A one-day-old zebra kisses her mom good morning.
Vaishali Chudasama admires the miniature paper owl she and her partner, Nayan Shrimali, created.

Regular-sized art only takes one person to make. Miniature art takes two.

To make their tiny, layered-paper wildlife sculptures, Nayan Shrimali cuts the paper that Vaishali Chudasama hand-paints with watercolors. The Ahmedabad, India-based duo, 33, met in 2014 at a visual-effects company, where they worked as mini-model-makers. In 2016, after two years at the company, they quit to pursue art together.

One day, while the pair walked alongside a canal near their studio, a bright golden Oriole flew by their heads. They were mesmerized by the bird’s beauty, but, at that time, had no idea what kind it was. So, they started researching.

“Our search for the Oriole took us to many different places,” they tell AIR MAIL Pilot. “During that time we discovered other birds like drongos, stilts, cormorants, and many more.” This inspired a 30-day challenge: make a detailed, miniature paper artwork of one bird a day for 30 days. They kept extending it until it turned into a 1,000-day project.

Today, their work is no longer limited to birds—animals and plants of all types are muses for the pair’s daily creations. “We also incorporate natural materials in our artworks,” Vaishali tells Pilot, “like bark, grass, twigs and branches to represent the species in their natural habitat.”

Although the creatures are tiny, each one requires hours of work.

Their tiny, paper versions of galloping stallions, baby ducks, and hunting vultures are so detailed they take four to six hours to complete. Some take even longer—like their peafowl bird, which required 12 hours of work. Shrimali uses his training as a furniture designer to engineer the mini sculptures, while Vaishali leans on her background in animation to capture the animals’ poses and paint the paper.

Their crimson topaz hummingbird was so realistic it went viral. “The post was captioned ‘World’s smallest bird,’ and people started believing that it was a real bird,” Vaishali says. “Finally, one publication did fact check it and revealed it was artwork.”

Their pint-sized cobras, polar bears, and hawks have a big goal. “The main motive of our series is to spread awareness and knowledge about nature through art,” Vaishali explains. —Bridget Arsenault

Digging out the 33-foot-long Ichthyosaurs took a team of archeologists.

If you’re already afraid of great white sharks when you swim in the ocean, you might want to tune out the following news. This month, a giant “sea dragon” was discovered in England.

To clarify: a sea dragon is not really a dragon—those aren’t real. Plus, this sea dragon isn’t alive.

Joe Davis and Paul Trevor, conservationists at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve, in Leicester, England, were doing landscape work on the reserve when they came across a broken and rusted pipe. Only, it turned out to be something far more exciting: a section of jawbone from a large creature. As they began to uncover more of the skeleton, it quickly became apparent that they had a giant on their hands.

“Just the scale and the sheer size of each of the vertebrae,” Davis told One News, made him realize “it’s got to be something from a time when animals were massive.”

And oh, was he right. Soon after, a team of paleontologists arrived to excavate the mysterious creature. They discovered that the remains belonged to a 33-foot-long ichthyosaur—pronounced ik-thee-uh-sore—a marine reptile that lived between 90 and 250 million years ago.

Thankfully, you won’t run into a sea dragon while swimming in the ocean.

The sea dragon lived during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, and could reach up to 82 feet in length. Based on clues from their bone structures, scientists believe they resembled dolphins, with their thick torsos and long beaks. While they breathed air like dolphins, though, they were cold-blooded (like snakes or iguanas) rather than warm-blooded (like dolphins—and us humans).

Mary Anning, a 12-year-old fossil collector, discovered the first complete ichthyosaur in England in 1811. This new ichthyosaur is the largest and most complete specimen ever found in the country.

“The find has been absolutely fascinating and a real career highlight.” Davis said. “It’s great to learn so much from the discovery and to think that this amazing creature was once swimming in the seas.” —Alex Oliveira

A goldfish prepares to ace his driving test.

Worried about passing your driving test? Well, AIR MAIL Pilot has good news for you. Recently, even goldfish managed to pass the exam—although, they were allowed to skip the multiple-choice section.

A group of researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, trained six goldfish to navigate a moving vehicle. The team put the fish, who were named after Pride and Prejudice characters, in a small water tank on wheels, a contraption they called a Fish Operated Vehicle (F.O.V.). With light detection technology, a camera tracked the fish’s movement in the tank, and those movements controlled the vehicle. The sextet learned to stop, reverse, and accelerate the F.O.V.

Like a driving test for teenagers, the researchers created tasks the fish had to complete. Pink boards were set up in nearby rooms, and if the fish made it to the target, the researchers rewarded them. They didn’t receive driver’s licenses, but they did get extra fish pellets.

Goldfish became better drivers after a lot of practice—much like human drivers.

Over time, and with many lessons, their driving skills improved. They even managed to avoid hitting decoy targets on the way to their real targets, something most human drivers can’t even do.

Some of the fish were naturals behind the wheel. “Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingly… were total rock stars,” Shachar Givon, the lead researcher on the project, told The Guardian.

The ability for a goldfish to pick up driving skills will help the researchers understand how animals navigate in their natural environments. “We humans think of ourselves as very special and many think of fish as primitive but this is not correct,” Ronen Segev, a researcher on the study, said in a statement. “There are other very important and very smart creatures.”

While there’s plenty of fish in the sea, only these six know how to drive—for now. —Elena Clavarino