Nasa's Mars rover Curiosity finally caused some real curiosity last week with a photo of what appeared to be a "rat" on Mars. The photo is one of many thousands that are churned out showing the red planet's landscape at regular intervals. Apparently there's a man in Japan who goes over all the photos with a fine-tooth comb looking for anything weird.
So that's the job you could end up having kids if you're particularly good at "Where's Wally?" Using his magnifying glass he found among the usual rocks an unusual rock that looked exactly like a large rat sniffing the ground. Clearly visible are the legs, a tail and even a head.
Yes it really does look like a rat. Of course it's probably just a rock but let's face it, that's a boring conclusion. The internet is full of theories about the "rat". Like for example, maybe it is a rat. Has Nasa released the rat on Mars as part of a secret experiment to see if the planet supports life? Huh? Is it a lab rat? Or is it a Martian? Eh? Fancy that, there we were, hoping to see little green men, when it was a little brown rat all along.
What great irony. For years we have used rats in experimental studies to further the scientific advancement of humankind. We've poked them, prodded them and even injected them with diseases and supposed cures. There's probably no other animal, apart from their cousins the mice, that we've taken more advantage of for ourselves.
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It has been somewhat of a war since the beginning of time for us and them. They hit us first with the biggest blow by spreading the Black Death back in 1348-50. The plague killed an estimated 200 million people and it took a century and a half for Europe's population to recover.
In the 16th century it was our turn to hit back at the rat. We did it with a cool looking German bloke who had a pipe. The Pied Piper of Hamelin was an expert rat-catcher. No one knows exactly how he did it but there's a lot of speculation surrounding the general magic-ness of his pipe and colourful garments. Needless to say he got rid of all the rats in the town. Sad story short though, no one fronted up with the cash so he used his pipe to evacuate all the children as well!
Since then the rats have come back ten-fold. They're all around us in these modern times. They're hiding under our cities quietly plotting our demise, oh yes I can promise you that. This Earth ain't big enough for the both of us! But we're so much better than them aren't we? Humans have used their superior minds to build traps and lay poisons. Finally, we're in control. Now we can set our sights on other planets to conquer ... like Mars. Yes, one day we'll be the first to step foot on ... oh wait. Damn it!