animal’s microchip, rather than the owner’s home phone. “The suicide rate for veterans is 22 per day,” Ruddock says, about 8,000 every year. “If that dog would show up at a shelter and they ran the microchip, chances are that veteran is not going to answer his phone.”

Ruddock started the nonprofit in November 2012 after his personal experience with an abandoned pit bull. Following a nervous breakdown, he lost his job as lead clerk at the local VA outpatient clinic. His spent his days walled alone up on his remote property, until a friend arrived with a pit bull for him to train. “She was as beat up and as messed up as I was,” he remembers of his white-faced, brown-eared dog, Mia. “She kind of rescued me.” The dog sat in the passenger seat of his truck on rides into a nearby village and eventually gave him confidence to travel farther.

Within the past couple months, Ruddock logged more than 20,000 miles in his sojourns across the Sugar State, from Slidell, a town across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans that butts up against Mississippi, all the way out west to Fort Polk, an Army installation near the Texas border. Last year, he certified 31 service dogs, which are specially licensed after 120 hours in public, and 15 companion dogs.

At the pound, Ruddock seeks out the calmest dogs. “We look for dogs with a good disposition. We don’t want the ones that jump and bark and get with the other dogs,” he says. He generally avoids puppies — too much added stress — and certain breeds like German shepherds that can become overprotective if they’re not socialized regularly, but otherwise he’ll take every breed from a 20-pound Jack Russell terrier to a 200-pound mastiff.

Training sessions run one hour a week for roughly eight weeks, though he’s come to expect a few absences. “A veteran may have problems one day. Some demons may come up and he may not be able to show up. It may take a little longer,” he says.

Besides the essentials — what Ruddock calls good citizenship for canines (think: table manners for children) — the service dogs learn three main commands that are unique for handlers who still carry wounds from the battlefield. The dog learns to “block,” inserting itself into the space between the owner and somebody else so that a person keeps their distance. “Cover” sends the pup to its owner’s back or side, facing away as a kind of lookout that allows a vet to relax at, say, a counter or cash register. The last is “grounded.” If the soldier faints or has a nightmare, the dog lays on top of the owner and licks his face, prompting a welcome (if wet) return to reality.

Brothers and Sisters in Arms is different from many other groups that provide service dogs. For one, Ruddock doesn’t charge for his services or the animal. His operation is funded entirely by donations; the bill from other groups can run as high as $25,000. (“These guys get out of the military, and they’re just above poverty level. They can’t afford that,” he says.) His classes are all one-on-one, making it easier for vets who can be skittish around crowds, nervous about competition and failure. And every instructor is a former soldier, because, as Ruddock says, “There’s no better therapy than a veteran talking to another veteran.”

Ruddock wants to see the program expand across Louisiana. He’s already processing five to 10 applications a week, and he’s starting to get referrals from VA psychiatrists who can’t officially recommend a service dog but still send warriors his way. “It’s not about the fame or fortune. It’s about that feeling you get when you help somebody. The warm fuzzies, the goosebumps, whatever you want to call it,” he says of his motivations. “It’s about doing what’s right.”

It’s for the men and women, his brothers and sisters, that Ruddock keeps trekking across the bayous, working with soldiers, like the young man he met last month. “You can tell he’s had it rough,” Ruddock says. “He couldn’t even stand the sound of a loud car going by. He kept moving around and shaking. He couldn’t look you in the eye. He constantly looked down, and if he did catch your eye, it was a white stare like he could see right through you.” The man expressed no emotion, until Ruddock brought out a puppy. As if he was emerging from a daze, the man started petting the dog. He smiled, and Ruddock knew another soldier was safe.

This article originally appeared on NationSwell.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME animals

This Giant Squid Will Haunt Your Dreams

Do these pictures gross you out? We had an inkling that they would

A New Zealand aquarium has shared photos of a giant squid that washed up on a beach in Kaikoura on the South Island of New Zealand on Tuesday.

The Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium has put the sea creature in a freezer with glass windows that is on display for visitors. The mantle is about 6.5 feet long, while the longest tentacle is about 16 feet long. Parts of it will be donated to Auckland and Otago universities for research, according to Facebook posts.


TIME animals

School Apologizes Over Video Showing Students Playing With Dead Cats

The video went viral after PETA shared it

An Oklahoma school apologized Wednesday after a video circulating on social media showed students holding up dead cats and making it look like they were dancing when they were supposed to be dissecting the specimens in a biology class.

The clip was filmed in fall 2013, but went viral this week after the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shared it on social media.

“We agree that animals should be treated and handled with respect and dignity, a standard that was not upheld in this instance,” Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City said in a statement on the school’s website.

TIME animals

This Rescue Cat Officially Has the Loudest Purr In the World

Merlin the cat can out-purr a dishwasher

Can you speak up? I can’t hear you – the cat is purring.

This is a common predicament for Tracy Westwood, the owner of Merlin the cat, who has just been awarded the title of World’s Loudest Purr, reports Guinness World Records.

“Occasionally when he’s really loud I have to repeat myself. When you’re watching films you have to turn the telly up or put him out of the room, if he’s eating he’ll purr loudly. I can hear him when I’m drying my hair,” Westwood told Guinness.

The thirteen-year-old rescue kitty from Devon, England, has a purr that measures 67.8 decibels. This impressive number beats out the previous record of 67.68 decibels set by Smokey the cat in 2011.

With these numbers, Merlin is as loud as an air conditioner and can almost out-purr a dishwasher.

Westwood always knew her pet was louder than others, but didn’t know Merlin was capable of breaking records until learning about Smokey several years ago.

While Merlin’s purr is always loud, it gets even more boisterous when food is placed in front of him, so when Guinness came to record Merlin’s sounds, Westwood made sure to have a bowl of tuna nearby.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME animals

This Bird’s Villainous Cackle Is the Stuff of Nightmares

A video going viral on Reddit appears to show a bird cackling like a “super villain.”

Some experts say talking birds mimic sounds they find appealing, and parrots may rely on their strong memories to get the hang of something after a single listen. Parrots may use “vocal imitation” to attract a mate or find one another in a crowd. As Michael Schindlinger, an assistant professor of biology at Lesley University, wrote in Scientific American, “Maybe this is the best reason for these parrots to imitate: to better command the attention of a potential listener by producing sounds for which the listener already has a memory.”

TIME animals

More Than 40% of Bee Hives Died in Past Year, Survey Says

Some states saw more than 60 percent of their hives die since April 2014, according to the survey

(WASHINGTON) — More than two out of five American honeybee colonies died in the past year, and surprisingly the worst die-off was in the summer, according to a federal survey.

Since April 2014, beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of their colonies, the second highest loss rate in nine years, according to an annual survey conducted by a bee partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” said study co-author Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

But it’s not quite as dire as it sounds. That’s because after a colony dies, beekeepers then split their surviving colonies, start new ones, and the numbers go back up again, said Delaplane and study co-author Dennis van Engelsdorp of the University of Maryland.

What shocked the entomologists is that is the first time they’ve noticed bees dying more in the summer than the winter, said vanEngelsdorp said. The survey found beekeepers lost 27.4 percent of their colonies this summer. That’s up from 19.8 percent the previous summer.

Seeing massive colony losses in summer is like seeing “a higher rate of flu deaths in the summer than winter,” vanEngelsdorp said. “You just don’t expect colonies to die at this rate in the summer.”

Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine and Wisconsin all saw more than 60 percent of their hives die since April 2014, according to the survey.

“Most of the major commercial beekeepers get a dark panicked look in their eyes when they discuss these losses and what it means to their businesses,” said Pennsylvania State University entomology professor Diana Cox-Foster. She wasn’t part of the study, but praised it.

Delaplane and vanEngelsdorp said a combination of mites, poor nutrition and pesticides are to blame for the bee deaths. USDA bee scientist Jeff Pettis said last summer’s large die-off included unusual queen loss and seemed worse in colonies that moved more.

Dick Rogers, chief beekeeper for pesticide-maker Bayer, said the loss figure is “not unusual at all” and said the survey shows an end result of more colonies now than before: 2.74 million hives in 2015, up from 2.64 million in 2014.

That doesn’t mean bee health is improving or stable, vanEngelsdorp said. After they lose colonies, beekeepers are splitting their surviving hives to recover their losses, pushing the bees to their limits, Delaplane said.

TIME animals

Watch This Sickly Puppy Grow Into a Stunning Great Dane

Pegasus continues to defy gravity


Pegasus the Great Dane puppy was born into the cruel system of backyard breeding. Weak and disabled, she was rescued from that world at just 4 weeks old, reports The Dodo.

Due to the numerous health complications that come with reckless breeding, Pegasus and the other puppies were given a short life expectancy. Sadly, Pegasus’ brothers and sisters did die, but she continued to live on.

One of her rescuers, Dave Meinert, decided to take the tiny pup under his wing. Others warned Meinert that Pegasus would likely die young or grow to be deaf and blind, but the animal lover was determined to help the puppy live life to the fullest.

“For me, she had already been born. Nothing was going to change that,” Meinert told The Dodo. “By rescuing her, at least I could be certain she’d be looked after and not discarded or left to die like many of these dogs when the problems start.”

To help document this journey with his new furry friend, Meinert, with help from an animal therapist, filmed Pegasus using a treadmill for five months, which he calls The Pegasus Project. The treadmill helps the puppy overcome some of her disabilities, while the video allows us to watch this beautiful dog grow.

Today, Pegasus is alive and thriving. While she will have some extra obstacles in her life due to her harsh beginnings, this pup appears to be handling them in stride.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME animals

Here’s a Huge Wild Boar Crashing Through a Mall Ceiling in Hong Kong


This past weekend, a wild boar managed to escape the forest and make her way into a mall in Hong Kong. She stayed in the mall for about four hours, eventually getting trapped inside a children’s clothing store, the BBC reports.

The boar — whose name is unknown, so for now, let’s just call her Laverne — apparently climbed up a ladder. Then she fell through the shop’s ceiling, as you’ll see in the footage above. You’ll also notice that Laverne was quite a crowd pleaser. A group of gasping, squealing onlookers gathered to watch her fall into the store, where she proceeded to run around knocking over child-sized mannequins.

Laverne, who weighs an estimated 55 lbs., was eventually tranquilized and taken to an animal rehabilitation center. Poor Laverne. She was probably at the mall looking for her Shirley.

TIME animals

Missing Cat in Australia Found 49 Days Later in Shipping Container

Pippa the cat was in for an unexpected ride

A cat that went missing from Darwin, Australia, was discovered seven weeks later in a shipping container on the other side of the country in Brisbane, reports 9 News.

Rebecca Schilling found out about her cat’s travels after she received a call from her former neighbor Jason King. Schilling had sent some of the belongings King left behind to his new home in Brisbane, and somehow Pippa the cat snuck into the box.

The container was sent out Feb. 20 and didn’t reach King until April 10. The old neighbor was confused to find his belongings covered in cat hair, feces and urine, until he spied Pippa. She was bony, dehydrated and weak, but after 49 days stuck in the container with no food or water, she was miraculously still alive.

“I was delighted that I knew where she was but I was initially concerned she was really suffering and might need to be put down,” Schilling said.

Thankfully, after spending a few weeks at an animal welfare league, Pippa is in stable condition and living with a foster family in Brisbane.

The owner is working on bringing Pippa back home so the 3-year-old cat can be reunited with Schilling’s daughter, but she is worried about traumatizing the cat with further travel.

For now, kitty will stay with her foster family.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

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