March 19, 2014

A Tibetan mastiff, similar to the one shown here, sold Wednesday for a record $1.9 million.     Photo: Laures/Getty Images

Dog Sells for $1.9 Million

Most expensive pooch ever?

And you thought buying a purebred lab was expensive.

In what might be the most expensive dog sale ever, a property developer paid 12 million yuan—or $1.9 million—for a Tibetan mastiff puppy on Wednesday.

He acquired the one-year-old golden-haired mastiff at a “luxury pet” fair Tuesday in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang, according to the Qianjiang Evening News.

"They have lion's blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs," the dog's breeder, Zhang Gengyun, told the paper. Another of his red-haired pups sold for six million yuan, he added.  

Tibetan mastiffs, which are enormous and sometimes ferocious, bear a passing resemblance to lions—if you squint. They’re now a prized status symbol among China’s elite, causing prices to skyrocket.  

The animal sold on Wednesday is reportedly 31 inches tall and weighs nearly 200 pounds. That’s a lot of dog, although maybe not enough to warrant $1.9 million.

In the market for a high-priced canine? Check out our list of 10 incredibly expensive breeds.


Graphene might just be the material of the future.     Photo: aetb/Thinkstock

A Night-Vision Contact Lens?

Graphene can see infrared

In 2010, two British scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of a carbon material called graphene. Since then, the unbelievably strong, light, and temperature-conductive material has been tested for use in everything from electronic screens to the human body. A University of Michigan study is now using the optical capabilities of graphene to create an infrared contact lens. 

Graphene can detect the entire infrared spectrum, as well as visible and ultraviolet light. However, because the material is as thin as a single atom, it absorbs only two percent of that light. That minuscule amount of absorption is not enough to generate an electric signal, which means graphene cannot operate as an infrared sensor on its own.

To combat these restrictive properties, the University of Michigan researchers placed an insulator between two sheets of graphene. Creating an electric field through what they call a quantum tunneling effect, this system actually contains the same sensitivity as a mid-infrared detector.  The researchers have since been able to put this technology into something the size of penny—or a contact lens.

Although infrared technology makes most people think of night vision and military uses, it has medical applications as well, such as allowing doctors to see blood flow. The outdoor industry hasn’t skipped a beat either: Graphene is starting to be used in skis.


Would you rather get hit by one of these guys or a Harley?     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dolphin Collides with Aussie Surfer

Could it teach other dolphins?

Skateboarders constantly have to worry about collisions with traffic, but surfers have nothing to fear, right? Unfortunately, one Aussie surfer learned the answer to this question the hard way. As reports, a dolphin collided with 27-year-old surfer Josh Wolfson—with a force equivalent to being hit by a motorcycle.

On Monday, Wolfson went with friends to the South Coast of Australian state New South Wales to celebrate his birthday at the beach. Wolfson is a bodybuilder, but even he stood no chance when a pod of dolphins swam through the water. One of the sea creatures knocked Wolfson off his board, and when he checked his wetsuit, he saw that it had been torn apart. Wolfson was airlifted to a Sydney hospital, where he was treated for pelvic injuries and released.

Despite some serious bruising, Wolfson quickly forgave his marine assailant. "It wasn't intentional or anything like that," he said. "I kind of felt bad for the dolphin. He's probably got a sore head."

We hope a proclivity for surfing collisions doesn't extend beyond this particular dolphin. According to new research—coincidentally from the University of New South Wales—social behavior can shape the genetic makeup of bottlenose dolphin populations.

Some dolphins in Western Australia's Shark Bay put sea sponges on their beaks while they forage on the sea floor, a skill that appears to be learned from their mothers. But this isn't simply an acquired behavior. Genetic analyses found that dolphins living in spongeless shallow water fell into one genetic group, while dolphins inhabiting deeper water fell into another.

"Our research shows that social learning should be considered as a possible factor that shapes the genetic structure of a wild animal population," said the study's lead author, Dr. Anna Kopps. "It is one of the first studies to show this effect—which is called cultural hitchhiking—in animals other than people."

The study indicates that other species might also be genetically influenced by social behaviors.

Surfers, we understand if you're rooting for Dr. Kopps to be wrong.


Bison.     Photo: Vilches/Getty Images

3 Bison Poached in Yellowstone

First incident in more than 5 years

The hunt is on for whoever shot and killed three bison inside Yellowstone National Park last week.

The bison, also colloquially called buffalo, were found dead on the roadside in the Blacktail Plateau area of northern Yellowstone. It's likely they were shot between the evening of March 13 and the morning of March 15. Up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the crime.

"Poaching of bison inside the park is significant anytime it happens," Yellowstone Chief Ranger Tim Reid told Reuters. "There are illegal kills, but it's relatively infrequent with bison."

Since 1894, federal law has prohibited hunting and killing animals in Yellowstone. At the turn of the 20th century, there were approximately two dozen bison in the national park. Today, the bison population fluctuates from 2,300 to 5,000 animals.

Bison are protected inside the park, but if they leave it's a completely different story. Watch what happens when bison cross Yellowstone's borders toward ranchers in Montana.


Two 14-week-old polar bear twins explore their enclosure for the first time at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany.     Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture-alliance/dpa/

Twin Polar Bear Cubs

Because "awwww"

Polar bear mom Giovanna has had her paws full since she gave birth to twin cubs on December 9, 2013, at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo. Today, the little ones—a yet-to-be-named male and female—made their public debut. Just look at 'em! 

Although today is the first time the twins have been seen in public, more than 18,000 people watched their birth via YouTube last year.