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Hey, I know that monkey!

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After today, I'm imposing a self-moratorium on blogs about monkeys and the internet, despite the many letters, text messages and e-cards I've received urging me to continue mining this admittedly deep vein. (Thank you, faceless Blogospherians, I am humbled by your enthusiasm.) But this, I just had to share. Many of you may be aware of the little website that could: YouTube. For those of you who are not, YouTube is a video hosting website that

  • Was only started in December 2005, but is already the 13th most popular website on the internet, according to Alexa.com.
  • So popular is it -- with more than 100 million videos viewed, and 65,000 added, per day -- that major trad-media TV networks have approached YouTube to forge content-sharing agreements, and even apologized for a few of the copyright infringment lawsuits it slapped on them earlier this year. (Who's your daddy, CBS?)
  • Although estimates of YouTube's value are pretty much entirely speculative, that's not stopping anyone from speculating. CNET and the New York Post guess it could be worth between $650 million and $2 billion.

So what drives this burgeoning media empire? Anyone who's performed more than a cursory exploration of the site will tell you: videos of baby animals falling asleep, bums fighting, and the desperately lonely videoblogging about either of the aforementioned. Anyway, point is: the sister of a guy who acted in a film I made owns the baby monkey who is by far the most popular animal-falling-asleep on YouTube (something like a million people have seen it), which puts it in the running to be the internet's most celebrated animal. And while "Sleepy Baby Monkey Named Mercutio" may not sweep next year's Oscars, don't be surprised if by then it's been seen by more people than whichever arthouse indie which inevitably takes home the little golden guy.

What's that? One more monkey picture before I go? Well, okay.
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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