Chile Has Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Tainted Wine, and They’re All Very Good Boys

iStock.com/sanjagrujic
iStock.com/sanjagrujic

Dogs are incredibly multitalented. Not only can they be trained to find drugs, bombs, and bodies, but certain breeds can also sniff out malaria, bed bugs and other destructive pests, and even art smugglers. (They also make great cuddlers and therapy pets.)

Now, as Food & Wine reports, dogs in Chile are being taught how to identify tainted wine through a program called the Natinga Project. Wine barrel maker TN Coopers has trained five Labrador retrievers to detect natural compounds like trichloroanisole (TCA) and tribromoanisole (TBA). While these chemicals aren't harmful, they can cause “cork taint,” which leaves behind a musty aroma and diminishes the flavor of the wine.

Without the aid of a canine nose, these compounds have proven difficult to track down—even with advanced technology. Through the Natinga Project, the dogs can be “rented” out to other wineries that stand to benefit from the service of these very good boys.

At one winery that was experiencing problems with the quality of its product, a dog was able to detect traces of TCA contamination on a hose. However, when the problem persisted, the dogs were brought back once again. As it turned out, the dog was pointing to a small rubber ring attached to the hose, not the hose itself.

"The interesting thing is that the dogs were not wrong; it was a human mistake in terms of interpreting what the dog was trying to say," Guillermo Calderón, the marketing manager at TN Coopers, told Wine Spectator. “Their sense of smell is extremely reliable and rarely ever misses.”

News of the project has spread as far as California, and plans are in the works to someday bring the dogs to the U.S. To that effect, Calderón says, "I can say for now that we are training a new generation of puppies that will be able to carry on with this initiative for many years to come."

[h/t Food & Wine]

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

A Prehistoric Great White Shark Nursery Has Been Discovered in Chile

Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
solarseven/iStock via Getty Images

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may be one of the most formidable and frightening apex predators on the planet today, but life for them isn’t as easy as horror movies would suggest. Due to a slow growth rate and the fact that they produce few offspring, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

There is a way these sharks ensure survival, and that is by creating nurseries—a designated place where great white shark babies (called pups) are protected from other predators. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna and colleagues have discovered these nurseries occurred in prehistoric times.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Jamie A. Villafaña from the university’s Institute of Palaeontology describes a fossilized nursery found in Coquimbo, Chile. Researchers were examining a collection of fossilized great white shark teeth between 5 and 2 million years old along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru when they noticed a disproportionate number of young shark teeth in Coquimbo. There was also a total lack of sexually mature animals' teeth, which suggests the site was used primarily by pups and juveniles as a nursery.

Though modern great whites are known to guard their young in designated areas, the researchers say this is the first example of a paleo-nursery. Because the climate was much warmer when the paleo-nursery was in use, the researchers think these protective environments can deepen our understanding of how great white sharks can survive global warming trends.