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A major UCLA study says that at least 65 species of animals laugh

If you've never seen a fox giggle, you're in for a treat.

Foxes giggle like children on helium.

Laughter is one of the most natural impulses in humans. Most babies start to laugh out loud at around 3 to 4 months, far earlier than they are able to speak or walk. Expressing enjoyment or delight comes naturally to us, but we're not the only creatures who communicate with giggles.

Researchers at UCLA have identified 65 species of animals who make "play vocalizations," or what we would consider laughter. Some of those vocalizations were already well documented—we've known for a while that apes and rats laugh—but others may come as a surprise. Along with a long list of primate species, domestic cows and dogs, foxes, seals, mongooses and three bird species are prone to laughter as well. (Many bird species can mimic human laughter, but that's not the same as making their own play vocalizations.)

Primatologist and UCLA anthropology graduate student Sasha Winkler and UCLA professor of communication Greg Bryant shared their findings in an article in the journal Bioacoustics.

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Derrick Downey Jr. has been dubbed the 'squirrel whisperer.'

Most of us who live in the U.S. are used to looking out a window or walking out our front door and seeing squirrels. The cute, fluffy-tailed rodents often appear perfectly pettable, but they generally scamper away when humans get too close.

That is not the case for TikTok creator Derrick Downey Jr., however, as he has not only befriended his neighborhood squirrels but goes all out to help them live their best squirrel lives.

Downey shared a video in May of 2022 in which he chats with a couple of squirrels on his porch while feeding them and offering them water. That video received over 26 million views and kicked off a whole series of videos showcasing the adorable antics of Richard, Maxine, Hector, Consuela, Norma (may she rest in peace), and Hood Rat Raymond. He's built Richard a house, rescued Maxine's babies, mourned Norma's transition (to wherever squirrels go when they die) and more.

People can't get enough, and who can blame them? Squirrels are the best (when they're not tearing up your patio furniture and stealing cotton for their nest, as Downey has experienced.)

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Science

Hawk drops snake on Texas woman, then tries to take it back in real-life horror story

File this under "things you didn't want to know were possible."

NPS/Kurt Moses (Public Domain)

Snakes are prey for hawks, but humans aren't usually involved in the hunt.

You know how sometimes you read a story that seems like it couldn't possibly be true, and when you find out it is, you think, "Yeah, I didn't actually need to know that could happen"?

This is one of those stories. And I'm only a little bit sorry for sharing it because it's also one of those stories where every detail gets more and more incredible (or in this case, worse and so much worse). I mean, it's a real-life story that starts with a snake falling out of the sky, for crying out loud. Cue the horror soundtrack.

Peggy Jones, 64, told Fox 26 Houston that she was driving her riding lawnmower in the yard of her home in Silsbee, Texas, when out of nowhere, a snake landed on her from above. Before she could even wrap her mind around what was happening, the snake coiled itself around her arm and began to strike at her face, repeatedly hitting her glasses.

That would be more than enough all by itself, but that's not where this horror story ends. The hawk that had presumably dropped the snake really wanted it back.

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Science

A giant garbage patch floating in the ocean has become home to hundreds of sea creatures

Multiple species of marine life have been discovered surviving on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that floats between California and Hawaii.

Image via Unsplash

Plastic floating in the ocean

“Life finds a way” might be a line from a movie, but it’s the perfect way to describe the very real resilience of nature.

Take for example an enormous 620,000 square mile build-up of trash floating in the ocean between California and Hawaii, which has miraculously become a floating home to a myriad of sea creatures, otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Swirling ocean currents called gyres act as whirlpools sucking in piles and piles of litter into condensed areas, and the debris collects in patches in the center of the gyre. Though there are five of these garbage patches across the globe, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—made of trash from countries in Asia and North and South America—contains the most plastic, according to USA Today.
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