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Six of History's Most Awkward Public Displays of Affection

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1. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley

Lisa Marie Presley had accompanied her husband, Michael Jackson, to the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards for moral support. Shortly before the ceremony, Michael informed her that he was going to bring her onstage and give her a big "this-isn't-a-sham" kiss. She was horrified and warned him not to do it, but her pleas were ignored. Onlookers noted that Lisa exploded in anger backstage afterwards, but Michael was oblivious, saying how great things went. Just think, nobody thought this would last.

2. Hillary Clinton & Suha Arafat

Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton made a political gaffe by embracing and effusively kissing Suha Arafat after the latter had made an impassioned and inflammatory speech about Israelis using poison gas against Palestinians.

3. Richard Gere & Shilpa Shetty

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Earlier this year, Indian film star and Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty appeared onstage with Richard Gere at an AIDS awareness rally in New Delhi. Unfortunately, Gere was unfamiliar with the strict Hindu mores and proceeded to playfully twirl Shetty into a dancer's dip, kissing her on the cheek several times. This display led to public burnings of photos of Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty, plus overall condemnation of the pair.

4. Jacques Chirac & Laura's Hand

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This photo didn't incite any international incidents, or cause American restaurants to rename foods. First Lady Laura Bush was simply another conquest for Chirac.

5. John Bryan and Fergie's Toes

Fergie.jpegThe Duchess of York was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with the rest of the Royal Family when the Daily Mirror published the so-called "toe sucking" photos. Sarah's father-in-law, Prince Philip, handed her a copy of the paper and told her that it might comfort her to know that "there but for the grace of God go I." He left the room and moments later the Queen's private secretary told the Duchess that she might feel better if she left immediately and returned to London, effectively banishing her from the premises. The only feeble defense both Fergie and her lover, John Bryan, could muster up was that he hadn't been sucking her toes, he was simply kissing the instep of her foot.

6. Madonna & Britney Spears

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And we've come full circle, back to the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2003, Britney and Madonna did their best to shock the audience with what looked like (thanks to TiVo) an opened-mouth kiss. When Britney was interviewed a few months later on Primetime Live, she swore there was no "tongue action" and that it only appeared so because the two of them were "good actresses."

Bonus: Al & Tipper Gore

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Good suggestion from reader Harold: Al & Tipper making out at the 2000 Democratic convention.

Previously on mental_floss:

11 Pictures Politicians Wish Were Never Taken
9 Legendary Cartoon Voices
Six Supergroups Who Saved The World
8 Nuclear Weapons The U.S. Has Lost
"¢ Quiz: Girlie Middle Names

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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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