Why did scientists give a mirror to these weird fish? We have 5 ideas.

"Mirror, mirror, under waves — who's the fairest manta ray?"

Presumably, that's what's on this guy's mind:



GIF via Csilla Ari, Ph.D./New Scientist.

That ray, you see, is circling around a mirror placed in its tank by Csilla Ari, a researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Ari filmed a pair of these aquatic blanket-creatures on two separate occasions: once with a mirror in their tank and once without. She observed a noticeable difference in the behaviors of these typically antisocial animals in the presence of their own reflections.

They would blow bubbles while facing the mirror, for example, or wave their fins around and swim circles past the looking glass, like in the GIF above. But as fun as it is to spend an afternoon watching fish act funny, this strange little experiment still begged the question: Why would a manta ray care about a mirror?

It turns out, there are actually a few possibilities:

Science fact: Rays love dancing. GIF via Cheezburger.

1. They were just making sure they're not a vampire or monster.

It's a commonly accepted scientific fact that evil mystical folk creatures don't have reflections — and once upon a time, people treated the so-called "devil ray" like monsters. There were stories of these flappy fish using their prodigious size to sink ships, and they gained a (completely fabricated) reputation for attacking humans. They even starred in a couple of monster movies, like "The Sea Bat (1930)" and "Devil Monster (1936)" — though sadly, none of them left their fin-prints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

While manta rays can get pretty big — some are more than 20 feet across — they're not actually that dangerous in real life (and they're definitely not demonic).

"Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup." GIF from "Devil Monster."

2. Or they were checking to see if they had anything in their teeth.

So if manta rays aren't man-eating monsters, what do they eat? It turns out, they're really into those teeny tiny floating plants and animals we call plankton — so basically the opposite of human flesh. In fact, the ray's iconic horns are actually fins on the sides of their head that help them funnel plankton into their mouths!

Nom nom nom nom nom. GIF from GoPro/YouTube.

3. Perhaps they wanted to admire how smart they look.

Manta rays have the biggest brains for their bodies of any fish. There are even some stories of rays coordinating and cooperating with each other (even though they generally keep to themselves).

Intelligence is beautiful, so maybe these rays were just taking in the sights?

Woohoo! We're smart! Let's have a flap party about it! GIF from BBC Earth.

4. They could have also been looking for gray hairs.

The manta ray as we know it today has been around for about 5 million years, and its relatives date back around 20 million years. And they're not just an old family either — individual rays can live to be 50 years old! (Which is, like, really old for a fish.)

"Get off my lawn." GIF via Imgur.

5. Or maybe, just maybe, these manta rays got so excited by the mirror because their advanced intelligence make them self-aware.

The mirror test is a kind-of-vaguely-defined lowest-bar litmus test for determining if animals possess a higher consciousness like humans. The basic idea is that if an animal can recognize itself in a mirror (instead of, say, confusing its own reflection for another member of its species), then that animal must be at least somewhat aware of its own identity.

Other animals that have passed the mirror test include dolphins, chimpanzees, elephants, and magpies. It's only a tentative step, and it may not work for nonvisual animals like octopuses, for example (which lots of us already recognize as a vastly superior alien race). But if the manta rays in the experiment above did actually recognize their own reflections, it would make them the first fish to demonstrate self-awareness.

YAY I'M SELF-AWARE UR SELF-AWARE LET'S BE BFFL.

Of course, we can't exactly prove these manta rays are really as vain as we think they are ... at least, not yet.

But if this research checks out, it has the potential to be an ocean-sized milestone in our larger understanding of consciousness and evolution. Which means we're one step closer to being able to swim up to a manta and say, "Hey, who's that handsome devil ray in the mirror?"

And I think we're all agreed: That would be awesome.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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