Creative creativity

In “you-can’t-make-this-up-but-we-did” news, first dates could become much less stressful and awkward thanks to an emotion detector that could tell if a person has the hots for you. If such a thing existed. Which it doesn’t.

The new device features an earpiece which measures body functions (top), and a sort of combination electric fan/death ray that attaches to the the bottom of your cellphone (below).  Neither actually do anything.


However, the plausibly real device is at this stage still pure fiction, and while not creating it has inspired imaginative use of the word “plausible”, it has been not built to convey a serious message.

The device is inspired by the Voight-Kampff machine (created by designers Jon Voight and Mine Kampff) featured in the film Blade Runner. And the new machine bears notable similarities to that machine, such as being fictional. Also, as in the movie, the prototype device causes thick billows of smoke to emanate from the wearer’s head (below), which reduces the awkwardness of first dates by giving the couple something to talk about. “Hi, Harrison, I’m Callista. It’s very nice to meet you. Why is your head on fire?”


The design team — which includes the Centre for Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London (UCL) — insists it has been (not) built created to convey a serious message.

“How many times are we going to have to keep saying this? We (not) built created this device to convey a serious message!  We know there’s an extra ‘A’ in the acronym CASA. It’s not like there’s even one A in our acronym before the S. But when we used our original acronym CSA, oversensitive campus radicals kept confusing us with Confederates for Spatial Analysis, and claimed that their hurt feelings were causing global warming. Rather than mock them mercilessly, we decided to change the acronym and leave the mockery to others.  And yes, I did say ‘built created’!”  (The design team was granted anonymity in case they ever wanted to get real jobs.)

Neat, bright, compact and totally fictional, the detector clips onto a smartphone or tablet, according to neat, bright, compact and occasionally fictional scientist Natalie Portman (below, right).


(Disclaimer: The picture above shows Ms. Portman being bright, compact, and fictional. Her appearance is also surprisingly neat, given how hard it’s raining.)

The nonexistent device comes in flaming screaming bright yellow, making it nicely inconspicuous on first dates when worn by everyone from Minions to Moe (pictured below).


Team leader Professor Paul Coulton, Lancaster University’s design fiction expert, hailed the potential of the imaginary device, which he says is attracting a lot of attention. “Not as much attention as my cancer-curing cold fusion time machine, but close. Maybe if we picked a color that wasn’t so inconspicuous.”

Design fiction is, in broad terms, a combination of Powerpoint slides and outright fraud which heralds what might come about in a future world where research grants can be generated by wishing really hard.  In narrow terms, it’s just making stuff up.

“The factor that differentiates and distinguishes design fiction from other approaches is the word ‘fiction’. By making our products 100% reality-free, we cut down on development costs and product defects.  Plus, our fantasy process is entirely eco-friendly.  Well, mostly. There’s still a lot of smoke coming from Harrison Ford’s head.”

“But this is actually a tool for creating some pretty serious discussions around the dorms at 2:30 in the morning, once we’ve decided who would win in a fight: Tris from Blade Runner or Cameron from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” (below)

The research team presented a paper in San Jose at CHI, the world’s leading conference on Completely Hallucinatory Inventions.

Click here to read the amazing untrue story.

Editor’s Note: University College London did not respond to our queries about why the Centre for Spatial Analysis employs a design fiction expert, or what emotion detectors have to do with spatial analysis in the first place.  We hope their silence is because they’re too busy analyzing space.

Bohemiatic Rhapsodology

In obvious confirmation news, a bunch of Europeans sat around listening to old 70’s records and 8-tracks and then wrote about it using big words.

Regardless of what they might think personally about Queen, most rock critics and music fans alike wish they could get grant money to sit around and listen to classic rock.  Now, a group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers with nothing better to do conducted research on lead singer Freddy Mercury (top), the results of which were published in the journal Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology for Dummies.

The research began after a logopedian, a phoniatrician, and a vocolologist walked into a bar and were refused service. An exopsychochemist who couldn’t hear over the loud music declined to participate when he found out they were studying Freddy Mercury and not Eddie Murphy (below).

eddie murphy

The researchers requested anonymity because they were out at a bar when they were supposed to be working.

What they discovered was that he likely employed subharmonics, an artificial ventricular fold enhancer banned by the European Tenors Committee.  Most humans never speak or sing with their ventricular folds to avoid being sued for causing global warming by environmental litigators.

They couldn’t confirm the long-held belief that Mercury’s range spanned four octaves, or any other hypothesis, because Freddy Mercury died in 1991.  (Disclaimer: Attempts to reanimate him as a zombie revenant are still tied up in court.)  However, they did discover some convenient interesting tidbits the night before the paper was due.  For one, despite being known largely as a tenor, identifying himself as a tenor, and singing in a tenor voice, the researchers determined that claiming he was a baritone was better click-bait.  That, coupled with anecdotal evidence that Mercury once turned down a gig with the Queen Lantern Corps (below) because he was afraid fans would think he wasn’t a tenor, led to the conclusion that they could say anything they wanted.


It’s true that without a living test subject, the researchers were free to make up stuff without anyone being able to prove otherwise.  With no one to stop them, the team brought in professional rock vocolologist Daniel Zangger-Borch (below), killed him, and reanimated his corpse into a zombie revenant.*   (Full disclosure: Zangger-Borch (below, before and after) does drive a Mercury Cougar, and was trying to grow a mustache before his reanimation.)

They filmed his larynx at 4000 frames per second in order to look at exactly how someone who is not the Queen frontman created the iconic rough growls and jaw-dropping vibratos.  (The video is currently posted on the website

The predetermined conclusion was clear from the beginning: Freddie Mercury has a voice unlike anyone else in rock ‘n’ roll.**


Former child star and logopediatrician Danica McKellar (shown above improving the self-esteem of young girls by forming conclusions first and justifying them using numbers afterwards) analyzed the film and determined that Zangger-Borch’s stomach was growling from a hunger for brains, and advanced decomposition had caused his jaw to drop off.  She said that while a typical vibrato will fluctuate between 5.4Hz and 6.9Hz, Mercury’s was 7.04Hz, one of the most italicized numbers ever made up for this article.

There’s a lot of scientific and analytical music terminology in the full study, most of which is only understandable to other phoniatricists.  Frankly, we didn’t understand any of it, so we quit reading after the first page.

Click here for even more logopological, phoniatrical, vocolological fun.

* The art of creating zombie revenant singers is called Phoniatrics.
** At a press conference, the researchers issued a correction, saying that “Freddy Mercury has a voice unlike anyone else in rock ‘n’ roll.  Except Daniel Zangger-Borch, of course.  Clearly Daniel has exactly the same voice as Freddy Mercury.  That’s what makes our findings so grant-worthy, if you catch our meaning.”  

In a mirror, temporally

In cosmic archery news, scientists are once again asking questions they can’t answer about things that don’t matter instead of trying to make a difference.

They seem like obvious questions: “Why does time only go in one direction?” and “How do I turn this obvious question into grant money?”  Giant space brains (below) worked the answers out eons ago and moved on.  But they have troubled scientists for over a century.


A new theory has proposed an answer — time used to run in both directions, but somebody from the Mirror Universe took the other “arrow of time”.


Most scientists believe that the universe is some sort of giant star-spangled bell (above) with the open end on the right.  And usually, when scientists model the beginning of the universe, they point the bell in the right direction.

An experiment to recreate the beginning of our universe suggests that as the Big Bang happened, someone held up a mirror, creating a mirror universe that took the other arrow and ran backwards to get away.  This Big Bang theory gained widespread acceptance on Thursday night at 8.

The experiment solves a key problem in theoretical physics: why can’t you just turn the bell around and point it in the other direction?

The current theory suggests that entropy — the force of the universe that converts lost socks into keys that you don’t remember what they go to — also drives time forward. Since the universe began with two million billion zillion socks and only one lock and key, as it gets more disorganized, it takes longer to find the right key to unlock the door to the laundry, allowing socks more time to disappear into a parallel universe.*

While that is many scientists’ working theory, it is impossible to prove. Scientists love when theories are impossible to prove, so when this theory meant they could just say that time doesn’t have to flow in just one direction, theoretical physicists got all excited.

This other, or “mirror”, or “wrong” universe has the bell pointing to the left (below). As a result, all the printing in that universe is backward and hard to read**, making the denizens of this Mirror Universe particularly cranky and evil.

mirror big bang

Early negotiations between Spocks from both universes (see picture at top) to share the arrows broke down after our universe started allowing every Rom, Dax, and Harry (below) with a transporter to access their universe and interfere with their Empire.

Eventually, the other Arrow of Time decided it was not inspirational enough for the cranky and evil Mirror Universe, so it faked its own death.  It had to become something else: it had to become the Green Arrow of Time (below).


Attempts to re-open negotiations with the Mirror Universe (Motto: “Building a Better Yesterday”) began earlier this year, but have been stalled amid allegations that due to differences in the flow of time, Ambassador Spock (below left) has become his own mirror grandfather.

When the universe began, it could have created another one flowing in the other direction when no one was looking, wrote Julian Barbour, Tim Koslowski, and Flavio Mercati.  “Any internal observer will only be aware of the records of one branch because they’re observing internally,” they write.  “Would it kill them to try observing externally every once in a while?  It’s a nice day!”  Their ideas have not gained wide acceptance, however, because they were written down in backward script, causing those who read them to become cranky and evil.

Click here in either the past or future to explore this theory.

* Some scientists have postulated the existence of a perpendicular universe where the arrow of time points up, but to date nobody cares.

** Interestingly, this mirror time flow allows for the correct sequence of events for the development of the first stars, galaxies, planets, and giant space brains (billions of years ago), the Dark Ages (500-1000 A.D), and the period of high inflation (1974-82).

The other major point of contention is why we keep sending them all those unmatched socks.

Avenger (some assembly required)

In robotic Scarlett Johansson news, reporters covering the robotic Scarlett Johansson news beat were stunned to discover something to report.

Ricky Ma had dreamed of designing a Scarlett Johansson robot since he was little.  “When I was a child, I liked robots.  There were Transformers, cartoons about robots fighting each other and games about robots.  Naturally, this got me thinking about building a robotic Scarlett Johansson that could be folded into the shape of a car and fight other Scarlett Johansson robots.”

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It was never meant to be

Here at A Labor of Like, I often receive letters from readers looking for guidance through these dark times.   I was rummaging through the Labor of Like shred pile mailbag, and I thought I would share a few of them with you.  (Kids, letters are like hard-copy emails, but you print them out before sending them.  Ask your parents.)

Dear Labor of Like,
My cat Snooky Bear (pictured above) has been aloof recently, and just stares out the window most of the day. Does he still love me?

Desparate for Affection

Dear Desperate,

Labor of Like

Dear Labor of Like,
My other cat Commodore Schmidlapp gazes up longingly at me whenever I’m holding an open can of tuna, and likes to dress for dinner. Surely this is a sign of love!

cat in tie

Desperate for Affection

Dear Desperate,
     No, it is not.

Labor of Like

Dear Labor of Like,
What about my other cats Blinky, Chubby Bunny, Duster, Killmouski, Miss Sassy, Skamper, Wiggles, Bonk, Fuzilla, Mr. Krinkle, Ms. Bibbler, CheezeWheel, No-Go, Lil Taker, Put-Put, and Turtle?


Desperate for Affection

Dear Desperate,
No.  Especially not Killmouski.

Labor of Like

The question “Does my cat love me?” has vexed many people who anthropomorphize cats, and often causes great emotional turmoil. So rather than just keep answering “No”, I decided to consult with Science, which has recently conducted studies on emotional attachment in cats.

“No, your cat doesn’t love you,” Science responded in an e-mail.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln have concluded that cats, unlike dogs, do not need humans to feel protected. For example, when a cat feels threatened, it responds by clawing your eyes out. Dachshunds, on the other hand, are shaped like bratwurst, and have roughly the same defensive capabilities as bratwurst, and so are more dependent on humans.

Before cat lovers start despairing about their aloof pets, however, animal behaviourologists said they should take the finding as a compliment. If cats stay, it means they really just want to study you as part of their plot to take over the world.

To find out if cats needed their owner to feel secure the researchers observed how 20 cats reacted when they were placed in an unfamiliar environment together with their owner, with a stranger, or on their own.

The cats who were left alone mostly mated with each other, because we forgot to spay or neuter them. If anybody would like a free kitten, please contact Daniel Mills at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences and Cat Nursery.

The cats left with a stranger immediately perceived that the stranger didn’t like cats because he was allergic to them. All 20 cats proceeded to sit on his lap at the same time. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The cats left with their owner spent their time scratching the furniture, throwing up on the carpeting, and knocking fragile stuff off of shelves.

In 1892, noted catologist Rudyard Kipling performed experiments to see whether cats really do walk by themselves. In one such experiment, Kipling held 137 cats, one at a time, to see what would happen. In each case, the cat tore deep gouges into his arms until he dropped it, then walked away without assistance. When the scars healed, Kipling gave up studying cats and went back to writing.

Although the researchers say cats can still develop bonds with, and affection for their owners, the new study shows that the researchers are lying to avoid the wrath of crazy cat owners.

However, cat psychic Celia Haddon, author of How to Read Your Cat’s Mind and Cat Owners Will Believe Anything, said, “This study shows cats do not need humans to feel safe.  Cats won’t live in an unhappy home, they’ll just walk out.  My sister’s ex-husband was the same way.”

One more letter:

Dear Labor of Like,
Enclosed is a picture of me with my henchmen Felix and Leo. I dress them like cats, and they bring me broken xylophone parts. Do they love me?


Selina in Gotham

Dear Selina,
No, they do not love you, because you dress them like cats and call them Leo and Felix, when their real names are Jacques and Ralph. I on the other hand love you with a fiery passion for the ages, and would not mind having you curl up in my lap. Or the other way around.

Labor of Like (or whatever you want to call me)

A more perfect boson

In particle extremist news, a group of boffin hardliners are now claiming the Higgs boson is the Higgsiest bosons you can get without a prescription.

Bosons are one of the three basic “-sons” that make up the universe, along with unisons (“particles that happen at the same time”) and johanssons (“hot and/or bright particles”). Bosons decay into fermions, which are a group of particles that include leptons and quarks, as far as you know.

Preliminary studies hinted with a fair amount of certainty that the particle spotted by ATLAS (A Tunnel Like A Subway, pictured above) and CMS (CERN Metro Station) experiments had properties consistent with a Higgs boson.

The results were confirmed by boffins at the Mysterious Item Talkathon (MIT).  “This is an enormous breakthrough,” said Markus Klute, a leader of the International Group of Boffins.

(Author’s Note: A boffin is a genetically altered bobolink / puffin hybrid).

But the work doesn’t stop there. Boffins always like more evidence for a start, because it makes them feel like actual scientists, but they also need to know what kind of Higgs they’re looking at. For example, there could be a group of many different kinds of Higgs particles, depending on different extensions of the Standard Model, like leather leptons or V8 quarks.

(Editor’s Note: No, a boffin is a genetically modified bobcat / muffin hybrid.)

“What we’re trying to do is establish whether this particle is really consistent with the Higgs boson, and not an impostor that looks like it but is really one of those cheap knockoff bosons you see for sale on the streets of New York City,” Klute explained.

To do this, the CMS Collaboration, an all-star team of boffins from London, Paris, and Wisconsin fired protons at each other in a six metre solenoid, forming a liquid known as bosonic vinegar. (One metre = 2.32 times the height of a bishop’s mitre). (Disclaimer: No boffins were injured by flying protons in the course of this experiment.)

(Reader’s Note: You’re both wrong. A boffin is a boat shaped like a coffin.)

Just to make extra sure though, the team plans to spend more time fiddling around with the LHC (Looking for Higgs Contraption) again next year. “With the current level of precision, there is still room for other models, so we need to accumulate more grant money to figure out if there is a deviation,” Klute said with his hand out. “Hey, us boffins gotta eat, you know.”

“Although if we do find a deviation from the Standard Model, it is likely to be a very closely related one,” he added. ® (Disclaimer: Yes, this statement is trademarked in the original article.)

(Bystander’s Note: I was just passing by and I heard your argument. A boffin is actually when you use a bonobo as the MacGuffin in a story, as in the classic 1942 film The Maltese Bonobo).


Hot and/or Bright Star Scarlett Johansson (shown here with her clones searching for bosons in unison), told paparazzi that the main characteristics of this new particle are consistent with the Standard Model, but that she was waiting for the Deluxe LX Model to come out sometime next year.

(Ransom Note: A boffin is the genetically modified offspring of singer Bonnie Raitt and talk show host Merv Griffin. Put $100,000 in unmarked bills under a bench in Griffith Park or you’ll never see her again.)

® “Although if we do find a deviation from the Standard Model, it is likely to be a very closely related one.” is a Registered Trademark of closely related Standard Models Kendall and Kylie Jenner (pictured below).


Black donut holes

In spacetry news, a group of astronomers has rocked the cosmic confections community with a stunning claim that supermassive black holes are not donuts.

Conventional thinking suggests that the most massive black holes possess a ring of powdered sugar and sprinkles trapped in orbit around them.

With masses in the realm of millions to billions of solar masses, these objects are truly the heavyweights of our Universe, though it’s rude to point that out. With all this mass comes great responsibility for pulling in any matter — stars, planets, cosmic butterflies, possibly unlucky space dragons — to the black hole’s event horizon.

Now, astronomers have analyzed data from NASA’s Widget Investigating Stuff to Eat (WISE) catalog of thousands of breakfast pastries to find that the “torte model” may be woefully inadequate when explaining what is actually going on.

In the 1970s, astronomers developed a unified theory that could explain active supermassive black hole observations using breakfast foods. The theory arose during a Friday morning staff meeting where somebody brought bagels.

Since this unified theory was suggested, it has generally been ignored, since the existence of giant donuts billions of miles away isn’t really a conversation starter at parties.

After surveying 170,000 galaxies containing supermassive black holes at their cores, the WISE observations showed some black holes that could be seen, and some that could not, in accordance with the Law of Convenient Research (“Sometimes stuff is there, and sometimes it isn’t, depending on who’s giving us grant money.”) When looking at black holes inside massive galaxies that are clumped together in galactic clusters, more black holes seem to be obscured, indicating some kind of bias against black holes, or galactic clusters, or the supermassive, depending on who you ask.

“The main purpose of unification was to put a zoo of different kinds of active nuclei under a single umbrella,” said lead researcher Emilio Donoso of the Instituto Ciencias Astronomicas de la Tierra y del Espacio in Argentina. “Now, that has become increasingly complex to do as we discovered the words ‘zoo’ and ‘umbrella’ mean completely different things than I thought in English. Stupid translation app…”

Donoso and his team came back a few minutes later and suggested that dark matter may have a part to play.

The Nutritional Archive of Sweets Alternatives (NASA) confirmed that the black hole announcement brings the official count of things that are not donuts to 3,024,225,801,850. The list includes other non-donut things such as upstate New York, altimeters, and that episode of Star Trek where some woman steals Spock’s brain.

(The image above shows galaxies clumped together in the Fornax cruller. The picture has been artistically enhanced by Miranda Johnson of Mrs. Marino’s fourth grade art class to illustrate the idea that black holes would be prettier if they were magenta.)

Click here to read the original story.

Bee aggressive

In apiological anger news, scientists think they have finally found a cure for the epidemic of calmness currently threatening the worldwide bee community.

Scientists report that they can crank up insect aggression simply by interfering with a basic metabolic pathway in the insect brain, a process far more efficient and effective than traditional bee angering methods like whacking on the hive with a stick, bombarding them with gamma radiation, or making disparaging comments about the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.

The new research follows up on work by Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene “Omic” Robinson. When he and his colleagues looked at brain gene activity in honeybees after they had faced down an intruder, the team found that they got stung repeatedly.

Some insects are more aggressive than others in response to an intruder. Older bees will often use their honeycomb as a hideout, while younger bees are more apt to proactively attack — a response legal in several states after the enactment of stand-your-hive laws.

“People looking at my brain gene activity really oxidates my phosphorylation!”, said one bumblebee in a letter to the editor. The bee requested anonymity by dancing in kind of a figure 8 shape with a wiggle.

After spending time as a Companion of the Doctor, postdoctoral researcher Clare Rittschoff used drugs to get bees addicted to drugs. She saw that aggression increased in the drugged bees if she subsequently tried to get them into rehab.

But the drugs had no effect on chronically stressed bees, according to studies performed on air traffic control bees. “Something about chronic stress changed their response to the drug, which is a fascinating finding in and of itself,” Robinson said, misusing the word “fascinating”.

In separate experiments, Hongmei Li-Byarlay and his youthful ward Jonathan Massey found that reduced oxidative phosphorylation in fruit flies also increased aggression. This result, too, was of little interest, as aggressive fruit flies are still pretty ineffectual.

(Warning: Climate drones claim that angry fruit flies cause global warming, or are possibly the result of global warming, one or the other.)

According to Robinson, the fact that researchers observed these effects in two species that diverged 300 million years ago makes the findings even more compelling to the sort of people who are compelled by divergences that happened when no one was around to see them.

The team reports its findings in the journal Needless Provocations of the National Academy of Sciences.

Click here to read the original story.

Unsettling science

In big news, Science was caught on an open microphone suggesting that space aliens are enormous, causing a firestorm of controversy that threatens the relationship between Science and the space alien community.

In a paper, cosmologist Fergus Simpson quoted Science as saying that aliens, if they exist, are likely huge, with an average weight of 650 pounds, or about 6 Kate Beckinsales (shown below).  The argument relies on a mathematical model that assumes organisms on other planets don’t care what you say about them, as long as you have a mathematical model.


One representative of the alien community (top, right) denied that his race were interstellar behemoths, or that they exist, insisting that they were standing next to some deceptively small trees when the picture was taken.  The alien was granted anonymity because he was self-conscious about his size.  “Don’t look at me, I’m huge!  And I don’t exist!” he said.

In a hastily arranged press conference, Simpson said that Science had been taken out of context.  “All Science was saying is that, throughout the universe, there are likely more small animals than large ones.  There are many small ants, for example, but far fewer whales or elephants.  Therefore, aliens are huge,  QED!”

“I think the average size calculation is reasonable,” says Duncan Forgan, a scientist at the University of St. Andrews who wasn’t involved in the paper.  “But then again, I wasn’t involved in the paper.  I’m not even sure what paper you’re talking about.  I’m just trying to find the Petheram Bridge car park.  Stop interviewing me!”  As reporters chased him to his car, Forgan shouted that the paper “doesn’t address the correlation between body mass and the planet’s surface gravity,” before he tried to run them down and flee the scene.


The gaffe drew swift criticism from Hot and Bright Star Danica McKellar (shown above improving the self-esteem of teenage girls at the Barbizon School of Mathematical Modeling).  McKellar, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on giant cosmic butterflies, told reporters that her mathematical models say intelligent aliens could be as small as 3 Kiera Knightleys (below).  “And this mathematical model is so powerful and self-assured that if you change this 3 to an 8, you can prove that global warming is creating ants the size of elephants, without having to use any Science at all!”

keira-knightley clones

Researcher Seth Shostak says the paper reminded him of previous work he had done suggesting that any extraterrestrials we might eventually find would be on the larger side.  “It’s interesting, but there’s really no concrete data to work with.  Science also didn’t take into account any kind of evolutionary theories.  Add in that whole bit about body mass and surface gravity, and it becomes clear that Science is just being kind of a jerk.”  He explained that Science likes to cultivate this bad-boy persona because it drives mathematical models wild.

Shostak, a researcher for the Science, Engineering and Technology Insults (SETI) Institute, took a gratuitous swipe at the Ursine-American community.  “Polar bears are large but do not write great literature and build radio towers,” he slandered.  When asked what that had to do with intelligent aliens, he admitted that he was simply trying to get the attention of Danica McKellar and her hot mathematical model friends.  Ms. McKellar later said that she found his comments offensive and intriguing.

Click here to read about the whole brouhaha.

Sugar-coating the past

Brontosaurus (above) as it was thought to have looked in the 19th century – semi-aquatic with rich orange chocolate surrounding a crunchy dinosaur-bone center.

In dinomenclature news, paleontologists were dealt a major setback after another failed attempt to convince people there are more than six kinds of dinosaurs.

Every child learns that there are six types of giant prehistoric lizards (Tyrannosaurus Rex, brontosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, pterodactyl, and Houseasaurus).  Scientists classify these animals as dinosaurs (from the Latin dinosaur “thing that’s a dinosaur”).  Another category of creatures, called nameosaurs (such as Bambiraptor and Draconex hogwartsia), consist of vanity species discovered by putting two random bones next to each other and giving it a cute name in a bid for grant money.

Brontosaurus was discovered by prolific paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh during the Bone Wars of the 19th century — the rivalry between Marsh and fellow paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope over grant money that was responsible for over 650,000 deaths worldwide.

In 1879 Marsh announced that he had found two almost complete skeletons at Como Bluff in Wyoming — missing, crucially, their skulls.  He modeled the skull on the skull of another dinosaur he had found – also a brontosaurus — and called one of the skeletons Brontosaurus excelsus, or “brontosaurus that is complete now that it has a head”.  The other one was named Mabel, after his mother.

But in 1903, after Marsh’s death, another brontosaurus was discovered that resembled both Mabel and Cope’s cousin Marjorie.  Paleontologist Elmer Riggs concluded that there were not enough differences between Mabel and Marjorie to warrant two different genera, so he folded the brontosaurus into the latter, renaming it Apatosaurus excelsus — “folded brontosaurus”.

The name stuck around, though — until the 1970s, when researchers discovered a triceratops femur laying next to a half-eaten chicken wing and subsequently named it Apatosaurus after filmmaker Judd Apatow, who was still in middle school at the time.  (Apatow later directed a movie about the discovery called The 40,000,000 Year Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell as Elmer Riggs, Seth Rogen as the triceratops, and Paul Rudd as the guy who ordered chicken wings.)

Emanuel Tschopp, a Swiss national, led the study at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal.  (Disclaimer: The Old University of Lisbon in Portugal was wiped out by a meteor impact 65 million years ago.  Their PhD program was closed down a few years later.)

The 300-page study examines 81 different brontosaurus skeletons, 49 of which do not include triceratops femurs or chicken wings, across 477 morphological characters using statistical approaches to establish a boundary between species and genera — making it the most extensive use of technobabble to justify playing with dinosaur bones ever completed.

“This detailed data on Diplodicidae (brontosauruses) led us to three main findings: first, we found conclusive evidence for an additional new genus, which we call Galeamopus (‘Gale stuck a brontosaurus skull on a mop handle’).  Second, Supersaurus, a genus of brontosaurus previously known from Smallville alone, now also includes the Metropolis genus Dinheirosaurus (the so-called ‘last brontosaurus of Krypton’),” Tschopp said.

“And finally, we found that the differences between Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus are primarily due to plot holes and continuity errors in Judd Apatow’s film that totally ruin the mise-en-scène.”  Study co-author Roger Benson noted that he and Tschopp have no idea what a mise-en-scène is, or how it got ruined.

Most dinosaurs are thought to have died out from diabetic comas caused by eating too many chocolate-covered brontosauruses.  Excavations near the La Brea Fudge Pits outside Los Angeles suggest that brontosaurs became extinct because it was too hard to breathe with their heads encased in rich, creamy milk chocolate.

Click here to read the original story.