Meet Beadnose: Alaska's New Fat Bear Champion

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0

Beadnose is a mama bear who loves chowing down on sockeye salmon in Alaska’s scenic Katmai National Park and Preserve. Now, thanks to her fondness for food, she’s the champion of this year’s Fat Bear contest, Smithsonian reports.

Each fall since 2014, the park has organized the competition on social media to highlight the gluttonous ways in which the preserve’s 2000-plus brown bears start bulking up for winter. The bears eat everything they can get their paws on and swell to their heaviest weight in October to prepare for hibernation.

This year, Beadnose (who goes by the number 409) was the fan favorite, having received the most “likes” on Facebook when up against other bears in the bracket-style contest. As the new heavyweight champion, she receives “stronger chances of living through the winter,” according to the park’s social media accounts.

“Bears must eat one year’s worth of food in six short months to survive hibernation, and 409 has excelled at that,” the park writes. “Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year’s most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory.”

A fat bear contest poster

Katmai National Park & Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0

She beat out 11 other contenders chosen by park staff, including the aptly named Chunk and former fat bear champion Otis, whose body has been described as “walrus-shaped” by fans, according to Outside. The park says Beadnose “emancipated” her two cubs early in the summer, so she enjoyed the advantage of not having to share her food.

Want to see more of these BBBs (big beautiful bears) before they retreat into the nearby Dumpling Mountain caves to hibernate? Check out the park’s live Bear Cams online.

[h/t Smithsonian]

No Venom, No Problem: This Spider Uses a Slingshot to Catch Prey

Courtesy of Sarah Han
Courtesy of Sarah Han

There are thousands of ways nature can kill, and spider species often come up with the most creative methods of execution. Hyptiotes cavatus, otherwise known as the triangle weaver spider, is one such example. Lacking venom, the spider manages to weaponize its silk, using it to hurl itself forward like a terrifying slingshot to trap its prey.

This unusual method was studied up close for a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the University of Akron in Ohio. They say it's the only known instance of an animal using an external device—its web—for power amplification.

Hyptiotes cavatus's technique is simple. After constructing a web, the spider takes one of the main strands and breaks it in half, pulling it taut by moving backwards. Then, it anchors itself to a spot with more webbing in the rear. When the spider releases that webbing, it surges forward, propelled by the sudden release of stored energy. In the slingshot analogy, the webbing is the strap and the spider is the projectile.

This jerking motion causes the web to oscillate, tangling the spider's prey further in silk. The spider can repeat this until the web has completely immobilized its prey, a low-risk entrapment that doesn’t require the spider to get too close and risk injury from larger victims.

The triangle weaver spider doesn’t have venom, and it needs to be proactive in attacking and stifling prey. Once a potential meal lands in its web, it’s able to clear distances much more quickly using this slingshot technique than if it crawled over. In the lab, scientists clocked the spider’s acceleration at 2535 feet per second squared.

Spiders are notoriously nimble and devious. Cebrennus rechenbergi, or the flic-flac spider, can do cartwheels to spin out of danger; Myrmarachne resemble ants and even wiggle their front legs like ant antennae. It helps them avoid predators, but if they see a meal, they’ll drop the act and pounce. With H. cavatus, it now appears they’re learning to use tools, too.

[h/t Live Science]

Plano, Texas Is Home to a Dog-Friendly Movie Theater That Serves Bottomless Wine or Whiskey

K9 Cinemas
K9 Cinemas

For dog owners in Plano, Texas, movie night with Fido no longer just means cuddling on the couch and browsing Netflix. The recently opened K9 Cinemas invites moviegoers—both human and canine—to watch classic films on the big screen. And the best part for the human members of this couple? Your $15 ticket includes bottomless wine or whiskey (or soft drinks if you're under 21).

The theater operates as a pop-up (or perhaps pup-up?) in a private event space near Custer Road and 15th Street in Plano. Snacks—both the pet and people kind—are available for $2 apiece. Dogs are limited to two per person, and just 25 human seats are sold per showing to leave room for the furry guests.

Pet owners are asked follow a few rules in order to take advantage of what the theater has to offer. Dogs must be up-to-date on all their shots, and owners can submit veterinary records online or bring a hard copy to the theater to verify their pooch's health status. Once inside, owners are responsible for taking their dog out for potty breaks and cleaning up after any accidents that happen (thankfully the floors are concrete and easy to wipe down).

While many of the movies shown are canine-themed—a recent screening of A Dog's Journey included branded bandanas with every ticket purchase—they also hold special events, like a Game of Thrones finale watch party (no word on how the puppers in attendance responded to Jon Snow finally acknowledging what a good boy Ghost is).

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