Can I Pre-Order? 4 Dragons, 2 Griffins, 1 Unicorn, 1 Pegasus, 2 Scylla, 1 Chimera...Ooh, What's That? 1 Hydra, 12 Flying Cats...

Pet Dragons for All!

from Sploid

Mad scientists in California have a terrible vision for your family's future: genetically engineered dragon monsters living in your home, as pets.

According to The Economist, a biotech company called GeneDupe is close to creating living dragons that will be sold as pets.

Animals rights activists and those opposed to genetically-modified food have been outraged by the company's plans, which are outlined in the March 30 issue of the business magazine.

GeneDupe is currently building "virtual" dragons and other mythological creatures.

By combining the cells of real animals - lizards, for example, in the case of a dragon - with a sort of high-speed intelligent design, GeneDupe scientists will create cell patterns and DNA for monsters.

Right now, the beasts have not left the computer. But they will soon, according to Dr. Paolo Fril, chairman and chief scientific officer for GeneDupe in San Melito, California.

"This involves synthesizing, with actual DNA, the genetic material that the computer models predict will produce the mythical creatures," reported The Economist.

"The synthetic DNA is then inserted into a cell that has had its natural nucleus removed. The result, Dr Fril and his commercial backers hope, will be a real live dragon, unicorn or what have you."

But it seems the company is better at announcing outrageous plans than successfully bringing living monstrosities to market.

In 2000, GeneDupe boldly announced that a customized goldfish would soon go on sale. The expensive pets would be genetically altered to order - a goldfish could literally have gold flakes in its scales, or be grown in the colors of the French flag.

Savvy Internet readers found some suspicious holes in the GeneDupe story today.

For one thing, The Economist seems to be the only business publication paying any attention to the shady company's pipe dreams.

For another, if the town of San Melito exists in California, it does not appear on any known maps.

In fact, the only references to San Melito on the entire World Wide Web are in Economist articles about GeneDupe, which either means the renowned centuries-old business publication is propping up a fraudulent company or that the whole thing is a cruel joke published two days before April 1.


Clone on the Range

Co. Produces Clones From Cutting Horses

from The Associated Press

PURCELL, Okla. - A company that offers horse owners exact duplicates of their animals says it has successfully cloned two top-earning horses.

ViaGen Inc. announced Thursday that two mares had delivered clones of top cutting horses, which are trained to help separate individual animals from cattle herds.

The foals, born at a ranch near Purcell, were doing well, according to the Austin, Texas-based company.

The first cloned horse was born in 2003 in Italy. In 2005, Texas A&M University created the first cloned horse in the United States.

Elaine Hall of Weatherford, Texas, owns one of the horses that was cloned and said the foal is the image of its mother.

"I can already see so many similarities from the original horse, a certain look about the eyes," she said.

A laboratory at the University of California-Davis has confirmed that one of the clones and its offspring share the same genetics. Scientists are working to make the same determination with the second clone.

Justice for Moosebot!

Throwing the Book at Robo-Moose Shooter

from Sploid

Canada loves its moose, even its robot moose. Shoot one of these majestic beasts, even the mechanical ones, and you'll end up in a world of trouble.

Just ask Robert Lee McLaren, 49, of Nova Scotia who recently tried to take down a metal decoy by the name of Bullwinkle.

What McLaren didn't realize was that Bullwinkle was the property of the Natural Resources Department who were trying to bag poachers. When they watched McLaren get out of his car and shoot at the defenseless machine, they bagged him.

Now McLaren has lost his hunter's license for 20 years, his 1998 Chevy Cavalier and his thirty-ought-six rifle. He also has to pay $4,025 and faces up to 72 days in jail.

"The big fine and the ban shows just how serious the government and the courts are taking the issue of hunting endangered species," said conservation officer Mike Hunter.

McLaren copped a plea to get his wife Lorelei Anne off the hook on the same charges.

There are another eight Guysborough County residents facing charges for shooting Bullwinkle.


Darth Chef

NASA's Ark?

Noah's Moon Ark

from Sploid

A top European space scientist says humans must send a new Noah's Ark to the moon so that Earth can be repopulated with critters after an inevitable catastrophe wipes out all life on our planet.

"Dr. Bernard Foing said the ark should be a repository for the DNA of every single species of plant and animal," the BBC reported.

But two years after Foing's frantic call for a Noah's Ark to be immediately launched, there's not even a project on the drawing boards to save Earth's people, animals and plants.

Whether it's an asteroid smashing down, rising sea water drowning everything but fish, nuclear annihilation, or pandemics that wipe out all people (the only Earth creature that can currently build spaceships), it's all but certain that the short reign of man and animals will end violently unless the Moon is used as a distant sperm bank.

Once the DNA is safely stored, the next step will be building a human colony on the moon, Foing says.

"Perhaps five years later it would be possible to establish a permanent lunar base with a closed biosphere where a crew of 10 people could live for 100 days at a time," he told CNN.

"There we could conduct experiments and learn to be independent of Earth by living off the moon's resources: by using solar energy and the minerals from the soil. The next project would be to build a real community on the moon comprising hundreds of people of both sexes."


I Think I've Found My Calling

NASA Resumes Hunt for Space Monsters

from Sploid

NASA Lynn Cheney, shown sans makeup, screeches in fear!has backed down from its plan to completely kills the space agency's search for extraterrestrial life.

$30 million of the previously budgeted $160 million will now be funded for astrobiology projects over the next three years, New Scientist reported today.

But scientists chasing the elusive space monsters say they'll still put pressure on NASA to restore all the money.

While the pointless slaughter in Iraq has already cost Americans nearly $300 billion dollars, accident-prone NASA makes do with about $13 billion each year.

Critics say most of that money is thrown away on pork-barrel projects while private companies are on the verge of stealing human exploration of space away from the government.

The latest budget-cutting moves at NASA were attempts to make do with less money. Washington had cut some $3 billion of NASA's annual budget.

Scientists were furious, saying that NASA was trying to start an ill-fated Moon/Mars manned program that the White House requested but didn't fund. Besides, finding E.T. is going to have a major impact on sending humans on space missions.

"I think most people see astrobiology as being front and centre to the Vision for Space Exploration," said Carl Pilcher, NASA's senior scientist for astrobiology.

Toys: The Heroin of the Young-at-Heart

'Come, join us...'

Boy, 3, Gets Trapped Inside Toy Machine

from The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Minn. - Devin Haskin isn't the first little boy to find the inside of a toy machine too enticing to resist. When the 3-year-old boy crawled through the discharge chute of a Toy Chest claw machine at a Godfather's Pizza here, he ended up on the other side of the glass surrounded by stuffed animals.

Rescuers had to pry the door open to get Devin out, though the boy was in no hurry to leave.

"When we got it open, he didn't want to come out," Fire Chief Dan Wilson said Tuesday. "One of my firefighters had to reach inside and get him. He was happy in there."

I, Cyborg

March of the Cyborgs!

from Sploid

Mankind has taken a giant leap towards perfection with the announcement of the first silicon chip capable of interfacing with neurons in the brain.

With this new development doctors will be able finally to create brain prosthetics to fight neurological diseases. Equally exciting is the prospect of organic computers using human brains cells instead of a crappy old CPU.

Unfortunately, the limitless miracles of man-machines are still far off in the future. For the time being, though, pharmaceutical companies will be able to use the new chips to test drugs.

"Pharmaceutical companies could use the chip to test the effect of drugs on neurons, to quickly discover promising avenues of research," says Professor Stefano Vassanelli, a molecular biologist at the University of Padua in Italy, and one of the partners in the NACHIP project.

Using technology from the Germany's Infineon, Vassanelli and his team placed 16,384 transistors and hundreds of capacitors on a chip just 1mm squared in size. They were able to "glue" the chip in place by using the brain's own proteins.

"They also provided the link between ionic channels of the neurons and semiconductor material in a way that neural electrical signals could be passed to the silicon chip," says Vassanelli.

Transistors on the chip pick changes in the electric charge when a neuron fires. The change is caused by the transfer of charged sodium ions moving in and out of the cells through special pores. Conversely, applying a charge to each capacitor alters the movement of sodium ions, causing a neuron to react.


Where Da Gold, Beeyatch?

Ghetto Leprechaun

from Sploid

A frightening "leprechaun" has taken up residence in a poor neighborhood outside of Mobile, Alabama - and one little town's problem has become a national sensation.

St. Patrick's Day has passed for most Americans, but the people of Crichton Community are still living an Irish nightmare.

Crowds gather at night to see the "leprechaun" in its tree. Witnesses describe a creepy, doll-eyed dwarf wearing a bowler-style hat.

Shine a light at the entity and it vanishes.

"To me it look like a leprechaun to me, all you gotta do is look up in the tree," one man told NBC 15 reporters. Then he turned to the crowd and shouted, "Who all seen the leprechaun, say 'Yay!'"

The crowd responded with a hearty "Yayyyy!"

Interviewed through her car's driver-side window, Mobile resident Alice Sellers offered an explanation that attests to the havoc wreaked by the community's illegal drug trade.

"Could be a crackhead that got hold to the wrong stuff and it told him to get up in the tree and play a leprechaun," she said.

In the daylight, there is less fear and even optimism.

One man studied the tree and made his plans public.

"I'm a run a backhoe up, uproot that tree," he said. "I wanna know where the gold is. I want the gold. Give me the gold. I want the gold!"

His lust for gold has since become a hit online hip-hop song, "Where da gold?" by independent emcee Da Lep Ra Con.

The story might never have been known outside the poor community if not for a bizarre news report broadcast on Mobile's NBC-15. [video]

The newscast was recorded and then spread around the Internet. Thousands of people all over the country have since seen the disturbing story.

Cerebro Mutant Profile 14820:

Witch Discovers Underground River!

from Sploid

An Australian water witch has discovered a massive underground river, and he did it using nothing more than his supernatural abilities and his magic wands.

For 200 years, Tasmanian dirt farmers have searched for a subterranean waterway beneath the sands of Marrawah.

But it was only a myth until famed "water diviner" Peter Benson went looking for a good spot to drill a well on a ranch belonging to a local mayor.

Ross Hine, mayor of the little town known as Circular Head, hired Benson because the witch gets results.

Using dowsing rods and the special ability to detect water deep beneath the ground, water witches can make their livings all over the world -- any place not hooked up to a municipal water supply needs a Diviner to locate the place to dig a well.

But the huge underground river found by Benson "surpassed all expectations," the Tasmanian Examiner reported on Sunday.

The hidden river is 90 feet across and runs for miles between Dismal Swamp and the ocean. Now that secret waterway is pouring 5 million liters per day on the mayor's property...without a pump.

Benson can't explain his skill; he just knows where to find water. But he suspects it might have something to do with his personal hatred of water and abiding love for booze.

"I can find water but can't abide the stuff myself. It makes me sick," he told the Examiner.

"I have had one glass in the past 15 years and it made me vomit. I have better things to drink."


All My Pets Are the Boring One-Headed Kind

Just Another Two-Headed Turtle

from Sploid

What more is there to say? It's a turtle, it's got two heads.

Don't confuse this bizarre crature for Don Quixote & Sancho, our two-headed friend(s) from November. This little guy was found in a market last year by a Chinese businessman.

Mr. Xiao from Qingdao brought the handsome monster home and reports that he's perfectly healthy.

The two heads can eat at the same time, combining to put away a little more than a ho-hum one-headed turtle.

Scientist speculate that these mutations are the result of failed identical twins. At some point a single embryo began to split in two and then thought better of it.

It's a lot better than being a noseless one-eyed cat.


Chef Returns!
Then Dies!

South Park Premiere Subtly Likens Scientologists to Brainwashing Pedophiles

from Defamer

It would have been tough for South Park to top the Scientology-bashing of "Trapped in the Closet," the episode that started the whole fracas in the first place. They may have succeeded, however, with their much anticipated season premiere, titled "The Return of Chef!" As has been reported just about everywhere, Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef and a longtime Scientologist, released a damning statement just weeks ago, announcing that he was abruptly quitting the series after nine seasons. A FoxNews.com report then suggested that Hayes has been recovering from a stroke and that this "decision" was made for him. The plot (spoilers if you haven't seen it yet) accounts for either circumstance: It follows a thoroughly brainwashed Chef returning from an extended absence during which he traveled the world with the Super Adventure Club - a group of monocled and moustachioed Col. Mustard types who just happen, it turns out, to enjoy raping the local children they encounter on safari. Chef speaks in mostly crudely patched-together dialogue, expressing in various ways his desire to "get in kids' butts." If that's not enough of a dishonorable sendoff for the beloved character, then there's the protracted death sequence that culminates in a Grizzly Man-inspired scenario. In the end, however, is this heartfelt eulogy delivered by Kyle:

"A lot of us don't agree with the choices the Chef has made in the last few days," one of the children eulogizes him at a funeral. "Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can't let the events of the past few weeks take away the memories of how Chef made us smile.

"We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us," the eulogy concludes. "We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains."
While likening Scientology to a "fruity little club" may be funny in a bratty sort of way, we're wondering if perhaps it's giving them too easy a retaliatory target. They are, after all, a club that helped many a conflicted little fruit kick their dangerous anti-psychotic medication habits, resolve their past-life issues, and maximize their life potential.


Oh, I'm So There

Science Center Unleashes Super Heroes

from Cinescape

The California Science Center will host the world premiere of "Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition" beginning March 26, 2006. The exhibit will run through September 4, 2006.

Visitors will immerse themselves in the electrifying sights, sounds and sensations of the Marvel Universe while they explore how some of the most loved comic book heroes and villains bring science into their world.

Engaging and interactive experiences will encourage visitors to learn about real life science and technology through the mythic powers of Super Heroes. Is there a biological basis to Hulk's transformation? How can knowledge of simple mechanics help us command the strength of Iron Man? Visitors of all ages will enjoy finding the answers to these questions and more as they learn about science and technology while living the fantasy of their favorite Marvel Super Hero.

"'Marvel Super Heroes' is a wonderful avenue to introduce visitors to the remarkable achievements of current science and technology—achievements that in many ways give us special powers we dream of through the comics, such as Doc Ock's dexterity with prosthetics, Iron Man's physical strength, and Daredevil's sight in the face of blindness," said Jeffrey N. Rudolph, President of the California Science Center.

In this exhibition, visitors can can:

See if their senses are as sharp as Daredevil's when they navigate through an alleyway using their sense of touch and hearing clues ("psst over here")

Investigate the Incredible Hulk's brain and learn which areas are responsible for generating human emotions such as rage — the key to Hulk's super abilities

Discover what it's like to have a helping hand or three with Doctor Octopus through the engineering technology of prosthetic limbs

Examine how lightning is created and calculate the distance of a thunderstorm that destroys a villain in the Storm exhibit.

See how an optical illusion known as motion-induced blindness can make the Invisible Woman disappear

Visitors can also become a real life Iron Man by stepping into an exo-suit to lift a Scion xB, a vehicle weighing nearly 2500 lbs. By experimenting with simple levers and pulleys to lift weights, they will learn what the future holds for increasing human strength.

In another area, visitors will explore the wonders of Spider-Man when they learn about the elasticity and strength of spider webs. Here they will be able to test the strength of a synthetic fiber, similar to spider silk, called Technora™.

Visitors entering the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning will interact with the X-Men and discover how genetic mutation can evolve into super abilities. They can see how matter changes from one state to another when Iceman transforms himself into ice or explore the magnetic fields that protect Magneto. Guests can examine Wolverine's skeleton—strengthened by an indestructible metal—and then learn about artificial parts developed by biomedical engineers to enhance patients' lives. In the Danger Room, which focuses on Banshee's sonic superpowers, visitors can discover the physical nature of sound waves and learn about their unique properties. They can create motion with the sound emitted from a tuning fork and explore how sound is used in current technology—from ultrasound to sound guns.

The "Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition" is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, Tickets are available online at CaliforniaScienceCenter.org and advanced ticket purchase is encouraged. After its debut in Los Angeles, the Ontario Science Centre will tour "Marvel Super Heroes" to other science centers and museums in North America.


A Healer, a Mermaid & an Erect Bull Walk In to a Bar...

Bogus Healer Convicted in Mermaids Case

from The Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe - A bogus traditional healer who persuaded a businesswoman to hire "mermaids" and accommodate them in a Harare hotel to help find a stolen car was convicted of theft by false pretenses, court officials said Tuesday.

Harare magistrate Sandra Nhau found Edina Chizema guilty of swindling a businesswoman of her savings with promises that mermaids would help recover the luxury car in 2004 and solve the businesswoman's unspecified "personal problems."

In Zimbabwe, where tribal superstition is deeply entrenched, prosecutors said Chizema persuaded Margaret Mapfumo to pay about $30,000 to hire mermaids, feed and accommodate them in a Harare hotel, buy power generators for a floodlit lakeside ceremony, and invoke ancestral spirits to find the missing car.

Some of the money was to be used to buy a bull whose genitals — described in court as the animal's "strong part" — would point out the car thief, prosecutors said.

At a hearing Monday, the magistrate said Chizema, who had pleaded not guilty and claimed to be a spirit medium, was not a credible witness and the "idiosyncrasies" of her plea were not recognized in law.

Chizema will be sentenced to imprisonment or a fine at a sentencing hearing later, the court officials said.

Fewer Snipes, More Sticky, Half-Vampire

Blade TV Show Begins Production

from Dark Horizons

Production on Spike TV's first original scripted offering Blade: The Series has begun this week in Vancouver, Canada. New Line Television will produce 11, one-hour episodes of the weekly action-adventure series which premieres on Spike TV starting Wednesday, July, 5, following the previously announced two-hour kick-off episode that premieres on June 28.

Based on the Marvel Super Hero of the same name, Blade: The Series stars Kirk "Sticky" Jones (Over There) as the title character who is half-man, half-vampire and employs his extraordinary powers in a crusade to save mankind from the demonic creatures who walk the night.

Spike TV's two-hour series premiere opens with Blade (Jones) setting up shop in Detroit, investigating the vampire house of Chthon. Along the way he forms an uneasy alliance with Krista Starr (Jill Wagner), a former military veteran who becomes entrenched in the world of vampires while investigating the murder of her twin brother.

The series also features Neil Jackson (Stargate SG-1), Nelson Lee (Traffic, the TV mini-series) and Jessica Gower (Blurred).

Acclaimed screenwriter and executive producer David S. Goyer (Blade trilogy and Batman Begins) and popular comic book writer Geoff Johns who both worked on the Blade pilot, have also signed on for the series production.



Leggy lamb: Belgian grower Maurice Peeters holds a six-leg lamb a day after its birth. The lamb cannot walk and has to be specially fed. A veterinary surgeon who examined it was reported as saying he would consider amputating the two superfluous legs if it managed to survive beyond a week. (AFP/BELGA/Yorick Jansens)

Tom & Jerry's Lovechild?

The Tunisian Rat-Cat!

from Sploid

A Meow?seemingly normal house cat in Tunisia has given birth a litter of five adorable kittens...and one freakish mutant.

Among Minoucha's new litter is a half-cat, half-rat pygmy. The new addition to the family is a normal cat in every way except it has the nose, mouth, ears and feet of a rat.

At first glance, one might dismiss this as just another inter-species love story. But a close inspection of the shocking video shows that this bizarre beast is a cat through an through. It nurses and frolics with its siblings, totally accepted for the cat that it is.

Local vets are at a loss to explain what went wrong. As far as they know, this could be the next leap forward in cat evolution.


Cerebro Mutant Profile 34236:
Killa Manjara

The tallest woman in Asia, Chinese Yao Defen (R), and her friend sit at the entrance of her home in Shu Cha in eastern China's Anhui province March 15, 2006. Yao is 34 years old and 2.36 metres tall. REUTERS/ Nir Elias


Tom Cruise vs. Eric Cartman

South Park-Scientology Battle Rages

from The Associated Press

NEW YORK - South Park has declared war on Scientology. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the animated satire, are digging in against the celebrity-endorsed religion after a controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise was yanked abruptly from the schedule Wednesday — with Internet rumors it was covert warfare by Cruise that led to its departure.

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the "South Park" creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. "Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies...You have obsructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!"

Internet bloggers accused Cruise of threatening to not promote Mission Impossible 3, a surefire summer blockbuster, if the offending episode ran. Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, as is Paramount, which is putting out MI:3.

But Cruise's representative, Arnold Robinson, told The Associated Press Friday that the mega-star made no such demands.

"Not true," Robinson said. "I can tell you that he never said that."

A call by The Associated Press to a Paramount representative was not returned Friday.

The episode in question, "Trapped in the Closet," (watch!) which first aired last November, shows Scientology leaders hailing Stan, one of the show's four devilish fourth graders, as a savior. A cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out. An animated John Travolta, another famous Scientologist, enters the closet to try to get him out.

In another dig at the famously secretive religion, the credits at show's end are filled with names like "John Smith" and "Jane Smith."

The battle began in earnest earlier this week when Isaac Hayes, another celebrity Scientologist and longtime show member — voicing the ladies' man Chef — quit the show, saying he could no longer tolerate its religious "intolerance and bigotry."

Stone and Parker didn't buy that either.

On Monday, Stone told The Associated Press, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology...He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

A Comedy Central spokesman said Friday that the network pulled the controversial episode to make room for two shows featuring Hayes.

"In light of the events of earlier this week, we wanted to give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for," the spokesman said.

'HA! Stupid Meatbags!'

Rise of the Alcoholic Robots!
from Sploid
Mad scientists at a Texas university are building monstrous human-shaped robots that run on liquor.

New Scientist reports that the manufactured alcoholics will have superhuman strength and be able to wander what's left of our world, drinking booze wherever they find it.

"One day you could find yourself sitting in a bar next to a humanoid robot who is taking a shot of vodka to give himself the energy to go to work," said nanotechnologist Ray Baughman of the University of Texas at Dallas.

The alcohol-fueled robotic muscles are made from either special bundles of wire or the more exotic carbon nanotubes.

"The most athletic robots around today are chained to a power source, so they can't move about freely," Baughman said.

Sadly, it's not the first time crazed scientists have created alcoholic robots.

In 2004, an Austrian robotics lab revealed a pathetic android known as "BarBot."

It had one miserable purpose in life: drinking beer.

The BarBot begged humans for spare change, just like a real drunken hobo, and when it collected enough it went straight to the bar for another drink.

(Click here for the heartbreaking video.)

And in 2005, twisted robot masters in England created a whole race of baby booze-and-drug addicts.

The awful little robots were manufactured to be sickly, underweight infants who only knew pain and horror.