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Video games with a dash of irony

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I confess: I used to play video games. Lots of video games. But I was young, and there was some peer pressure, and let's face it, I didn't have that much to do when I was 14. Since then, I've resisted the temptation to while away my hours (and thumbs) with the likes of Link and Sonic by simply not buying video games or their consoles. But now it seems that web-based video games have arrived, and perhaps my ability to resist is coming to an end. Of course, web-based games are by necessity a little more primitive than the hefty, hi-res HD-DVD based supergames of today, but what they give up in terms of graphics and complexity, they make up for is silly fun. Take, for instance, the games on Adult Swim's website, designed by the same twisted minds who bring us Robot Chicken and Moral Orel every week.

Two examples. The first, Five Minutes to Kill (Yourself), is a kind of Dilbert meets Die Hard hybrid. The concept: you're a harried office worker who has said, as certainly have many before him, that (see screen cap):
Inevitably, he does -- and it starts in five minutes! Therefore, your character has just five minutes (and the clock is ticking) to do himself in, and you've only got regular office supplies at your disposal. So you run around stapling yourself in the face and rigging the microwave to explode. (Definitely a unique gaming experience.)

On the other end of the spectrum (and featuring considerably more advanced gameplay), is the tongue-firmly-in-cheek Bible Fight, essentially a mock-up of the classic Street Fighter 2-player battle, except your characters aren't throwing-star-wielding ninjas from Japan, they're Noah, Moses, Eve, Jesus and the whole gang, and special key combinations will unleash moves such as Jesus summoning a crushing pile of loaves and fishes or Noah calling in a stampede of animals (two by two, of course).bible.jpg
Is this a new era, then, in postmodern gaming? Is laughing while locked in mortal gaming combat acceptable? I guess it'll have to be.

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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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