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The Drool Sergeant of World War I

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Dogs have gone to war for thousands of years, but during World War I, one pooch rose above his peers. When the 102nd Infantry’s 26th Yankee Division was training at Yale, a stray dog befriended the men. Nicknamed Stubby, the mutt learned to salute by throwing a paw up to his eyebrow. When the unit shipped out to France, it was only natural that the soldiers smuggled Stubby along.

Trouble arose when commanding officers discovered the furry stowaway. Before they could send Stubby home, however, he saluted his superiors. Impressed, they let him stay on as the unit’s official mascot.

Stubby did more than boost morale; he quickly proved to be an ace soldier. After surviving a gas attack, Stubby became sensitive to chemical agents, and whenever he sensed danger, he would run down the line alerting his human comrades. He also entered the no-man’s land between trenches to help paramedics find wounded soldiers. And once, when a German spy infiltrated an Allied foxhole, Stubby attacked the intruder until American troops could capture him. This last triumph prompted the 102nd Infantry’s commander to put in for Stubby’s promotion to sergeant, and he became the first dog ever to receive a rank in the American military.

By the time the war ended, Stubby had served in 17 battles over 18 months. He’d been injured twice and received multiple medals for bravery, including a Purple Heart. The American media fell in love with the scrappy dog. Sgt. Stubby got to meet presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge and even became Georgetown University’s mascot. Not bad for a stray!

This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. Get a free issue here!

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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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