CLOSE
Original image

Welcome to Secrets Week!

Original image

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you,” Roald Dahl wrote, “because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” He was a wartime spy–turned author who wrote about a kid who stows away in a piece of fruit, and that’s exactly the kind of person we at mental_floss look to for advice. So in the May issue—on sale now!—we took that mission to heart, seeking out all the facts we didn’t know about things we thought we knew well.

We figured out:
How to increase your odds of becoming a Jeopardy! champion
*
How (and why!) to always judge a wine by its label
*
Where to find the world’s most tricked-out missile silo
*
How many vast secret powers mini-horses are hiding under their fluffy little manes
*
What makes Post-It notes the creativity weapon of late-night comic Pete Holmes
*
Where the American Museum of Natural History keeps its epic collection of squid beaks
*
How Parisians really feel about Britney Spears
*
Which website you should avoid if you have a fear of falling off a cruise ship

But for me, the most revealing information of all came when all was said and done and the issue was in subscribers’ hands. When she saw our story on the evolution of toy horses, my mother-in-law texted immediately to inform me that the man I’m married to is “a true Brony.” Needless to say, I had no idea!

I hope this issue reveals at least as much to you—and that you’ll let me know right away!

* * *

Note from Jason & Erin: To celebrate the new issue, we'll be sharing secrets here all week. Secrets about Ben & Jerry's. Secrets about cruise ships. Secrets about cats. Let's keep this between us. (OK, you can tell your Facebook friends.)

Original image
FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
Original image
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]

Original image
Courtesy Murdoch University
arrow
Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
Original image
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]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios