Henry the Tortoise Is Looking for a Part-Time Walker

iStock
iStock

If you live in New York City, love reptiles, and are looking for a slow-paced side gig, a local pet owner is hiring a weekday walker to take her African spurred tortoise on leisurely nature walks.

Harlem resident (and former Mental Floss contributor) Amanda Green adopted Henry three years ago. She works during the day, but her pet gets restless at home—so in March 2016, Green posted a Craigslist ad looking for someone to take Henry for strolls in nearby Central Park.

“Henry's very active when the weather's nice and paces around the apartment,” Green tells Mental Floss. “A bored tortoise can be a destructive tortoise."

News of the ad went viral, and Green received “hundreds and hundreds” of job applications from around the world. She ended up hiring Amalia McCallister, an animal-loving neighbor who worked at a local pet store. Now, McCallister is moving away to Chicago, and Green needs to find a replacement walker.

The tortoise-walking gig pays $11 an hour, according to a new Craigslist ad posted by Green. Since Henry weighs around 20 pounds, Green provides walkers with a pet stroller to transport the massive critter to and from Central Park. Once Henry arrives, “he starts his park trips by mowing the lawn, especially dandelions,” Green says. “After a while, he'll stroll the trails or along any fence line he can find. (The guy loves a perimeter.) Then he'll snack more and sun after a while. Sometimes he digs a little, too.”

The job has its challenges: For one, Henry roams freely in the grass without a leash, so the chosen candidate will need to keep a very close eye on him. “Henry is surprisingly energetic and fearless,” Green writes in her Craigslist ad. “The biggest thing to watch out for is him eating trash or kids trying to feed him.”

Also, being a tortoise walker is “more physical than people expect,” Green says. “Henry's essentially a kettlebell with four legs. He needs help in and out of the stroller, and I live in a third-floor walkup apartment. The job can also require being stern with people. A few times per year, some mansplainer will tell me I should allow Henry to swim (he'd die) or live in the park all year long (he'd die), and I have to explain tortoises to him. I've also had people try to feed Henry donuts and other forbidden foods, which is annoying. For the most part, though, people are great.”

Finally, you’ll have to pick up Henry’s poop. (For the record, Green notes that it's “quite dry and looks like the grass he eats all day.")

One perk of the job? If you're single, Henry might help you score a date. “I've told my single guy friends that Henry's the ultimate wingman,” Green says. “Women love him."

Green’s ad has already received close to 100 responses, so if you want to toss your hat into the ring, you should reply sooner rather than later. And even if you don’t end up getting hired, you can still follow Henry's adventures on Instagram.

[h/t Gothamist]

Is There An International Standard Governing Scientific Naming Conventions?

iStock/Grafissimo
iStock/Grafissimo

Jelle Zijlstra:

There are lots of different systems of scientific names with different conventions or rules governing them: chemicals, genes, stars, archeological cultures, and so on. But the one I'm familiar with is the naming system for animals.

The modern naming system for animals derives from the works of the 18th-century Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (Latinized to Carolus Linnaeus). Linnaeus introduced the system of binominal nomenclature, where animals have names composed of two parts, like Homo sapiens. Linnaeus wrote in Latin and most his names were of Latin origin, although a few were derived from Greek, like Rhinoceros for rhinos, or from other languages, like Sus babyrussa for the babirusa (from Malay).

Other people also started using Linnaeus's system, and a system of rules was developed and eventually codified into what is now called the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). In this case, therefore, there is indeed an international standard governing naming conventions. However, it does not put very strict requirements on the derivation of names: they are merely required to be in the Latin alphabet.

In practice a lot of well-known scientific names are derived from Greek. This is especially true for genus names: Tyrannosaurus, Macropus (kangaroos), Drosophila (fruit flies), Caenorhabditis (nematode worms), Peromyscus (deermice), and so on. Species names are more likely to be derived from Latin (e.g., T. rex, C. elegans, P. maniculatus, but Drosophila melanogaster is Greek again).

One interesting pattern I've noticed in mammals is that even when Linnaeus named the first genus in a group by a Latin name, usually most later names for related genera use Greek roots instead. For example, Linnaeus gave the name Mus to mice, and that is still the genus name for the house mouse, but most related genera use compounds of the Greek-derived root -mys (from μῦς), which also means "mouse." Similarly, bats for Linnaeus were Vespertilio, but there are many more compounds of the Greek root -nycteris (νυκτερίς); pigs are Sus, but compounds usually use Greek -choerus (χοῖρος) or -hys/-hyus (ὗς); weasels are Mustela but compounds usually use -gale or -galea (γαλέη); horses are Equus but compounds use -hippus (ἵππος).

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

A Rare Blue Lobster Ended Up in a Cape Cod Restaurant

Richard wood, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Richard wood, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Lobsters have precious few defenses when it comes to being tossed in a vat of boiling water or on a grill and turned into dinner. They have not yet evolved into not being delicious. But sometimes, one lucky lobster can defy the odds and escape their sentence by virtue of a genetic defect that turns them blue.

According to MassLive, one such lobster has been given a reprieve at Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Named "Baby Blue," the crustacean arrived at the restaurant from the Atlantic and was immediately singled out for its distinctive appearance.

Blue lobsters are a statistical abnormality. It's estimated only one in every two million carry the defect that creates an excessive amount of protein that results in the color. A lobsterman named Wayne Nickerson caught one in Cape Cod in 2016. He also reported catching one in 1990. Greg Ward of Rye, New Hampshire caught one near the New Hampshire and Maine border in 2017.

Lobsters can show up in a variety of colors, including orange, yellow, a mixture of orange and black, white, and even take on a two-toned appearance, with the colors split down the middle. Blue is the most common, relatively speaking. A white (albino) specimen happens in only one out of 100 million lobsters. The majority have shells with yellow, blue, and red layers and appear brown until cooked, at which point the proteins in the shell fall off to reveal the red coloring.

It's an unofficial tradition that blue lobsters aren't served up to curious customers. Instead, they're typically donated to local aquariums. Nathan Nickerson, owner Arnold's, said he plans on doing the same.

[h/t MassLive]

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