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Viral meme all your friends already know about, #4: Loituma Girl

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Do not, repeat, do NOT click on this link if you actually have something even slightly, vaguely important to do today, or if you are at all worried about maintaining your sanity.

Okay, fine, click.

Loituma Girl is the most spellbinding thing I've ever seen, and the worst part is, I can't explain why. At least Wikipedia can explain what:

Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin) is a flash cartoon set to a gibberish section of the traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka" sung by the Finnish quartet Loituma, taken from their 1995 debut album Things of Beauty. ... The cartoon consists of a 4-frame animation of the Bleach anime character Orihime Inoue twirling a leek (a type of green onion, called a negi in Japan) to a 27-second loop from the song. ...

The cartoon uses the second half of the fifth stanza (four lines) and the complete sixth stanza (eight lines) from the song. Unlike the rest of the song, these two stanzas have no meaning, consisting mostly of phonetically-inspired gibberish that vary from performance to performance and are usually made up on the spot by the singer (compare scat singing in jazz).

The origin of the cartoon is unclear. Within a few days of its appearance, tens of thousands of pages either directed to the possible origin or had the file uploaded on their own server. On 10 July 2006, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that Loituma Girl had caused a resurgence in Loituma's popularity, and the band had received thousands of fan letters from around the world.

BBC's The World radio program even covered the animation in a segment, in which they noted the clip's trance-inducing qualities: "This is basically a joke for someone who spends all of their time staring at a computer, made by people who spend all of their time staring at a computer."

So many questions! Why the Japanese-Polish fusion? Why a leek? Is this the new Hampster Dance? Will I ever get this song out of my head?

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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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