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How To Drive A Tank

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Driving a tank is every destructive little child's personal goal. But with age comes maturity, and with maturity comes the realization that getting a hold of one of these puppies is going to be a little difficult. For all those tankophiles who just aren't ready to make a personal commitment to the U.S. military, we offer the following tips for getting yourself behind the wheel:

Check Your Neighbors' Mail
It may seem a bit hopeless, but the key is to not be fooled by misleading labels. After all, what are the chances that the Johnsons are really getting a 3,500-ton package of Belgian chocolates? This lesson would have come in mighty handy to the German army in 1915, when the first British tanks were shipped over to join the World War I combat in France. Developed by the British Navy and originally christened "land ships," the new weapons were sent by train to the front lines. Fearing those trains might fall into enemy hands, the British labeled the crates "TANKS," disguising them as large cisterns being sent to the apparently parched Russian army. Very sneaky. In fact, the British turned out to be too sneaky for their own good. Because of the secrecy surrounding the tank's development, only key Navy officials had any real working knowledge of the new weapon. Meanwhile, the men leading the Army infantry divisions that were actually supposed to work with the tanks didn't know what to do with them or how to use them in battle. The result: foot soldiers and their tank units often ended up separated, allowing the German army to pick them off individually.

Try Amazon.com
Say you wanted to combine the thrill of tank driving with the social experience of a really good kegger, then what? In 2002, a California design firm came up with the perfect solution: the JL421 Badonkadonk—an 1100-pound armored vehicle with roomy plush interior, killer hot rod lighting, and a state-of-the-art sound system. Although normally focused on graphics and furniture design, NAO Design put together the prototype Badonkadonk as a publicity gimmick, formally launching it at the August 2002 Burning Man Festival after several trial runs around the Stanford University party scene. More productive uses have since been discovered; the "Donk" is used by the Stanford Band drum section to transport heavy equipment (and intimidate rival teams) on game days and in 2005, the designers added a pyrotechnic system—including flamethrowers (which we assume to be very useful). Sadly, though it can pull 40 m.p.h., the vehicle isn't street legal. But, NAO Design has yet to sell one of these bad boys, so there's still a chance to be the first kid in your block (nay, hemisphere) to own one. One Badonkadonk will set you back $20,000 on Amazon.com, shipping and handling not included.

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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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