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Frilled Shark

Though it does look like the “shrieking eels” from the Princess Bride movie! It’s a Frilled Shark. This shark is mostly a squid eater based on stomach contents from captured specimens. None have survived more than a few hours in human hands. They require the pressure of depth to survive. There are several extinct species that were fairly similar based on teeth fossils.

Frilled Shark OR Shrieking Eel?

Frilled Shark

This is a “Shrieking Eel” from Rob Reiner’s 1987 Adventure Comedy, “The Princess Bride.” You can see the resemblance, though I think you have a much better chance with the shark!

frilled shark

Sharks are complex and diverse group of animals whose natural history is so spread out across time and space that many species bear little resemblance to one another. Look at the Frilled and think about a Great White. A house cat and tiger are much more alike.

photo from Open Cage via CC lisc

Frilled Shark

The term for “shark” has obscure origins in the west. It appears to have been popularized in English in the late 1560’s by members of Sir John Hawkins’ privateer and slaver expeditions, through a ballad recorded in 1569.  ‘There is no proper name for the fish but men of Captain Hawkins’ called it a “sharke.” It is’nt known where they got the name from. The word was seen in English as early as 1442 and may have come from the German Schorck, a variant of Schurke “villain, scoundrel.” 

Frilled Shark

Frilled Shark

Squid on the Menu for the Frilled Shark

Frilled Shark

The multi-focal teeth are perfect for grasping and tearing squid and perhaps small fish.

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Frilled Shark

Each jagged point of the tooth, aligned in 3 rows of 4 or 5, puncture the squids slimy skin easily, allowing the shark to then throw the squid backwards into into mouth.

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Frilled Shark

Frilled teeth showing interlocking set. A long sinuous body is more common in a young shark.

Though considered uncommon the frilled shark has an enormous range and may actually be a great deal commoner than we think. It is found from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. It can be found off Norway, Scotland, Ireland, France, Morocco, Mauritania, Japan, Suriname, Taiwan, off New England (US), Georgia (US), Hawaii(US), California (US) Azores, New South Wales, Australia, Tasmania, Brazil, Chile, all over New Zealand and off West Africa.

Frilled Shark Range Map

ICUN information on the frilled shark.

Party Hosting at The New Weis Center NJ

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Featured | 0 comments

Party Hosting at The New Weis Center NJ

Looking for a great place for birthday party hosting in NJ? Party Hosting at The New Weis Center, a multi-purpose center in Ringwood NJ, is your answer! Snakes-N-Scales is excited to announce a new partnership with an old friend!   Snakes-N-Scales is just down the road and has joined the The New Weis Center in offering programs for parties and other functions at their center in northern NJ. Snakes-N-Scales celebrates it’s 20 year anniversary in  2016, and for much of that time we have worked with a nature center located just a few miles down the road in Ringwood NJ, the Weis Ecology Center, which was part of the NJ Audubon family of centers. Audubon could not continue to maintain the center and in 2015 transferred it to a local non-profit, the Highlands Nature Friends. This small dedicated group of people are restoring and bringing new life to The New Weis Center for Education, Arts and Recreation, and Snakes-N-Scales is proud to be able to join them in bringing appreciation for the natural world back to this historic center in Passaic County. Programs for Party Hosting at The New Weis Center A primary goal of Snakes-N-Scales’ partnership is to offer live animal programming for people that visit the center. We will perform public shows for their events and we will be able to use their facilities for our programs as well! This means that birthday party hosting at The New Weis Center can now commence! Snakes-N-Scales is located in Wanaque, which is just 5 miles from the The New Weis Center in Ringwood. This allows us to be able to bring everyone of our many programs for birthday parties without having to: alter the decor of your house, (Even if you wanted the biggest of our creatures!) remove the pets, upset Grandma or have screaming children running through your kitchen! All Snakes-N-Scales Party packages are now available for booking at the The New Weis Center. Book the Giant Reptiles Party , The Strange World of Reptiles Party, Baby Animals Party, Snake Experience Birthday, our River of Monsters Party, Spider and Bug Party, or the Reptile Magic Show! Any show we have for $100 over the listed price! Most places charge several hundred dollars for room rental, but we are happy to help keep your costs down. Just $100 plus the cost of the show. Party Hosting at The New Weis Center What you get. You will be greeted by a Weis Naturalist or a Snakes-N-Scales Instructor upon your arrival. You will be taken on a 25 minute hike around the center’s trails. Animals such as frogs and salamanders, many bird species, insects and spiders and even the occasional reptile will be encountered, observed and discussed. (If the weather doesn’t cooperate with the hike we will bring Turtle Races instead.) Then it’s back to the center for a 45 minute Snakes-N-Scales fun show of your choice. After that we will celebrate the day with any treats you choose to bring or pizza can be delivered. The entire event runs in 2 hours and leaves your house completely untouched! Feel free to stay in the area and play in fields nearby or hike a few of the many trails yourself. Set up and Booking Call Bill at 973-248-9964 to set up a date and time, beginning in mid June 2016. Choose the show you wish to...

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Exclusively High School Assembly NJ

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Exclusively High School Assembly NJ

Exclusively High School Assembly NJ The perfect show for high school students, our high school assembly NJ includes large animals, exciting species not generally seen without interposing glass and an intelligent experienced instructor that knows how to talk to teens. The major problem with a high school assembly involving animals is the instructors speak as though they were addressing a preschool class! and do not have the background to deal topics of conservation, genetics, careers, animal reproduction, ecology, husbandry and other topics that are relevant to the teenage audience. Our High School Great Reptiles Program solves this problem, starting with  7ft, 100  lb American Alligator, we get their attention extremely quickly! The show proceeds through a 30 lb snapping turtle, a 6 ft water monitor lizard and a 10-13 ft Burmese Python. The show can include other animals, like a mata mata turtle, an anaconda species or a requested animal as well. This makes High School Assembly NJ the show with the largest reptiles available in the state. High School Assembly NJ Content The program engages students with stories of the animals’ lives, their wild state of conservation, interesting points about their habits, predator prey relationships, their reproductive strategies and perhaps most importantly, their future in light of their relationship with humans and lessons to be learned from their interactions with humans in the past. It can also include any material relevant to the class work in biology, ecology, genetics, physiology, etc. Perhaps more important than the animals is the instructor, and for that job, there is Bill. Bill has never been a person to enjoy doing things “by the numbers” or in an established manner. Instead, he has often blazed his own path through self-tutoring, having learned more through book-reading and experience than most large groups of people have by going to school! So Bill can talk to academic oriented students or their complete opposite or those in between. He has a great sense of humor, combined with a sharp wit and keen sense about his animals that people can see when he performs. Prices for High School Assembly NJ We will travel anywhere in the state of NJ for $500 for a single show. If you would like 2 assemblies back to back we offer a discount of $100 so, $900 for 2 shows. Due to legal changes by the Federal government and the state of NY this show is not available in the form Please call us and we will explain what be changed to come to you. Don't Be...

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Snakes-N-Scales’ 20th Year Anniversary!

Posted by on Mar 20, 2016 in Featured | 0 comments

Snakes-N-Scales’ 20th Year Anniversary!

Since 1996 Snakes-N-Scales has been creating delight and preventing suffering. The delight of children in 4 states and the prevention of suffering to mostly reptiles but also the odd tarantula and frog. They began with a mere 35 animals and now have over 325. They did about 20 shows that first year and by Snakes-N-Scales’ 20th, now perform between 1300-1500 per year. There were others that did similar programs but Bill, the founder of Snakes-N-Scales, always found other performers either actually scaring the kids with the animals, abusing the animals or having no educational value whatsoever! He made it his mission to alter that! And he has. At Snakes-N-Scales’ 20th, they have been sought out by dozens of animal education and rescue groups including most of the zoos in NJ, including the Turtleback Zoo, Bergen County Zoo, Trailside Nature Center, Popcorn Park Zoo, Flatrock Brook Nature Center, Weis Ecology Center, Mercer Wildlife Center and the NJ Division of Wildlife. Snakes-N-Scales grew out of 2 linked ideals; rescue reptiles that needed help and teach children about these feared and misunderstood creatures. Snakes-N-Scales’ 20th– Rescue Snakes-N-Scales’ 20th– Education Don't Be...

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NJ Libraries Summer Reading Program

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

In support of the library summer reading program 2017 of “Build a Better World” We present Building A Better World-Rescuing Reptiles!   Since 1996 Snakes-N-Scales has been rescuing reptiles from all sorts of places and using them to teach people about these amazing animals. We have pulled alligators out of people’s pools, (in NJ!) and had them brought to us having been hit by cars. We have taken in frostbitten lizards, snakes abandoned in parking lots and in the garbage, hatched dug up turtle eggs, various animals running down streets, even the Turnpike! and appearing suddenly in people’s homes who didn’t own them. And, of course, from pet owners disappointed, or unable to cope, with their reptile pet. We are a unique organization, (if we do say so ourselves!) in that our expertise allows us to care for our animals medically. Animals that would cost too much for anyone to reasonably spend at the veterinarians’ have a chance of survival with us- and many of those make great stories! That’s what we’re all about, and that’s what we’d like to present, the personal stories of a few of “our scaly kids”  and how we have contributed to our world through our care of them. Of course the act of telling these stories will engender compassion in the audience, continuing the mission of Building A Better World, right there in your library! The program will concentrate primarily on the rescue and personal stories of the animals presented, though we will always include relevant information on their habits in the wild as well. And a good dose of humor will always be injected into the proceedings! This program is available in 2 versions, a larger and a smaller, to all libraries in NJ and Southern NY State for either  $400 or $300. We will be happy to consider a further discount if two libraries can coordinate 2 shows close together in space and time. Please call Bill to book or discuss 973-248-9964 Don't Be...

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Skulls Horns and Teeth Science School Assembly

Posted by on Dec 6, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Skulls Horns and Teeth Science School Assembly brings in a wide assortment of skulls for a visually stimulating discussion of what this set of bones is used for throughout the vertebrate kingdom. All studies of skeletons seem to inevitably center on the skull, as it is the most crucial area of anatomy. Nearly all vertebrates have most of their senses here, most vertebrates use their teeth to both catch and process their food and of course the brain is here. The skull is developed to many variations to do essentially the same jobs for all animals; bring the information from the senses close to the brain to facilitate speed in responding, catch, and if necessary kill the food animal and once in a while for defense, display or settling disputes. Skulls Horns and Teeth Science School Assembly can be performed for any grade level from 3rd up. The information will be tailored to meet the level of the audience. However we generally cover the basic anatomy of the skull, with an explanation of structures; the uses the skull is put to in the context of the animal, and the behavioral effect on the animal of the development of its skull. Evolution will be discussed in this program, and cannot be removed. If this is unacceptable to you, please choose another program. Prices for Skulls Horns and Teeth Science School Assembly As an add-on program with any other program we offer $150! Alone NORTH NJ (201,973,908,)                                                 $300 CENTRAL NJ & SI (732, 609, 856, 718 Excluding So NJ)             $300 SOUTH NY (845, 914, 516, 631)                                           $300 NYC (212, 718, 917, 646, 347)                                               $400 No. PA (Delaware Valley),                                                     $300 CT (203)                                                                     $300 PHILLY & SOUTH NJ (Atlantic, Cape May, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland)      $300 To book Skulls Horns and Teeth Science School Assembly Call Bill at 973-248-9964   Don't Be...

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The Land That Time Forgot- Chapter 5

Posted by on Sep 6, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Land That Time Forgot- Chapter 5 The steaks we had that night, and they were fine; and the following morning we tasted the broth. It seemed odd to be eating a creature that should, by all the laws of paleontology, have been extinct for several million years. It gave one a feeling of newness that was almost embarrassing, although it didn’t seem to embarrass our appetites. Olson ate until I thought he would burst. The girl ate with us that night at the little officers’ mess just back of the torpedo compartment. The narrow table was unfolded; the four stools were set out; and for the first time in days we sat down to eat, and for the first time in weeks we had something to eat other than the monotony of the short rations of an impoverished U-boat. Nobs sat between the girl and me and was fed with morsels of the Plesiosaurus steak, at the risk of forever contaminating his manners. He looked at me sheepishly all the time, for he knew that no well- bred dog should eat at table; but the poor fellow was so wasted from improper food that I couldn’t enjoy my own meal had he been denied an immediate share in it; and anyway Lys wanted to feed him. So there you are. Lys was coldly polite to me and sweetly gracious to Bradley and Olson. She wasn’t of the gushing type, I knew; so I didn’t expect much from her and was duly grateful for the few morsels of attention she threw upon the floor to me. We had a pleasant meal, with only one unfortunate occurrence—when Olson suggested that possibly the creature we were eating was the same one that ate the German. It was some time before we could persuade the girl to continue her meal, but at last Bradley prevailed upon her, pointing out that we had come upstream nearly forty miles since the Boche had been seized, and that during that time we had seen literally thousands of these denizens of the river, indicating that the chances were very remote that this was the same Plesiosaur. “And anyway,” he concluded, “it was only a scheme of Mr. Olson’s to get all the steaks for himself.” We discussed the future and ventured opinions as to what lay before us; but we could only theorize at best, for none of us knew. If the whole land was infested by these and similar horrid monsters, life would be impossible upon it, and we decided that we would only search long enough to find and take aboard fresh water and such meat and fruits as might be safely procurable and then retrace our way beneath the cliffs to the open sea. And so at last we turned into our narrow bunks, hopeful, happy and at peace with ourselves, our lives and our God, to awaken the following morning refreshed and still optimistic. We had an easy time getting away—as we learned later, because the saurians do not commence to feed until late in the morning. From noon to midnight their curve of activity is at its height, while from dawn to about nine o’clock it is lowest. As a matter of fact, we didn’t see one of them all the time...

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The Land That Time Forgot- Chapter 4

Posted by on Sep 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Land That Time Forgot- Chapter 4 For several days things went along in about the same course. I took our position every morning with my crude sextant; but the results were always most unsatisfactory. They always showed a considerable westing when I knew that we had been sailing due north. I blamed my crude instrument, and kept on. Then one afternoon the girl came to me. “Pardon me,” she said, “but were I you, I should watch this man Benson – especially when he is in charge.” I asked her what she meant, thinking I could see the influence of von Schoenvorts raising a suspicion against one of my most trusted men. “If you will note the boat’s course a half-hour after Benson goes on duty,” she said, “you will know what I mean, and you will understand why he prefers a night watch. Possibly, too, you will understand some other things that have taken place aboard.” Then she went back to her room, thus ending the conversation. I waited until half an hour after Benson had gone on duty, and then I went on deck, passing through the conning-tower where Benson sat, and looking at the compass. It showed that our course was north by west—that is, one point west of north, which was, for our assumed position, about right. I was greatly relieved to find that nothing was wrong, for the girl’s words had caused me considerable apprehension. I was about to return to my room when a thought occurred to me that again caused me to change my mind—and, incidentally, came near proving my death-warrant. When I had left the conning-tower little more than a half-hour since, the sea had been breaking over the port bow, and it seemed to me quite improbable that in so short a time an equally heavy sea could be deluging us from the opposite side of the ship—winds may change quickly, but not a long, heavy sea. There was only one other solution—since I left the tower, our course had been altered some eight points. Turning quickly, I climbed out upon the conning-tower. A single glance at the heavens confirmed my suspicions; the constellations which should have been dead ahead were directly starboard. We were sailing due west. Just for an instant longer I stood there to check up my calculations —I wanted to be quite sure before I accused Benson of perfidy, and about the only thing I came near making quite sure of was death. I cannot see even now how I escaped it. I was standing on the edge of the conning-tower, when a heavy palm suddenly struck me between the shoulders and hurled me forward into space. The drop to the triangular deck forward of the conning-tower might easily have broken a leg for me, or I might have slipped off onto the deck and rolled overboard; but fate was upon my side, as I was only slightly bruised. As I came to my feet, I heard the conning-tower cover slam. There is a ladder which leads from the deck to the top of the tower. Up this I scrambled, as fast as I could go; but Benson had the cover tight before I reached it. I stood there a moment in dumb consternation. What...

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Movie Analysis and Background–THEM!

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

THEM! as a Silly Idea    Giant ants maybe silly in 2015 but not so 1954! In 1945 Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist that led the entire Manhattan Project operation of producing the atomic bombs, wasn’t even sure that the atmosphere wouldn’t catch fire! Nor did he, or any of his scientific team, have any idea of the effects on people, like radiation sickness, so we can probably give THEM! a little latitude when it comes to long term effects on ants.     When the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were examined no one understood what had actually happened. The US even allowed sailors and scientists to walk the decks of the newly destroyed warships arrayed around the Bikini atoll after the first atomic test explosion there in 1946. In fact, it was only in March of 1954, just 3 months prior to the film’s release in June, when the first hydrogen bomb was exploded. It’s destructive power was 1000 times that of each of the two bombs used on Japan and it scared and surprised everyone, including it’s creators! So creating giant ants based on exposure to radiation wasn’t really as lunatic an idea as it sounds 70 years after the first detonation. In that moment, they had had but 9 years to absorb it all. The Real Ants From THEM!    Camponotus vicinus, the THEM! ants, are a very common ant species, that ranges throughout New Mexico. They prefer to nest in sandy soil under rocks but will ocassionally nest under logs and in rocky soils. Their reproductive times run from March to October, when it is common to find both reproducing adults and eggs and larvae in the nest. Wingless or “dealate” females are present from March to mid September. Flights of winged, reproducing adults, looking to create new nests generally occur late in the day. Nests are occasionally started by multiple females starting nests together, called “pleometrosis.” Most foraging occurs at night, although workers are also diurnal; workers will tend aphids, who feed the ants sweet syrup. Foraging workers are especially fond of the Cholla and Yucca plants. Oddly, workers are very attracted to liver, especially rotten liver, though why this is so we don’t know. Possibly for the abundant vitamins the organ possesses and the sweet taste any rotten meat will have. Women’s Roles in THEM!    The role of women in this movie is very interesting. It departs from its many similar period pieces by showing a woman in a professional role and as an equal to the men in the story. She is involved in all the important decisions, early on more so than most of the male characters! Dr Patricia Medford, (Joan Weldon) was a myrmecologist, like her father,  Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn,) both were ant scientists. In a decade when women were being sent back into the kitchen after filling in jobs in factories for men during World War II, being a myrmecologist is pretty astounding! I don’t mean to say that women could not and did not occupy these positions well, but to be placed as one in a film, THEM!, in 1954, is a revelation. The other great sci-fi classic from this time was 1951’s “The Thing From Another World,” and the female lead here, Margaret Sheridan, just plays the stereotypical secretary. Later in 1968, when a woman...

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The Land That Time Forgot- Chapter 3

Posted by on Aug 16, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Land That Time Forgot CHAPTER 3 Those were anxious days, during which I had but little opportunity to associate with Lys. I had given her the commander’s room, Bradley and I taking that of the deck-officer, while Olson and two of our best men occupied the room ordinarily allotted to petty officers. I made Nobs’ bed down in Lys’ room, for I knew she would feel less alone. Nothing of much moment occurred for a while after we left British waters behind us. We ran steadily along upon the surface, making good time. The first two boats we sighted made off as fast as they could go; and the third, a huge freighter, fired on us, forcing us to submerge. It was after this that our troubles commenced. One of the Diesel engines broke down in the morning, and while we were working on it, the forward port diving-tank commenced to fill. I was on deck at the time and noted the gradual list. Guessing at once what was happening, I leaped for the hatch and slamming it closed above my head, dropped to the centrale. By this time the craft was going down by the head with a most unpleasant list to port, and I didn’t wait to transmit orders to some one else but ran as fast as I could for the valve that let the sea into the forward port diving-tank. It was wide open. To close it and to have the pump started that would empty it were the work of but a minute; but we had had a close call. I knew that the valve had never opened itself. Some one had opened it – some one who was willing to die himself if he might at the same time encompass the death of all of us. After that I kept a guard pacing the length of the narrow craft. We worked upon the engine all that day and night and half the following day. Most of the time we drifted idly upon the surface, but toward noon we sighted smoke due west, and having found that only enemies inhabited the world for us, I ordered that the other engine be started so that we could move out of the path of the oncoming steamer. The moment the engine started to turn, however, there was a grinding sound of tortured steel, and when it had been stopped, we found that some one had placed a cold-chisel in one of the gears. It was another two days before we were ready to limp along, half repaired. The night before the repairs were completed, the sentry came to my room and awoke me. He was rather an intelligent fellow of the English middle class, in whom I had much confidence. “Well, Wilson,” I asked. “What’s the matter now?” He raised his finger to his lips and came closer to me. “I think I’ve found out who’s doin’ the mischief,” he whispered, and nodded his head toward the girl’s room. “I seen her sneakin’ from the crew’s room just now,” he went on. “She’d been in gassin’ wit’ the Boche commander. Benson seen her in there las’ night, too, but he never said nothin’ till I goes on watch tonight. Benson’s sorter slow in the head,...

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The Land That Time Forgot- Chapter 2

Posted by on Aug 15, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Land That Time Forgot CHAPTER 2 Toward morning, I must have dozed, though it seemed to me at the time that I had lain awake for days, instead of hours. When I finally opened my eyes, it was daylight, and the girl’s hair was in my face, and she was breathing normally. I thanked God for that. She had turned her head during the night so that as I opened my eyes I saw her face not an inch from mine, my lips almost touching hers. It was Nobs who finally awoke her. He got up, stretched, turned around a few times and lay down again, and the girl opened her eyes and looked into mine. Hers went very wide at first, and then slowly comprehension came to her, and she smiled. “You have been very good to me,” she said, as I helped her to rise, though if the truth were known I was more in need of assistance than she; the circulation all along my left side seeming to be paralyzed entirely. “You have been very good to me.” And that was the only mention she ever made of it; yet I know that she was thankful and that only reserve prevented her from referring to what, to say the least, was an embarrassing situation, however unavoidable. Shortly after daylight we saw smoke apparently coming straight toward us, and after a time we made out the squat lines of a tug—one of those fearless exponents of England’s supremacy of the sea that tows sailing ships into French and English ports. I stood up on a thwart and waved my soggy coat above my head. Nobs stood upon another and barked. The girl sat at my feet straining her eyes toward the deck of the oncoming boat. “They see us,” she said at last. “There is a man answering your signal.” She was right. A lump came into my throat—for her sake rather than for mine. She was saved, and none too soon. She could not have lived through another night upon the Channel; she might not have lived through the coming day. The tug came close beside us, and a man on deck threw us a rope. Willing hands dragged us to the deck, Nobs scrambling nimbly aboard without assistance. The rough men were gentle as mothers with the girl. Plying us both with questions they hustled her to the captain’s cabin and me to the boiler-room. They told the girl to take off her wet clothes and throw them outside the door that they might be dried, and then to slip into the captain’s bunk and get warm. They didn’t have to tell me to strip after I once got into the warmth of the boiler-room. In a jiffy, my clothes hung about where they might dry most quickly, and I myself was absorbing, through every pore, the welcome heat of the stifling compartment. They brought us hot soup and coffee, and then those who were not on duty sat around and helped me damn the Kaiser and his brood. As soon as our clothes were dry, they bade us don them, as the chances were always more than fair in those waters that we should run into trouble with the enemy, as I was only...

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