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Giant Cannibal Slugs Invade the UK

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Slugs are already the recipients of bad press for ravaging crops and generally being a rather disgusting and slimy presence in dirt—and the general public attitude toward them isn’t about to get any better. The Telegraph reports that a large species resistant to common control methods has invaded the UK, mating with native slugs to create a massive threat to tomatoes and even small rodents.

The species under investigation is Arion vulgaris, an accurate label for the 6-inch gastropod that’s so brazen it feasts on dead mice, dog feces, and even other members of its species, which has earned it the name of “Spanish cannibal slug.” First spotted in 2010 in the UK and believed to have been brought over from salad leaves, the ambitious slug appears to have increased in number and is currently busy mating with native slugs.

Frank Schwichtenberg via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

The result of that coupling might lead to even more terrifying behavior. According to University of Aberdeen’s Leslie Noble, the cannibal slug could see its gene begin to dominate the pool, leading to a hybrid super slug that can tolerate both hot and cold weather.

Arion vulgaris is already a handful. In addition to devouring crops, it’s known to laugh off attempts to poison it by way of slug pellets. It produces so much slime that predators like birds often wind up ignoring it.

Experts say that the slug’s continued mating habits and durability could wind up posing a significant threat to food supplies, although further research will be needed to assess the exact danger.

[h/t Telegraph]

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Something Something Soup Something
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This Game About Soup Highlights How Tricky Language Is
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Something Something Soup Something

Soup, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food," is the ultimate simple comfort food. But if you look closer at the definition, you'll notice it's surprisingly vague. Is ramen soup? What about gumbo? Is a soy vanilla latte actually a type of three-bean soup? The subjectivity of language makes this simple food category a lot more complicated than it seems.

That’s the inspiration behind Something Something Soup Something, a new video game that has players label dishes as either soup or not soup. According to Waypoint, Italian philosopher, architect, and game designer Stefano Gualeni created the game after traveling the world asking people what constitutes soup. After interviewing candidates of 23 different nationalities, he concluded that the definition of soup "depends on the region, historical period, and the person with whom you're speaking."

Gualeni took this real-life confusion and applied it to a sci-fi setting. In Something Something Soup Something, you play as a low-wage extra-terrestrial worker in the year 2078 preparing meals for human clientele. Your job is to determine which dishes pass as "soup" and can be served to the hungry guests while avoiding any items that may end up poisoning them. Options might include "rocks with celery and batteries in a cup served with chopsticks" or a "foamy liquid with a candy cane and a cooked egg served in a bowl with a fork."

The five-minute game is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but Gualeni also hopes to get people thinking about real philosophical questions. According to its description page, the game is meant to reveal "that even a familiar, ordinary concept like 'soup' is vague, shifting, and impossible to define exhaustively."

You can try out Something Something Soup Something for free on your browser.

[h/t Waypoint]

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