Scientists Tell Octopus Species Apart by Counting Their Warts

NOAA
NOAA

As kids, we were taught that it’s impolite to stare. It’s a good thing not everybody listened. Researchers peering at adorable, pudgy deep-sea octopuses say the placement and number of their warts could be a way of differentiating two very similar-looking species. They published their findings in the journal Marine Biology Research.

Graneledone verrucosa, pictured above, and Graneledone pacifica, pictured below, have an awful lot in common.

NOAA

They live deep in the sea, sometimes chilling as far down as 9500 feet into the blackness. They’re My Little Pony–colored, big-eyed, and cute as dumplings. And they’re warty as heck.

Previous studies have suggested that these lumps could help distinguish one Graneledone species from another, but deep-sea critters are tricky and expensive to find and collect. The scarcity of specimens has made the wart hypothesis difficult to confirm.

And that’s where museum collections come in. Lead author Janet Voight is associate curator of invertebrates at The Field Museum in Chicago. She and her co-author, Jessica Kurth of Pennsylvania State University, examined 72 different squishy specimens, carefully noting the placement, size, and quantity of each animal’s warts.

“Nobody has sat down with dozens of these octopuses and compared them,” Voight said in a statement. “There are so many things like that in museum collections, just waiting for the right scientist to come along and use the information they offer."

The researchers’ octopus ogling paid off: They found clear, if subtle, differences in the two species’ lump-scapes. G. pacifica was wartier, with more bumps running down its arms and mantle than its cousin has.

The study shows the importance of having multiple specimens to compare, Voight says. "If you only have two individuals, you don't know what's important and what's not—it'd be like meeting a person with blonde hair and a person with brown hair and concluding that they must be different species."

It also illustrates how little we know about animals in the deep sea. "This study should make future octopus analysis easier and more rigorous," Voight says. "I’d be happy if that happened.”

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Reason Dogs Are Terrified of Thunderstorms—And How You Can Help

The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
The face of a dog who clearly knows that a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Deafening thunder can be a little scary even for a full-grown human who knows it’s harmless, so your dog’s terror is understandable. But why exactly do thunderstorms send so many of our pawed pals into a tailspin?

Many dogs are distressed by unexpected loud noises—a condition known as noise aversion, or noise phobia in more severe cases—and sudden thunderclaps fall into that category. What separates a wailing siren or fireworks show from a thunderstorm in a dog's mind, however, is that dogs may actually realize a thunderstorm is coming.

As National Geographic explains, not only can dogs easily see when the sky gets dark and feel when the wind picks up, but they can also perceive the shift in barometric pressure that occurs before a storm. The anxiety of knowing loud noise is on its way may upset your dog as much as the noise itself.

Static electricity could also add to this anxiety, especially for dogs with long and/or thick hair. Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, who also co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies, told National Geographic that a static shock when brushing up against metal may heighten your dog’s agitation during a storm.

It’s difficult to nail down why each dog despises thunderstorms. As Purina points out, one could simply be thrown off by a break from routine, while another may be most troubled by the lightning. In any case, there are ways to help calm your stressed pet.

If your dog’s favorite spot during a storm is in the bathroom, they could be trying to stay near smooth, static-less surfaces for fear of getting shocked. Suiting them up in an anti-static jacket or petting them down with anti-static dryer sheets may help.

You can also make a safe haven for your pup where they’ll be oblivious to signs of a storm. Purina behavior research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan suggests draping a blanket over their crate, which can help muffle noise. For dogs that don’t use (or like) crates, a cozy room with drawn blinds and a white noise machine can work instead.

Consulting your veterinarian is a good idea, too; if your dog’s thunderstorm-related stress is really causing issues, an anti-anxiety prescription could be the best option.

[h/t National Geographic]