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TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boida (Boas)

Genus/species: Eunectes murinus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  Gigantic, heavy-bodied, dark green boa with dark spots. A distinctive stripe runs from the rear edge of the eye, diagonally downwards to the back of the head. The stripe is edged with black and varies in coloration, from greenish to orange. Eyes and nasal openings are on top of their heads, allowing them to lay in wait for prey while remaining nearly completely submerged. The female dwarfs the male and is almost five times heavier.
Like all snakes, anaconda have a forked tongue they helps them locate prey and mates and to navigate their environment, in conjunction with the tubular Jacobson’s organ in the roof of the snake’s mouth.

SIZE: Up to more than 29 feet (8.8 meters), weigh more than 227 kilograms (550 pounds) and measure more than 30 cm (12 in) (30 centimeters) in diameter.

Anaconda 8629891977_66e2cd6195_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT South America: Amazon and Orinoco drainages from Colombia and Venezuela to East Bolivia and Central Brazil. Associated strongly with watercourses, swamps and other freshwater locations.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on any prey that they can kill and swallow including monkeys, deer, peccaries, pacus, agoutis, birds, fish, caiman and turtles. Prey usually killed by constriction; prey suffocates and often drowning in water. Usually feed in water. Jaws attached by stretchy ligaments allow them to swallow their prey whole, no matter the size, and they can go weeks or months without food after a big meal. Primarily a lie-in-wait predator.

Academy Diet: Frozen/thawed rabbits (P. Dwight Biologist).

IMG_7000 

REPRODUCTION: Green anacondas are ovoviviparous (eggs hatch in the mother and snakes are born alive). They are polyandrous breeding with multiple-male aggregations of up to 13 males. Female anacondas retain their eggs and give birth to two to three dozen live young. Baby snakes are about 0.6 meters (2 ft). After mating, the female may eat one or more of her mating partners, as she does not take in food for up to seven months after birth.

PREDATORS:Caimen. Jaguars, and green anacondas.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Lives to over 29 years.

REMARKS: The anaconda is, pound for pound, the largest snake in the world. The reticulated python, can reach slightly greater lengths, but the enormous girth of the anaconda makes it almost twice as heavy. Can remained submerged for a very long time lying in wait for its next meal.

Some indigenous peoples of Brazil and Peru use green anacondas body parts for magical and spiritual properties, in ritualistic purposes.

Green anacondas are among the only snakes that can reach the proportions necessary to possibly kill and consume a human being. However, attacks by green anacondas are rare due to low.

The California Academy of Sciences specimen is a female. Length/wt 2013: 13 ft 11 inches long and weight 92 lbs.
2008 she was 3m (10 feet) long and weighed 90 lbs.

IMG_6987

Color of Life Note: The dark brownish-green Anaconda demonstrates concealment by laying hidden in the murky waters of the Amazon. It is more visible at the California Academy of Sciences exhibit water which is markedly more transparent.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Flooded Amazon Anaconda Exhibit 2018

U. of Michigan Animal diversity Web https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eunectes_murinus/#D1CC06F0-924A-11E1-9D4D-002500F14F28

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/794661/overview

Ron’sWordpress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-bt

Ron’s flickr   http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449603666/with/3636385495/


TAXONOMY

Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum: Chordata  (presence of a notochord (an internal skeletal rod that provides support) during some stage of the animal’s development).
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras).
Order: Crocodylia (crocodiles, alligators, caimans and the gharial)
Family:  Alligatoridae (Alligators and Caimans).

 Genus/species:   Alligator mississippiensis

American Alligator 8273409677_0914c84c2e_b

 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The average adult size for a female is 2.6 m (8.2) and for males is 3.4 m (11.2 ft).  Exceptionally large males can weigh over 450 kg (1000 pounds). They have muscular laterally flattened tails for propulsion and defense.  Dorsally their skin is armored bony plates called osteoderms and scutes.  They have four short legs with five toes on the front and four on the back.  The snout is broad with upper facing nostrils to aid in breathing while major portion of the body is under water. 

 Differences between alligators and crocodiles:

1. Alligators tend to have wide, U-shaped, rounded snouts, while crocodiles tend to have longer, more pointed, V-shaped snouts.

 2. The large lower fourth tooth of an alligator fits into a socket in the upper jaw and is not seen when the mouth is closed, whereas in crocodiles this tooth is visible.

3. Alligators live in freshwater; crocodiles tend to inhabit salt water. 4. On average alligators are smaller than crocodiles

Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth, which are replaced as they wear down; an alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

The average alligator adult size for a female is 2.6 m (8.2 ft) and for males is 3.4 m (11.2 ft). Exceptionally large males can weigh over 450 kg (1000 pounds). 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Southeastern United States, from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas.   Usually found in freshwater, especially in slow-moving rivers. They are also found in swamps, marshes, and lakes. They can tolerate salt water only briefly. They dig “gator holes” for use during low water periods in the summer.

 

DIET IN THE WILD: Alligators eat almost anything, but primarily consume fish, birds, turtles, mammals and amphibians.

Alligators spin on their long axis to rip off bite sized portions small enough to swallow when eating large animals such as deer.

Since they are ectothermic their need for food is decreased allowing them to survive without food for up to 3 years.

They are a mild threat to humans with approximately one death every 5 years reported between 1973-1990.

 

 

ACADEMY DIET: They usually consume about rodents and chickens three times per week which containing vitamins.

REPRODUCTION: The temperature at which American alligator eggs develop determines their sex. Eggs which are hatched at 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit become males, while those at 82 to 86 degrees fahrenheit become females. Intermediate temperature ranges yield a mix of both male and females. The hatchings grow rapidly, averaging over 1 foot of growth for each year of life. Both sexes reach sexual maturity at around 6 feet in length.

LONGEVITY: Wild: 35 to 50 years, captivity: 65 to 80 years.

CONSERVATION: Not listed by the IUCN with limited hunting allowed in some states.

REMARKS: The Academy has one white pink-eyed albino alligator born 9-15-1995.
Recent Claude stats

9-15-18 Claude 23 years old
2010 length 2.6m (8.5 feet), weigh 82 kg (181 pounds).
6-10-12 length 9.0 feet, weight 190 pounds.
6-10-13 length 3 meters or 9.5 feet, weight 100+ kg or 222 pounds.
He may be started on a weight reduction diet because he is a “bit chubby” according to Freeland Dunker staff veterinarian. The albino gene is recessive. Claud’s vision is impaired because of lack of pigment which protects the eye from ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Leucistic alligators are also white but have normal eye color thus are not albinos.

Color of Life note Color Conceals:
White alligators are prime example of what happens when color does not conceal. Albinism (total lack of pigment) results from a genetic change which puts the alligators at great risk because they are easy to spot by predators in their environment. Ref. California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015

Swamp

References

California Academy of Sciences Swamp 2019

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/796029/details

Audubon Institute www.auduboninstitute.org/media/releases/audubon-insectari...

ARKive   www.arkive.org/american-alligator/alligator-mississippien..

IUCN Red List (September, 2009)  www.iucnredlist.org

 Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625194985646/

 Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-Bb

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Mochokidae (Squeakers or Upsidedown Catfishes)

Genus/species: Synodontis nigriventris

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Ground color khaki, small reddish to black dots cover the entire surface. The body is scaleless with large eyes, a large adipose fin, a forked tail, and three pairs of barbels. The head is flattened and the sides of the body are slightly compressed.

Length 9-10 cm (3-4 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central Congo basin of Africa. Found in freshwater streams in schools of hundreds to thousands.

DIET IN THE WILD: Omnivorous scavenger: Feeds mainly at night on insects, crustaceans and filamentous algae, plant debris, bowels of dead fishes. Grazes algae from undersides of cave ceilings or leaves with its little rasp-like teeth while in the inverted position, a posture also used while gleaning food from the water’s surface. Also locates food on the substrate among debris such as rotting plants.

REPRODUCTION: Egg layers, with the young swimming upside-down after they are approximately 2 months old.

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REMARKS: Swimming “upside-down” (ventral toward surface) is normal for adults of this species, which often feed and breathe at the surface. One common name for the family refer to the group’s propensity to make squeaking noises, especially when netted and taken from the water.

CONSERVATION: IUCN least concern 2010

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water Planet Surviving 2019

ADW https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Synodontis/classification/

IUCN https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/182250/7842677

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625017923579/with/3400184132/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-11B

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Characiformes (Characins)
Family: Characidae (Characins)

Genus/species: Astyanax mexicanus 

 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The head is notable for the absence of eyes. Young are born with functioning eyes which become completely enclosed in tissue as fish grows. The lack of sight is compensated by a highly developed lateral line that detects vibrations and changes in the water. The fish is without pigmentation and is plain pink with a silver sheen. They live in schools and grow to about 12 cm or 4.72 inches.

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DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Texas, New Mexico, and eastern and central Mexico in freshwater pools within dark caves.

DIET IN THE WILD: A keen sense of smell and electrolocation aid in finding food. Blind cave fish are omnivores and feed on animal and plant remains that wash into the caves and on bat droppings from cave ceilings. Much of their time is spent searching for food; they are able to store four times more energy as fat than their surface-dwelling relatives, allowing them to deal with irregular food supplies.

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REMARKS: Two forms of A. mexicanus (eyed and eyeless) being members of the same species, are closely related and can interbreed.

The loss of eye tissue in the blind cavefish, which occurs within a few days of their development, happens through epigenetic silencing of eye-related genes, according to a study led by the National Institutes of Health. Epigenetic regulation is a process where genes are turned off or on, typically in a reversible or temporary manner. This mechanism differs from genetic mutations, which are permanent changes in the DNA code. The study appears in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water planet Senses Cluster,  Dr Bart Sheperd

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608608528651/with/2999116145/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-11I

Read more at: phys.org/news/2018-05-eye-loss-cavefish.html#jCp

NIH phys.org/news/2018-05-eye-loss-cavefish.html

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animal
Phylum: Chordate
Class: Actinoptery
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Mormyridae  (Elephantfishes)
Genus/species: Gnathonemus petersii

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The snout is its most unique feature. It is not actually a nose, but an extension of the mouth that is covered in electroreceptors that capture information from the weak electric field the fish generates. Receptors, which cover much of the body are used to navigate, avoid predators, and find food and mates in the turbid waters of its habitat.

Maximum length: 35.0 cm (13 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: G. petersii are found in African fresh waters often murky.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed mostly at night on worms and insects probably aided by electro-sensory inputs.

IUCN: Least Concern

Elephantnose fish have the largest brain of any fish their size with a brain size to body weight ratio higher than a human’s.
They have been used by water departments in the U.S. and Germany to test the quality of drinking water. When the quality of the water declines, the amount of electrical pulses released increases.

They are depicted in ancient Egyptian tombs dating from 2500 BC

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Senses Cluster 2019

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4734491953/in/album-72157675574079744/

Frontiers of Zoology https://frontiersinzoology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-9994-6-21

fishbase. www.fishbase.se/summary/Gnathonemus-petersii.html

www.deepdyve.com/lp/wiley/fish-monitors-and-the-role-of-e…

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Zw

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Chordate
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Rhamphocottidae, Grunt Sculpins
Genus/species: Rhamphocottus richardsoni

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Short stocky body. Most of body covered with prickles. Head and body colored yellowish-beige, streaked with dark brown; ventral surface creamy yellow to pale red. Base of caudal fin is bright red. Fin rays mostly reddish.
Their large heads represent over half of their total body length—and feature a long, tapered snout, two bony ridges on top, and small cirri on the upper lip. Instead of scales, their bodies are covered with small plates containing numerous tiny spines.

Length 5-7.6 cm (2-3 in).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Pacific Ocean, Japan north to Alaska, south to Santa Monica Bay, California. Habitat: Rocky and sandy substrates, tide pools. Grunt sculpins use the barnacles’ shells as protection and egg-laying sites. In this position, the shape of its head resembles the former resident of the shell.

Intertidal to 165 m. (540 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Crustaceans. Young consume zooplankton, invertebrate and fish larvae

LONGEVITY: about four years.

REPRODUCTION: Observations in captivity show that during spawning season the female chases the male until he is trapped in a rocky cavern. She keeps him captive until her eggs are laid; fertilization is external. After the eggs are fertilized, the female leaves the male to guard the nest. She may return occasionally to take a shift protecting the eggs. When it’s time for the eggs to hatch, whichever parent is guarding them (male or female) takes the eggs into its mouth, leaves the nest and literally spits the eggs out—breaking the eggs open. The newly hatched larvae then swim away to begin their lives.

REMARKS: Produces grunt-like sounds when removed from water, thus the common name. Eyes operate independently.
Like most sculpins, rarely swims freely in the water column; instead usually “walks” with a hopping motion over the substrate by use of its large, fan-like pectoral fins. Frequently observed taking shelter in empty shells, including those of the giant barnacle, Balanus nubilis, as well as in cans and bottles.

They move by crawling on the tips of their finger-like pectoral fins in a series of twitchy hops, jerks and jumps.

They make a wheezing-grunting sound when removed from the water, hence the name, grunt sculpin.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet Locomotion 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15896092713/in/album-72157662278273245/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://fishoncomputer.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Seattle Aquarium https://www.seattleaquarium.org/animals/grunt-sculpin

Aquarium of the Pacific http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/grunt_sculpin/

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda,
Order: Nudibranchia (sea slugs)
Family Tethydidae

Genus/ species: Melibe leonina

YouTube VIDEO  http://youtu.be/Xe2bM2kKm-U

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color a translucent gray, greenish-gray, or yellowish-gray, with opaque brown hepatic diverticula. Melibe leonina has 4-6 pairs of large, leaflike or paddlelike cerata in two rows down its dorsum and a large oral hood with two rows of filiform tentacles around its margin.

Length up to 102 mm long (4 in), 25 mm (1 in) wide, and 51 mm (2 in) across the expanded oral hood.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: West coast of North America from Alaska to Baja California in eelgrass beds, kelp (especially Macrocystis) beds, harbors. When swimming it is usually upside-down, and undulates back and forth.

DIET:  M. leonina feeds on Copepods, amphipods, and ostracods, as well as small post-larval mollusks. They firmly attache itself to a kelp blade and then sweeps its raised hood downward or to the side. When food lands on the lower surface of the hood, the melibe sweeps together the two sides of the hood, and its fringing tentacles lock in the prey. The hood contracts to force the captured food into the M. leonine’s mouth.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT:  M. leonine are hermaphrodites (they have both male and female sexual organs), and fertilization is internal. The animal can lay as many as 30,000 eggs, which are enclosed in a long, gelatinous ribbon.

REMARKS:  Noxious secretions of the melibe smell like watermelon, according to aquarists. They are gregarious animals and probably use it to keep together as well as for defense.  Most predators avoid the noxious secretions of nudibranchs; but the kelp crab is an exception. 

This species has been used for neurological research.

.

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water is Life 2019

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-fW

Ron’s flickr www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608597736188/

Monterey Bay Aquarium www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/invertebrates/me…

EOL eol.org/pages/454874/details

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura (Frogs, Toads)
Family: Rhacophoridae

Genus/species: Theloderma corticale

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Vietnamese Mossy Frog are a marvel of camouflage coloration and texture. Tubercles and spines on the skin and mottled colors of green, black, and purple make the animals blend perfectly into their mossy, wooded background. They have large sticky pads on their toes and a soft underbelly.

Length 7- 8 cm (3 inches)

IMG_6014

 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: T. corticale are found in North Vietnam in subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests, freshwater marshes. A semi-aquatic species that spends much time in the water, hiding under rocks and floating plants. Also spends time above the water, attached to crevice or rock where it blends perfectly with its background.

Count the eyes below

DIET IN THE WILD: Nocturnal, they have a long, sticky tongue attached to the front of their mouth that they use to catch insects. Frogs has no hard palate. To swallow it pulls its eyes down into the roof of its mouth helping to push food down its throat.

ACADEMY DIET: Crickets primarily three times per week.

CONSERVATION: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) states that clear cutting forests and demand from the pet trade can potentially impact numbers.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are laid on rocks or vegetation just above the water. After hatching, the larvae fall into the water below and metamorphose from a tadpole to a frog in about a year.

CONSERVATION:IUCN Red List: Least Concern

REMARKS: Like all tree frogs, they have adhesive toe pads that allow it to grip the undersides of slick leaves or rocks. Recent studies have shown these pads to be a sophisticated combination of mucous covered areas that provide wet adhesion and raised dry areas that provide a grip on dry surfaces. These findings have stimulated exploration into improved tire design.

They can absorb oxygen through their skin. (M Avila Academy Biologist)

Curls into a ball and “plays dead” when frightened.

Vietnamese Mossy Frog Theloderma corticale (Rhacophoridae)

Water planet, Water Dependence 

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Dependance 2018

Ron’s Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/with/5355461537/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-LI

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Theloderma_corticale/classif…

IUCN Red list www.iucnredlist.org/species/59033/87476136

WAZA www.waza.org/en/zoo/pick-a-picture/theloderma-corticale

American Museum of Natural History.  research.amnh.org/vz/herpetology/amphibia/Amphibia/Anura/…

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Cyclopteridae (Lumpfishes)

Genus/species: Eumicrotremus orbis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The globular shaped body is covered in cone-shaped plates, called tubercles. Females are dull green in color, while males are dull orange to reddish-brown.

Typically measures 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) in length, with a maximum length of  7 inches.

The Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker’s anal fin has evolved into a large suction cup, allowing it to attach to surfaces. They are most commonly found attached to solid objects and are ineffective swimmers.

 

Distribution: North Pacific: From Japan to Alaska south to Puget Sound, Washington.
Habitats, include eelgrass beds, rocky reefs, kelp patches, shallow bays, and docks. They can be found in near shore waters to a depth of 500 feet (150 m).

DIET: Crustaceans and mollusks.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: Males guard eggs following spawning.

CONSERVATION IUCN NOT EVALUATED

REMARKS: The large adhesive sucking disc with thickened fringed margin is composed of modified and ossified pelvic rays. When disturbed, the fish hovers about, changing directions aimlessly like a tiny helicopter.

The family name Cyclopteridae translates from Greek as “circle wing,” a reference to their circle-shaped pectoral fins. Their roe is used as a substitute for expensive and/or unavailable caviar.


References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, locomotion, 2018

Ron’s flickr sitehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608359804936/

Ron’s WordPress short link  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-kw

fishbase  www.fishbase.de/summary/Eumicrotremus-orbis

Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Boston (MA, USA): Houghton Mifflin Company. xii+336 p. (Ref. 2850)
(formerly on Academy staff)

TAXONOMY
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes or rockfishes)

Genus/species: Dendrochirus biocellatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: the body is stout and irregularly banded in brown and light orange. D. biocellatus has large, fan-like pectoral fins, and tall, quill-like dorsal fins. It is unique from other Lionfishes because of the two, feeler-like appendages on the chin. The Fu Manchu received its name from the long mustache appendages on the front of it’s mouth.

Length up to 5 inches

Dendrochirus biocellatus6287769897_0dbf3ffb24_b

 

DISTRIBUTIONHABITAT: The Fu Manchu Lionfish is found in the Indo-Pacific in deep crevices and caves on tropical coral reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: small fishes and shrimps.

Dendrochirus biocellatus6287770317_9ccf0044ea_b

REMARKS: Scorpionfishes have venomous quill-like spines to repel predators. Near the posterior fin false eyespots also confuse predators. They are mainly nocturnal inhabiting deep crevices and caves during the day.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water is Life Surviving 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Den…

 EOL  eol.org/pages/211678/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1EC

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/6287769897/in/album-72157659936804343/

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dendrochirus_brachypterus/

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