Bleats

Sydney Uni Researchers Want To Pit Sydney's Rats And Cockroaches Against Each Other

The new cats vs. dogs.

Sydney is known for a few things, but if you’re an Australian who isn’t from Sydney, you probably associate it with two things: rats and cockroaches. Maybe also the Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge, and the lockout laws, and Bondi Beach, and CityRail… but obviously, the rats and cockroaches are the most important Sydney icons, at least for the purposes of this article.

Researchers at the University of Sydney have been given the green light to look into training rats to hunt cockroaches, according to Ten.

Leading the charge is Peter Banks, Professor in Conservation Biology, and Big Fan of Rats (or at least a Big Fan of Studying Them).

Despite their reputation, Banks says that water rats are actually a good thing because they deter invasive species. But he wants to take that a step further, and train them to hunt cockroaches, which would presumably result in an incredibly Battle Royale in the middle of George Street.

Banks told Ten:

“The general idea is to try and pre-arm species with the ability to recognise invaders before they actually land in the spot.”

If their experiment is successful, Banks and his team will move on to training rats to hunt the Asian House gecko. It seems that Professor Banks will not rest until rats are able to eradicate almost anything. Where will it stop? What if rats learn how to hunt… humans?!

I think we can take them.

Anyway, in the spirit of rats fighting cockroaches, I’ve come up with some other animal battles that I’d like to see happen.

  1. Cane toads vs. cassowaries: Two of Australia’s most annoying creatures. No matter who loses, we all win.
  2. Tortoises vs. rabbits: Pretty sure Aesop was onto something.
  3. Echidnas vs. platypuses: ALL-MONOTREME DEATH-MATCH!
  4. Kookaburras vs. Indian mynas: Firstly, we’ll need to train the kookaburras, to ensure they can defeat those irritating invasive mynas. Then we’ll feed them sausages as a reward.

So whose team are you on? Team Rat, or Team Cockroach? Personally, I’m on Team Rat. Fuzzy things trump bugs every single time. Plus, they can be cute. Cockroaches are irredeemably disgusting. Go rats, go!

These Photos Of Fish From The Ocean's 'Twilight Zone' Are Terrifying And Will Make You Never Want To Swim Again

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man, and it can be found in the deepest depths of the ocean.

If you aren’t at least a little bit scared of the deepest parts of the ocean, you’re lying. It’s vast, cold, and dark, and almost entirely unexplored. It’s estimated that there are up to a million undiscovered species down there, and the ones we know about are literally prehistoric. It’s a scary place.

Now, thanks to The Ocean Twilight Zone Project, we can enjoy some incredibly detailed photos of the creatures that call this part of the ocean their home.

‘The Twilight Zone’ is defined as 200 to 1000 metres below sea level, and evidently, nature gets really weird when it has never seen the sun.

The elongated bristlemouth.

That’s an elongated bristlemouth, and it will absolutely haunt your dreams tonight, and for that I am sorry. Don’t let that close-up fool you, though; bristlemouths are actually tiny.

It’s way less terrifying now.

Doctor Heidi Sosik, a biologist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who is leading the Ocean Twilight Zone project, explained to The New York Times that the majority of creatures living in the deepest parts of the ocean are really small. Their bodies have adapted to the lack of food, because small things need less food to survive.

This is a hatchetfish photographed alongside the tip of a pencil, to give you an idea of how tiny it is.

A hatchetfish and the tip of a pencil.

Like many of the fish that live in the ocean’s deep, hatchetfish are able to create their own light using photophores. These help them blend in with the light coming down from the surface, making them invisible to predators. This use of bioluminescence is called ‘counter-illumination’.

This happy little Vegemite is a Sloane’s viperfish, and even though it could fit in the palm of your hand, it’s considered one of the biggest predators down in the Twilight Zone. Its teeth are too large for its mouth to close properly, so when it captures its prey, it closes its jaw around it like a cage, imprisoning it before chowing down.

A Sloane’s viperfish.

The photo at the top of this article is of a lanternfish, and there are roughly 250 species of lanternfish in the Twilight Zone. They typically don’t grow any bigger than a human index finger, but there are so many of them that they’re able to trick sonar.

A variety of lanternfish.

Even though these tiny fish look terrifying, they’re also kind of mesmerising. Pretty sure if you stared at one for too long it would find a way to enter your brain and control you from within, though.

For more on these unique creatures, read The New York Times’ report on the Ocean Twilight Zone project’s expedition.

Watching This Spaceship Leave Earth From Space Will Make You Feel Very Small

In case you forgot that space is cool as heck.

The European Space Agency has shared a video taken by astronaut Alexander Gerst, who is currently living on the International Space Station, and it’s awe-inspiring.

The video shows the launch of the Russian Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft, which launched from Kazakhstan on November 16. The craft was on its way to the ISS to deliver food, fuel and supplies to the astronauts on board.

Check it out below:

If you’re a real diehard space fan, the ESA has highlighted some of the key moments in the video for you:

  • 00:07 Soyuz-FG rocket booster separation.
  • 00:19 Core stage separation.
  • 00:34:05 Core stage starts burning in the atmosphere as it returns to Earth after having spent all its fuel.
  • 00:34:19 Progress spacecraft separates from rocket and enters orbit to catch up with the International Space Station.

According to Motherboardthis launch was significant as it was the first ISS-bound launch of a Russian Soyuz-FG rocket since the previous one, launched late last month, had to make an emergency landing minutes after launch.

For more amazing views from the ISS, check out Gerst’s Twitter.

Here are some photos of the Progress launch:

And here’s Scandinavia as seen from space:

Plus, photos of our very own Outback!

This is a great reminder that even if everything on Earth destroys itself, we’ll always have space. Vast, endless, dark space.

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