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The Late Movies: the Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes

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One of pop culture's most beloved characters -- and some say the most famous fictional character of all time -- Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on screens both large and small by dozens of men. Since I'm posting excerpts from my Sherlock Holmes book all week, I figured I'd make the leap from book to film and share some of my favorite Holmeses here.

John Barrymore played Sherlock Holmes in this 1922 silent film, Sherlock Holmes. He meets Moriarty for the first time in this scene.

Ten years later, Reginald Owen lent his likeness to the role in this film version of Arthur Conan Doyle's first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet.

Arthur Wontner played Holmes in this 1935 adaptation of The Valley of Fear.

Jumping forward a few hundred years, Brent Spiner as Commander Data channeled Sherlock Holmes in the episode "Lonely Among Us."

Of course, Data wasn't the only primetime television character inspired by Sherlock Holmes. There's also Greg House, M.D., whose sour temperament, coldly rational mind, musical talent and weakness for drugs all echo Holmes' character. Here's an awesomely cheesy fan-made video set to Rihanna's "Rehab" which compares House and Holmes' respective addictions.

As long as we're on the subject of unconventional Holmses, check out John Cleese's Holmes in this bit from Comedy Playhouse:

How about a Russian Holmes? Vasily Livanov played the role to great acclaim in a number of Russian film and television adaptations in the 1970s and 80s.

Then, of course, there's my favorite: the late, great Jeremy Brett, who played Holmes to a tee in Granada's long-running series for British television. Here's a great clip:

Will Robert Downey, Jr. make a good Sherlock Holmes? It's hard to tell from the trailers, but I'll certainly pony up ten bucks to find out. Holmes is due out Christmas day in theaters across the U.S.

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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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