Deep-Sea Mission Nets a Fish With No Face

A black-and-white image of a newly discovered faceless fish.
A black-and-white image of a newly discovered faceless fish.
Günther (1887) // Public Domain

Deep-sea scientists see some pretty weird things, but nothing comes close to the spooky, blank-headed fish recently hauled up from the abyss. Researchers say the faceless cusk-eel—a kind of bony fish—lives so far into the black depths that luxuries like eyes are superfluous.

The Australian research vessel Investigator has been plumbing the abyss for a month, scooping up all manner of strange beasts, many of which have never been seen before. The mission is pulling out all the stops in its sampling, using sleds, grabbers, cameras, and the largest fishing net ever deployed in the deep sea.

“Abyssal animals have been around for at least 40 million years but until recently only a handful of samples has been collected from Australia’s abyss,” chief scientist Tim O’Hara said in a blog post for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). It’s “a world of jelly and fangs, with miniature monsters gliding up and down waiting for prey.”

The 40-member research team aboard Investigator had, therefore, peered into more than their share of weird faces. But a fish with no face was new to them.

“Everyone was amazed,” one scientist wrote on the Blogging the Abyss website. “We fishos thought we’d hit the jackpot.”

The team flew into research mode, rifling through old research in search of more information. Eel expert John Pogonoski of CSIRO was the first to discover the disappointing, but still fascinating truth: The faceless fish isn’t new at all, but an important part of history.

The first specimens of the faceless cusk-eel (now identified as Typhlonus nasus) were hauled up in 1874 by naturalists aboard the HMS Challenger, the first-ever global deep-sea mission. The Challenger mission was extraordinary in its success, especially given the primitive nature of its instruments, which included miles and miles of piano wire.

“So, it’s not a new species,” admitted the blogging scientist, “but it’s still an incredibly exciting find. It does have eyes—which are apparently visible well beneath the skin in smaller specimens. I doubt they’d be of much use though.”

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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A Wily Fox With a Passion for Fashion Stole More Than 100 Shoes From a Berlin Neighborhood

The smirk.
The smirk.
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

In Berlin, Germany, a fox has embarked on a crime spree that puts Dora the Explorer’s Swiper completely to shame.

CNN-News18 reports that residents of Zehlendorf, a locality in southeastern Berlin, spent weeks scratching their heads as shoes continued to disappear from their stoops and patios overnight. After posting about the mystery on a neighborhood watch site and reading accounts from various bewildered barefooters, a local named Christian Meyer began to think the thief might be a fox.

He was right. Meyer caught sight of the roguish robber with a mouthful of flip-flop and followed him to a field, where he found more than 100 stolen shoes. The fox appears to have an affinity for Crocs, but the cache also contained sandals, sneakers, a pair of rubber boots, and one black ballet flat, among other footwear. Unfortunately, according to BBC News, Meyer’s own vanished running shoe was nowhere to be seen.

Foxes are known for their playfulness, and it’s not uncommon for one to trot off with an item left unattended in a yard. Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife explains that foxes are drawn to “things that smell good,” which, to a fox, includes dog toys, balls, gardening gloves, and worn shoes. And if your former cat’s backyard gravesite is suddenly empty one day, you can probably blame a fox for that, too; they bury their own food to eat later, so a deceased pet is basically a free meal.

The fate of Zehlendorf’s furriest burglar remains unclear, but The Cut’s Amanda Arnold has a radical idea: that the residents simply let the fox keep what is obviously a well-curated collection.

[h/t CNN-News18]